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
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
- 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
- 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