In this first article in a series looking at Vauxhall models through the years, we are shining the spotlight on a milestone model for the Luton-based company, from 117 years ago – the 5 hp 'Light Car'... (All information and photographs from Vauxhall). Built from 1903, Vauxhall’s first year of car production, and known as the ‘Light Car’, the model featured a slow-revving, … [Read more...]
Our look in the rear view mirror at cars from the past
In this website we deliberately cover cars new and old. While it is true that modern motor cars are becoming ever more sophisticated (and complicated!), and to fulfill their daily transport needs most motorists tend to drive vehicles built relatively recently, equally there is growing respect for, and interest in, the crucially important ‘heritage’ models which represent stepping stones along the path of automotive progress.
If it wasn’t for the technical and styling innovations of the cars of the past that are now regarded as classics, we wouldn’t have been able to arrive at the models produced today.
There are classic models to suit all tastes, and there are many reasons for buying an old car, ranging from ‘sentimental’ nostalgic memories, to purely practical considerations.
While some old cars are little used these days (so in reality they are ‘toys’ brought out just for high days and holidays), it’s a fact that many classics are very easy to own and to operate, are inexpensive to run and are still capable of providing effective, enjoyable ‘real world’ transport in the 21st Century.
Ownership can provide fun in terms of the sheer enjoyment of driving an ‘oldie’ that is different, as well as a whole new social scene, for those who want it.
So whether you are already an enthusiast, or are contemplating taking the plunge, we hope that you will enjoy, and find useful, our features on cars from the past…These will grow in number and scope, as we progress.
Buy With Care
Each of our ‘Profile’ features concentrates on an individual classic car. In each case, if you are thinking of buying one but are unfamiliar with the model, it’s wise to take the advice of fellow owners (join the club(s) if it/they exist) or specialists for the vehicle, and if possible, when viewing vehicles for sale, take with you an independent third party.
While restoration can be rewarding and enjoyable if you are deliberately starting with a project vehicle, purchased for an appropriate price, you definitely don’t want to end up with a expensive ‘basket case’ that has been disguised to make it appear to be a sound example. This still happens today. Mistakes like this can await the unwary, and can cost huge amounts to put right.
In general, the structural condition of classic cars is far more important than their mechanical state. Proceed with caution, and view as many examples as you can, to get a feel for prices asked versus condition levels.
Don’t rush into a purchase; do your research and be patient. In this way you should be able to find the classic of your dreams, at a fair price.
Are you sitting comfortably? If so, then we’ll begin…
MG F - 25 years is a long time - by Dave Moss, who tells the fascinating story of this model (and the TF)... The MG F, which passed the 25th anniversary of its Geneva Show announcement on March 7th 2020, was a remarkable car. Developed to capitalise on a long and formidably successful heritage defined by its world famous (and subtly reworked) octagon badge, it has left a fitting and indelible … [Read more...]
Collector’s dream or aged Golf in drag? The first edition of Audi’s TT is 21 years old and divides opinions sharply, as Jeremy Walton discovered when he bought a limited edition TT quattro sport… Kim adds: A very warm 'welcome aboard' to Jeremy as a contributor to Wheels-Alive. He will already be known to many readers as a highly experienced motoring writer, especially in terms of covering … [Read more...]
Kim Henson sheds light on a seldom-told pre-War success story for the Standard Motor Company… (Words and all photographs by Kim). Complex and very wide-ranging, the 'Flying' Standard line-up found buyers galore keen to own the boldly styled models. This is what happened... Since the last Standard-badged car for the UK was produced well over half a century ago, it is perhaps unsurprising that … [Read more...]
A variety of Standard Vanguard Phase I and II models, and their owners, took part in a recent event celebrating these enjoyable and competent vehicles… Kim Henson was there... (All words and photos by Kim). During the late 1930s the Standard Motor Company produced a very wide range of ‘Flying Standard’ models that proved to be popular with buyers and it is no exaggeration to say that these … [Read more...]
Small Wonder... Britain's favourite small car of the 1960s and 70s, celebrated by Dave Moss. It was exactly 60 years ago this week, on 26th August 1959, that the Mini was introduced to the world. In this first instalment of a series about the BMC/British Leyland/Rover Minis, Dave describes the background to, and development of, this small but revolutionary car, dubbed 'Wizardry on Wheels' in … [Read more...]
Spectacular 250 m (820 ft) wide Defender outline drawn in the snow at 2,700 m (8,858 ft) in the French Alps to mark Land Rover’s 70th anniversary… Headlines: The amazing Defender outline has been created by snow artist Simon Beck who walked out 20,894 steps in sub-zero temperatures. Land Rover announces World Land Rover Day: 30 April 2018 marks 70 years since its debut at the 1948 Amsterdam … [Read more...]
