Beetles are the nation’s favourite cars

Volkswagen tops the list of veteran vehicles still on the road, according to research from MoneySupermarket.

The study looked at 34million enquiries that passed through the MoneySupermarket car insurance channel during the 12-month period up to the end of March this year.

Volkswagen cleaned up, with the Beetle proving to be the most popular pre-1980 car on the road. Its successor, the Golf, is the most common 1980s and early-1990s car still being driven.

And the VW Beetle also tops the category of tax-exempt vehicles – those registered before 1973 – making up 12.7% of all ‘classic’ cars on the road.

So if Volkswagen has monopolised the top spots how do other makes and models measure up? And are people’s perceptions of us altered by the type of car that we drive? Let’s take a look…

Surviving the scrappage scheme

British motorists’ love affair with classic vehicles is alive and well. As the research from MoneySupermarket indicated, there are hundreds of thousands of ‘veteran vehicles’ on the road.

The Labour government’s scrappage initiative ran from mid-May 2009 to March 2010 and was a voluntary scheme for motor dealers who would give car buyers £2,000 off the price of a new vehicle if you let them scrap your old one.

The scheme was designed to kick-start the then-beleaguered motor industry by encouraging us to take older models off the road and upgrade to newer, more eco-friendly versions. But for many trading up was still not a financially viable option, even with the cash incentive.

This is why all those veteran vehicles remain on the road, kept running through a combination of regular servicing, considerate driving and probably a little TLC every now and then.

We know that Volkswagens top the list of older vehicles still being driven but, if you have any of the vehicles in the table below, you could possibly have a car for life.

 Top 10 surviving
pre-1980s cars

 Top 10 surviving
1980s cars

 Top 10 surviving early 1990s
cars (pre-1996)

 1. Volkswagen Beetle

 1. Volkswagen Golf

 1. Volkswagen Golf

 2. MGB

 2. Austin Rover Mini

 2. Nissan Micra

 3. Austin Mini

 3. Ford Escort

 3. Vauxhall Corsa

 4. Land Rover 88

 4. Land Rover 90

 4. Vauxhall Astra

 5. Morris Minor

 5. Ford Fiesta

 5. Ford Fiesta

 6. MG Midget

 6. Peugeot 205

 6. Honda Civic

 7. Ford Escort

 7. Ford Capri

 7. Volkswagen Polo

 8. Triumph Spitfire

 8. Volkswagen Polo

 8. Peugeot 106

 9. Triumph Stag

 9. Porsche 944

 9. Ford Escort

 10. Triumph Herald

 10. Ford Sierra

 10. Land Rover Discovery

A wide range of vehicles made the list, from 4X4s to sporty two-seaters, which suggests all sorts of people from all walks of life are keeping older cars on the road.

But what does your car say about you? Are other peoples’ perceptions of you driven by the car you drive? MoneySupermarket has looked into this too, so let’s look at the findings.


You are what you drive?

We may not like to admit it but we are often judged on our appearance, and the MoneySupermarket research found that the type of car you drive certainly has an effect on how you are treated by other road users.

The study of 2,500 drivers found that over a third claimed they are more likely to be polite and courteous to people who own the same make of car as they do.

Other findings indicated that Ford drivers are the most polite on the roads – they are most likely to indicate and let other drivers out at junctions. They’re closely followed by drivers of Audis, Citroens, Vauxhalls and Peugeots.

On the flipside, white van drivers admitted to being the least polite on the road along with Porsche, Range Rover, Land Rover and Mercedes drivers.

However, despite the fact that a quarter of them admitted parking without considering whether others can use the spaces next to them and half admitting that they fail to stop at zebra crossings, BMW drivers do not consider themselves among the top 10 rudest drivers.

Having owned both classic VW Beetles and BMW E30s I can confirm that other drivers do treat you differently depending upon the type of car you are driving.

For instance, when driving my first Beetle, a mid-blue (or mittelblau for the spotters out there, see below) 1965 1300 model, I was often given a cheery wave or ‘no worries’ hand sign, not only from other Beetle owners but from drivers of all other makes and models.


