A shortlist of the most “endangered” cars in the UK surfaced yesterday. The research, conducted by car experts Honest John Classics, was based on figures taken from the DVLA register of cars that were registered between 1950 and 1995. These figures were then compared to those still around today.
Of the most popular family car between 1973 and 1980, the Ford Cortina, there are just 5411 left in circulation - it is sad to think that these classic cars of the 70s and 80s are no longer as loved as they once were. The Austin Allegro topped the chart with only 291 taxed and SORN vehicles remaining by the end of 2011.
All this nostalgia got us to thinking about one of the cars on the list, The Hillman Imp, which came 12th, with only 0.2% of its stock still on the roads.
Arnold Clark Rental, established in 1963, took delivery of their first ever rental fleet to their branch in Vinicombe Street in the same year: 12 Hillman Imps, starting 60 years of Arnold Clark Rental’s quality fleets.
The Hillman Imp was built in Scotland between 1963 and 1976, and was the first car to be produced in Scotland in over 35 years. The Hillman Imp became part of Scotland’s history, and a loyal following was formed in Scotland during the 60s and 70s.
The Imp was produced to compete with the MINI, which went on to become the motoring icon of the 1960s. The Hillman Imp attempted to rival the MINI with its spacious interior, folding back seats and opening rear window to squeeze in more luggage. After 400,000 Imps were produced at the Paisley Linwood site, the factory closed down and no more Hillman Imps were ever produced. The site, however, has kept its car heritage and roots, as it is now home to the Phoenix Retail Park, well known for its wealth of car dealerships.
Keith Adams, Editor of Honest John Classics, reflected on the idea that beloved cars are disappearing: “The low survival rates for these models are shocking. Their passage into classic status has yet to happen and their disappearance has been hastened by needless scrappage.”
As the Hillman Imp is not readily seen out on the roads these days, to view one you may have to take a trip to the Glasgow Riverside Museum, which houses many of Scotland’s Classic Cars, including the first Hillman Imp ever produced. There are also a few cars that have been donated by Sir Arnold Clark himself.
The Hillman Imp is still a popular car among motoring enthusiasts, who gather for the ‘Imp Club’ that hosts a variety of events each year. The car is definitely a British classic.