80s cars facing end of the road

Most endangered: Austin Allegro.

Most endangered: Austin Allegro. - Credit: supplied

The 1980s may have enjoyed a fashion and pop revival but cars from that decade are some of the most endangered cars on British roads today.

New research into the top British family cars by consumer motoring champion HonestJohn.co.uk reveals that many of UK’s once-popular family cars are on the verge of disappearing.

The Austin Metro is typical. It was once a common sight on British roads and enjoyed celebrity status as Princess Diana’s car when she married the Prince of Wales in 1981. It was also the driving school car of choice for BSM, and everyone knew someone who had one.

Now there are just 823 taxed or SORN’d (statutory off road notification) Metros, from 1.5 million built between 1981 and 1991.

The once-derided Austin Allegro has suffered the largest decline, with just 291 left in the UK (taxed and SORN) at the end of 2011, from a total production run of 640,000 from 1973 to 1982.


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Ford’s Cortina is another model on the list that may raise a few eyebrows – after all it was Britain’s best-selling car between 1973 and 1980. Many people will know the Cortina, because once upon a time, it was the darling of a million sales reps – but it most recently had its moment of fame as the star of 2006-07 TV drama, Life on Mars. Just 5,411 remain registered in the UK, from more than four million built. Other endangered former street furniture classics include the Ford Sierra and Rover SD1.

All the top 20 cars on the most endangered list have a survival rate of less than 1%. At the other end of the scale, some classic cars had impressive survival rates such as the Lotus Elan, which is the UK’s most popular classic car with 38% of its pre-1995 models (3,361) still surviving today with 24% (2,151) still on the road.

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The results are published at classics.honestjohn.co.uk– a newly-launched site that contains a wealth of research and information about classic cars.

Top 20 fastest disappearing family cars and percentage of original production left:

1 Austin Allegro 0.05%

2 Austin Montego 0.05%

3 Austin Princess 0.05%

4 Hillman Avenger 0.06%

5 Vauxhall Viva 0.07%

6 Morris Marina 0.08%

7 Austin Maxi 0.08%

8 Morris Ital 0.1%

9 Rover SD1 0.1%

10 Vauxhall VX-Series 0.1%

11 Austin Metro 0.1%

12 Ford Cortina 0.1%

13 MG 1100/MG 1300 0.1%

14 Austin Maestro 0.2%

15 Vauxhall Chevette 0.2%

16 Austin Ambassador 0.2%

17 Hillman Imp 0.2%

18 Rover 200 0.3%

19 Triumph Acclaim 0.4%

20 Ford Sierra 0.4%

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