People might associate the term “classic car” with prewar Bentleys, Aston Martins and magnificent Ferraris.

Most people don’t associate the Ford Sierra with the Nissan Micra.

They, and a number of motors will be honored with classic car status. This means that car lovers around the world can celebrate them.

Because they were created in 1982, and will reach 40 next year. That means the earliest vehicles could be exempt from vehicle taxes in 2022.

Classic or crap? Our verdict is on 10 vehicles that will be 40 years old next year. They officially are eligible for historical vehicle taxation.

Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), rules say that cars built in the past four decades or more are considered to be old enough so that they no longer need to be taxed each year.   

It is crucial to remember that vehicle keeper must apply for a vehicle exemption to the DVLA so that they can update the log book and clarify whether the vehicle is eligible for historic vehicle tax. The Gov.uk website has information on how to apply. 

A car that turns 40 is no longer required to have an annual MOT. 

Our 40-year history has allowed us to find 10 vehicles that could be eligible for no tax on cars. These include rare motors and iconic models, as well as those that were introduced in 1982. We have rated these cars either as classics or crap.   

1. Austin Ambassador

Verdict: More crap than classic

It was called the Ambassador but was only built with the steering wheel on the right-hand-side so couldn't really live up to its name by representing Austin overseas

It was called the Ambassador but was only built with the steering wheel on the right-hand-side so couldn’t really live up to its name by representing Austin overseas

Despite its diplomatic nameplate, the Ambassador wasn’t the best representative to be the face of Austin overseas.

In fact, it didn’t even leave its home country, with every one of the 43,500 cars produced built only in right-hand drive. It couldn’t have had a worse-fitting name if British Leyland tried! 

Introduced in 1982, it was a follow-up to the Princess saloon, which at the time had already become grossly unpopular. 

A facelift and the addition of a more practical hatchback was considered the ideal solution to reinvigorate sales. 

While it shared the wedge-shaped profile of the Princess, almost every panel was new – meaning it was a more expensive project than the British marque had originally expected.

Production ceased in 1984 meaning it was on sale for just two years, with some 43,427 examples built. Just 21 survive today to potentially claim classic status next year. 

2. BMW 3 Series E30

Verdict: Bona fide classic

The two-door E30 debuted in 1982, with the second-generation of BMW's 3 Series being the model that cemented its top dog status is the compact executive saloon class

The two-door E30 debuted in 1982, with the second-generation of BMW’s 3 Series being the model that cemented its top dog status is the compact executive saloon class

The year 1982 was the debut for the second-generation 3 Series – also known as the E30 – a car that cemented BMW’s position as market leader in the junior executive sector.  

While it was only two-door saloon variants that hit the market in ’82 – the four-door arriving a year later in 1983, convertibles launched in 1985 and ‘Touring’ estates hitting the market in 1987 – it is a worthy addition to our list of motors celebrating 40 years in 2022.

While might have given this car bona fide classic status, that is reserved mostly for models with the right engine. And by right engine, we mean the straight six-cylinder powerplants.

Take a pick of the 320i, 323i and 325i, all of them fantastic drivers’ cars, though it’s the M3 that was the ultimate incarnation of the E30 3 Series – and there are still plenty of examples about.

It remained on sale until 1994 before making way for the third-gen E36. 

3. Ford Escort RS1600i

Verdict: Bona fide classic

This very example of the RS1600i Escort was sold by Silverstone Auctions in July for over £46,000. Now that's what you call a Fast Ford

This very example of the RS1600i Escort was sold by Silverstone Auctions in July for over £46,000. Now that’s what you call a Fast Ford

The first of the 1980s-era RS-treatment Fast Fords arrived in 1982 – the Escort RS1600i launched to go head-to-head with the all-conquering VW Golf GTI Mk1.

It was based on the on XR3 variant of the third-generation Escort and – with the addition of fuel injection – was built to meet Group A regulations to compete in rally competitions like its predecessors.

Such was its exclusivity that it was exclusively sold via Rallye Sport dealers, came with a high price tag and limited availability – though the original plan to build 5,000 examples was eventually upped to 8,659 (2,600 for the UK market) by the time production ended.

The 1597cc engine, fitted with Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection and unique AFT twin coil electronic ignition, produced 115bhp. That was good enough to accelerate from rest to 60mph in 8.3 seconds and to a top speed of 117mph.

How much are they worth today? Silverstone Auctions sold an ultra-low-mileage example in the summer for a whopping £46,125. These are now extremely rare.

4. Ford Sierra

Verdict: Bona fide classic (though only if you buy hot versions) 

The Sierra - Ford's iconic family car of the eighties - will turn 40 next year, with examples going on sale in October 1982

The Sierra – Ford’s iconic family car of the eighties – will turn 40 next year, with examples going on sale in October 1982

The Ford Sierra was first unveiled to the public 22 September 1982 at the British International Motor Show hosted at the NEC in Birmingham and went on sale just one month later. 

For a family car offering lots of practicality, its design was ahead of its time. 

An ultra-sleek body made it one of the most aerodynamically efficient family cars the world had ever seen. 

In fact, only the Porsche 924 sports car and Citroen GS had lower drag coefficient ratings than the Ford at the time. This svelte design also earned it the moniker of the ‘jelly mould’ car.

It was penned by Uwe Bahnsen – the man responsible for the Capri MkI and MkII and Escort MkIII – and, despite polarising opinion proved pretty successful. 

Some 160,000 were sold in Britain in the first year it hit showrooms – only the Escort was bought in bigger numbers. Approximately 2,500 are still on the road today, though another 11,000 are believed to be SORN.