However, when driving my BMW, a midnight blue 1989 E30 convertible, not only did the hand signals disappear (well, the nice hand signals, anyway) but I found that no-one, not even other BMW drivers, would ever give me right of way.

And, if you are what you drive, I’m not sure what this says about me as the last two cars I’ve owned have blown their head gaskets and have had to be recovered by my breakdown service.


A way of life

When you buy a classic car you’re buying much more than something to merely get you from A to B, you’re buying into a whole way of life. And the car itself can definitely take on a life of its own.

For instance, that 1965 Beetle of mine would often mark its territory with oil spots and blink its headlights in approval of every rev of its engine. And I refuse to believe what I’ve subsequently been told about this being down to a leaky sump and the six-volt generator system respectively.

I do believe, however, that the time it failed to stop at a junction, no matter how hard I hit the brake pedal, was down to loose drum brakes and not an attempt by my Beetle to get rid of me.

It was at this point that maintaining the car became something of a way of life for me. Not only did I have to regularly tighten the drum brakes to avoid any more brake-induced near misses, I also had to ensure I cleaned it every week to keep the rust at bay, paying particular attention to the chrome bumpers that appeared to rust at the merest threat of rain.

It eventually became too much for me when the steering wheel came off in my hand – it was attached to the steering column by a single, albeit large, nut that had somehow worked itself loose. So it was then, reluctantly, I had to let my Beetle go. But I had been bitten by the love bug and it wasn’t long before I bought another one.

When I came across an apple green 1972 VW Beetle GT for sale, I had to have it – it was this exact model that started my love affair with Beetles as a boy when I saw one parked down the road from my nan’s house.

Although the Beetle GT came with the added security of front disk brakes (no more meddling with the drums) and a padded dashboard (who needs airbags?) it did have a sticky starter motor that needed encouragement before it would help fire up the engine. This usually came in the form of hitting it with a hammer which I kept under the driver’s seat.

Despite these ‘eccentricities,’ both cars did give me immense pleasure. And the cars also had more material benefits as they were both tax exempt, due to them both being registered prior to 1973, and also came with cheap insurance on account of them being ‘classics’.

Classic cars are often quoted cheaper premiums because they are considered to be better maintained and driven less than other cars, but there are a number of things you need to consider when looking for classic car insurance.

Getting the right cover for your classic car

Although HMRC defines a classic car as one that is over 20 years old and has an agreed value of £15,000 or more, there is no standard definition for insurance purposes so you should always check the insurers’ thresholds before getting a quote to ensure that you get the right level of cover.

You should also get an agreed valuation on your vehicle as, without one, many insurers will only pay out the ‘market value’ should your car be written off and this could leave you with an insurance shortfall.

In addition, you should check whether your insurer offers genuine or after-market replacement parts. Although it may be the case that you get a cheaper quote from insurers that use non-genuine replacement parts, you may want authentic replacements, particularly if you have a valuable classic in stock condition.

It may also be worth joining a classic car owners’ club as this could net you a discount of up to 15% on your policy price and, if you decide to attend any rallies or shows, then you should be covered for this under the terms of your classic policy.

Insurers will also often stipulate that you can only cover a limited number of miles under the terms of your classic car policy and so you may find that, if you are going to cover more than 7,500 miles in any one year, then your policy price may increase or you may have to take out a standard insurance policy.

If you do have an agreed mileage limit then you must make sure that you do not exceed this as this may invalidate your cover.

Also, as with any type of insurance policy, you should shop around for the best quote and also get quotes from companies that offer specialist classic car insurance as these can often work out cheaper than those offered by mainstream insurers.

One of the quickest and most convenient ways of doing this is to use MoneySupermarket’s insurance comparison tool where you can get quotes from over 100 companies in less than five minutes – or the same amount of time it used to take me to ‘hammer’ my GT into life of a morning.

Article by Les Roberts

Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.


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