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Britain’s vanishing everyday cars

The Austin Ambassador has become one of the scarcest once-common vehicles in the UK with just 17 still licensed for road use.

As recently as 20 years ago there were 5,515 of the distinctive wedge-shaped hatchback on the road, according to analysis of DVLA vehicle data by RAC Cars. Now it heads a Top 10 of fewest remaining memorable cars (by volume) in the UK.

This may be partly explained by the fact that only 43,427 Ambassadors were sold by British Leyland in the UK during its production run from
1982-1984. Its predecessor (the Princess) has not fared much better – there are just 45 of those remaining from the 225,000 made.

The Russian-made Lada Riva, which was a familiar sight in Britain between 1983 and 1997, has also suffered. There are only 60 Ladas left on UK roads from nearly 109,732 sold.

In fourth position, the Datsun (later Nissan) Cherry – made from 1970 to 1986 – is also a rarity as only 93 remain on the road with some 65,410 making their way to the great scrapyard in the sky over the last 20 years.

Fewest remaining memorable models by volume

Rank Make Model 2015 2005 1995 2015-1995 difference
1 Austin Ambassador 17 59 5,532 5,515
2 Austin Princess 45 99 3,235 3,190
3 Lada Riva 60 905 56,898 56,838
4 Datsun Cherry 93 1,313 66,723 66,630
5 Vauxhall Senator 167 2,660 25,799 25,632
6 Vauxhall Chevette 238 764 37,798 37,560
7 Morris Marina 289 540 9,331 9,042
8 Austin MG Rover Maestro 324 5,322 75,674 75,350
9 Talbot Sunbeam 440 496 5,261 4,821
10 Citroen BX 495 10,148 17,1478 17,0983

Looking at the statistics in terms of the greatest reduction in numbers of individual vehicle models that were once common on our roads, the famous battle for dominance between the Vauxhall Cavalier and the Ford Sierra rages on.

And, no doubt influenced by the fact the Cavalier was in production for 20 years compared to the Sierra’s 12 – it is the Cavalier that has suffered the biggest decline in numbers from 1,201,833 in 1995 to 4,871 (1,196,962 decrease). The Sierra has dropped from just over a million (1,052,418) to 4,147 today (969,835 decrease).

Despite only ceasing production in 1997 after 17 years, numbers of the Metro have plunged by 926,393 to 2,487 ,showing the third biggest decline in the ‘once common’ cars selected for analysis by RAC Cars.

Greatest decrease in memorable models by volume

Rank Make Model 2015 2005 1995 2015-1995 difference
1 Vauxhall Cavalier 4,871 209,175 1,201,833 1,196,962
2 Ford Sierra 4,147 67,767 973,982 969,835
3 Austin MG Rover Metro 2,487 87,853 928,880 926,393
4 Ford Orion 626 29,378 429,135 428,509
5 Peugeot 205 7,258 104,508 360,639 353,381
6 Renault 5 1,456 27,717 184,475 183,019
7 Vauxhall Carlton 496 16,594 177,137 176,641
8 Citroen BX 495 10,148 171,478 170,983
9 Austin MG Rover Maestro 324 5,322 75,674 75,350
10 Ford Cortina 3,749 4,947 75,216 71,467

 

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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