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The car makes and models that are going extinct

The car industry is always evolving, with a constant production line of innovative models. While some dependable classics can outlive any newcomers, others fall by the wayside. Some cars that were mainstays on British roads are now nowhere to be seen, but which have declined in popularity the most? And which are the rarest cars around?

Some are high-end supercars, of which only very small numbers were ever created. But others that were once common sights on the road, have now become classic cars. So much so that they sometimes require specialist car insurance.

Image of the front right headlight and wheel of a sportscar in subdued and moody lighting

Here’s a look at the vehicles that’ve seen their numbers decrease the most in recent years and the ones with the fewest models left.

 

The UK’s rarest cars

There are currently 41 different car models in the UK that have just 1 vehicle left licenced in the UK. The list includes high-end supercars such as the Lamborghini Centenario and Maserati MC12, alongside lesser-known models from years gone by.

Others are foreign vehicles that are better known by other names here in the UK. For example, the Opel Omega, is known in the UK as the Vauxhall Omega.

Also listed is the Aston Martin DB1. According to data, just 15 models were sold in the UK between 1948 and 1950, with just 1 currently licenced.

The UK’s rarest car models:

  • Chevrolet GMC Tacuma
  • Chevrolet GMC Matiz
  • Datsun Prairie
  • Maserati MC12
  • Mazda 2000
  • Opel Omega
  • Sao Penza
  • Volkswagen TL
  • Cadillac XLR
  • Daimler XJ6
  • Mazda 600
  • Subaru GLF
  • Aixam 400
  • Aston Martin DB1
  • Audi 70
  • BMW 1500
  • Bristol 402
  • Citroën Confort
  • Classic Replicas Mule
  • Datsun 200
  • Farboud GTS
  • Hyundai 1400
  • Infiniti I30
  • Isuzu Rodeo
  • Opel Diplomat
  • Pontiac Executive
  • Škoda MB
  • SMC CHP
  • Subaru GL
  • Citroën E-Méhari EV
  • Colt Tredia
  • Dacia Denem
  • Datsun HS30
  • Hillman GT
  • Lamborghini Centenario
  • Mia L3
  • Oldsmobile Delmont
  • Polski-Fiat 125p
  • SMC Force
  • Vanden Plas 1.5
  • Vanden Plas 1.7

A further 22 vehicles have just 2 surviving models in the UK, including the Nissan President and Vauxhall Manta.

 

Cars that have seen the biggest decline

Infographic showing the top 3 car models with the biggest decline on UK roads over the last 10 years

1. Fiat Brava (-94.88%)

2012: 14,995
2022: 767

Looking back 10 years, the car that has seen the biggest drop in numbers is the Fiat Brava. In 2012, just under 15,000 Bravas were registered in the UK. This has since dropped to 767 cars by 2022.

The Brava is the twin to the Fiat Bravo and is a small 5-door fastback, family car. The last one was produced in 2003.

At the time, the Brava was pitched as a futuristic car, but this look was actually received negatively by critics. That being said, the Brava was championed by Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear, way back in 1995. He said of the Brava/Bravo at the time: "This is how an ordinary car can look if you put a bit of effort into it. A good-looking car, that's nice to drive and cheap to run too."

After being discontinued, the Brava was replaced by the Fiat Stilo, which was then also discontinued in Europe in 2007.

2. Daewoo Lanos (-93.55%)

2012: 16,020
2022: 1,034

In second is the Daewoo Lanos, that has seen its numbers dwindle by 93.55% over the last decade, with just over 1,000 remaining.

The Lanos was a compact car that ceased production in 2002, although it continued to be made under licence in some countries, such as Vietnam and Egypt, until 2020.

The Lanos prioritised reliability over any fancy features but was a popular car in its day, with over 16,000 models in 2012. It’s since been replaced by the Daewoo Kalos, which is a rare sight on British roads these days too, with just 1,368 remaining.

3. Kia Shuma (-93.36%)

2012: 4,185
2022: 278

Third is the Kia Shuma, another car that ceased production in the early 2000s. Like others on this list, the Shuma was sold as a value option, with a focus on reliability and practicality.

Better known as the Kia Mentor here in the UK, over 4,000 existed under the Shuma nameplate as of 2012. That number has dropped by over 93% over the years and now stands at 278 cars.

