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Looking Back At Classic Family Cars

However old you are, we’ve all got memories of those cars our parents owned when we were children


Whether they were good or bad, cool or embarrassing, they bring back happy memories of trips to school, days out or holidays abroad.


Here, we look at a few cars from across the decades that are sure to bring a smile to your face – and find out what they’re worth today.




Many people who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s will remember being ferried around in a Vauxhall Viva.


And that’s no big surprise, given that more than 1.5 million of them were produced across three variants between 1963 and 1979, known as the HA, the HB and the HC. The HB and the HC are probably the most recognisable shapes to most and the cars were produced in three and five-door saloon form, as well as coupe and estate bodies. The Viva was launched to compete with cars like the Ford Anglia and Morris Minor and it certainly achieved that.





The final version of the car was the last to be designed solely as a Vauxhall, with future models being rebadged Opels. The name is about to reappear, having been revived by Vauxhall. Alas it will not mean much to fans of the original, as the Viva will be the name of the replacement for the Agila mini-MPV. These days you could pick one up for as little as £2,000 on the classic market, but really good ones can command as much as four times that.




Produced between 1962 and 1982 in various forms, the Ford Cortina was, like most family cars from Ford, a huge sales success.


Over its lifespan 2,600,000 were sold in Britain alone and it remained one of the most popular cars sold in the country for decades after production ceased. There were five generations of the Cortina built and it’s likely to be the later ones of the 1970s and 1980s that evoke the most memories. Every type of body was applied to the Cortina and there were many versions, from small-engined runabouts to big-capacity sports iterations.





The name apparently was inspired by an Italian ski resort, if you’ve ever wondered. The Cortina was replaced by the Sierra, which was also somewhat successful for Ford. Today, Cortinas, particularly early ones, can easily fetch north of £10,000 – but you could drive off in a nice late example for as little as £2,000.




The VW Golf needs little introduction and this is where it all began.


If you can believe it, the first Golf in 1974 was actually a replacement for the Beetle, which VW thought was showing its age. As a modern, front-wheel-drive hatchback, it gave British buyers something revolutionary compared to the staid old – and in many cases poorly-built – cars they had been used to.





VW hit Britain with the Golf at exactly the right time, when its own car industry was being crippled by strikes and poor manufacturing standards. And so the MK1 Golf was a no-brainer for many – cool, practical and well-built. For those who loved to drive, the GTI was ideal, giving sporty thrills with space for the family.


Produced and sold around the world, it was a true game-changer and shifted nearly seven million units. And, of course, the name is still going strong today – a testament to just how right VW got it with this car.


AUDI 100


Although the Audi 100 was made for almost two decades – from 1968 to 1994 – what we’re really thinking about here are 1980s and 1990s versions.





Much like the VW Golf 20 years before it, the Audi 100 gave British buyers a lot to think about if they were still pootling around in tired old Rovers. It was made in several body styles to suit all tastes and needs and a multitude of engines were on offer.


They offered better build quality than much on the market in the UK at the time and those with a sporty nature weren’t left wanting, with some even being fitted with V6 engines in the final 90s versions. Millions were made and if you fancy revisiting the era you can pick up a project car for less than £1,000, while early models can command six times that. A good 80s or 90s example can be had for around £2,000.




The Princess name was first used for a lovely luxury car made by Austin from the late 1940s to the late 1960s, but here we’re thinking about the not-quite-so-luxurious car of the late 1970s and early 1980s.


The later Austin Princess was produced by British Leyland for six years and was a big family car with lots of space inside, which is probably why your dad was attracted to it. He was probably also attracted to the later Austin Ambassador, which was essentially the same car. But, as characterised British Leyland at the time, the Princess was dogged by quality and reliability problems and sold well only to begin with – and the oil crisis also accelerated a downturn in sales as people looked for smaller, more efficient cars.





That said, production still ran to more than 224,000 units. If you’re interested in going back to this questionable era in British motoring in an effort to recapture some memories of hot summer days traversing A-roads for days out and weekends away, your first task will be to find one that’s still roadworthy.


If you do, you’ll be looking at reasonable cash – something around £7,000 for a pristine one.


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