Over time, manufacturers retire older car models to make way for new vehicles that suit our changing driving habits. While some models inevitably fall out of fashion, others take their place and become our new favourites.
From the Morris Minor to the Ford Escort, we have taken a trip down memory lane, analysing 45 retired models to see how many of the UK's best-loved cars are still on our roads. Using average auction prices, we have calculated just how much Britain’s classic car collection is worth, both on and off the road.
Discontinued cars in Britain are worth over £3.7 billion collectively
Across the 45 models we analysed, we estimate that Britain’s discontinued car collection totals £3,722,149,293 - that’s over £3.7 billion!
Of this total, over £1.5 billion’s worth (£1,505,974,317) is declared off the road through a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN).
By registering their car as SORN, drivers are declaring their car is out of use, so they don’t have to pay vehicle tax or insurance on it. Vehicles declared as SORN must be kept in a garage, driveway or private land, and not on the roadside or pavement.
This means that 40% of discontinued cars’ total value is tucked away in garages and on driveways, rather than on the open road!
Britain is home to Ford Escorts worth over £592.6 million in total
The Ford Escort takes the top spot as the UK’s most valuable discontinued car. Selling for £9,876 each on average, the collective total of licensed and SORN Ford Escorts in the country is £592,560,000. In fact, Escorts declared as SORN represent £434,544,000 of this total, showing that the vast majority aren’t currently on the road.
Following behind the Escort is the Vauxhall Zafira, Ford Ka and Vauxhall Vectra. All discontinued in the 21st Century (as late as 2020 in the case of the Ford Ka), the cars benefit from having a larger number of available models, as well as a shorter time for the cars to go out of circulation.
The Austin-Morris Mini is the highest-charting model of the last century, taking fifth place. Popular in the 1960s until production halted in 1968, sales of the car today average at £8,249 each, with licensed and SORN vehicles worth £216,948,700 combined.
Averaging at £14,592, Ford Capri is worth the most today
Our analysis of auction selling prices between January 2020 and February 2022 has revealed which discontinued models are worth the most.
Topping the list of the most expensive retired car models to buy today is the Ford Capri, which will set you back just under £15,000 at £14,592. The car was the must-have model and one of the best-selling in the UK in 1976.
Keeping the Capri company in the top three are two other iconic Ford models; the Cortina and Escort. Average selling prices over the past two years were £13,704 and £9,876 respectively.
86% of Peugeot 405 cars are currently declared off the road
The latest Department for Transport data shows that as of Q3 2021, 474 Peugeot 405 cars were licensed, compared to 3,000 that are SORN. This means that 86% of these models are off the road in the UK.
In second place is the Austin Metro and MG Metro, a supermini that had multiple names during its 18-year production. With 2,569 cars in total across the two brands, 83% (2,141) are currently SORN.
Following in third, 626 (82%) of the 768 Austin Maestros in the country aren’t currently licensed to be on the road.
Vauxhall Viva has the highest license rate at 98%
On the flipside, which discontinued cars are we more likely to see driving on our roads?
Topping the list is the Vauxhall Viva. Initially discontinued in 1979, 98% of the small family car is licensed to be on the road. Of the 39,805 in the UK as of Q3 2021, just 805 were SORN.
However, the Vauxhall Viva was revived between 2015 and 2019, which could be the reason why so many remain on the roads.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the top five is dominated by vehicles that have ceased production in more recent years. Vauxhall Zafira (discontinued in 2018), Ford Ka (2020), Fiat Punto (2018) and Citroen Xsara (2010) all have at least three quarters of their vehicles licensed to be on the road.
As our research shows, we’re not always ready to part with our cars, even if the model has been discontinued. These passionate motor enthusiasts are helping to keep the legacy of some iconic cars alive.
For over 100 years, Bristol Street Motors has been a trusted retailer of new and used cars. We have sold many of these now classic cars over the years and we are here to help you find your next motor. Discover our selection of the latest new cars and quality used cars online today.
For each of the top five best-selling models from 1965 to 2000, we found out how many were licensed and SORN in Q3 2021 using How Many Left, which uses vehicle licensing statistics from the Department for Transport.
Using Glenmarch, we calculated the average selling price at UK auctions for each model based on the sold prices between 1st January 2020 and 1st February 2022. Online sale prices were used for vehicles which were too modern to be sold at a classic car auction.
Any models with missing information were omitted from our analysis.