Britain's hidden

army of off-roaders

MGB, 1980 MGB, barn find, restoration project
Mini, 1961 Oselli Mini, barn find
Ford Sierra, 1991
Ford Sierra, badge

THEY are often to be seen lurking in the long grass in a neglected part of the garden, under tarpaulins just waiting.

I'm talking about the UK's army of off-roaders. Not the latest 4x4s but nearly two million cars that are registered as SORN (Statutory Off Road).

In many cases these were the top selling cars of yesteryear, up on bricks, in pieces as a garage ‘project' or more often than not just quietly rusting away.

Repair firm Kwik Fit has analysed the data for all car models with at least 10,000 vehicles still registered in the UK, to find which have the greatest proportion off road.

Although the Ford Sierra was one of the most popular cars of the 1980s, an amazing 75% of the Sierra models remaining in the UK are no longer being driven.

The company also found that two cars which are widely regarded as having changed everyday motoring now find themselves almost as neglected - 67% of Austin Minis and 63% of Peugeot 205s are registered as off road.

A total of 61% of Vauxhall Cavaliers are now languishing in the doldrums, while the Rover version of the Mini completes the top five with 58% no longer in daily usage.

The good news is that they have escaped the crusher but the bad news is that many will wait in vain for someone with a bulging wallet to come along, lift them out of their misery and restore them to former glory.

Perhaps one of the saddest tales is that of the MGF, the little car that once promised much for an affordable British-built sports car market to flourish once again. Of the 21,655 remaining 10,227 are off the road.

And when it comes to the older MGB of the 36,046 that remain, 16,512 are registered SORN - 46% of the total.

Add to these a massive number of VW Golfs that are going nowhere, unwanted Ford Fiestas and unloved and decrepit Vauxhall Corsas then the picture is indeed gloomy.

Kwik Fit says that all that might be preventing some of these cars getting back on the road are new tyres and a valid MOT certificate, but unfortunately the grim fact of life is that nothing deteriorates like an unused car.

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