Motoring through the ages

There are over 38 million registered vehicles on Britain’s roads, including thousands of different makes and models. But have you ever wondered how our cars have evolved over the last century?

We’ve taken a drive down memory lane to look at some of the most iconic models that have changed dramatically through time. As well as each car’s evolving style, we’ve also compared how much consumers are willing to invest in them today compared to yesteryear.

See below to watch five of the most iconic car models morph from their original to present day versions.

Chevrolet Corvette

When it comes to American greats, nothing can compare with the Chevrolet Corvette. Always featuring lightweight plastic bodywork, the Corvette was fitted with a six-cylinder engine for the first three years of production. Sales were slow, then Chevrolet realised what it needed to do and in 1956 a V8 engine was fitted – and ever since then all Corvettes have had V8 power.

1953:    £1,256 (Road & Track 1953) or £33,338 based on inflation figures*
2018:    £64,010 (Stingray 2LT coupé)

Chevrolet Corvette

Ford Fiesta

The Fiesta was Ford’s first ever compact hatchback with front-wheel drive, so it was a seriously important car for the brand. Ford got the Fiesta just right as it would go on to be Britain’s best-selling car pretty much continuously from launch until the present day. We’ve just seen an eighth-generation Fiesta arrive in showrooms and it continues to lead the sales charts. The price below is for the original Fiesta 950.

1976:    £1,856 (Autocar 1976) or £12,700 based on inflation figures*
2018:    £13,165 (1.1 Style)

Ford Fiesta

Honda Civic

The Civic has grown significantly since its introduction in 1972. Back then it was a supermini with a 1.2-litre petrol engine; nowadays it’s a family hatch. The current Civic is the tenth-generation model and while the original car focused largely on economy, the new one is far from bargain-basement.

 

1972:   £999 (Autocar 1972) or £12,531 based on inflation figures*

2018:   £18,635 (1.4 VTEC Sport)

Honda Civic

Jaguar XJ

Jaguar replaced several models in its range with the XJ, a luxury car that really showed the way when it arrived in 1968. Luxurious, refined, comfortable and fast, the XJ came in saloon form only with a six-cylinder petrol engine; later there would be a V12 too. Half a century later Jaguar’s flagship saloon is more high-tech than ever, although an all-new car is on the way.

1968:    £1,797 (Autocar 1968) or £29,628 based on inflation figures*
2018:    £59,995 (3.0 V6 D Luxury)

Jaguar XJ

Rolls-Royce Phantom

In pre-war years, many up-market cars were supplied as a chassis only; you bought that with the engine, gearbox, brakes and suspension all fitted, then took it to a coachbuilder to have a body shell made and fitted. The figure in 1925 is for the chassis only from Rolls-Royce; you’d then take this to the coachbuilder of your choice and you’d pay for a body-shell.

Phantom I 1925:               £1,850 for the chassis only or £106,922 based on inflation figures*

Phantom VIII 2018:          £360,000

Rolls-Royce Phantom
*** Source for over 38 million cars on Britain’s roads: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/vehicle-licensing-statistics-july-to-september-2017
*Please note that inflation figures were sourced from the Bank of England’s inflation calculator

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