January 19th, 2011

The 1980s, they weren’t that bad were they?

I sit here writing this article in automotive anguish. Why, you may ask? You see, the once common Ford Sierras, Vauxhall Carltons and Morris Marinas of the past are fading away before us. To some this will be seen as a positive. Half the country seemed to be cruising around in Sierras during the late 80s, and probably won’t be fondly remembered. But they were popular and hard-working cars of the time.

There’s something disheartening about seeing a once noble saloon pushed into the background and disregarded for new metal. Now, in January 2011, we’ve passed the end of the scrappage scheme by almost a year and it’s clear to see a difference between before and after it.

Vehicle scrappage was introduced by the government as way of boosting new car sales in the UK during the downturn in 2009. Whitehall made it seem more palatable in in tune with broader government policy by claiming it was the ‘green’ way forward for more efficient cars to purchased in exchange for ‘old bangers’ – a term used loosely. There was an early surge in sales, but by the end of 2009, its impetus had weakened and it dragged on into the early months of 2010.

There was much debate as to how ‘green’ it was to crush Mot’d cars from yesteryear (with the exception of the newer stuff). As with many of these schemes there were criteria, which included ownership of the car for a year and that dealers couldn’t sell the said car face value of it – there were to be crushed and a certificate of destruction produced. The profits for car manufacturers were marginal given the amount that the consumer had off the new car.

Before the scrappage scheme, finding a 1980s saloon, or period hatchback in the classifieds for nothing was easy enough as they were ten a penny, even given the amount that had been fed to the banger racers over the years. Over time the price has now been paid, you see those once common cars have been wasted, and for what? A Hyundai i10? There may be a few positive points to these newfangled cars, but have we moved forward? The scheme didn’t directly benefit us or the car industry as much as we’d hoped and we’re now without some of our nostalgia from a time gone by.

You could argue that these nostalgic years should be ignored and we should grow up and move on. Sure, we should, but it is nice to rekindle the memories of our first cars by seeing another one trundle down the road next to us. So it is for that reason, that these mere saloons should be saved and not forgotten.

Words: Charlie Johnson