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Top Five Vanishing Family Cars

Written by Andy Roberts

There comes a moment in the life-cycle of many previously popular cars when they almost vanish overnight and looking at the ‘How Many Left’ website is almost as depressing as watching Take the High Road.

Then you start to think when you last saw a Rover 600, a Vauxhall Cavalier Mk.2 or a Citroen BX? And so, without further ado here are five of the now most exclusive family cars of the 1970s and 1980s:

 

5) Lada 1200

Numbers believed to be on the road – six

The car was used as joke fodder by many a mediocre 1980’s comedian or featured as the star prize on budget quiz shows, but for many years Ladas occupied suburban driveways and taxi ranks outside country railway stations. The 1200 was the first example of the Lada to be officially sold in the UK, and to a 1974 vintage driver it offered high levels of equipment and a spacious interior for just £1,273.26.  The AA’s Drive magazine thought that the Lada offered ‘uncompromising solidity’ and ‘earthy practicality’ although in later life - as with many ‘1970s confections’, according to Lada guru Ed Hughes -  they had a propensity for serious corrosion.

 

4) Bedford Beagle

Numbers believed to be on the road – five

Bedford BeagleSome cars have presence but the Beagle has absence. It was essentially a Vauxhall Viva derived HA van with extra side windows and a rear seat fitted by the Folkestone coachbuilder Martin Walter, providing the basis for small motor caravans and (exceedingly) low-speed rural police patrol cars. The HA saloon ceased production in 1966 but the mighty Beagle was made well into the HC Viva era - the ideal estate car for nearly all woodwork teachers, people who regarded the Morris Minor Traveller as too exciting and anyone else who regarded a brown shop coat as the height of fashion.

 

3) Austin Allegro S3 HLS

Numbers believed to be on the road – two

For all the various brickbats hurled at the Allegro during its production run, its devotees maintain that it was sorely misunderstood. The third-generation models boasted extra ‘vroom’ from their A-Plus engines. The HLS badging meant a comfortable interior and four slightly awkward looking headlamps were now included. The upmarket Allegro S3 captures the spirit of the 1980’s.

 

2) Fiat 127 Sport

Numbers believed to be on the road – two

Put simply, the Sport version of the Fiat 127 is an absolute gem. The colour choices were dynamic – black with orange stripes, silver with black stripes or, for the low-key driver, orange with black stripes and few rivals could hope to beat its combination of performance, handling, comfort and sheer brio. Alas, Fiat was to rust-prevention what ‘Confessions from a Holiday Camp’ was to great cinema but at least modern day owners may fairly regard themselves as having custody of one of the great cars of its day.

 

1) Zastava Yugo 311

Numbers believed to be on the road – one

When the Fiat 128 debuted in 1969, it was justly regarded as one of the finest vehicles in its class. 12 years later, a 3-door hatchback version built in the former Yugoslavia did not receive so much acclaim – it looked as though it was held together with blu-tack – but it was extremely cheap. In 1983, What Car noted that ‘as an overall package the Yugo sets new standards for performance and refinement that make other Eastern European cars look pretty long in the tooth. The sole surviving 311 is thought to live now in Scotland and which of its original drivers would have ever believed that one day their Yugo would be one of the most exclusive forms of transport in the UK?

 

 

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