Article on The Internet Mini Encyclopædia
A Q plate is awarded to a car if:
Not declared new upon first registration
Not containing all-new parts.
So Q plates are commonly used upon:
Reshells, which are not allowed to keep the original registration
Ex-Military vehicles, which do not require a registration
Foreign-registered cars imported and re-registered.
There are an awful lot of cars running around that should be on Q plates but aren't. When SVA was first announced a couple of years ago the DVLA had an amnesty on incorrect registrations, that is to say that if your car was running round on a date related plate when it should have been on a Q plate you could apply to them and you could change over to a Q. Since the amnesty ended the DVLA have announced that anybody found to have an incorrectly registered car would have to put it through SVA before getting the Q plate.
A related story:
Back when I bought my second mini (about ten years ago) I came across a road registered M*tro in a back street dealers, it was tatty but very fast, stripped out, lowered and loud. It turned out that it was an ex Metro Challenge racer (pre turbo) that had been put back on the road. I put a friend on to it and he bought it. We were always pretty suspicious of it's 'A' plate. When the DVLA announced the amnesty Paul decided to get it checked out, the DVLA put him onto an VRO who sent out an inspector. A few days later he received a report, the upshot of which was that he would be issued with a Q plate and a new VIN. The detail of the report went on to say that although the shell could be dated to the day it came from the factory it was sold as a shell only (at a guess through Rover Sport or whatever they were called at the time) and that the rest of the components could not therefore be dated. Altough a VRO had initially issued the A plate, this inspector said that this was incorrect and would be rescinded. In some circles a Q plate on a modified car has some cachet, it's taken to mean that the car has been heavily modified. You will often hear heavily modified cars referred to as "Q cars" in the UK press. BTW it is a commonly held belief that a Q plate will increase your insurance premium. On a standard car this may be the case, but on heavily modified cars specialist insurers generally couldn't give a stuff.
Glossary for foreign readers:
SVA - Single Vehicle Approval
DVLA - Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
VRO - Vehicle Registration Office
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