Some interesting things emerge from a study of the New Registrations of New Motor Vehicles in this country for the first nine months of last year, as recently issued by the SMMT. The production run of certain of the cars referred to naturally has a bearing on the sales figures.
But, looking at the general picture and trying to forget that total sales of British cars dropped by more than 107,000 compared with the corresponding period in 1958, it is encouraging that sports cars are about the only type to show a sales increase—for instance, 1,229 more MG/Austin Healey Midgets and Sprites sold than in 5968, an increase of 1,428 in MG-B and MG-C sales, and the E-type Jaguar up by 80 (to a total of 771) at a time when sales of Jaguar/Daimler saloons fell by 1,890 cars, a curious situation, incidentally, for a company which has informed us that “by and large, the vast majority of people who buy Jaguar cars are not enthusiasts in the generally accepted motoring sense”.
We note that the Ford Capri is getting into its stride, 25,688 sold during the period under discussion, the sales of Cortinas and Capris combined exceeding the 1968 Cortina total by more than 5,600 cars. On the other hand, there was a drop in sales for all the other Ford models, as high as 4,500 in the case of the big Zephyr/ Zodiacs. While BLMC Mini sales dropped by nearly 11,500, the HiIlman Imp almost maintained its popularity, with a drop of a mere 183 cars. However, over four times as many Minis were sold as Imps. The Rover P6, in four-cylinder and V8 forms, lost against the 1968 period by more than 2,000 sales but still outsold the Triumph 2000/2500 in 1969, to the extent of 4,880 cars.
Sports cars front the BLMC Specialist Car Division, excepting Midgets, Sprites and E-types, dropped by only 733. The first nine months of 1969 saw imports of private cars at rather over one-tenth of total British sales, with Fiat, VW, Renault forming the top three, in that order.
Fiat outpaced VW by 1,438 private cars, but Volkswagen sold far more commercial vehicles. It is interesting that Alfa Romeo sold 14x more cars than Lotus, although this is to be expected with a range which includes saloons, disturbing that Honda topped the Lotus figure, except that this was not on account of the sports S800 but because the air-cooled flat-twin N600 has done well, although to the tune of less than 1/70th of Mini sales.