5. Mercedes-Benz 190E

Verdict: Bona fide classic

The Mercedes 190 - the car that pre-dated the C-Class - went on sale in the UK in 1982, making it 40 years old next year

The Mercedes 190 – the car that pre-dated the C-Class – went on sale in the UK in 1982, making it 40 years old next year

Having seen German rival BMW having great success with its first-generation 3 Series, Mercedes decided it was time to enter the junior executive market with its own offering.

In 1982, the 190 – and more recognised 190E – hit the UK market at the same time as the second-generation 3 Series.

Production ran until 1993 – with the 190 barely getting an update in that 11-year period before – the arrival of the first official C-Class, the W202.

The 190 proved a massive hit, with Mercedes shifting almost two million in total and there are still some – though mostly from the 1990s – still on Britain’s roads.

Even today you can pick up a 190 for a few grand, but if you want a performance model like the 2.3-litre Cosworth, you should expect to pay north of £40,000 for a good one.

And if you go chasing the pinnacle 190, the 2.5 16 Evolution II, be ready to hand over six-figure sums to get your hands on one.

6. MG Metro Turbo 1300

Verdict: Bona fide classic

MG returned to the market in 1982 with a souped-up version of the once-blank Metro

MG returned to the market in 1982 with a souped-up version of the once-blank Metro

Before the Metro Turbo 1300, MG as a brand had been away for almost two years following the closure of the Abingdon factory, ending production of the iconic MG B.

When the badge return in 1981, it was on a very different car indeed – the Metro supermini.

Rebadging the Austin Metro as an MG brought with it a trim upgrade package – including the addition of red seat belts – and an extra 12bhp eked out of the A-series engine.

But it was a year later when the Metro got tasty, with the creation of the Turbo. 

Tuned by Lotus and with the addition of a Garrett T3 turbo, the engine performance was boosted to 93bhp. It was followed by the bonkers Metro 6R4 rally homologation special, of which just 20 road-going examples were built.

Some 27 of the Turbo 1300 remain taxed and registered on the road today with another 100 or so declared as off the road. 

7. Nissan Micra

Verdict:There’s more crap than classical 

When the first-generation Micra arrived in the UK it came with Datsun badges

When the first-generation Micra arrived in the UK it came with Datsun badges

The first Micra arrived in 1982, though didn’t technically hit the European market until a year later as a smaller alternative to the Cherry.

Called the Nissan March in native Japan, it was rebranded the Datsun Micra when it went on sale in the UK and only officially became a Nissan a year later.

When it hit the market it was genuinely considered a game changer.

Lightweight, fitted with an eager 1.0-litre petrol engine, cheap running costs and easy to drive, it won over a youthful consumer base and went on to become one of the most commonly used motors by driving instructors.

But for all its plaudits when it was on sale, the original Micra – nor any version to follow for that fact – has not won a place in motoring history as an iconic model and few survive today. 

8. Nissan Sunny B11

Verdict:There’s more crap than classical

The B11 was the first Nissan Sunny to send power to the front wheels rather than the back and hit the UK market in 1982

The B11 was the first Nissan Sunny to send power to the front wheels rather than the back and hit the UK market in 1982

The B11 Sunny market the Japanese brand’s transition to front-wheel-drive cars as it began to move away from the tradition of sending power to the back wheels only – a relatively risky prospect on UK roads covered in snow, ice and rain during the colder months.

It was first launched in the UK in 1982, though sported both Datsun and Nissan badges at the time.

Before it hit UK shores, the Sunny had already established itself as the best-selling motor import, mainly due to its simple engineering and its reputation as an economical and reliable experience. 

It came with a more than adequate 1.3-litre petrol engine and a choice of body types, including an estate and a coupe.

Cheaper than British-built models, it wasn’t necessarily great to drive but was attractive on a financial level.  Hardly any are on the road today. 

9. Reliant Rialto

Verdict:There’s more crap than classical 

The Reliant Rialto was the successor to the iconic Robin and when it arrived in 1982 was subject to a 12-month waiting list

The Reliant Rialto was the successor to the iconic Robin and when it arrived in 1982 was subject to a 12-month waiting list

It was a big step up from the Robin three-wheeler when the Rialto came to be in 1982.

It was also subject to a 12 month waiting list in the year it came out. The model went on to be one of Reliant’s most popular models, but it has not received the same praises as its predecessor.

The Robin’s three-wheeled design, chassis, and many of its components were retained, but the Reliant was squared off and had a revised interior. 

You could buy it in many body options, such as saloon or estate, hatchback, van, and pick-up trucks.

There are currently 501 vehicles registered in Britain and there are 2,500 SORNs. 

10. Volvo 760 

Verdict:Classic and crap are not the same thing.

The Volvo 760 arrived in the UK in 1982 and is most fondly remembered for the enormous estate version that could today swallow half an Ikea store

Volvo 760 came to Britain in 1982. The Volvo 760 is fondly known for its enormous estate version, which could now take half the Ikea store.

Volvo 760 estate was the first to introduce the box-shaped Volvo 760 in 1982. 

At launch it came with a choice of two different engines: a six-cylinder B28E petrol and a turbocharged six-cylinder diesel, called the TD24. 

The TD24 allowed the Volvo 760 GLE to accelerate from rest to 62 mph in just 13 seconds. This made it the fastest diesel-powered car at that time. 

Volvo’s large estate body will always be remembered as the reason it was a market leader for this segment. They are known for their great quality build and have logged a large mileage. 

Just 152 remain registered on the road in the UK today, though values are usually no higher than £3,000.

This article might contain affiliate links. Clicking on these links may result in us earning a small commission. This helps to fund This Is Money and keeps it free of charge. Our articles aren’t written for the purpose of promoting products. Our editorial independence is not affected by any commercial relationships.