THEY DROVE FOR DECADES THEN WERE SCRAPPED, BUT SCARCITY ENDOWS KUDOS
They may have been derided by many, but some of Britain's most notorious cars of the 1970s and 80s could now be back in demand due to their increasing rarity. Motors such as the Austin Metro, Morris Marina and Ford Sierra, which dominated Britain's streets and driveways until relatively recently, are now on the verge of extinction.
That's according to classic car insurance specialist ClassicLine, which has kickstarted a campaign to save a number of cars that were once responsible for transporting a nation.
The insurer has reviewed data to identify which mainstream models from the 1970s and 1980s are on the verge of disappearing, comparing the number registered today with how many were originally produced and how they have declined over the past decade.
Among the list of once ubiquitous models in the insurer's “Save our Classics” bid are cars many Britons will have fond memories of, though there are some that they have happily forgotten until now.
Topping the list as the most endangered of all is the last Morris to be produced — the Ital. According to the ClassicLine, just 35 examples of the car built between 1980 and 1984 are registered in the UK today — 0.2 per cent of the total built in Cowley and Longbridge, an 81 per cent decline in roadworthy models since 2005. Also joining the youngest Morris is a selection of more identifiable cars, including the Austin Metro, Ford Cortina and Vauxhall Victor.
There are even concerns for mainstream models of a later generation, with the Ford Sierra, built from 1982 to 1994, being the focus of worry.
The site howmanyleft.co.uk says more than 64,000 Sierras have disappeared from the roads in the past 10 years, with less than 1 per cent of the total built remaining. Ian Fray, managing director of the classic car insurer said: “Once common 1970s and 1980s cars are disappearing at an alarming rate and this new list is evidence that an extinction crisis is mounting.
“Tens of thousands of Itals were built during the 1980s and they are a proud part of our British manufacturing heritage, so it is very sad to hear so few remain.” Many old cars that could have gone on to become treasured classics were wiped out by the $570 million vehicle scrappage scheme brought in after the financial crisis to help boost the slump in new car sales.
It ran from May 2009 to March 2010, and gave motorists who traded in their old cars a $3700 discount on a brand new car and applied to all vehicles registered before August 31, 1999.
The government and car industry claimed the scheme encouraged people to drive newer, more environmentally friendly cars, but critics argued it took a huge chunk of potential minor classics off the road and the environmental cost of making a new car was greater than that of driving an older, less-efficient one. Fray said: “We aim to raise awareness and support for the plight of these once-common and much-loved British classics that are being recklessly driven to extinction.”
The Save our Classics campaign, launched this month, encourages the preservation of British classic cars and has called for a number of incentives such as reducing the current UK road tax exemption from 40 years to 30 years to help enthusiasts maintain the dwindling stock. The insurer is encouraging people to post pictures of any of the endangered cars on to its site.