Say you're looking to buy an old car such as a Jaguar E-Type or even an exotic XJ220 supercar. There are plenty of sources to tell you how many where originally manufactured and with many classic cars it's even possible to find out how many were sold in different countries.
But that does not tell you how rare they are nowadays. How many are left running? It's tough to find out easily unless it's a low-volume exotic with an enthusiastic owner club that has tallied this information for its members.
However there is now a website – appropriately named — that will give you a good idea of the rarity of any particular model in the UK.
How Many Left? is a database and search engine of statistics about cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles registered in the UK. It is the brainchild of Olly Smith, who describes himself as developer and a car geek who works on the website in his spare time.
If you're into British cars, old cars in general, or just statistics it's fascinating to delve into the data. For example, I found there are 4,565 E-Types still licensed in the UK. There are just 21 XJ220 exotics and 19 of them are not licensed to run on the highway (shown as Statutory Off Road Notification or SORN). Oh, and in case you care there are 79 Ford Thunderbirds licensed in the UK.
Smith did not compile the data himself but took advantage of statistics that anybody can download from the . I downloaded the spreadsheet containing the raw data and found it has 46,304 rows listing models from an Abarth 500 to a Zongshen ZS 250 GS with columns covering every year from 1900 to 2010. Of course there are caveats, as Smith points out, in how the vehicles are listed since the data relies on what the owners entered on the original registration forms. Smith has cleaned up the raw data as much as possible and presents it in an easy-to-view format.
I'm not aware of any publicly available database like this in the US – but what a great idea for someone to develop.