Rank Model Number of licenced cars (Q1 2012) Number of licenced cars (Q1 2022) Difference
1
Fiat Brava
14,995
767
-94.88%
2
Daewoo Lanos
16,020
1,034
-93.55%
3
Kia Shuma
4,185
278
-93.36%
4
Daewoo Tacuma
6,994
466
-93.34%
5
Kia Mentor
1,383
95
-93.13%
6
Hyundai Lantra
5,358
424
-92.09%
7
Kia Clarus
249
20
-91.97%
8
Daewoo Nubira
4,891
394
-91.94%
9
Fiat Marea
5,205
423
-91.87%
10
Proton Wira
3,421
301
-91.20%
11
Rover CityRover
7,465
664
-91.11%
12
Daewoo Leganza
2,034
186
-90.86%
13
Vauxhall Sintra
1,140
105
-90.79%
14
Daihatsu Grand Move
2,160
204
-90.56%
15
Chrysler Neon
6,902
673
-90.25%
16
Daewoo Matiz
41,633
4,409
-89.41%
17
Daewoo Nexia
1,480
159
-89.26%
18
Mazda Premacy
8,052
881
-89.06%
19
Kia Pride
2,138
237
-88.91%
20
Rover 25
111,006
12,320
-88.90%
 

Brands that have seen the biggest decline

Infographic showing the top 3 car brands with the biggest decline on UK roads over the last 10 years

1. Daewoo (-89.58%)

2012: 86,538
2022: 9,018

In terms of brands, Daewoo is the manufacturer that’s disappeared from our roads the most over the last decade. You might recognise the brand best nowadays for manufacturing electrical appliances.

Daewoo vehicles were popular due to their affordability, as well as their policy of offering free servicing on new vehicles for the first 3 years. However, the brand hit financial difficulties and sold most of its assets to General Motors, who stopped using the brand name in 2011.

Many of their vehicles were designed by the famous car designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, who created models like the Matiz, Nubira and Leganza.

2. Proton (-79.55%)

2012: 24,805
2022: 5,073

Proton is a Malaysian car brand that originally sold rebadged versions of Mitsubishi cars in the 80s and 90s. It was initially Malaysia’s only badged car company until Perodua came along with a mixture of locally-made and rebadged cars.

The UK was Proton’s biggest export market, once holding the record as the fastest-selling new car brand in the country. However, sales here stopped in 2016, which explains why numbers in the UK have fallen by around 80%.

Sales were initially strong, and a 1999 survey placed Proton as one of the UK’s most reliable brands. Despite this, data shows that car sales started to decline in 2010.

The company considered a revamped range of vehicles in the UK, but this was cancelled due to stringent EU emissions and safety regulations. However, the brand remains popular in other countries, such as Thailand, Egypt and its home country, Malaysia.

The Saga is one of Proton’s best-known models.

3. Rover (-74.60%)

2012: 461,852
2022: 117,313

One of the most well-known brands to see its numbers fall is Rover. There are still over 100,000 Rovers in the UK, but that number has dropped by about 3 quarters in the last decade.

Known for its iconic Viking longship logo, Rover was a huge name in the UK, despite a somewhat turbulent history.

Starting out as a bicycle maker in 1878, Rover went on to make cars from 1904. This continued for over a century. During that time, the British automotive marque was owned by British Leyland, BMW, MG and Land Rover, but the brand always retained it’s identity.

The rights to the marque are still owned by the Jaguar Land Rover group, but the Rover company was discontinued in 2005.

Rank Brand Number of licenced cars (Q1 2012) Number of licenced cars (Q1 2022) Difference
1
Daewoo
86,538
9,018
-89.58%
2
Proton
24,805
5,073
-79.55%
3
Rover
461,852
117,313
-74.60%
4
Tata
479
124
-74.11%
5
Saab
214,284
90,748
-57.65%
6
Opel
10,350
4,499
-56.53%
7
Isuzu
18,940
8,775
-53.67%
8
Think
32
15
-53.13%
9
Chrysler
88,625
41,570
-53.09%
10
Daihatsu
59,372
28,031
-52.79%
11
Perodua
7,638
3,839
-49.74%
12
MCC
14,167
7,188
-49.26%
13
Renault
1,655,798
1,037,538
-37.34%
14
Reva
622
399
-35.85%
15
Microcar
2,156
1,391
-35.48%
16
Dodge
12,873
8,741
-32.10%
17
Ligier
119
81
-31.93%
18
Chevrolet
109,272
78,916
-27.78%
19
Peugeot
1,917,372
1,456,249
-24.05%
 

Cars that have increased in popularity

Despite some decline in numbers, other vehicles have gone from strength to strength over the last 10 years. Looking specifically at the 100 most popular cars of 2012, here are the ones that have seen their numbers increase.

