The road to nowhere – Britain’s most endangered cars

The road to nowhere – Britain’s most endangered cars
The road to nowhere – Britain’s most endangered cars

Remember the Austin Allegro and the Vauxhall Chevette? Well soon memories will be all you have as new research has shown that just a handful of both cars are still around.

A new study of data has revealed Britain’s most endangered cars and the two big sellers from the 1970s are among the most at-risk vehicles in the country.

Back in 1994 there were still 56,000 Allegros “gracing” Britain’s roads along with some 33,000 Chevettes. Now there are fewer than 200 of either car still on the road.

They, however, are positively commonplace compared with the UK’s most at-risk motor – the Morris Ital. According to Department for Transport licensing data, there were almost 18,000 Itals on the road in 1994. Now there are just 32.

Morris Itals are so rare it’s hard to even find a decent photo of one. Photo credit: Morris Marina Owners Club and Morris Ital Register

The Ital, which was built from 1980 to 1984, was essentially a reskinned Morris Marina and never enjoyed a great reputation. In fact, in a poll to find the worst British car of all time it was only consigned to second place by the much-mocked Allegro.

Both cars were produced by British Leyland – a brand that become synonymous with industrial action and poor build quality, perhaps partly explaining why so few still survive today.

The Vauxhall Chevette was once the UK’s best-selling hatchback but now fewer than 200 are still running

Fading Fords

The research by car leasing firm UK Carline also showed that some more well-regarded and better-selling staples of the motoring landscape are heading to obscurity.

Only one per cent of Ford Sierras, the car of choice for every 1980s sales rep, are still running – just 2,638 of the more than one million on the road in 1994. Perhaps because of that, those that survive are fetching eye-watering sums, with recent examples selling for six figures at auction.

The number of Ford Cortinas on the road has also dipped by 97 per cent from 119,778 in the mid-90s to fewer than 3,500 today.

Future rarities

The research also revealed which cars are heading the same way as these classics, and so could become ‘endangered’ in years to follow. Surprisingly, a number of the cars at risk were among the best-selling cars in the country just 10 years ago.

There are now more Allegro jokes than there are working Allegros

Numbers of the Vauxhall Vectra, the tenth most popular car in 2008, have decreased rapidly over the last decade, falling by nearly three quarters (72 per cent) from 579,000 to just over 157,000. The Ford Mondeo, which also featured in the top 10 cars of 2008, has not fared well either, with numbers decreasing by half, from just under 749,000 to 373,000.

Other cars that are potentially in danger of vanishing from our roads in the future include the Ford Ka with numbers reducing by over a third (37 per cent) from 440,000 to 273,000 in the last 10 years, while Fiat Puntos are also in steady decline, dropping by over two thirds (67 per cent) to just 171,000.

Commenting on the findings, Jonathan Nolan, general manager at UK Carline, said: “It’s disappointing to see that many once loved cars are seeing their numbers dwindle, and some are even in danger of disappearing from our roads completely.

“We hope our research raises awareness of the models in danger, and helps to keep them driving in the UK for a few extra years.”

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