9 ULEZ-compliant classic cars for less than £3000

by Antony Ingram
2 February 2023 6 min read
9 ULEZ-compliant classic cars for less than £3000
Photo: Matt Howell

When London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) expands with the goal of cleaning up the city’s air, thousands of residents and visiting drivers will find their non-compliant cars will suddenly cost a lot more to use over even the shortest of journeys.

Current ULEZ regulations require your petrol car to conform to Euro 4 emissions standards or later, while diesels must be Euro 6 and above. That means a lot of classic and modern-classic cars will face the £12.50 daily charge, so even just a couple of runs out and about in the zone – no matter how brief – adds up to £25 a week.

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However, there’s also a separate exemption for cars aged more than 40 years, and that gives some respite to owners of classics – cars that are typically driven infrequently compared with newer models, and contribute less to inner-city emissions as a result. Cars of that era are more than capable of mixing it in today’s traffic, but whether or not you’d want to use them every day is a matter of personal preference.

While plenty of classics are compliant though, not everybody can afford an E-Type or even a tidy old Beetle, so with the help of Hagerty’s valuations experts, we’ve compiled a list of nine cars that aren’t just ULEZ exempt, but are also affordable – by drawing on our data of the oldest cars with the lowest average price tags. And once they’re registered for 40-year-plus historic status, they’re also free from road tax.

Prices change all the time, and Hagerty’s data used here is based on the average of confirmed sale prices at public events like auctions, so the values below are of course subject to change. Oh, and if driving a car that’s forty-plus doesn’t quite appeal, it just so happens that one of the most affordable cars in the price guide happens to be a modern, Euro 4 compliant alternative.

Triumph Acclaim

Triumph Acclaim
Photo: Nick Chivers

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £1700

The first of several Festival of the Unexceptional regulars in our ULEZ-busters rundown, the Acclaim might not have been as exciting as the Dolomite it replaced, but its relatively unloved status makes it very affordable indeed, with a price spread of £700-£3100 in the Hagerty Price Guide and an average of only £1700 among the sales we’ve tracked.

Practical, with a four-door body, and fairly well-built and reliable by 1980s BL standards (Honda mechanicals probably play a part here), the first three years of Acclaim production are old enough to cross the 40-year ULEZ threshold – and next year, the full run of production should be exempt.

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2

Vauxhall Cavalier Mk2
Photo: Vauxhall/Stellantis

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £1925–£2425

All Mk1 Vauxhall Cavaliers are of course ULEZ exempt, but with slightly higher average prices as they become accepted as true classics, it’s left to the first few years of Cavalier Mk2 production to fly the flag for Vauxhall in our list of affordable ULEZ choices.

It benefits from its modernity relative to the Mk1, with front-wheel drive liberating extra cabin space, and relatively modern engines for its era for smooth, economical performance. All but the sportiest Mk2s make up our price spread, with 1300 saloons being cheapest, and 1800i five-door hatches – making 114bhp – covering the top end.

Austin Maestro

Ledbury Maestro festival FOTU
Photo: Charlie Magee

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £2075–£2300

Yet another FOTU favourite, the Austin Maestro was a car you’d once have seen everywhere and in every city, but launched in 1982, the first couple of years of Maestro now benefit from ULEZ exemption, so perhaps we’ll see a few more enjoying life within the M25 in the coming years.

The most affordable 1.3 and 1.6-litre models now qualify. The MG Maestro, launched in 1983, is also now old enough, but with higher prices (spanning £1100–£5800 for non-turbos), you won’t find it in this list. A regular Maestro will still happily handle city-bound errands, and there’s a growing enthusiast base too.

Austin Metro

FOTU beige Metro
Photo: Matt Howell

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £2075–£2425

Princess Diana, or Lady Diana Spencer as she was at the time, proved that the Metro is just the car for city slickers, bombing about Earls Court and wider London in an Austin Metro L in the early ’80s. So in purely pragmatic terms there’s not another car on this page better suited to ULEZ life than the Austin Metro.

