News : Classic car top tens, Brits prefer Germans

Evergreen MGB is actually only the second most popular pre-1980 classic on UK roads.
Evergreen MGB is actually only the second most popular pre-1980 classic on UK roads.

Analysis by MoneySupermarket has identified the most popular older cars on Britain’s roads, with Volkswagens dominating the list of the pre-1996 vehicles which are still going strong today. The analysis was gained by looked at 34 million enquiries through MoneySupermarket’s car insurance channel in a 12 month period to the end of March this year.

Veteran vehicles have survived the Labour Government introduced scrappage scheme for cars over ten years of age in 2009, the analysis shows there are still hundreds of thousands of ‘older’ cars on the road. The Volkswagen Beetle tops the list of pre-1980s cars still on the road. The German carmaker also tops the list of top 10 cars from the ’80s, and pre-1996, with the Golf being the most popular car.

Top 10 Surviving         Top 10 Surviving     Top 10 Surviving early
Pre-1980s cars             1980s cars                  1990s cars (Pre-1996)
1. Volkswagen Beetle       1. Volkswagen Golf       1. Volkswagen Golf
2. MGB                               2. Austin Rover Mini   2. Nissan Micra
3. Mini                                3. Ford Escort               3. Vauxhall Corsa
4. Land Rover 88             4. Land Rover 90          4. Vauxhall Astra
5. Morris Minor               5. Ford Fiesta                 5. Ford Fiesta
6. MG Midget                   6. Peugeot 205               6. Honda Civic
7. Ford Escort                   7. Ford Capri                  7. Volkswagen Polo
8. Triumph Spitfire         8. Volkswagen Polo      8. Peugeot 106
9. Triumph Stag               9. Porsche 944               9. Ford Escort
10. Triumph Herald       10. Ford Sierra               10. Land Rover Discovery

The analysis also looked at the most popular tax-free car on the road, those cars registered before 1973, and therefore exempt from vehicle excise duty. The Volkswagen Beetle was again the most popular car with 70 per cent of all classic cars being this model. Still popular was the MGB which accounted for almost 20 per cent of road tax exempt vehicles in the analysis.

Most Popular Tax Free Cars (Pre 1973)
70.30% VW Beetle < £5k
19.30% MG £5k-£13k
4.00% Triumph TR6 £13k-£21k
4.10% Jaguar E-Type £21k-£60k
2.20% Bugatti Type 101 £60k+

Peter Harrison, car insurance expert at MoneySupermarket, said: ‘Britons’ love affair with their classic cars continues, and it seems that although the Government introduced a scrappage scheme to take older cars off the road, many veteran vehicles are still going strong. The Volkswagen Beetle, so popular in the 1970s and ’80s, continues to be the most popular pre-1996 car on the road.’

Keith Adams


  1. The headline should read “brits prefer germans” full stop.

    Sad that the image factor has trickled down into classics.

  2. Based on local experience (Gloucester), I’m not conscious of having seen many 80’s Golfs or Polo’s recently, and Sierras are now as rare as rocking horse dung in this part of the world. However, we have a large Asian community here, and they often favour ancient (and anonymous) Japanese cars. Still quite a few Camrys, Cherrys, Sunnys, Micras, and Hondas of every type.

    Having recently run a 94 Sunny (yeah, I know, but I was desperate…), you would hardly know that the thing was 15 years old, apart from the styling, and lack of power steering. They really were built to last.

  3. The usual suspects,parts are readily available so not surprising,its only when you have to scour europe for a piece of candystripe seat cloth you know things a getting a bit rare!

  4. Its really a combination of clever marketing by German companies and the British Car mags that have been backing them for yonks banging on about how great German cars are and so forth. Then of course came the inevitable sport of ‘British-built’ bashing.

    It almost makes you sick when you travel to places like Germany and Japan and see that the people of those countries are still faithful to thier home-produced brands, even with thier own faults.

    This problem is not unique to cars though…

  5. @1 – You just flagged up a great topic for discussion – just what is so attractive/desirable about German cars……especially VWs (I’m not been sarcastic for once – I would actually like to know).

  6. Pre-1980 list has one German car and 9 British. No way the number of Beetles exceeds the combined total of the rest.

    1980’s – 3 German, 1 French and 6 British.

    Post 1980’s – 2 German, 2 Japanese, 1 French and 5 British.

    You are looking at these lists the wrong way. Yes, a German car tops each list but there are far more British cars than any others, so contradicts the general statement that Brits prefer German cars to our own

  7. @5 i have been at the thick end of beetle restos and they are all generally “reels of cotton” upto e reg (not 88,ha ha)they was ok in terms of the frame head at the front being quite resiliant after that….and to be frank doing them got me down,ive done the odd spitfire and MGB and enjoyed it.where i live british classics are in abundance,there is a concours stag that gets hired out to production companies (a sin)even classic tractors Doe triple D’s that command a kings ransom,to be honest,any old car evokes memories be it an old datsun,a facel vega,a interceptor or a viceroy,the trouble with some VW’s is they get the “cal” look and are customised rather than preserved-but each to thier own!

  8. By way of follow up to my previous comment…

    The last paragraph was not aimed at the writer or anyone else in particular.

    These lists are a bit like the first-past-the-post elections. Ok, more people may own a Beetle than a Morris Minor, but there are far more people who DON’T own one. Likewise, if you look at the 3 lists as a whole then there are fewer German cars than others, particularly British ones. That was really the point I was getting at when I challenged the headline to the article.

    Thank you

  9. I think if you look at the % of cars sold and still on the road I am sure the Triumphs and land rovers would be nearer the top. You can really make data show what ever you want it to show. L

  10. The list above should be taken with a pinch of salt.. I mean, how many Beetles were made globally? Seems like either poor reporting or a lopsided presentation of the statistics.

  11. Most Popular Tax Free Cars (Pre 1973)

    2.20% Bugatti Type 101 £60k+

    According to Wikipedia, only seven Bugatti Type 101 were built. Is this really the fifth most popular pre-1973 car, ahead of, say, the Mini? And 2.2% of the total!? Don’t think the list is very reliable.

    As to the popularity of the Beetle… First, they built millions of them, so there’s a large pool to choose from. Second, if you want a piece of the swinging 60s, it’s either a Beetle or a Mini. A Vauxhall Velox or Ford Anglia doesn’t cut it.

  12. I think this report is a load of codswallop! Britains prefer german cars because of people asking about insurance. As any body knows the UK is full of people who dream and ask for prices of car insurance even though they are never going to buy. The same with property – how many hits do Right Move and Prime Location get compared to the amount of people actualy buying.

    I do have to say that VW Beettles would be up there anyway as so many of the horrid things were made. And not only that I believe there are actually more Agrros on the road than there are Ford Escorts, so how is that up 7th?

  13. How does the Bugatti 101 even appear on this list?? I suspect the TR2 is far more popular Only 7 101s were ever ever made, nearly half of them reside in Mulhouse. This is typical of modern stats suppoesedly touted by experts to prove a point. No one has acatully botherd to process the data at all and the result is decicedly spurious. When it somes to road saftey things get even worse (especially if there is money to be made)

  14. All this confirms is that the majority is always wrong.

    The majority thought the Earth was flat.
    The majority thought the Sun went round the Earth.
    The majority bought VW Beetles.

    People who use their brains are never in the majority!

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