Peugeot 205 – “le sacré numéro”… In the second of our new series on Wheels-Alive, Kim Henson test drives Peugeot’s 205, in this case a 1991 1.1 litre Trio S three door version. (All words and photographs by Kim). Note: "Wheels-Alive gives you more..." If you would like to turn back time 26 years (on a temporary basis!), at the end of this feature are direct 'interactive' links to enable you … [Read more...]
Kim Henson revisits Honda’s sensational first series NSX – and drives the latest car bearing this revered name, also taking brief outings in Civics old and new too! All words and photographs by Kim, with the exception of the main front and rear shots of the 2017 Civic Type R – these courtesy of Honda). As a motoring writer, one of the questions I am most often asked is, “What are your … [Read more...]
Combining classic styling and a modern power train – a classic EV (Electric Vehicle) E Type! Report by Robin Roberts. Jaguar Land Rover Classic is presenting an electric-powered Jaguar E-type at the Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest, which opens to the public on 8 September in London. The car, known as E-type Zero, has been restored and converted at Jaguar Land Rover Classic Works in Coventry, not far … [Read more...]
NO SIESTA FOR THE FIESTA – THE EVOLUTION OF THE FORD FIESTA A new design piece from MoneySuperMarket shows how the best-selling car in the UK has developed since 1976. The latest model, the Mark VIII (Mark VII outside of the UK) went on sale on 1st July. In terms of number of sales, Britain’s favourite car is the Ford Fiesta. Reliable since 1976, many of its generations have been … [Read more...]
Wacky Record Breakers – out in force at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. By Chris Adamson. Edd China, best known as the technical boffin half of television series Wheeler Dealers, returned to his roots, the world of weird car creations, when he helped to launch a new summer exhibition at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. Edd was on hand to meet fans at the New Forest attraction and to … [Read more...]
Glen Smale recalls his Austin 11-55 in South Africa… Glen operates Virtual Motorpix and his recollections about his own 11-55 first appeared on own his website blog: http://blog.virtualmotorpix.com (Kim says: “Just to set the scene, it may be helpful to explain a little about the Austin 11-55. This was a South African version of BMC’s 1100 (ADO 16) that was introduced in the UK in 1962, and in … [Read more...]
Auntie's Legacy… by Dave Moss. (Grateful thanks to Virtual Motorpix for the use of many of the photographs shown in this feature). As it went on sale in 1949, the Rover P4 – later often referred to as "Auntie" – represented everything the company had stood for in its pre-war days – brought up to date. However, before moving on to the details of the new P4 models which were to take the … [Read more...]
The Citroën Xantia and me Dave Randle waxes lyrical about this modern Gallic classic… I’d already had three Xantias in a row when I asked our local specialists to find me a top of the diesel range Exclusive 110 HDi. Five years ago, they came up with the goods: a beautiful storm grey example with rare yellow leather seats. All my Xantias had been prodigiously reliable and all had done 200,000 … [Read more...]
The car that created or broke the mould? Kim Henson takes a look at the Ford Sierra (especially RS Cosworth versions)... In October 1982 the much-loved, angular Cortina (Mark V by then) was finally ousted and in its place Ford introduced the boldly styled five door Sierra hatchback. Initial reaction to its unconventional, rounded bodywork was mixed. Many traditionalists were outraged at the … [Read more...]
Julian Leyton reflects on four decades of knowledge and experience of these fascinating grand tourers… For my sins I had the, perhaps dubious, pleasure of working in all three divisions of one of the largest British Leyland dealer groups throughout most of the 70s, meaning that I saw Stags from Sales, Parts and, toughest of all, Service perspectives. Launched a couple of years before I … [Read more...]
Thirty years after the first 'Back to the Future' film arrived, Kim Henson looks back at the evocative car which starred in it (but in fact pre-dated it too)... Whether you are a fan of the model or not, the ‘dare to be different’ DeLorean DMC-12 made news from the moment it was conceived. Production started in February 1981 at a purpose-built factory at Dunmurry, Belfast, at the … [Read more...]
Some 66 years on, Dave Moss remembers the disabled Welsh miners who produced 30,000 cars... Pengam, on the outskirts of Bargoed in south Wales, is a pretty unlikely place for a car factory - but its product was a pretty unusual car. Deep in the Rhymney Valley, landlocked by hills, eighteen tortuous miles north of Cardiff and almost as far from Ebbw Vale and Merthyr Tydfil, for years the … [Read more...]
Dave Moss reflects on the introduction of Land Rover's first Discovery, in 1989. Looking down the time tunnel to the Plymouth-based UK launch of the Land-Rover Discovery in October 1989, 26 years now feels like several lifetimes in automotive history. The launch was masterminded by the marque's new owner, British Aerospace, which had somehow recently been persuaded by the government to buy … [Read more...]