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Classic cars in general
Member Name: johnbutt
Classic cars in general
Advantages: Style, elegance and "Wow"
Disadvantages: Inclined to fall apart
Born in the early fifties (the very early fifties!), I grew up with everyday cars that collectors would now give their eye teeth for. Because of the war, British car production had ground to a halt, and anything with wheels and an engine was being used to get about.
Even the names of these motors sound odd now..Humber, Jowett, Armstrong Siddeley, Singer..the list seems endless, and each one was individual, unique.
This was an era when the R.A.C. Patrolman travelled about on a motorbike and sidecar, and saluted any member he identified.. when garages used to serve your petrol to you, and you didn't need to take out a bank loan to pay for it.
It was also a time when there was no such thing as an M.O.T. and cars literally fell apart whilst they were being driven, and the term "Buyer beware" took on a new significance.
From the world of standardisation that we inhabit now, where you need to look twice to establish a car's identity, these were heady days.
There was no mistaking the big Triumph Roadster with the windscreen fixed into it's boot. The Triumph was a huge two-seater, but open the boot and there was two extra seats..your passengers literally sat in the boot of the car! These were known as "Dickie" seats, and appeared on other cars beside the Triumph.
My Dad had an enormous 1930's Rover 12 'Sportsman'. This car had the lot..the big chrome headlights, running-boards, (to the uninitiated, these were footplates that were fixed beneath the doors.. From an era of more elegance, one stepped from the car onto the running-board, then onto the footwalk)and a huge Bentley-style radiator grille. I still remember the argument between my Dad and Mum over the car. He'd spent the outrageous sum of £10 on it, and she wasn't amused. She was even less amused some weeks later when the car packed in and refused to move. The previous owner had fastened a nylon stocking around one of the big-ends (part of the piston assembly) as a temporary repair, and it had obviously disintegrated as he'd used the car..I can't imagine someone doing this to a Ford Focus somehow.
Of course these vehicles were unremarkable at the time. They were the cars that were affordable, and available to the average person. They were nearly always black in colour, with bonnets that opened sideways from each side. They had doors that opened the 'wrong' way (These became known as "suicide" doors, because they placed anyone leaving the car in an exposed position to oncoming traffic), windscreens that opened with a winding-handle, and spare tyres fastened to the side or rear of the bodywork. They were coach-built..wooden-framed, and many had spoked wheels...and I loved them.
Some people talk about a Vauxhall Viva or an Austin Mini being a "classic" these days, and I apologise to these enthusiasts, because I need to disagree. Nothing built in the last 50 years approaches the innovation, elegance, styling or sheer wow-factor that these old cars had.
Summary: I believe pre-war cars are the true classics.