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Cars are due an MOT test on their 3rd birthday and every year after that.
Originally it was just a simple enough safety check but as time as progressed more and more items have been included. Emmisions have been included for many years now and more recently things like non-standard headlight bulbs should be checked for legality.
My first few cars which at the time passed with no problems would not get past the door in the current test.
Older cars are not subject to the most modern set of tests e.g. one of my cars is considered to be pre 1978 and is only checked visually for excess smoke rather than having to comply with the more strict rules. In truth it would pass the rules for a pre 93 car but would fail the later requirements since it does not have a cat fitted.
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