Motoring Christmas past
What presents might motorists have found under the Christmas tree in the years when classic cars were new?
Who remembers those one-wash sachets of car shampoo? In 1966 they cost 9d for '1001' Wax Wash or 10d for Turtle Wax 'Zip Wax'. 9d is nine old pence or about 4p in decimal.
If you wanted to spend a bit more, a 12oz bottle of Zip Wax was 7/6 (7 shillings and 6 pence, or 37½p in decimal). A 'Flexy' car wash brush that you could attach a hose was 21/6. These were great brushes. I bought mine in 1988 and I'm still using it today.
For the MG driver, Halfords stocked leather key fobs for common makes of British cars, including MG for 4/6. You could also buy a wood-finish gear lever knob for an MG for 12/6.
Another accessory favoured by MG fans was the racing-style mirror. These cost 27/6.
Some owners fitted Maserati air horns to MGBs. They needed to modify the front grille to fit them. A pair cost £5 19s 6d in 1966.
If you were thinking about your loved one's safety on those dark winter nights, how about some fog or spot lamps? They cost from 20 shillings up to 90 shillings.
There were also parking lights. Who remembers them? In the 1960s there was a requirement to show a light on a vehicle parked in an area with streetlights after lighting up time. Most people had a parking light in the car. They were usually fixed to the window of the car and were powered by the battery. The most sophisticated ones came on automatically at dusk and switched off at dawn. They ranged in price from 6/9 for a basic lamp, to 47/6 for an automatic 'Magic-Eye' lamp which was light sensitive.
Torches were also a favourite gift in the 1960s.
The classic Pifco Lantern was still selling in the 1970s. They cost 23/6 in 1966.
Another favourite choice was a road atlas. In the 1960s new roads and motorways were being opened all the time, so buying a new one for the new year was a good idea. The Nuffield Road Atlas of Great Britain was a favourite choice. It was a ring-bound volume with the projected motorways shown in dotted blue. They held out the promise of a more exciting motoring future.
A more personal gift was a pair of string-backed leather driving gloves. A pair of 'Sports driving gloves' from Halfords cost 28/6 in 1966. They had leather palms, with nylon backs and 'Velcro' fastening, all the made-made features you could want.
If you wanted to get a special gift for the car-mad man or woman in your life, this Pye 'Two-in-One' radio might have made the perfect gift.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, transistor radios were expensive. The first transistor radio under £10, the Fidelity Coronet, went on sale in 1961. £10 in those days was more like £200 today. So, you might have to choose between a radio for the car or a personal radio. The Pye 'Two-in-One' was a personal radio that would push into the radio slot in the car. It ran off a 9v radio battery out of the car and the car battery when in the car. It cost 18½ guineas in 1962. Allowing for inflation, it would have cost £320 today.
If you want more information about pounds, shillings and pence visit:
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By Steven Braggs, November 2022