Blog : An endangered species?

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Craig Cheetham

Almost five years ago to the day, the UK’s ‘Scrappage Scheme’ came to an end – that meant an end to the destruction of 10-year old plus cars which were, for the most part, among the best examples on the road.

Sadly, many of the cars that left our streets in 2009-2010 were among the better cared for examples, as people who could generally afford to buy brand new cars with a Government incentive were also the type of owners who could afford to look after their old car, maintain it properly and keep it in good condition.

It's workaday cars like these that are now disappearing - many of the cherished ones went five years ago...
It’s workaday cars like these that are now disappearing – many of the cherished ones went five years ago…

Not everyone, I acknowledge, is like me. Only once in my life have I scrapped a car, and it was a gut-wrenching experience – even ‘too far gone’, I believed that there could maybe have been a way to save it. RIP, HJA 567V. Indeed, many more pragmatic, practical folk would simply look at the economics and decide that, yes, it made sense to buy a new car.

In total, 392,227 cars were scrapped under the 2009/10 scheme. Sadly, while some were no doubt shockers, a large number were well-maintained examples of cars that, at the time, were pretty ordinary but are now on the cusp of classic recognition.

I was thinking about this the other day as, ever since I read David Morgan’s excellent ‘Raise a glass to…’ piece on the K-Series-engined Rover Metro, which has just turned 25, I have been thinking a) about buying one and b) about how rare they are these days.

A quick look at the ‘How Many Left’ website, though, revealed some startling statistics. In the autumn of 2008, there were 20,387 Rover Metros still registered. Today, there are a mere 2,038. That’s an attrition rate of over 90 per cent in less than six years.

Why? Well, if we consider that the vast majority of Metros on the road in 2008 were not cherished cars but in daily use, the likelihood is that those with wealthier owners may well have been scrapped. Indeed, I rescued one such car in 2010 – a pre-K-Series Metro 1.0 Clubman which was chopped in at my local Vauxhall dealership, but where the Sales Manager had put the customer into an ex-demo rather than a new car, thus avoiding the Scrappage Scheme paperwork. It would still have been crushed, though, had it not been for a friend who worked at a neighbouring industrial estate spotting it and tipping me the wink…  I was given 24 hours to collect it!

Craig's Metro Clubman - rescued from round the back of a Vauxhall dealership in 2010, and currently still in preservation.
Craig’s Metro Clubman – rescued from round the back of a Vauxhall dealership in 2010 and currently still in preservation

Lovely, isn’t it? And to think that the owner’s intention was to scrap it. At the time, a G-reg Metro was pretty worthless (if I recall, I gave £200 for it in the end) but, today, you’d have to ask that £2,000 question a little more carefully. Okay, so a 35,000-mile Clubman, no matter how nice, probably won’t go for £2k, but a Metro GTi, on the other hand… and that was a banger in 2009 as well.

The difficulty, though, is finding them. With over 90 per cent of Rover Metros having left this world since the start of 2009, the numbers for other workaday Rovers such as 200s, 400s, 600s and 800s are also in steep decline, not helped by the Scrappage Scheme cherry-picking the best well before their time…

If you can find a good example of any of the above (and, as a footnote, where have all the 600s gone?), keep it. Demand is already starting to exceed supply, as I found out when searching for a Metro. Did I find a good one? Well, that’s a story for a different day – and I have a 200 and a brace of 800s already!

 

Craig Cheetham

A serial impulsive car purchaser, Craig has had his name on over 200 V5s over the past 20 years. 10 per cent of those have been either 800s or Austin Allegros, with between 10 and 20 cars usually owned at any one time. Started out as a local newspaper journalist then worked for car mags including Auto Express, Classic Car Weekly and Land Rover Owner. Worked inside the car industry for a decade as an employee of General Motors, now works for a news distribution agency. Home based, which is dangerously convenient for further irrational heap purchases. Lover of all makes of car since childhood, with a particular leaning towards Austin-Rover... Father of three boys, so hoping to spread the car love. Other passions include rugby union, travelling and eating out.

