Cars from ’80s and ‘90s make endangered-species list

What’s rarer than a Pagani Zonda? On British roadways, a Lada Riva or Alfa 146

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Only 49 Lada Riva cars remain licensed for British roads, magazine discovers | Retro Cars photos

“Cars of the Eighties, Nineties and 2000s at Risk of Terminal Decline” screamed the headline on the news release from Britain’s Retro Cars magazine.

What? Has there been some Brexit catastrophe that threatens the existence of three decades of vehicles in the UK? 

Not quite. 

However, the magazine checked the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency data report on the Gov.UK website and came up with a “danger list” of vehicles in jeopardy of extinction in England.

“Some of the most popular cars of the Eighties and Nineties are in almost terminal decline according to the latest DVLA data collated by Retro Cars, the car magazine dedicated to accessible modern classic cars from the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s,” the magazine reported.

“According to the figures, the most endangered car of the 1980s and 1990s is the Lada Riva, once the butt of many a Blackpool comedian’s joke, but now rarer than a Pagani Zonda. 

Only Alfa Romeo 146 cars remain registered by British drivers

“If you want exclusivity and prestige, perhaps now’s the time to hunt down a Riva 1500 SLX? After all, just 49 Rivas are known to survive.

Meanwhile, while thousands of Alfa Romeo 146 vehicles were sold to British residents in the 1990s, “a mere 89 are left on the road,” the magazine discovered.

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“More commonly seen cars from the era are also in grave danger, though, with cars that were once in the UK’s top 10 seller lists having disappeared almost completely. Among them are the last remaining 468 Rover 800s, 409 Peugeot 309s, 324 Nissan Bluebirds, 286 Citroen BXs and 218 Fiat Unos.”

Magazine editor Craig Cheetham offered some perspective on the situation:

“Cars of the Eighties and Nineties are becoming increasingly popular with younger drivers who are embracing this era, but the supply of cars is a lot worse than it is or was for classics of an earlier vintage thanks to a generational shift in society, which has seen a car become as much of a disposable asset as a washing machine.

“In the Eighties and Nineties the days of ‘make good and mend’ turned into ‘finance and replace,’ not helped by the 2009/10 scrappage scheme, and in the future the everyday cars of this era will be far less common than classic MGBs or Triumphs. Indeed, in many cases they already are.”

The magazine said the 10 most-threatened cars from the era are:

  • Lada Riva, only 49 remaining
  • Alfa Romeo 146, 89
  • Fiat Uno, 218
  • Renault 21, 221
  • Vauxhall Carlton, 270
  • Citroen BX, 286
  • Nissan Bluebird, 324
  • Volvo 440, 407
  • Peugeot 309, 409
  • Rover 800, 468
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(Source: DVLA statistics through December 2019.)

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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