Old cars in the 1970s
Original features or period-style accessories? Customised or concours? These are the questions that classic car owners ponder.
But how did today's classics look in the past? These cars were getting towards the end of their normal useful life.
A few owners made their bread-and-butter cars look a bit more distinctive. Many cars soldiered on, whether loved or unloved. Most did not survive to become classics.
It was cars like these that inspired my love for classic cars in the 1970s. It was not the glamorous sports models that I longed for as a boy, but the more ordinary cars that were rapidly disappearing from our streets.
This picture is of an old Ford Consul (reg number: 1575 MK) at Seaford, East Sussex in 1970. MK II Consuls were old cars by the 1970s. This car is already ten years old.
The owner bought 'Dear old Connie' after she had a hard life as a rep's car.
Consuls were good design in the 1950s. It was rare for a car to be featured in 'Designers in the UK'. The Consul was the only one in the 1957 edition. When you see a Consul in a 1950s TV show, it floats along, like a futuristic car floating on air. There was a clear influence from 1950s era American Fords.
The Consul as the base model was less adorned with chrome than the more expensive Zephyr and Zodiac. It looked cleaner. By the 1970s, Consuls were old-fashioned and rusting away.
Sid James drove a 1957 Consul MkII (725 PMD) in 'Carry on Camping' (1969). It was meant to be an 'old banger'. By then it was rough and leaked when it rained.
Neither car has survived.
Ford Anglias were cheap, but reliable transport in the 1970s. They were great for customisation. This car has been updated with a new paint colour and a black grille. The owner removed some of the chrome to give it a cleaner look. The black alloy wheels help to complete the early 1970s feel of this 1966 car. There is some debate on Flickr as to whether they are Dunlop alloys or Cosmic Alloys. They look like Dunlop alloys to me.
This is the same car in 1970, before the makeover. It was an Anglia Super, the top-spec for the time. Apart from a couple of driving lamps, it looks standard. Judge for yourself which you prefer.
Pity this car has not survived.
Next up is a Hillman Minx. This one dates from 1965 and the photograph is from 1976.
According to the owner this eleven-year-old car carried five adults plus luggage the 150 miles from Chertsey in Surrey to Minehead in Somerset in the summer of 1976 without a mishap.
He kept the car going with parts from a Singer Gazelle. It was named a Hilger Minxelle as a result. You can see a Singer badge on the car. It also has another name 'Western Pathfinder'.
It looks like it has had new sills. Leaving them black after the repair was common. I remember one of my dad's cars looking like that.
This one is also sadly no longer with us.
Next in this sequence is an Austin A40 photographed in 1970. It is a Mark I Austin A40 with the wavy line Austin grille. That means it was made between 1958 and 1961. So, it was between nine and twelve years old in 1970.
It has wing mirrors and a stick-on number plate. These were a popular customisation in the 1960s and early 1970s, a rally-car look.
There is some rust on the grille and bodywork. This one has not survived either.
This is snap is from Australia in 1975. The car is an early 1950s Standard Vanguard Phase I estate. It looks a little worse for wear. There is a different coloured door and some sill damage.
Banger racing was the fate of many 1950s and 1960s cars in the 1970s. Sadly it is still the fate of classic cars today. Sometimes they are stolen for banger racing. Beware if you own a classic.
Very few cars from the 1950s and 1960s survive today. Don't be fooled by the numbers you might see at classic car shows; this is a tiny fraction of the number made. Amazingly cars from this era are still being scrapped.
If you choose to own one you are helping to keep history alive for future generations.
By Steven Braggs, November 2022