Tuesday, 14 October 2014

We must stop a new scrappage scheme consigning classic cars to the crusher

THERE'S a scary statistic I came up with last week to illustrate the scale of the biggest culling of cars the nation’s ever seen. 

If you took all the vehicles sent to the knacker’s yard five years ago as part of the then government’s efforts to boost new car sales and put them bumper to bumper, the line would stretch from Land’s End to John ‘o’ Groats AND back down as far as Edinburgh. A third of a million cars – most of which had nothing much wrong with them – went to the great garage in the sky.

Chances are if you’ve been reading the motoring publications (including the one I write for) you’ll already know about the metal that met its maker as a result of 2009’s Scrappage Scheme, but if you haven’t it’s worth reading on, because it’s one of the great automotive atrocities of our times. Largely because thousands of perfectly good, and very significant, cars went to the crusher just so someone could have a £2000 discount on a brand new hatchback.

There are thousands upon thousands of entries on the list of cars scrapped in 2009 as a result of the scheme, and it makes for very depressing reading when you see what headed into scrapyards across the country.  52 Porsche 944s, for instance. 45 Jaguar XJ-Ss. Four Riley Elfs. Even a Lancia Delta Integrale, mystifyingly, got chopped because someone somewhere wanted a discounted car instead of Italy’s Escort Cosworth in their garage.

Admittedly, some fairly terrible cars were also consigned to the scrapheap – several hundred Proton Personas, for example – and it goes without saying that some of the cars in the list probably would have been in such poor condition that the best thing for them was to recycle them to make something else. Scrapping a car under those circumstances is fine; I was hugely fond of my old Renault 5 and know they’ve got a cult following, but no amount of fondness was ever going to repair its body rot economically.

Yes, I know the Scrappage Scheme did act as a sort of defibrillator for the UK car market, giving it the jolt it needed at a desperate time, but any price that involves sacrificing a Jaguar XJ-S 45 times over is too high.
Hopefully we’ll never need the scheme again, but if we do I’d implore the powers-that-be to make sure perfectly good and very lovely old cars aren’t sent straight to the crusher. 

It’s too late to save the motoring heritage we lost five years ago, but we can stop it happening again.

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