Launched in 1980, three years of the Metro are now ULEZ compliant, and Austin’s shot at making a more modern Mini is as ideal for scooting around a city as it ever was. At 3.4 metres long, parking shouldn’t be an issue – that’s nearly two feet shorter than a modern Fiesta. Both 998 and 1275cc models are included in our valuation spread, and even the most expensive should set you back no more than £5000. They’re easy to see out of, ride well, and steer sharply, making them a hoot even at low speeds.

Vauxhall FE Victor/VX

Vauxhall FE Victor
Photo: Vauxhall/Stellantis

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £2200–£2500

Bringing some 1970s swagger to our motley collection is Vauxhall’s FE-series Victor, VX1800 and VX2300, which we’re rolling together here under their shared platform, produced from 1972 to 1978. That puts them all over 40 years old, and our average pricing here includes the estate models too.

What you don’t get on our list of cheaper models are the six-cylinder engines, but that doesn’t harm the styling, which has that Transatlantic feel that rival Ford also tried to capture with its Cortina. VXs start from 1976 and offer both a little more power and a little more equipment – but all let you star in your own gangster movie.

Citroën BX

Citroen BX TGD estate
Photo: Dean Smith

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £2300–£2400

We’re big fans of the Citroën BX, having included one in our 2023 Hagerty Bull Market list. And with the earliest UK cars registered in late 1983 (the car pictured above is a later model), series one “14” and “16” hatchback variants are just old enough, and just affordable enough (a concours 16 is listed at only £4400), to sneak onto this list.

Here is a family-friendly classic with an attention-getting shape, courtesy of Marcello Gandini, a suspension system that will shade most new cars for riding smoothly over poorly surfaced roads – there are plenty of those within the ULEZ area – and an interior design you’re unlikely to tire of, provided you can source replacements for broken trim.

Alfa Romeo Giulietta 116

FOTU Alfa Giulietta
Photo: Antony Ingram

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £2350–£2475

An Alfa Romeo? One of the cheapest ULEZ-compliant classics you can get your hands on? Well, getting your hands on one could be the problem here. Amongst the modern Giuliettas, sourcing figures for earlier survivors is like finding a piece of hay in a big stack of needles, but they’re certainly not frequent in the classifieds.

That rarity has no doubt influenced our price range here, for 1300 to 1800cc models, because it might have been years since an example of the boxy type 116 Giulietta sold at an auction or similar and could have an effect on our data. Whatever the price, the 116 has curious styling (at the rear especially), but is surely one of the coolest here for slinking through the capital. With rear-wheel drive and a twin-cam four up front though, it’d be even better on the open road.

Austin Allegro

Allegro at Hagerty 2021 Festival of the Unexceptional
Photo: Matt Howell

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £2550–£2575

Neatly finishing off a distinctly FOTU-friendly list is that icon of the unexceptional car hobby, the Allegro. At one time the unloved Austin might have been the very cheapest on this list but an average price in the mid-2000s shows how much enthusiasts are coming around to the car.

And as well as being ULEZ-exempt, Allegros are relatively city-friendly, with a pliant ride quality and squashy seats, plus good visibility, a compact footprint and in the case of 1-litre and 1.1-litre models our pricing here covers, a responsive little A-series up front, ideal for nip-and-tuck traffic.

And as for a newer alternative…


Photo: MG Rover

UK Hagerty Price Guide average: £2550

We couldn’t resist squeezing this one into our list, not just because MGFs and TFs remain one of the most affordable open-top two-seaters on the market, but because later examples meet Euro 4 emissions regulations, and are therefore compliant with ULEZ standards – for the time being, at least. [Here are more suggestions for modern-classics that comply – Ed]

Like a few others on this list the mid-engined TF’s true calling is the open road, but if most cars feel like little armoured pods in the city, designed to shut you in and everything (and everyone) else out, a drop-top like the TF turns that on its head. There’d be a lot less road rage if more people drove cars like this; make ours a bright colour for that extra pop on a sunny day.

Check out the Hagerty Media homepage for daily news, features, interviews and buying guides, or better still, bookmark it.

