While looking for images for the front page of this site, I came across a picture of the rather rare Rover SD1 twin plentum vitesse, which was also the title picture for an MSN article on rare cars. This caught my interest so I had a read...
Well the accuracy had to be out, out of a production run of over 30,000 cars, the article claimed that a little over 300 still existed, which did not sound right to me at all. As it happened, I'd been working in Swansea a few weeks earlier and happened to know that the DVLA was in the process of supplying the How Many Left? website with recent up-to-date information on cars on the road and registered as stored off road with a SORN notification, so the often scorned website should now have information accurate up to the beginning of June this year. So that was going to be my next port of call...
On looking, my suspicions were correct, the MSN article was way off, rather than a little over 300 surviving SD1's, there were over 550 3500 Vanden Plas alone remaining on the road, along with over 200 3500 vitesse's, 50 2200 Auto Diesels, 120 2200 manual diesels, even more 2400 turbo Diesels, both auto and manual and many others. The sad thing for me though was that during the 1990's, the venerable Rover 2000 'O' series engine SD1 had become extinct. There were none, not a single one on the road or on SORN. All examples of my first SD1 were dead.
This though got me wondering, which other cars from our bygone era's of motoring were also extinct? Looking up the Talbot Alpine revealed a car in terminal decline. Of the whole range, only 18 remain today, with no single model having more than 4 surviving, 3 models having 2 each remaining and a couple of models having a single example remaining on the roads. Models such as the GLS Auto died out around 2007 with others looking like they had fallen in the onslaught of the scrappage scheme... In fact, none of the Auto models survive today, with the Alpine S LE and Rapier ranges all gone.
I thought I'd look up the Vauxhall Viva, a car I remember from my childhood which had wings and sills resembling swiss cheese and a gearbox that could crack when driving through puddles. My Dad had a 1300, which on looking on the how many left site revealed that this was one of a few Viva models which were extinct, the rest of the range was reasonably healthy though, with a couple of hundred still in existence on our roads.
More's the pity, while it was more comfortable than riding in the back of my Dad's vans, that was only because it had what passed for padded rear seats back in the day, but was similar to sitting on a church pew, with similar sliding effect when traveling around corners. I don't miss the car, I liked the speedo design, but that was the only redeeming feature of the car.
So what else to look at?
The Triumph Acclaim was the first Honda collaboration, it was a competent car, well built but for me a little mundane in design, even for the time of its launch, but our 2 week stint with one as a hire car during our touring holiday in Scotland and North Wales showed it was a nice drive, comfortable and reliable, something that could not always be said of British built cars of the time. Thankfully there are some of all the models still on the road, though the range is still on the critical list.
What about the Rover 213, also known internally as the SD3? The car that was a regular on the BBC series Keeping Up Appearances? There are only 83 left, with the Vanden Plas model extinct and the SE model having only a single example in existence.
Overall though, my initial concerns over the SD1 were unvounded, there are far more in existence than MSN realised, yet cars on the endangered list were missed. Having said that though, I always wanted to get another 'O' series SD1, sadly the chance to do that has long gone.