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July 13, 2021

Studying the Classics

It appears that old is new again in the automotive industry. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the average age of cars on the road in the UK has risen to 8.4 years old. This is the oldest on record, representing about 10 million vehicles from 2008 and earlier.

“This uplift has chiefly been the result of the pandemic which effectively put the brakes on new vehicle uptake in 2020, as drivers opted to hold on to their cars for longer,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes.

The European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association (ACEA) similarly reported that the average age of passenger cars in the EU is now 11.5 years, whilst the average age for light commercial vehicles (LCVs) in the EU is now 11.6 years.

Other sources will point to additional contributing factors. An article for, for example suggests “Many motorists will argue that they have decided to keep their existing cars for longer to delay the purchase of their next motor ahead of the 2030 ban on sales of petrol- and diesel-powered passenger vehicles.”

In another article, Retro Motor founder Richard Aucock cites the high mileage made achievable by higher build quality, increased efficiency, and improved reliability of modern cars is also a contributing aspect. He also believes we should take into consideration another, less obvious factor: classic cars.

“There’s been a huge boom in the popularity of modern classics in recent years, which means that models from the 1980s and 1990s in particular have developed into collectors’ items.” Aucock said. That’s in addition to the ongoing, perennial interest in traditional classics.

This increase in average car age and the trend towards maintaining current vehicles so that they can “remain loved and cherished by enthusiasts, rather than just be used as old bangers,” per Aucock represents a significant boon for the repair and body shop industry.

As drivers hold onto their vehicles for longer, the onus on the aftermarket is likely to increase. Technicians will be progressively called upon to service older vehicles with a wider range of issues.

So, which vehicles will you welcome into your shop in this new age of old cars ? Autodata decided to investigate. We used our enterprise online workshop application to find out which pre-2000 classics, modern classics, and “old reliable” vehicles our shops serviced the most in FY2021.

Below we list out the Autodata top ten from the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s that are proving very popular with drivers and the ones you are most likely to see coming in to your workshop from each decade. We also have a special mention for an absolute classic from the 1950’s that’s still going strong in workshops more than 60 years after it first drove off the forecourt.

The Oldest and Best
The oldest vehicle technicians used Autodata to service in the past twelve months was the ultimate UK classic icon: the 1959 Austin Mini/Morris Mini-Minor. The original Mini was produced by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) and manufactured at Longbridge in England and later in Australia, Belgium, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Yugoslavia, and Latin America.

Common issues seen in this car include corrosion, a rear suspension that needs realignment, body damage from aftermarket wheels that are too wide, and sparks emitting from an improperly secured boot-mounted battery.

From the 1960s
1.) MG MGB (1967-1976)
2.) Fiat 500 (1965-1973)
3.) Volvo 142 (1968-1975)
4.) Volvo 121/Amazon (1968-1971)
5.) Morris Minor (1962-1974)
6.) MG Midget (1969-1974)
7.) Triumph TR6 (1969-1972)
8.) Jaguar E-Type (1968-1972)
9.) Citroën 2CV-4 (1968-1978)
10.) Saab 96 (1967-1976)

The 1960s vehicle most serviced by Autodata workshops claimed the number 2 spot on Auto Express Magazine’s top 10 sports car classics for 2019: the MG MGB. The 1967 version of the MGB introduced a variety of new safety features, including a collapsible steering column, side marker lights, and anti-burst locks. Rust is the most common problem with this car.

From the 1970s
1.) Citroën 2CV-6 (1970-1990)
2.) Land Rover Series III (1971-1983)
3.) Volkswagen Transporter T2 (1971-1976)
4.) Alfa Romeo Alfetta (1978-1981)
5.) Volkswagen Transporter T3 (1979-1983)
6.) Volkswagen 1300 (1976-1979)
7.) MG Midget (1975-1980)
8.) MG MGB (1978-1980)
9.) Volkswagen 1200 (1970-1976)
10.) Triumph Spitfire (1974-1980)

Dubbed “the people’s car of France” by Automobile Magazine, the 1970 Citroën 2CV-6 was the most frequently seen 70s car in workshops. This vehicle saw the addition of rear lights from the Citroën Ami and was the last model to feature the single front bench seat.

The oldest LCV for which Autodata data was used in the past 12 months was also from this decade: the Late Bay Volkswagen Transporter T2. Nicknamed the Breadloaf, the distinctive Type 2 was initially built around the same 1100 engine as the Volkswagen Beetle and only later upgraded to the 1200 model.

From the 1980s
1.) Mazda MX-5 (1989-1993)
2.) Volkswagen Transporter T3 (1982-1990)
3.) Volvo 240 (1989-1993)
4.) Volkswagen Transporter T3 (1984-1990)
5.) Volvo 740 (1989-1990)
6.) Toyota Hilux (1988-1997)
7.) Peugeot 205 XUD7 (1983-1986)
8.) Volkswagen Golf II (1987-1991)
9.) Toyota Landcruiser (1988-1995)
10.) Mercedes-Benz 190 (1989-1993)

The first-generation Mazda MX-5 was the most-serviced 1980s car. Hailed by Car and Driver as the modern reinvention of the sports car, the Mazda MX-5 has appeared on their “10 Best Cars” list 19 times over the years. Production reached one million units in 2016, at which time the MX-5 held the Guinness World Record for the best-selling open-top two-seater sports car.

The 1982 Volkswagen Transporter T3 was the most frequently seen 1980s LCV. The pre-1983 T3 was air-cooled and featured the distinctive round headlights of earlier Transporters. It was also the final generation of rear-engined Volkswagens.

From the 1990s
1.) Volkswagen Transporter T4 (1990-1997)
2.) Opel/Vauxhall Astra-G (1998-2000)
3.) Volvo 940 (1995-1998)
4.) Mercedes-Benz SLK (1996-2000)
5.) Toyota Corolla (1997-2000)
6.) Nissan Micra (1992-2000)
7.) Land Rover Defender (1994-1999)
8.) Volvo 850 (1993-1997)
9.) Land Rover Discovery II (1999-2000)
10.) Mitsubishi Shogun/Pajero/Montero (1994-2000)

The Volkswagen Transporter T4 was by a significant distance the most-serviced pre-2000 vehicle in workshops, with nearly 14,000 requests for data in the past 12 months. This is likely due to its cult followi ng firmly rooted in both its versatility and its popularity as a campervan and its lengthy, 14-year production run. The T4 was the first Volkswagen to have a front-mounted, water-cooled engine.

The top five marques in terms of requests for pre-2000 vehicle data were as follows:
1.) Volkswagen
2.) Volvo
3.) Toyota
4.) Mercedes-Benz
5.) Opel/Vauxhall

“We’re delighted to see so many classics and modern classics being serviced in workshops with our data,” said Autodata Managing Director, Chris Wright. “With electric and hybrid legislative deadlines on the horizon we anticipate consumers will hang on to older vehicles for longer than ever, he said.

This makes staying up-to-the-minute on service data for a vehicle all the more important. “Service data for a vehicle doesn’t stay constant,” he said. “At Autodata, we regularly update our information to reflect manufacturer updates for vehicles 30 years old and older. Old service manuals don’t cut it any more if you want to keep that cherished motor running sweetly!”

Autodata’s online workshop application gives workshops instant access to over 34,000 models from 142 manufacturers. For more information about Autodata or to try it yourself, visit

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