How does a first car from the 1950s compare with one from the 2010s?

Over the last 60 years, the change in cars and automotive technology has been massive. The advent of driver aids like power steering, satellite navigation, extra security and safety features have changed what we expect a car to have as standard.

This means that what first-time motorists want and need their car to do has evolved. A first car isn’t just a case of enabling you to get from A to B anymore. There are different features to keep in mind which influence how you get around too.

Using some of the most popular choices for first cars from our recent survey, we wanted to see how a first car from the 1950s compared with a more modern vehicle, and investigate whether or not these changes are a good thing.

The Ford Prefect

One of the more popular car choices for drivers who were on the roads in the 1950s, the Ford Prefect was a practical, small family car that’s now regarded as a classic.

In comparison to modern cars, it lacks the safety features and modern comforts that have not only become expected of contemporary cars, but, in some cases, legal safety requirements.


    • 1172cc engine
    • 3-speed transmission
    • 30 horsepower

The Vauxhall Corsa

The most popular car from out 2010s segment, the Vauxhall Corsa has been a mainstay on British roads for years. For our comparison, we looked at the 2014 model as this had the most recent Euro NCAP – New Car Assessment Programme – rating.


    • 1364cc engine
    • 6-speed transmission
    • 100 horsepower
    • Anti-lock brakes
    • Airbags
    • Seatbelts
    • Central Locking
    • Stability control
    • Hill start assist
    • NCAP rating of 4 out of 5 stars

How much have cars changed?

Cars have improved as technology has changed. New materials, a reliance on computers, and changes to roads and driving styles have all had an impact on what is expected of commercial vehicles.

Cars have needed to become more powerful to cope with dual carriageways and motorways. A Corsa, for example, is by no means the most powerful car on the market – with sports cars and hyper cars being several times more powerful. However, in comparison to a car from the 50s, like the Ford Prefect, the Corsa is still giving new drivers more than three times the amount of horsepower.

Airbags and seatbelts have become necessities for safety, as have anti-lock brakes. Additional systems, like hill start assists and stability assistants, help make driving easier by supporting the driver. Safety has become one of the most important parts of any vehicle. Safety records and NCAP ratings, for example, are now a major part of how a lot of vehicles, particularly those aimed at families or new motorists, market themselves.

What does this mean for new motorists?

Cars that are safer and easier to drive provide massive benefits to new motorists. Until you’ve passed your test, you’re always supervised when you’re behind the wheel. There’s someone watching over what you do and helping you to avoid making mistakes.

Once you’ve passed your test, that supervision is no longer there and you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle without dual controls or someone keeping an eye on you. This can be nerve-racking. A car that’s safer and easier to drive can help to ease some of those nerves and help you to get more comfortable when driving. Especially with additional features, like hill start and parking assist, helping to take some of the stress out of specific manoeuvres that can prove difficult for newer and less experienced drivers.

Cars with additional safety and security features should be less risk prone for insurers. So when looking for a first car, it can be worth looking at more modern vehicles due to their increased safety and the potential for insurance to be in a lower bracket. As a new driver, you can often expect to pay more for your insurance, but a car that’s traditionally cheaper to ensure can sometimes help you to offset some of that cost.

Helping you find the perfect first car

There are a huge number of vehicles that you can choose from for your first car. Not just in terms of which make of model you choose, but the different options of model that exist too.

At Zero Deposit Car Leasing, we can help you to find your perfect car and couple that with the finance option that’s right for you.

To discuss your options and take your first steps to getting on the road in your perfect car, get in touch with a member of our team.