RAC Cars News


Supermini Classics

By raccars Published

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The classics market tends to be centred around sports cars and saloons, but for a long time now in the UK, superminis have made up the biggest selling segment in the automotive market. The supermini was created in the Seventies to fill a gap in the market, between the iconic Mini and larger family cars. The result changed the game both for the car buying public and for auto manufacturers, and some of those early supermini examples now make great classics - interesting to look at and economical, both to buy and run.

Fiat 127

Originally conceived as a two door saloon in its home country of Italy in 1971, the addition of a tailgate helped the 127 to become a huge international success. A couple of facelifts and hot hatches later, the 127 was superseded in 1983 by the Fiat Uno.

Austin Metro

A little later to the game in 1980, the Austin Metro was back to basics motoring, utilising the A series engine from the Mini, yet it became a major player in the auto landscape of the Eighties, as a last gasp effort for British Leyland. Over the following decade, the Metro was smartened up and modernised before receiving a Rover badge, but even in its original, utilitarian form it performed a very important function for BL.

Fiat Panda

While the 127 gained its Italian manufacturer a solid foothold in the supermini segment in the Seventies, it was the creation of the idiosyncratic Panda that was really significant. This was grassroots motoring - functional and funky in the style of the Citroen 2CV. The Panda was available in the UK from 1980 to 1995 and much derided for its primitiveness in later years, although it remained in production until 2003 elsewhere. Since then, its virtues have been newly appreciated and the Panda is held in great affection these days.

Ford Fiesta

Upon its launch in 1977, it was impossible to imagine the behemoth that the Fiesta would become. Success was inevitable however, thanks to its smart, fresh styling, excellent driving dynamics and economical ownership costs. It was an instant hit and has since been through a number of generations, to become the best selling car ever in the UK.

Peugeot 205

Peugeot had already entered the supermini market in the Seventies with the 104, but the 205's arrival in 1983 made all its rivals sit up and take notice. Clever design led to more interior space and mechanically it was a very modern and entertaining prospect. The hot hatch then became a logical progression...

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