1969 Riley Kestrel 1300

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Funny how perceptions change over time. If anybody had driven one of these to college back in the seventies they would have been laughed out of school. You can hear the conversation – ‘Take my car today son’, ‘No I’m good thanks Mum, I’ll take the bus’. Even parking down the road a bit and walking to the school gate wasn’t worth the risk. 

It was designed by Alec Issigonis who also did the Mini. In it’s design phase, they called it the BMC ADO16 which stood for British Motor Corporation Amalgamated Drawing Office project number 16. No wonder they settled for Riley … oh and Morris and Austin and MG and Wolseley and Vanden Plas and one or two other variations too I think. Change the name and the grill and nobody’ll notice it’s the same car. Wouldn’t catch us out like that now-a-days aye, we’re onto their cunning ploys. Yessirree.

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Ford Prefect 107E

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This is British Ford at it’s very best (debatable I know, but let’s run with it for now). Even into the 1950s, car styling hadn’t really changed in Britain from the sit-up-and-beg look of the 1930s and 1940s (a tad distracted by the war I guess). Then, in 1953, Ford produced this ‘modern’ shape and it was a revelation. These simple, robust cars sold like hot cakes. They had features like hydraulic brakes and independent front suspensions but in true Ford spirit they were sparse inside – heaters and sun visors were extra. The windscreen wipers weren’t extra but were powered by a cheap-to-make vacuum system with one minor flaw – the faster the cars went, the slower the wipers worked. Bit of an issue in Britain I would have thought? But, despite their simplicity, the new Prefect heralded (that’s a wee Triumph joke there) in a new optimism that an austere Britain was only just starting to feel.

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Ford Cortina

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My sister’s boyfriend had one of these, only his was a mustard colour. I used to enjoy sliding into the back seat, cruising the back streets of Johnsonville – Abba belting out SOS from the cassette player on the parcel shelf. Slightly on the too loud side, speakers rattling. Sis was partial to a bit of Abba back then but who cared, this was a Mark 1 Cortina and we were cruisin’. The Boyfriend was probably wondering why the little brother was always in tow, but that never really occurred to me. Sis and the Boyfriend up front, me in the back with Abba having my own party, maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. To be honest, Johnsonville wasn’t that glam – twice around the block was enough before the lure of the bright lights drew us to ‘The Mall’ – this is where it really happened in Johnsonville on Friday night, I can tell you.

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