25 years ago, Green Flag was brand new. Here’s what else was going on

25 years ago
Cars have got better but roads have got worse in the last 25 years (Picture iStock/oversnap)

Do you remember what you were doing 25 years ago? What car you were driving, how much you spent on fuel and how congested the roads were?

Even if you don’t, you may recall signing up for cover from a new breakdown company. It was called Green Flag and caused a splash by sponsoring the England football team.

Twenty-five years later and Green Flag is still offering the same great service. Motoring, however, has changed significantly. It might not be quite beyond all recognition but things are certainly very different.

The cost of cars

In 1993, Vauxhall dropped the Nova name from its then smallest car. The new Corsa was launched with a glitzy advertising campaign featuring supermodels Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell.

In 1994 a Corsa 1.4 would set you back £9,130. Today a Corsa 1.4 costs £11,735. There’s not a world of difference in performance either. Back then a Corsa would take a leisurely 15 seconds to cover 0-60mph. Today’s takes the same time. The 25-year-old Corsa would return 40.9mpg; the 2019 equivalent does 43.5mpg.

The sort of car you got in 1994

25 years ago
The 1994 Vauxhall Corsa. Relatively much more expensive than today’s equivalent (Picture Vauxhall)

The £9,130 price tag for the 1994 Corsa is actually worth £18,010 in today’s money according to the Bank of England. That makes the old car look scarily expensive for a number of reasons. First of all, it was nowhere near as safe (scoring two Euro NCAP crash safety stars compared to the modern car’s four), and it was nowhere near as well equipped.

Today’s Corsa has numerous airbags, electric windows and the ability to sync your phone with the car via Bluetooth. It even has niceties we take for granted such as a height adjustable seat and an adjustable steering wheel neither of which were on the old version.

How our first cars have changed

As far as what we really spend, in 1994 a driver would spent £4,483 on their first car. Today that first motor will set them back £11,609. Allowing for inflation, people are still spending significantly more on their cars. That £4,483 has the equivalent purchasing power to £8,843 today.

What driving was like

Being stuck in traffic is one of the main whinges drivers have about motoring now. On average we sit in traffic for 63 minutes a week, compared with 49 minutes for drivers in 1994. And more than three quarters (78 per cent) say roads are more congested now, according to Green Flag research.

It’s hardly surprising. Department for Transport statistics show that in 1994 there were 25.2 million vehicles on the road in the UK. This year, there are 38.4 million. That’s an increase of 52 per cent.

Contrast that with our roads. In the 1990s, a wide-ranging government road building programme was cancelled. By 1996, the amount of UK motorway had reached 2,000 miles. In the years since it’s grown by a mere 300 miles or 15 per cent .

The cost of fuel in 1994

On the face of it, Brits spend almost double on fuelling their car in 2019 compared to 25 years ago. Then it cost an average of £14.15 for the weekly fill up; today it is £27.05. But adjust the 1994 figure for inflation and the amounts are almost identical.

This might be for a couple of reasons. The price of fuel in 1994, when adjusted, for inflation wasn’t that different to today. And cars are generally more economical.

Cast your mind back to motoring 1994-style

Britain’s biggest seller was a Ford, but not the Fiesta. It was the Escort (Picture Ford)
  • The best-selling car in the UK was the Ford Escort
  • The Rover Group was sold to BMW which immediately binned the Maestro and Montego
  • The Ford Mondeo won 1994’s European Car of the Year
  • Big supercar news was the Ferrari 512M

And elsewhere…

  • The biggest selling song of 1994 was Love is All Around by Wet Wet Wet
  • Forrest Gump was the monster cinema hit of the year
  • Manchester United won football’s premiership
  • Famous people to die included rock star Kurt Cobain and racing driver Ayrton Senna

5 comments on “25 years ago, Green Flag was brand new. Here’s what else was going on

  1. Stuart Ralphs November 16, 2019 9:26 am

    How times have changed, I remember those days very well. Other road users were more polite and patient, speed was a rare thing and not many so called ‘racing drivers’ using the roads. It should be a lesson that speed does kill. Who remembers the add from the 80s, whose taking you home tonight ? Police, Ambulance or a taxi ?

  2. Paul November 16, 2019 10:23 am

    Perhaps the biggest diference is 25 years ago we bought a car we could afford, now we buy (or lease) the car we want – not necessarily the same thing. There are a lot more second (and third) cars in families than 25 years ago so a 50% increase in registered cars doesn’t mean a 50% increase in traffic. But perhaps the shocking statistic is that despite 25 years of development and a few fuel/financial crises a small family car does little better mpg now than its predecessor did 25 years ago – I imagine the Corsa is pretty representative of most makes and models. It’s probably not helped by the trend that with each new generation of models manufactrers make the equivalent new model bigger and heavier – some of us remember when a Mini was – well, mini – not the size of a decent van.

  3. Paul Ingham November 17, 2019 12:33 pm

    Thanks guys enjoyed the touch of nostalgia.

  4. Geoffrey Bazeley November 19, 2019 8:04 am

    Still better days than today people talked to one another and there was pub or a club in every village it’s all gone

  5. Stanislaw Grojc November 19, 2019 4:18 pm

    I remember you starting Green Flag at Common Road Low Moor,my workshop was on
    Hanworth road called,Runwire Elactrical Controls Ltd. yes how things have changed.

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