33 Comments

  1. Number of people who recognise 1990s vanilla cars as “classics” < Number of 1990s vanilla cars sold.

    They can't all be saved, so 99% of Metros/Astras/Mondeos/whatevers need to go the crusher or the specialist dismantler, and 1% (mostly luxury or GTI models) get preserved.

    • Absolutely, I remember when Austin 1100s / Chevettes / Cortinas etc. starting becoming a rare sight, then it was the Metros / Astras / mk1 Mondeos that became rare.

      Still nice to see a fairly “boggo” spec car preserved, a reminder that not everyone of that era hooned about in GTi / GTE / Ghia X / ST spec cars.

      The scrappage scheme has done much to rid the roads of 80s-early 90s cars. Unfortunately indiscriminate, as the Triumph Mayflower that was scrapped at a BMW dealer for a 116i. The US scheme took good running cars and actually ran the engine with a destructive fluid and without oil, ensuring that they couldn’t even be used for parts.

  2. I read somewhere a couple of months ago that a significant number of scrappage scheme trade ins were still in compounds.

    • Don’t think they’ll be on ebay, unless the paperwork has been ‘mislaid’. The garages would have to submit the certificate of destruction to get their two grand, wouldn’t they? Consequently, the car couldn’t ever be put back on the road 🙁

  3. Craigs Metro Clubman looked too good to scrap… an inoffensive little car in solid blue. Pleased to hear it’s still around.

  4. My impression is that an awful lot of late 90s Focuses/Astras/Golfs are still on the street, slightly too new to be decimated by the scrapage scheme, and well built enough to still be reliable and relatively rust free

    • Up until the arrival of our third child in 2013, we ran a 2000 W-reg Golf GTI 8v as my wife’s main car. It had close to 200k on the clock and never, ever let us down. It’s no surprise to me that there are loads left – including that one, as a friend of mine still has it!

      • Craig – by chance, I followed a V reg 600 in metallic red in So. Shields last evening. It had cream interior, a clean looking exhaust with chrome tailpipes. The bodywork looked tidy. I admit you don’t see as many now. It was, in my opinion an under-rated car and every bit as good as the Accord doner car (I had one of those as a company car)

  5. I looked up 1989 Golf GTI I drove new on the DVLA website, and it’s still taxed and insured. There can’t be many of those left!

    • “There can’t be many of those left”

      Obviously some have been lost to joyriders and modifiers, but I’d say the Mk2 Golf GTI has one of the highest survival rates of all cars of its era! They’re worth a lot of money these days and there is a massive owners club following to support it.

  6. Those who traded in ten year old Rovers seemed to go mostly for the cheaper Far Eastern models, the Hyundai I 10 became a best seller during this period and there was an explosion locally of new Kia Picantos, Suzuki Altos and Hyundai i 10s. It seemed many older motorists were tempted by the £ 2000 offer against a car that could cost £ 6000-7000 and had a long warranty like the Hyundais and Kias, or in the case of the Suzuki, one of the cheapest cars to own.

    • Yep. BL/Rover had the “impoverished pensioner” market sewn up for decades, flogging Allegros, Metros and 100s to patriotic OAPs who loyally went back to the same dealer every three years for a new car.

      Kia and Hyundai stole this market with their long warranties and low cost of entry and they won’t be giving it up in a hurry.

  7. The 600 was the bees knees when it came out, but BMW never let Rover develop the range with any decent halo cars so perhaps it never became as desirable as it could have done?

    • The 600 was distinctive enough, thanks to Richard Woolley’s reworking of the Accord to give it a more upmarket image – grille design, rear chrome trim, rear lights, interior “wood” plus neutral colours etc. At a glance, the uninformed wouldn’t have thought it was derived from a Honda.

      When the 75 was launched, there were some good deals going on R600 run out models.

  8. Here’s the thing though…

    Thinking about pure economics of the whole scrappage scheme, if you were offered £750 or £2000 for a 10-year-old dealer maintained 115K ZT-T 135 with a clean MOT, which would you choose?

    Pains me to say but I’d take the bigger figure, and that is for a car that’s always had top money spent on it, as and when.

