Iconic but "unexceptional" British cars are at risk of becoming extinct, analysts have found – but there are hopes that nostalgia will save classic 80s models from the scrapheap.
Austin Montegos, Maestros and Metros are among the most at risk of disappearing from driveways, according to an analysis by the price comparison service Uswitch.
Their numbers have fallen dramatically in the last two decades. The Montego dropped from 205,283 in 1995 to just 34 in 2020, the Maestro from 231,824 to 90 and the Metro from 572,974 to 289.
However, experts believe the isolation and limited social interaction of the country’s Covid lockdowns has led to car lovers reflecting on the vehicles that remind them of childhood.
They say this – combined with working from home, which has allowed Britons to make savings – is leading to a "surge" in demand and therefore value of cars that are not considered classics but hold a special sentimental significance.
The 10 most endangered cars
Austins are among models to have seen a resurgence in value in the past 12 months, with their prices increasing by up to 14 per cent, according to Hagerty, the world’s largest provider of specialist insurance for enthusiast vehicles.
The Austin Allegro, which was introduced in 1973 and discontinued in 1982, sold for an average of £2,425 last year. This has now risen to £2,755.
John Mayhead, the UK editor of the Hagerty Price Guide, said: "There is a real sense of nostalgia for these cars that used to be on everyone’s driveway, and people have a strong emotional connection to them.
"Since the end of the first Covid lockdown last year, there has been a surge in demand for all types of classic cars. We speak to owners, dealers and others in the trade and most believe that this is the result of people being more aware of what’s most important in life.
"With a little money saved, some people are going out and buying the car they have always wanted. In some instances, this is a car that reminds them of their childhood."
Mr Mayhead said everyday cars were the backbone of Britain in the 1980s and 1990s, but were regarded as "unloved workhorses" that would eventually be scrapped. However, their rarity and symbolism of years gone by has "tugged at the heartstrings" of enthusiasts.
"They are snapping up the remaining examples, sometimes because of an emotional connection and sometimes perhaps because they feel a duty to preserve them for the enjoyment of future generations," he said.
The Austin Maestro has featured in detective series including Inspector Morse, A Touch of Frost and perhaps most prominently The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, in which Sergeant Barbara Havers was regularly seen speeding off to crime scenes in the model. It features in sixth place on Uswitch’s list of most endangered cars.
Topping the list is the Austin Montego, a family saloon car produced by British Leyland from 1984 until 1988, and then by the Rover Group until 1995. Other models in danger of never being seen on the roads again are the Fiat Regata, Lada Samara, Hyundai Pony, Vauxhall Belmont, Datsun Stanza, Zastava Yugo and Nissan Stanza.