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...]
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…
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...]
Early BMC Minis, including unrestored examples, commercial versions, Coopers and special editions are all of particular interest to enthusiasts in the 21st Century says Dave Moss. Despite a high profile career spanning over 40 years, it’s perhaps rather surprising that almost all of today's most valuable and collectable Minis were sold in the 1960s. Though the next three decades produced … [Read more...]
CLASSIC SKODAS Kim Henson takes a look at some Skodas from decades past… ILLUSTRIOUS HERITAGE Before talking about some specific models, first a little history… Today’s individualistic Skodas successfully incorporate engineering elements common to cars across the Volkswagen Group, blended with innovative styling and the use of many components/systems unique to Skoda models. Most buyers … [Read more...]
Featuring a separate chassis, under-stated good looks, ultra-easy engine access for maintenance, and all-round independent suspension, Triumph’s Herald has much going for it as a user-friendly, attractive classic. Kim Henson elaborates… Arriving on the UK motoring scene in 1959, the Triumph Herald was a new compact, stylishly angular car from Standard-Triumph, and effectively replaced the … [Read more...]
One of the best loved British classic cars of all time, the Morris Minor/1000 still makes a great deal of sense in the 21st Century. Kim Henson takes a look... It is now 65 years since the Morris Minor was launched as a thoroughly modern small car, which (engine excepted), at the time, it was. Replacing the Morris Eight Series E as the smallest model in the Morris line-up of family cars, the … [Read more...]
Ford’s highly successful small car of the late 1950s/1960s proved to be a much-loved family favourite, and if you buy an Anglia today, you will find that the car brings back happy memories for many people. Ford Motor Company’s product planning approach was radically revised in the 1950s, and the first model to benefit fully was the Anglia 105E, which was announced in October 1959. The newcomer … [Read more...]
Affordable, fun to drive and easy-to-own classic sports cars, the Midget and Sprite still live up to their original design brief. Kim Henson tells all… Adorned by the famous MG badge, Midgets (together with equivalent Austin Healey Sprite models) are budget-priced classic sports cars offering much more hood-down fun per mile than their size and performance potential might suggest. Even today … [Read more...]
As British in character as a Sunday roast, but with a hint of Italian styling flair, the Cambridge models from Austin, and equivalent Oxfords from Morris, were respected in their time, and make effective ‘family’ classics today. Kim Henson investigates… As the 1960s beckoned, angular styling and pointed rear fins were all the rage. Echoing this trend, the popular ‘mainstream’ Austin and … [Read more...]
Graceful, fast, roomy and supremely comfortable, early Jaguar XJs and equivalent Daimlers can provide you with a great deal of classic car for your money. However, to win in this respect you need to take great care to purchase a genuinely good example. Kim Henson is your guide to these iconic British sports saloons. Arriving on the British motoring scene in 1968, the Jaguar XJ6 four door saloon … [Read more...]
The ‘baby’ Austin Seven helped to keep the Austin Motor Company in business through the 1920s, and the stature of this diminutive icon grew throughout the 1930s. During the 1950s the original Seven’s successors, the A30s and A35s, built further on the success of their pre-War counterparts. Kim Henson tells the story… In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Austin Motor Company introduced … [Read more...]