Survey shows Ford is the most popular first car UK-wide


Ford has come out top as the most popular make for a first car across all ages and regions, with almost one in four choosing a Ford as their first car.

We surveyed 2,000 drivers of all ages, from different regions of the UK, to find out more about our ‘first loves’ – those cars that hold a special place in our hearts as the set of wheels that gave us freedom.

As well as make and model, we dived into what people like to name their cars – and the most popular colours, too.

But what classic cars featured in the survey results, what did people name their first cars, and what region is most excited about Vauxhalls? Read on to find out…


Key findings from the Heritage 'first car' first loves survey

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Austin Mini Cooper classic car first cars

What classics did people have as their first car?

Ford Fiestas and Escorts were the top two first cars in our survey, and it may be a bit of a shock but the earliest models of these are now firmly in the classic lane. Escorts in particular have seen a surge in popularity, and you can find some absolutely pristine examples of the MKI in collections today.

The Mini also made an appearance, both Austin and Rover. A car that epitomised British style for a decade and more, it’s no surprise that the Mini still makes top ten classic car lists. The Clubman, which many think of now as a BMW-manufactured car, was originally the 1970s re-imagining of the Mini, and in our survey most people who had a Clubman as their first car are aged 55 or older.

Of course, we also saw a few Beetles, and a smattering of Morris Minors, Abarths, Westfields and Alpines, no doubt all with entertaining first car ownership stories behind them.

Ford is the most popular first car in the UK

Where was Ford the most popular as a first car?

Yorkshire was the region where drivers were most likely to have had a Ford as a first car, with 31% of people saying they’d had one. East Anglia followed close behind at 27%, and Scotland, the East and West Midlands, and the South East (excluding London) all came in at a solid 25% of first-car Ford owners.

Conversely, Ford was the least popular as a first car in London, where just 10% of Londoners saying their first car had been a Ford. London tended to favour BMW most highly, with 14% buying a Beemer as their first set of wheels.

For drivers now aged mid-forties to mid-fifties in our survey, the Ford Fiesta came top, with 16% of drivers this age having had one as their first car. The Ford Escort came second at 10%, but this trend was reversed with the 55+ age group, with 13% having had one as a first set of wheels, but only 6% having had a Fiesta.

Younger generations and the appeal for luxury cars

Our research highlights that there’s been a noticeable trend among younger generations, particularly Gen Z, gravitating towards more luxurious brands for their first cars.  

Among 18–24-year-olds, almost one in six had a BMW as their first car, making it the top choice in this age group. Twelve percent opted for a Ford, while 8% each chose a Vauxhall or an Audi. Volkswagen rounds up the top five with 7% in this demographic selecting it as their first car. 

There are also other reports indicating Gen Z shoppers are much more likely to buy luxury brands than any other generation with 39% buying a luxury car versus 29% of millennials, 27% of Gen Xers and just 12% of boomers. 

The findings from our research also show that younger generations favour new cars, with nearly a third (29%) of those aged between 18 and 24 years old purchasing their first car brand new. 

What did drivers name their first car?

What’s in a name? A lot of B’s, according to our survey. 18% of the names people told us they had given to their first car, began with a B. Betsy was the most common name, appearing 6 times – followed by Daisy, and Bessie. We also put together our favourite comedic car names from the research:

  1. The Reverend Ernest Lumley   ​​​​​​​
  2. Katniss Neverclean
  3. ‘Purdy’ because it was an avenger (Joanna Lumley)
  4. Miss Moneypit
  5. Greased Lard
  6. Cleopatra
  7. ‘Angel’ (as in please be an angel and start!)
  8. Police Dog (because the number plate had both K9 & PC in it)

Renault 5 1972 classic car anniversary

How about you?

We’d love to hear, what was your first car, and did you name it? How long did you keep it, and was it new or second-hand? Feel free to share your first car story below – we may just make a feature of some favourites!

Ford lovers should check out our Ford enthusiasts guide for fascinating facts, movie moments, Ford history and more.