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  • Bobby says:

    These cars are either the ugliest British ###t, or rare Italian Classics, plus they shall probably rip everybody off with Excessive Road Tax.

  • Lee says:

    These classics have survived 40 years because they’ve obviously not been out in the great British weather . Garaging one in London every day after work to keep its value far out weighs the cost of the ULEZ charge 🤷🏼

  • nigel clark says:

    Acclaim, Allegro, Maestro, Metro all British Leyland. All great cars, had them all and more BL besides and never had a bad one. Brilliant cars.

  • Mark Jackson says:

    We all love a ‘beat the system’ story don’t we but let’s add a bit of balance.
    Many of the cars you mention would have struggled to do a daily commute reliably when new, let alone 40 years on.
    Realistically, the first series Metro was as unreliable as they get and early Meastro’s not much better. 80s Alfas, MGF’s and CX’s. ditto.
    By all means give it a try but for your own sake, brush up on your basic mechanical skills first, carry a bag of spanners and spares in the boot and include the cost of an annual subscription to a recovery service in your budget

  • Mr Craig Berry says:

    Have I missed something? Mgf first models were 1995 so not quite 30 years old let alone 40?

  • Rob Davey says:

    Much as I have fond memories of some of these cars, and I like to see them at car shows and rallies, would I want I want to own one, and use daily? God no! Could see myself broken down on the Chiswick flyover, in tears.

  • Mike's Mate says:

    The Peugeot 206 1998 -12 or so. has a Euro 3 complaint Engine and is fine for ULEZ..

  • Bobbus says:

    It’s up to the individual but each car saved is one half of its carbon footprint.
    Not that I’m a big greeno enthusiast.
    If many old cars weren’t so appealing then, for myself, neither are the overblown modern creations.
    My latest runaround is an ‘03 Astra Dual Fuel estate with 191k on the clock. Just passed it’s mot. £200 it was a bargain.

  • Les says:

    – and yet we had 2 Metros back in the day, a City and an MG, and both were totally reliable and a pleasure to drive over many miles…

  • Phil Turner says:

    I think they’re age makes them tax free

  • Monty Monty says:

    My 1983 Merc is a daily driver but I don’t go to London much. Nice to know that it’s exempt when I do.

  • Nick Stiles says:

    I agree with Bobbus, repair and reuse.

  • Dee Parkinson says:

    I run a 1992 car every day…. nothing wrong with reliability issues if you do something odd these days…. open the bonnet and service them. Screw the mayor.

  • Mat says:

    Can’t see the wife agreeing but I’m up for it 100% smile factor easy mechs cheep insurance over half the cost plus tax free if the right year I’ve drove classics daily for 20 years plus with nothing but minor issues winner winner

  • M+Durham says:

    Vehicles were designed to be driven out of the dealership straight into their work as the only commuting or pleasure transport. With regular servicing these same vehicles can be used as if new. Unfortunatly some modern mechanics don’t understand points, condensers, tappets and decokes. My 1952 Daimler can be used as a daily runner as I do my own maintenance. My lambretta LD 150 was used by its previous owner, and wife riding pillion, for holidays. I have photographs of it in Scotland though it usually commuted around Hampshire. Trust your vehicles and keep them serviced.

  • Boggy says:

    All classic cars eligible for free road tax are compliant!

    • Antony Ingram says:

      The purpose of this exercise wasn’t simply to point out compliant cars, as this list would obviously include thousands of different models and your tea would go cold before you got to the end of it. The cars above are the ones listed with the lowest values in the Hagerty Price Guide, so they are the most affordable compliant classics – something noted in the intro paragraphs.

  • Philip kearney says:

    Perhaps a list of more modern £3000 compliant
    Cars should be available from our Mayor’s office..

    This Mayor is out of touch with the financial hardship
    of 2023.
    JUST a simple concession of allowing non complient vehicles being allowed to be used FREE 2 days a week would had made lot of sense, that could be fazed out as the economy improves.

    I just can not believe this London Mayor is representative of our Labour Party.

