Top 10: Survivors from the 1960s


The 1960s saw Britain’s motor industry expanding at an impressive rate, with annual production rising from 1.35 million at the start of the decade to 1.7 million at the end. It also saw some of today’s best-loved classics launched – but which ones survive now in the highest numbers?

We’ve number-crunched the survival figures for all cars of the ’60s, and here are the results – interesting for featuring just one foreign-built model. The figures include both roadworthy examples and those currently declared SORN. So if you’ve a favourite model from the decade of miniskirts, The Beatles and Mary Quant, check out whether or not it’s a top survivor.

Morris Minor

11,300 still registered in the UK

As the first British-built car to sell more than a million, it was perhaps inevitable that the humble Morris Minor would head up this list. Considering that the last Minor rolled off the production line almost 45 years ago, a survival figure of more than 11,000 examples from the ’60s is pretty impressive – and puts to shame many later classics.

Launched in 1948, the Minor went through various facelifts and upgrades over the years, with family buyers offered a choice of saloon, Tourer or Traveller. Most useable was (and still is) the Minor 1000 of 1956-on, treated to extra (1098cc) power six years later. 

MGB

5887 still registered in the UK

Another long-running British model that spanned more than one decade, the 1962-80 MGB has survived in impressive numbers – with the figure quoted here being purely for those built in the ’60s. With 137,733 MkIs and 310,077 examples of the MkII (which ran to 1971) built in all, today’s survivors account for more than 1.25% of ’60s MGB production.

That’s an excellent figure for a mass-market sports car from half a century ago, and says a lot about the MGB’s popularity amongst enthusiasts throughout its career. Early examples of the MGB (and 1965-on BGT) now command strong money in original condition.

Land Rover Series II 88

2904 still registered in the UK

With most Land Rovers of the ’60s being bought to do a job of work, often used and abused throughout their non-pampered lives, you might expect their survival rate to be pretty poor. But in the case of the 88-inch (short-wheelbase) Series II and IIA models that ran throughout the decade, nothing could be further from the truth.

These might have been crude and unrefined machines in their day, but they were tough. Damned tough. And when anything did break or go wrong, their no-nonsense design and ease of repair meant they were soon back in use – with almost 3000 still with us all these years later.

Triumph Herald

2765 still registered in the UK

Launched at the same time as the Mini and Anglia 105E in 1959, Triumph’s smallest model enjoyed a twelve-year career and total sales of just under 486,000. That means it was a popular buy, albeit not as big a seller as its two contemporaries from BMC and Ford – which means its fourth-place survival ranking is very impressive.

A survival rate of less than 0.6% may not sound impressive, but for a small car that was launched at the end of the ’50s and was often overshadowed by bigger-selling rivals, it’s a decent effort. Interestingly, it’s not the only small Triumph to feature in this Top 10. 

Volkswagen Beetle

2698 still registered in the UK

Not far behind the Triumph Herald in terms of survivor numbers comes the ubiquitous Beetle, the biggest-selling single-platform car of all time – with an incredible 21 million built and sold around the world. So how come there are relatively few survivors (in percentage terms) from the ’60s?

The figures shown here relate to the UK, which started off the 1960s with foreign models accounting for just 7% of all new-car sales. And even at the end of the decade, just 14% of all cars sold were built overseas. The fact that a foreign cars appears at all in this list is perhaps surprising. 

Ford Cortina

2639 still registered in the UK

The first two generations of Cortina (the 1962-66 MkI and 1966-70 MkII) are represented here, with more than a million examples of each being built. Given such sales success, you might expect more to have survived through to the 21st century; but let’s not forget that the Cortina was a big hit with fleet buyers, which meant plenty of high-mileage examples being sent to an early grave.

The first two generations of Cortina are now highly revered by enthusiasts, with soaring values as a result. But that’s a relatively recent phenomenon, which helps explain why so many have been scrapped over the years.

Jaguar E-Type

2260 still registered in the UK

With 38,419 of the Series I and 18,809 of the Series II E-Type sold worldwide between 1961 and ’71, it’s remarkable that almost 4% of that total survives in the UK alone. Factor in the number of E-Types elsewhere around the globe and you’ve got a mightily impressive survival rate for one of the world’s admired classics.

That should come as no surprise, of course. The E-Type has always been revered and collected by enthusiasts, with large numbers being treated to full-scale restorations over the last thirty years. Their survival in the 21st century is assured via escalating values and relentless demand.

Ford Anglia

2180 still registered in the UK

We’re talking here about the Anglia 105E that arrived in late 1959 and disappeared at the end of ’67 to make way for the Escort. More than a million saloons and estates were built during those eight years, but a combination of neglect and low values in the ’70s and ’80s means a much poorer survival rate than that of the Morris Minor.

In fact, of all the 105Es sold around the world, just over 0.2% still survive in the UK, including those currently declared SORN. Soaring demand and (at last) increased values, however, means more Anglias now being restored – and a stabilised survival rate.

MG Midget

2040 still registered in the UK

Almost 75,000 Midgets were built at Abingdon during the 1960s, the vast majority of which were sold abroad; the USA was this little sportster’s biggest market, which explains why such a large proportion headed across the Atlantic. Bear that in mind and it seems amazing that more than 2000 of the Midgets built in the ’60s still survive in the UK alone.

Like its MGB big brother, the Midget enjoyed an extended career right through to the end of the 1970s – and in terms of ’70s survivors, it’s in that decade’s top three! It seems you just can’t keep the MG Midget down…

Triumph Vitesse

1482 still registered in the UK

Nobody could accuse Triumph of not getting its money’s worth out of the Herald, for 1962 saw the launch of the Vitesse – essentially a Herald saloon fitted with a 1596cc straight-six engine, replaced four years later by a 1998cc (95bhp) version. This compact sporty two-door deserved to do well, yet in the end just 51,000 examples were built.

Incredibly, however, almost 1500 of those still exist in Britain, making a home-market survival rate of almost 3% of the production total. Yes, the Vitesse is a Top 10 survivor from the ’60s in terms of numbers – and an exceptional one when it comes to percentages. 

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