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Homepage. This page: Future 'classic cars' Pt5 - Suggestions on what to avoid!

Modern cars that are the least likely to be classics, on merit at least...

Sooner or later, all cars gain "classic" status, whether it be through merit, nostalgic associations, celebrity endorsement or simply old age. However there are some automobiles which, IMHO, have no place, ever, on the Queen's highway, and should just have one immaculate example to represent them, securely locked away and the ignition keys disposed of, for reference only. Ok, perhaps that's a little harsh, but if ever there were cars that were ropey when they were new, and have improved to little or no discernible degree through the passage of time, these must be in with a shout. If they were a colour, they'd be brown, or beige at best. If they were weather, they'd be drizzle. Here are my suggested contenders...

These cars are either so poorly made, hideous to look at, or just plain rubbish that the public must be protected from them at all costs. So while in previous articles I have outlined some of the recent cars that might warrant preservation, the following are cars that are only ever likely to earn classic status through their age and scarcity, rather than merit or game-changing innovations.
Hyundai Pony - a ghastly creation?
Who remembers the dizzyingly appalling Hyundai Pony? once the chosen hack for window cleaners the world over, one of the most hideous machines ever to leak oil on our roads. And on the subject of Eastern machines, how about the Toyota Cressida and Nissan Laurel? Neither were that well rated when new and I don't think have improved one iota over the intervening thirty or so years. The same might be said of the Yugo Sana, or the Fiat-based 45. That's not to say that Eastern cars are the only ones that deserve to meet the jaws of the crusher of course (special mention must be made of the Trabant at this stage) it's just that they are responsible for some true horrors. The Datsun Cherry Europe has already been under the spotlight on a previous page, so I'll leave that one, but there are many others - witness the Nissan Micra for instance, beloved of driving schools everywhere, but with about as much soul as a Metallica concert. Any example of the Datsun Sunny should also be included here too, its tacky interior plummetting to new depths of badness. Equally worthy of shame are the Datsun 160 SSS, 120Y, 100A, Honda Civic (remember the 70s Hondamatic??), Mazda 929 & 626, Nissan Stanza, Silvia and all Bluebirds, all of them monuments to reliable dreariness, and reminders of just how far Japanese cars have come in developing for the European market. Nostalgia and a love of the unusual will see some survive, which I'm secretly happy about, but time doesn't make me yearn to actually own one any more than I did decades ago.

The DAF 33 deserves a mention, as it was pretty average to look at, but it avoids automatic crushing by a whisker thanks solely to its ingenious CVT transmission that it ran, innovation that was sadly lacking in cars such as the Austin Ambassador (basically a hatchback Princess, the car Austin should have launched from day one) and the Allegro, whose chief claim to fame was its quartic steering wheel, nasty brushed nylon seats (I remember them well), and general mediocrity. Following on from the likes of the 1100 and 1300, it was a poor replacement.

The Talbot Horizon should have been extinguished at birth, employing as it did the rattliest engine this side of a cement mixer, letting down what was on the face of it a promising, airy design. Talking of Talbot, they seem to have bent over backwards in their latter years to provide us with rich pickings for the automotive duffers hall of shame .. the Rancho just about survives, but instant bulldozing is the best thing that can be given to the woeful Chrysler 180 and Talbot Tagora 2.2, both hopeless attempts at stealing sales away from the Granada-buying public of the early 1980s, and one which rotted into oblivion as readily as did the related Sunbeam Alpine abhorrence of a few years earlier, and one of its rivals, the Hillman Avenger.
Rattles-a-plenty with Talbot's Horizon
While we're concentrating on such disasters, BL/BLMC/Austin Rover Group didn't let the side down when it came to offering lame ducks to the motoring public, even more recently than the Ambassador already mentioned. It is difficult to imagine there being a big following for Austin Montegos as they limp into their twilight years, their mundanity and propensity to instant corrosion having seen off most cars already, a similar fate befalling the sister Austin Maestro (with talking dashboard don't forget on the HLE and MG) thanks once again to indifferent build standards.

The Metro, or Austin Mini-metro as it was known when launched in the early 1980s, was planned as a replacement for the ageing Issigonis Mini, but as it turned out died long before the original (proper) Mini ever did. The Metro maintained ARGs stunning reputation for selling poorly-built cars, the sight of a Metro collapsed at the side of the road, its hydrolastic suspension having given up the ghost, was not terribly unusual in the 1980s and 1990s. Rot has claimed many Metros by now, but I suppose if you find a cossetted 1.0L base model, or a mint MG Turbo, then it may be worth saving it, dunking it waist-high in a vat of rust proofing solution, and taking out it out on bright, sunny, and above all dry, days every now and then. Again I remember it as being a decent design, let down in its execution which was a shame.

Ford's rival to the Metro, the Fiesta, although not unknown in rusty circles, has survived a little better, although the Mk2 especially, barely deserves much attention from the preservation movement, save for an occasional XR2 for comparitive purposes. While the Mk1 (code name "bobcat") was a fresh design when introduced in the 1970s, the Mk2 was little more than a re-vamp and didn't move the game on by much. It wasn't nasty as such, just forgettable. We had one briefly.

The French have come up with their fair share of motoring lemons too let's remember, the Citroen Visa and LNA being particularly unremarkable cars, especially when compared to the innovative designs embodied elsewhere in their range with the 2CV6 and CX. Yes they were cheap runabouts, but were largely un-lovely. All Renault 25s must be destroyed (well, maybe not all), while expending Waxoyl on "delights" such as the 11, 18 and 21 seems like an extravagance too far. Likewise there are plenty of Frenchmen merrily driving around in the rusty remains of one of Peugeots less memorable designs, the 305, which surely must be a candidate for filling in the channel tunnel with if ever there was one? Any gaps can be plugged with suitably crushed Talbot Sambas, as necessary. Curiously, the smaller 205 seems to have lasted much better and warrants preservation, whether in bog-standard or GTi form.

Anyway I think that's more than enough food for thought. Examples of all cars should make it into preservation in some form or another, as variety is what makes the collecting of classics so interesting for all involved. The above was very much in tongue-in-cheek. Hopefully all my ramblings above have been taken with a suitably large pinch of salt, and we can all now retire to our driveways while we ponder what to do with that wrecked add car details as appropriate that we've just saved for future generations.
This is Part 5 of a 5 part article on what cars now may be worth preserving for the future [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

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