  • Rod says:

    How about 2005 suzuki grand vitara.
    ulez compliant petrol with twin cat system

  • Dan says:

    My Mondeo st220 is ulez compliant and that’s a 3litre v6 engine and only 20 years old

    • Antony Ingram says:

      Great choice, but it’s also not in the Hagerty Price Guide, which is one of the things we used for the selection process here.

  • Steve says:

    Austin allegro used to be known as Austin all aggro it was so unreliable

  • Martin CZ says:

    You’ve missed out the Toyota MR2 MK3 which are ULEZ compliant and can be picked up well under £3000.

  • Simon Rockman says:

    A 2003 Mazda MX5 NB 1.8 is under £3k (even with the rust seen to) and ULEZ friendly.

  • Peter ALLAM says:

    08/02 23, Mayor Khan has his own Agenda. Left on Red when safe to do so at traffic lights would eliminate tonnes of pollution & expedite Business & Commerce activity. A logical improvement benefiting all of London’s road users – but of no interest to Khan. A Swiss report says PHEVs are 3x more polluting than manufacturer’s claims. Beware of PHEVgate/ PHEVwash !

  • David Boon says:

    Seems not all 40 year olds are ULEZ exempt. I’ve just entered my 3 cars, a 1971, a 1974 and a 1980 and it doesn’t say they are exempt

  • Neil Reddin says:

    Some cars are showing up as still liable when you first enter the details, but go on and properly register them and it’ll confirm them as exempt.

  • Neil Reddin says:

    We need to be careful though – too many articles like this and Kahn will be pushing the exemption age back to 50 years.

  • Deborah Stott says:

    My car has historic status (1976) but it still comes up as needing to pay on the tfl site. site says I don’t have to pay but also with the proviso – London may have it’s own rules. Very unclear.

  • David Boon says:

    Neil Reddin, what do you mean by ‘properly register them’ all mine are registered as ‘Historic’ with DVLA

  • Don P says:

    ULEZ charging in British cities is nothing less than tax on personal freedom under the whitewash or should that be greenwash of ‘improving the environment’. Why should anyone have to duck & dive, be inconvenienced or blow their savings on a new car in order to avoid paying it? The whole thing needs kicking into the long grass asap & the government turn their attention to the true sources of pollution like mass building and construction work, expansion of airports and shipping ports & consequently our seemingly insatiable need to import almost everything these days. And yes Phillip Kearney, I can’t believe this is the work of a Labour mayor. Just shows how the modern greed trait transcends political boundaries…

  • David R says:

    Not all 40 year old cars are ULEZ compliant – My Cobra kit is tax exempt but not ULEZ compliant. Can’t think why…

  • Laurence Jacoby says:

    I have a 1964 Volvo Amazon, I don’t use it much, but it could easily be a daily driver. Fantastic car, really reliable and will be ULEZ compliant

  • Neil Reddin says:

    @David Boon. I meant registering on TfL for Autopay.

  • Richard Owen says:

    Why own a car in London anyway ? I wouldn’t if I lived in the filthy 7 million inhabited Capital. And I wouldn’t want to. Public transport perfectly adequate, no need for cars at all in inner London.

  • David Aderoju says:

    Well that’s the problem Richard, the ulez has been expanded to cover all of the M25, so ppl in Romford Essex now have to pay, that’s no where near the capital, this why people hate it, something people living in London city have no comprehension of…

  • David Aderoju says:

    I live in Chelmsford, but if I have to go see my mum in Harold wood, then I have to pay, that’s almost 30 miles out of the London city, look it up yourselves if you think I’m lying

  • David Aderoju says:

    So, my 2014 Euro 5 diesel with DPF, that also passed the MOT emission test is NOT compliant, but hang on, cars built in the 60s and 70s with the worst emission rating, when no one cared about the environment or the human lungs, (the smoking ban only came in 2007) those are fine, farm tractors that were not even built for public roads, those are fine, even a military tank that runs on diesel/kerosene, and ofc all London black cabs, these are ALL exempt, and yet Londoners don’t see the hypocrisy in Khan’s ULEZ scheme??!…mind blowing!

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