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Mondeo turns 25 - but 1990s classic is dying out

Published 22 November 2017

It was the year Wet Wet Wet topped the charts, that Alan Shearer became the UK’s most expensive footballer, that Charles and Di separated, and interest rates hit 15% as the pound crashed out of Europe. But 1992 was also the year Ford launched one of the best-selling cars ever made: the Mondeo.

Fast-forward 25 years and while the 1990s are enjoying something of a revival, the cars that kept the decade moving are on the verge of extinction, according to consumer motoring website Honest John Classics.

Unveiled on November 23, 1992, the Ford Mondeo was a truly global model. Masterminded by engineering genius Richard Parry-Jones, it drew a line in the sand. On one side was a series of terrible-handling cars wearing a blue oval; on the other side was the new Mondeo - a car that taught drivers that they could have excellent steering and handling, a quiet cabin, and plenty of kit in a mainstream car. It wasn't cheap, though, with the project thought to have cost £3bn.

The Mondeo was a fine car - and to have worked on the original project is still a badge of honour. But despite taking the European Car of the Year title and more than 88,660 examples being sold in the UK during the car’s first full year of production, only 322 of those survive – just 0.36%.

Mondeo Man _ 013

‘We’ve seen a lot of 1990s nostalgia in the past few years with everything from Britpop to PJ & Duncan making a comeback,’ said Keith Moody, editor of Honest John Classics. ‘But 1990s cars are on the brink of disappearing completely.

‘Former Prime Minister Tony Blair used the term ‘Mondeo Man’ to capture the image of the self-made man of middle England, owning his own home, earning a decent wage, supporting his family – a swing voter looking to back the political party that put the most money in his pocket.

‘Now the Mondeo’s fate is typical of so many 1990s cars that we grew up with. Bought for a bag of chips, run on a shoestring, and thrown in the bin. At this rate, there won’t be any left for future generations to enjoy.

‘The classic car sector is worth £5.5bn to the UK economy with more than one-million classics on the road and employing 35,000 people. It’s easy to forget that established classics like the Morris Minor and the Ford Cortina were seen as affordable transport once – rather than the big money prices paid today’

Mondeo Man _ 003

When the Mondeo went on sale in 1993, the UK’s best-selling car was the Ford Escort, which achieved 122,002 sales. Today, just 460 1993 Escorts remain - or 0.37 per cent of the total. The three most endangered 1993 cars from the Top 10 Sellers list are the Mk1 Renault Clio (220 survivors), the Rover Metro (249) and the Peugeot 405 (250).

Keith Moody added, ‘These are the cars that petrolheads in their 30s and 40s grew up with. That they learnt to drive in. That they went on family holidays in. These are the next-generation of classic cars – and they’re being bought by people who want to be reminded of their connection to times, people, and places who might no longer be with them.’

Ultimately, the writing is on the wall for Ford’s world car. The Mondeo no longer makes the list of top ten best-selling cars in the UK, with ‘Mondeo Man’ now much more likely to drive a Mercedes C-class or a Nissan Qashqai.

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