    On the subject, would anyone be prepared to make me an offer for said car?

  9. Scrappage scheme was fundamental economic lunacy.

    UK Government borrowing money to give to foreign manufacturers of foreign assembled white good cars.

    It will be decades before the UK is able to clear this debt was created, I do hope the good people of Eastern Europe and South Korea appreciate what we did for their economies.

    Far more could have been done for the UK Economy if the specifications for UK Police vehicles etc just happened to match perfectly with things like a Honda Civic or a Range Rover for example.

    • WRT your last line I remember at the time that Vauxhall was on the cusp of being sold to a bunch of Canadian asset strippers and after that debacle was settled GM announced either Ellesmere Port or Bochum would close. Whilst all this was going on his Davidness was visiting Nissan in Sunderland to tell them what a good job they were doing ( and in fairness they seem to be), but at the same time telling Police Forces in the country they have to replace their Vauxhall Astra Fleets with Hyundais rather than new Vauxhall Astras. Nothing like supporting British industry is there. Just like shipyards in the UK closing and our so called leaders giving out Royal Navy contracts to Daewoo instead.

      • Being Pedantic I don’t think buying Astra’s would have been much help for the people of Sunderland, also the decision to buy Hyundai’s was driven by the National Association of Police Fleet Managers, not a directive from Number 10. But true to say a bit of intervention like “Mad Mags” on BA dropping the Union Flag from its tail fins, to bang both Vauxhall management and Police Fleet Managers head together to look at the figures again and this come up with the right answer should have happened.

        In truth as for the Royal Naval Supply Ship contracts to Daewoo, they were lost effectively in the 70’s with the end of Commercial ship building. Warships yes, but freighters and tankers we just can’t build at anything like a competitive price.

        You can justify short term intervention, but our Commercial ship industry along with most of Northern Europe, Scandinavia and Japan is either kept afloat with dead end subsidies or has gone. This was because neither the management or the workforce were prepared to accept the changes necessary to compete with South Korea.

    • Here, here !

      Ever seen French/German/Italian/Korean/and even the US Police drive anything but their own brands?

      Only in the UK…..

  10. I only know one person who scrappaged a car under that scheme and it was a knackered T reg Saxo, not a VTR/VTS but one of the basic ones that didn’t even have PAS, got £2k off a base spec VW Fox. Pretty sound move if you ask me.

  11. It was a shame many otherwise decent cars were scrapped. Fair does, no one would shed any tears over a Ford Escort, but I did see an immaculate S reg Rover 600 being traded in for a Toyota Aygo in 2009 and I did notice after the scheme ended, a massive reduction in the number of nineties Rovers on the road.

  12. Sad thing was Britain had nothing affordable compared to the cars that were bought during the scrappage scheme. I couldn’t see a pensioner trading in their old Rover for a new Mini, where they’d probably have to find an extra £10,000 to afford the basic model. Mostly they went for the cheapest end of the market and companies like Hyundai and Kia experienced a boom in sales for their £ 7000 cars.
    Not that you could blame people for buying a Kia Picanto, it’s a reliable small car with a long warranty and plenty of standard equipment and very low running costs. Also locally sales of Suzuki Altos, which were down to £6000 at the time, went through the roof, a simple 1 litre car that an owner of an old Metro could appreciate.

  13. I saw a lovely bright red well-cared for 620 yesterday,

    600’s must be most endangered modern Rover’s due to their high running costs, a friend had a 620 and reckoned he never saw 25MPG!

  14. Spotted in Whitehaven, an immaculate J reg Rover 1.1 C in red. It’s nice that such a basic model has survived and is probably in daily use.

  15. In the nineties I used to own and have regretted it ever since was a 1986 Audi 200 Quattro Turbo Avant in Tornado red. It was rare car then and my god do you see them now. It was awesome with those half check leather seats.

    You never see them now wish I still had it.

  16. @ Chris, Audi’s BMW 7 series rival, I’d forgotten about them. Mind you when was the last time you saw a mid eighties BMW 7 series.

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