Shortest-lived cars in UK history – but which do you remember?

Shortest-lived cars in UK history - but which do you remember?
Shortest-lived cars in UK history - but which do you remember?

With an on-sale period of five and six years respectively, their lives were not long as car models go. Most cars tend to last around seven or eight years on the market, with a mid-life facelift to keep things fresh. But the Adam and Viva had a long innings compare to some.

Some cars are axed early because they were ahead of their time; others were plain wrong, didn’t sell and were put out of their misery, and others fell victim to corporate failures and other machinations well above their paygrade.

Behold then, these are the George Lazenbys of British motoring history, complete with information as on how many are left on our roads, and current guide prices in case any tempt you:

Alfa Romeo 159 (2006-11)

The handsome 159 wasn’t a bad car, but the preceding 156’s poor reliability and poor dealer support doomed it from the start however.

How many left? Roughly 8000

I want one – how much? Decent ones from £3000

Audi A2 (2000-05)

A rare off-target car from Audi, though only relatively, as you’ll see from the numbers remaining. Functional low-drag styling produced a sophisticated but earnest look that put off some, while others loved its lightweight aluminium construction and high-rise seating. A firm ride and the need to pay extra for a fifth seat were minor annoyances in a car that was way ahead of its time. High production costs combined lethally with slowing sales to kill it prematurely.

How many left? Around 12,000

I want one – how much? Decent ones without inter-galactic mileages are around £2000, and have future classic potential.

Peugeot RCZ (2010-15)

This pretty coupé was barely promoted by Peugeot post-launch, with obvious, sad consequences. Another tiresome aspect was that this would-be sports car shared its platform with the Peugeot Partner van and Citroën Berlingo van-with-windows. What could possibly go wrong? The high-performance R version has its fans in our office, however.

How many left? Around 12,000

Vauxhall Signum (2003-08)

A grim example of GM’s build-it-and-it-will-sell arrogance that was only tempered by its near demise in 2009. With hindsight, it’s amazing that this pointless, long-wheelbase oddball remained on sale for five years. One ill-starred product of the short-lived 2000-2005 GM-Fiat alliance, it’s the sister car to the Fiat Croma, which you will be shocked and surprised to learn also puts in an appearance in this feature…

How many left? Around 9000

Cadillac BLS (2006-10)

Amazing that this one lasted as long as it did, but perhaps stocks took time to clear. A reskinned Saab 9-3, the BLS was unusual for being the only Cadillac never sold in the US, being built in Sweden and available with an Italian diesel engine. Nothing wrong with the international confection, but the BLS’s limited talents turned it into a cut-price Saab.

Industry wags dubbed it the Bob Lutz Special after the GM bigwig who championed this particular idea. Did the wagon version help? No.

How many left? Around 370

I am mildly eccentric and want one – how much? Five-figure mileage cars from £3000.

I want one – how much? Decent ones from £5000. RCZ Rs from £12,000.


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