What was your first car?
Most drivers will have fond memories of their first car, or perhaps the car they passed their test in – and here are some popular classics from recent years.
1970’s - Ford Cortina
The Ford Cortina first appeared on British roads in 1962, and over the next few years it grew in popularity to become the UK’s best-selling car of the 1970’s. In fact, the Cortina really came of age in 1970, with the launch of the MkIII. The bold new body shape brought a fresh look to UK motoring – similar to the “muscle cars” that were rolling off the production lines of Detroit, and it instantly became a big hit with British drivers. 1976 saw the launch of the MkIV – less stylish, more conventional, and designed to meet the needs of fleet buyers. So the Ford Cortina would never again reach the heights the 1970 MkIII, and by the mid-1980’s it was replaced by the Ford Sierra.
1980’s – Ford Capri
Although the Ford Capri was launched in the late 1960’s, it was the 1980’s models that were to become sought-after classics. The most coveted version is the Brooklands 280, with its 3.0 litre fuel-injected V6 engine. By today’s standards the 280’s performance figures don’t look particularly impressive – a top speed of 130mph and 0 – 60 in 7.8 seconds. But with its full leather Recaro interior, 7-spoke alloy wheels, that famous super-long bonnet plus the iconic Brooklands green paint job, this Capri was as much about style as speed. But style comes at a price, and if you can find a Capri 280 in good condition today, it’ll cost you over £20,000.
1990’s – Vauxhall Cavalier
The Vauxhall Cavalier is Britain’s 6th most popular car of all time (behind the Fiesta, Escort, Astra, Cortina, and Corsa) – with more than 1.8 million rolling off the production line over a 20-year period. Although less flamboyant than the Ford Capri, and never quite achieving the cult status enjoyed by the Cortina, the Cavalier was a firm favourite with millions of Brits. Yet this family saloon had an impressive racing pedigree too, winning the British Touring Cars Manufacturer’s Championship in 1992, and the Driver’s Championship (with John Cleland behind the wheel) in 1995. But this was to be the height of its success, and in 1996 the good old Cavalier was replaced by the Vectra.
Noughties - Toyota Prius
The Toyota Prius was launched in Japan in 1997 – the culmination of a 5-year project to produce a viable, practical, low-emission vehicle. It was the world’s first mass-produced petrol-electric hybrid vehicle, and in 2000 it made its debut on British roads. The early Prius was slow off the mark, and flat-out, foot-to-the-floor it couldn’t quite reach 100mph. But with a combined fuel economy of 57.6mpg and CO2 emissions of just 114g/km, it represented a massive leap forward in terms of fuel efficiency and eco performance. This heralded a new age of clean technology, and the Prius is still going strong today, with each new generation offering a longer range and higher speeds.