Cars made in the Midlands in their hundreds of thousands have almost all gone to the scrapheap in the sky, according to new research.
More than 640,000 Austin Allegros rolled off the production line in Birmingham – and there are just 291 left now.
It is top of the league of cars which are set to disappear from our roads forever.
The list, compiled by the Honest John motoring website , compared the number of cars originally made with how many are taxed and running today.
British Leyland models feature prominently and alarming Allegro statistics reveal out of 643,340 vehicles built between 1973 and 1983 only 0.0453 per cent of those produced remain. Perhaps it is less surprising when one considers it has regularly been voted the worst car ever made.
Other British Leyland models in the top ten include the Longbridge-built Austin Montego, Princess and Austin Maxi at numbers two, three and seven respectively and the Solihull-built Rover SD1 at number nine.
The Morris Marina and its successor the Morris Ital, both made in Cowley, claimed the number six and eight spots, while the Coventry-made Hillman Avenger came in at number four.
Honest John described the Allegro’s scarcity as “shocking” and that the model failed to sell well due to “unappealing styling, high prices, poor build quality” and “lack of showroom sparkle.”
Calling on the British public to help save the model for posterity it urged people to “buy and protect one today”, saying it represented “a quirky and sensibly-cheap to run classic car with a growing following”.
Despite criticisms, the Allegro retains a devoted following in certain quarters, with an Allegro Club International based in London. Automotive writer and historian Martyn Nutland is one person who does not remember it fondly though.
“I was at the launch of the Allegro when it had the ‘square’ steering wheel that British Leyland described, for some reason, as ‘quartic’,” he said. “Honest John suggests there are about 300 left which is probably 299 too many.
"One, to mark the transient fad for square steering wheels would probably be enough.”
Of other British Leyland cars on the list Mr Nutland said some were better than others, citing the Montego as “far superior” to its Rover rival the Maestro.
He branded the wedge-shaped Princess and Ambassador models as “mechanically and visually unappealing” while the Maxi missed an opportunity to be a “world-beater”.
“The Maxi was one of the world’s first hatchbacks,” said Mr Nutland.
“It should have been a world-beater had it had an engine capable of hauling all you could cram through the tailgate. Alec Issigonis’s weird gear change mechanism made selection nigh on impossible and was unfixable and the engines were prone to fall out.”
Honest John said 1980s cars were the most vulnerable as their passage into classic status is yet to take place and their disappearance had been hastened by needless scrappage and artificially low market values.
“The Rover SD1, I believe, was elected car of its launch year – then threw it all away,” said Mr Nutland. “Production was stymied by strikes. Those that were produced had atrocious build quality and some examples had incurable mechanical faults.”
Production of the SD1 later took place at Cowley and though many Morris Marinas and Itals also produced there were sold Mr Nutland said the Marina was “an undistinguished successor” to the popular Morris Minor while the Ital was “a chunkier, uglier version”.
“I think the demise of a lot of these cars is not sad,” he added. “Cars like the Allegro, Maxi and Avenger were awful when they were new.
“We have to accept that it is human to revere what we knew when we were at our most impressionable. No one with a modicum of engineering or aesthetic sensitivity can deny that a Bugatti or Alfa Romeo of the 20s is worth preserving.
"Is it worth preserving for posterity mediocrity? I don’t think it is.”
Colin Corke, publicity officer for Allegro Club International, who is also the Vicar of Longbridge said: “We have 250 members in the club and had 54 cars turn out for an event to mark the Allegro’s 40th birthday at the Heritage Motor Centre recently.
"It’s a car that is part of people’s lives.
"So many people came up to us and said ‘I went to school in one of those, or my granddad had one or it was my first car and saying ‘they are not as bad as people say’.
"I’m not going to leap to its defence and say it was the greatest thing since sliced bread – it wasn’t – but it was nowhere near as bad as people say.”