Ford Zephyr Mk1

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The Mark 1 Zephyr, state of the art in its day. Brace yourself, here’s some stats – tests in 1951 gave the Mark 1 a top speed of 79.8 mph (that’s a blistering 128.4 km/h – I guess speedometers were pretty accurate back then) and could accelerate from 0–60 in 20.2 seconds. That gave you enough time to find a cool radio station before you reached maximum speed. Of course I exaggerate, there were only three stations to choose from – The Concert Programme (yeah-nah), Radio Sport (cricket in the summer, rugby in the winter) and the local pop station. Wait, there was the horse racing channel too. There you go, we did need the full 20.2 seconds. These cars were built at the main British Ford factory in Dagenham, England but also in Lower Hutt, New Zealand (not many people know that). I could tell you a little about Lower Hutt, but that’s another story. Speaking of stories, when the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II visited New Zealand in 1953, she was photographed watching Zephyrs being built at the Lower Hutt plant – no, she was – and we wonder why she doesn’t swing by New Zealand more often.

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1969 Riley Kestrel 1300

Blog-image-Riley-Kestrel

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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