Infographic showing the top 3 car models with the biggest increase on UK roads over the last 10 years

1. Fiat 500 (301.22%)

2012: 95,648
2022: 383,760

The modern version of the Fiat 500 was launched in 2007 and by 2012 there were more than 90,000 in the UK.

Since then, its numbers have more than quadrupled and more models have been introduced. These include the all-electric Fiat 500e, that joined the range in 2013.

The Fiat 500 also received a facelift in 2016. New features included a redesigned grille, reshaped LED headlights, new wheels, new paintwork and a redesigned steering wheel.

With this bigger offering for drivers, there are now over 383,000 Fiat 500 models registered on UK roads as of 2022.

2. Nissan Qashqai (288.26%)

2012: 148,218
2022: 575,465

Another vehicle to have grown in popularity over the last decade is the Nissan Qashqai. The Qashqai is a compact crossover SUV that launched in 2006.

It’s had 2 new versions released since 2012, the J11 in 2013 and the J12 in 2021. The Qashqai was one of the first true crossover SUVs when it originally hit our roads and it seems like it’s popularity has only increased over time.

Built here in the UK, it’s an affordable option for those looking for a family crossover and is also known for its impressive safety kit.

As standard, the Qashqai includes features like:

  • blind-spot monitors
  • automatic high beams
  • auto emergency braking with junction assist
  • pedestrian detection
  • lane-keeping system

3. Hyundai i10 (228.00%)

2012: 76,632
2022: 251,351

The Hyundai i10 has seen its numbers increase by 228% since 2012, with British car buyers clearly loving this city car.

There’ve been 2 new generations launched since 2012, with the vehicle now in its 3rd generation.

It was initially only available as a 5-door hatchback, with a 4-door sedan option following in later years.

Rank Model Number of licensed cars (Q1 2012) Number of licensed cars (Q1 2022) Difference
1
Fiat 500
95,648
383,760
301.22%
2
Nissan Qashqai
148,218
575,465
288.26%
3
Hyundai i10
76,632
251,351
228.00%
4
Toyota Aygo
90,008
264,574
193.94%
5
Mercedes-Benz A-Class
141,421
362,303
156.19%
6
Kia Picanto
89,690
196,090
118.63%
7
BMW 1 Series
191,057
403,952
111.43%
8
Citroën C1
85,497
174,896
104.56%
9
Toyota Auris
76,271
153,720
101.54%
10
Seat Leon
104,323
206,599
98.04%
11
Vauxhall Insignia
119,508
235,242
96.84%
12
Ford C-Max
62,235
121,373
95.02%
13
Mini Cooper
255,208
490,778
92.31%
14
Kia Rio
58,424
106,421
82.15%
15
Mazda 2
76,684
134,188
74.99%
16
Suzuki Swift
86,406
146,254
69.26%
17
Nissan X-Trail
61,686
103,802
68.27%
18
Land Rover Discovery
188,235
311,129
65.29%
19
Peugeot 308
94,329
155,279
64.61%
20
BMW X5
67,341
107,162
59.13%

Alex Kindred, car insurance expert at Confused.com, comments:

“Classic or rare cars with historical importance, such as racing associations or pioneers of new technology, can be a smart way to invest. This is because such rare cars often increase in value, allowing owners to earn a profit from their car if they choose to sell.

“However, finding a rare car for sale can be uncommon, with only a handful of certain models available in the UK. If you’re looking to own a rare car, you could consider networking with other collectors and enthusiasts. Attending events, such as car shows, can give you the opportunity to meet others who may be able to help you with future purchases. If events aren't for you, you could research through channels such as specialist websites, magazines, forums and even online auctions.

“If you manage to track down your dream rare car to buy, you are likely to find a high price tag attached! As well as the initial cost of the car, it’s also important that you consider the cost of car insurance. Car insurance for such rare vehicles is often more expensive than the average car. This could be due to the value, or the likelihood of theft of such a rare car. For older models, it’s also likely the security features won’t be as up to scratch as modern cars. Therefore, it is vital to compare car insurance prior to purchase to avoid any surprise costs.”

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