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Which Memorable Models Of Car Really Stand The Test Of Time?

By raccars Published

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RAC Cars has been conducting some non-scientific research to find out which of the most memorable models of cars from the past are still around today.

The Top Ten Memorable Models Test of Time List

Sadly some of the most popular cars of years gone by are virtually extinct, and unless some care is taken to preserve them for posterity, they will soon be nothing more than a footnote in automotive history. While great care is taken to preserve Jaguar E-Types, Aston Martin DB5s and other traditional classics, this investigation was focused on the more popular cars of only a generation or two ago - the cars we grew up with, learned to drive in, went on first dates in...

The best - or worst - of British Leyland

There are some 30 million cars on British roads today, but of those only 17 of them are Austin Ambassadors, for example. The large, distinctively angular car was never sold in large numbers in the first place, with only 43,427 going to UK owners over the two year 1982-1984 production run. However 20 years ago there was a far healthier quantity of Ambassadors still on the road - 5,515. Where have they all gone? Well, a number have gone to the scrap heap. Let's be honest, British Leyland products weren't necessarily known for their durable build quality. Those 17 which remain are surely in the loving hands of dedicated enthusiasts, who must have worked pretty hard to keep them roadworthy. Nonetheless, let's hope there are a fair few rotting quietly away in barns and unused garages, one day to be discovered and returned to former glories. The Ambassador was never a great car but, like the ungainly dodo, its extinction would be a pity.

Another British Leyland product, the Princess, which preceded the Ambassador, has suffered a similar fate. Of the 225,000 sold in Britain, there are only 45 left according to DVLA records.

Old bangers

Then there's the Lada Riva, for so long the butt of many an automotive joke but very visible on British roads. The Riva was available in the UK from 1983-1997 and in 1995 there were still 56,898 of them in use. Now only 60 remain. In fact time has not been kind to Lada as a brand. Of 109,732 UK-owned Ladas, there are only 188 old bangers still in existence.

Next up is the Datsun Cherry, which also wore a Nissan badge. DVLA records show only 93 still officially on the road, a dramatic drop compared to 65,503 two decades ago. A large scale decline in numbers has also been reported by Vauxhall's Senator luxury saloon and Chevette supermini, once familiar sights on British roads. Only 167 and 238 are still in use today, respectively, but in 1995 there were 25,799 Senators and 37,798 Chevettes at large. That's an awful lot of metal lost.

The Morris Marina is pretty rare these days but its demise has taken a rather gentler path. Of 9,331 being driven in 1995, 289 are still on the road which is not too bad given its production era of 1971-1980, and its reputation as one of the worst cars in the world!

The Maestro was another much maligned product of the UK automotive industry and wore Austin, Rover and MG badges during its lifespan. Its numbers have fallen off a cliff, from 75,674 just 20 years ago to 325 today. Number nine in the top ten RAC Cars 'Memorable Models Test of Time' list is the Talbot Sunbeam, clinging to life with 440 models still in use, while rounding out the top ten is the Citroen BX. It was available from 1982-1994 in huge numbers and 171,478 of them were still around in 1995. 495 are clinging to life now.

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