Just a few of the great cars made in Britain – Ford Anglia, Prefect, Zephyr and Cortina, Morris, Austin, Riley and Vauxhall and the mighty Land Rover.
I’ve included this Austin J2 Paralanian camper in my series of British Cars realising what it lacks in ‘car-ness’ it makes up for in Britishness – in van loads. Between 1956 and 1965, Central Garages Limited of Bradford hand-built these camper-vans, typically starting with Austin and Morris cabs and chassis. But here’s the best part – they were considered luxurious, the best money could buy. Such simple times aye? They sold for £1,400 give or take. Now, I’d have thought one might get a nice terrace two-up two-down in Bradford for less than that, well, anywhere possibly … but I guess real estate’s not really my strength so what would I know?
Central Garages was located in Parry Lane, hence Paralanian (see what they did there, those clever Brits, it’s nearly as good as ‘van loads’), a word that became synonymous with the British summer motoring holiday. When you think about it in this light, those old campers probably didn’t clock up many miles, the British summer only being two weeks long an’ all.
When my wife was a design student some years ago, her car of choice was a Morry. Common to students at the time, insurance was beyond her budget once the weekly pub expenses were covered (she has always had an admirable sense of priority). She also has a strong sense of social responsibility and having no insurance was something of a burden. With this in mind, she developed a strategy to keep her, and her fellow motorists, safe on the road. Every panel on her Morry was painted a different colour. Rough as guts its was. My wife (who was always ‘very creative’, according to her mum) regarded it as a work of art, others regarded it an old banger. Whether a work of art or old banger, it made other drivers nervous. Change lanes on the motorway, no problem, everyone stayed clear. Park at the supermarket, no problem, everyone stayed clear. Shoot an orange light, no problem, everyone stayed clear. Worked a treat it did, never so much as a scratch.