Features: The Forgotten Classics of yester-year

When you hear the phrase ‘classic car’ images immediately come to mind: MK1 Escorts, Capris, Land Rover Series 1s, Rolls Royse Ghosts, Mustangs, Californias, Imps, Minis, the list is endless. Most of these models are highly desirable, and therefore come with an enormous price tag, but what about the forgotten models. Those cars that sometimes have huge ‘claims to fame’ but are widely unremembered, and just left to rot in lonely corners. Well I’m here to bring back some of those names, and maybe, just maybe, inspire someone to rescue one of these poor forgotten models.

The Fiat 131 with its geometric shapes, quad headlights and velour interior it is the epitome of seventies styling.  The car was originally fitted with a 1.6 litre engine producing 75bhp, but this was then upgrade to a 2 litre twin cam producing 140bhp. Then Abarth, Fiats tuning branch got their hands on the engine, fitted gigantic wheel-arches and air vents to car, and put it into the world rally championships which it won 3 times, beating Datsun 240z’s and Ford Escort mk2s! Unfortunately this reign was taken over by the Audi Quattro, driven by Walter Rohrl, Fiats winning driver. Personally I think that the 131 was one of the best cars to leave Turin, with rear wheel drive it was had great handling. It is amazing how with such a great history a car can be forgotten so quickly? Well, this was probably due to the 131s only problem. In the seventies and eighties Fiat was notorious for its use of poor quality metal, which nearly caused the death of the company, and this led to the demise of most of its cars, making them undesirable, and causing real greats to be forgotten!

The rallying legend that didn’t make it to the top.

Skoda is a brand with a, shall we say, awful reputation. People scoff when they hear words! Skoda’s of many years passed are actually hidden gems, especially the 110R. With its coupe styling and large rear vents, it’s certainly a good-looking car. Its real asset is the rear engine, it only packs a sixty-five brake-horsepower punch, but due to fact it is all over the rear wheels the small chassis is very prone to slide, making it great to drive. Much like the 131 the Skoda 110R also has a rich rallying heritage, leading Skoda throughout rally championships of the seventies. The 110R has sadly been forgotten due to Skoda’s reputation of being a communist made car, similar to Lada, so many shy away from such makes, leaving models like the 110 to rot in corners of gardens, rather than being enjoyed.

Quirky matters with the Skoda 110R

You may be asking ‘what’s a Volkswagen doing in this list?!’ I believe the mk1 Polo should be included because when anyone thinks of an old VW they instantly think Beetle, Golf and Scirocco, leaving the Polo widely forgotten. The Polo and Golf share many styling cues, for example the swallow-tail rear, but due to the Polo’s smaller dimensions I think it’s actually a better looking car (sorry Golf lovers out there)!  The Polo is really quite a sad story as it was only forgotten as it was overshadowed by the greats, the seventies really was a brilliant decade for VW!

Audi 50 shared the same chassis as the VW Polo Mk1

Now, you are probably asking ‘what is the reason for my rant about these forgotten cars?.’ I fell we need to see the bigger picture in the motoring world, and not just love the well-known, but give some others a chance to before there is nothing left. One shining example of this is the tweeter @OneCarefulOwner, who has a passion for Allegros. Without people like him we would probably lose such cars! The selection of cars here is only a drop in an ocean of classics, there are so many more to be remembered.

So next time you’re trawling the classifieds, maybe think about looking further down the list at something you may never have thought of before.


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