A street market has been held in Cambridge since the times of the Saxons, perhaps 1200 years ago. Logically, as this part of the city and of England is almost universally flat and in parts below sea level, the market is held on an area called Market Hill., and it has changed much over the years.
This shot was taken in the years 1960s, showing a great range of British and European cars and light vans (can you name them?), the typical striped awning and a range of buildings that is still fully recognisable, although the Victoria Cinema is now Marks and Spencer…..
Recently, the local Classic Car Club were invited to display a range of cars, as part of a promotional day for the market. It was a Sunday, when the market is predominantly a craft and delicatessen and artisan food venue (excellent and German style frikadellen and Belgian waffles) , rather the than the traditional fruit and veg, housewares and clothing.
So, let’s take a walk and generate a shopping list, CC style.
First up, one of my favourites – a 1967 Sunbeam Alpine Mk4, a car I know reasonably well, as the owner is a friend. It spent several years in France with an ex-pat Brit family, before coming back home. It is not a fully restoration, but has been subject to some fairly far reaching work over the recent years.
The car has the Rootes 1725cc engine, four speed box and overdrive, and is, of course, the basis for the V8 engined Sunbeam Tiger.
I often go for a left choice in many things, and this ticks my box against an MGB, purely on subjective criteria. Objectively, the MG probably shades it, and always did.
So, let’s look at an MGB. This is, fairly, one of Britain’s favourite classic cars. This example is from 1972, and has been gently restored and is now being well cared for.
It has a 2.0 litre BMC B series engine, rather than the regular 1.8 litre all MGB roadsters came with, and makes an interesting counterpoint up against my MX-5.
Whoever put that side strip across the wheel arch cutout at a tangent was a genius.
Another car that has featured on CC is the Triumph Herald convertible, in this case a 1970 car, which was almost the end of Herald production.
Again, a good choice for a good value or first classic, with relatively low acquisition costs, plentiful supply and decent parts support.
The chassis based construction is unusual for the age, but now has benefits, as corrosion can be more easily controlled. The convertible is the one to go for – open air fun, relatively low power so cheaper insurance but most of the thrills of the MGB.
Or maybe you fancy a Citroën 2CV, another CC favourite? This 1987 (almost the end of 2CV production) car is owned by a true compact Citroën fan who has a full collection of 2CVs, a Dyane, an Ami 8 and Visa Romahome.
This car has been all over Europe, to international 2CV meets in France, Italy and Poland in recent years. It is certainly very comfortable to ride in.
This Ford Prefect dates from 1956, and carries a local registration. A UK registration stays with a car for life, so this car has not strayed far in 60 years.
The Prefect was a four door version of the two door Anglia and the slightly later, decontented Popular, sitting in a space in the market now occupied by the Ford Fiesta, and came with a 1172 cc four cylinder, with 36 bhp. It was the first small monocoque UK Ford, and could be seen as the Ford response to the enduring success of the Morris Minor, and as a competitor for the Austin A30 and A35.
A contemporary of the Ford, but clearly very much larger and upmarket was the Humber Hawk.
This 1960 estate is one of the first factory built estate cars, and being a Humber, a car that could perhaps be defined as a British Buick when compared to its Hillman stable mate in the Rootes empire, came with a full British interior
If you think mid fifties Chevrolet styling, you would not be alone. That comparison has been made for many years, and Billy Rootes had been a great fan of American styling for many years. Any Humber is now a rare sight, and this is a great example.
Alongside the MGB and Morris Minor, another great stalwart of the British classic car scene in the Triumph Stag.
This occasion was no exception, with this very well presented 1973 example.
There is a something about the combination of a compact V8, Targa top, four seats and that styling that makes me want one. You cannot be other than relaxed in a Stag.
If a Stag is too slow, how about a Jaguar D type?
This is actually a replica, based on a cut down XJ6, but the final details are excellently done, and there was no doubting its ability to pull its own crowd.
The actual car dates from the 1970s, but you can still get a very definite 1955-6-7 Le Mans hat trick vibe from it.
Actually, the owner used to regularly commute over 100 miles a day in this car.
A more recent Jaguar was this very well presented and cared for 1995 XJ6 Sovereign saloon. This car dates from the period when Ford was trying to get the corporate head around the Jaguar business and product, and arguably getting sucked into a heritage styling dream, with mixed results commercially.
I have always been slightly intrigued, amused even, by the single windscreen wiper on these cars, and also the contrast between the length of the rear door and front door, as the wheelbase grew. The Sovereign was a luxury version of the regular XJ6, with electrically adjustable seats, climate control and more chrome trim.
Another British car show staple is a Mini, and this was no exception, with a choice interesting examples.
A 1988 basic specification Mini 1000 with a local registration and contemporary dealer stickers or…
…a 1993 car with a trailer built of another old Mini, bearing the a paint job to recall the Michael Caine film “The Italian Job” (one of the five good films by my personal rating).
Another great crown catcher, and it is worth noting that this was the usual market crowd rather than a regular car show audience. Few knew the event was actually happening, as there was a date mix-up!
Up against the Mini was this Hillman Imp, a car recently covered in depth on CC. This was the first Imp I had seen on the road for sometime, and the memories always come back.
This car is a 1974 example, so comes from the tail end of Imp production, and wears its years well.
One car seen before on CC is this Opel GT, one of only 34 left in the UK. The mini Corvette styling and early 70s colours always get me.
The car is owned by someone who recalled them whilst growing in Germany in the early 1970s, and who doesn’t mind the lack of an opening boot.
One brand I have never covered on CC is BMW, but this 1984 318 Baur cabriolet (E30 series) is too interesting and in too good a condition to ignore. Baur was a specialist low volume coachbuilder, prototype builder and converter, and worked with BMW for many years. BMW’s Karmann, if you like.
The E30 series was the first generation of the 3 series to be offered in a factory convertible form, as previously the only convertible had been a Baur conversion. Baur continued to offer this Cabriolet versions of the E30, similar to their work on the earlier E21 series.
Is it me, or is there something inherently spot-on about BMW interiors of this period? Something that has perhaps been lost behind a plethora of screens, menu options and iDrive controllers?
And the oldest car of the show to finish with – a 1953 MG TD. This car was actually exported to the US when new and returned around 20 years ago, and converted to right hand drive, and registered in the UK.
The MG T Series, of which the TD was the last but one, was the car that established the British roadster in the North America, and has many links to the pre-war and immediate post war cars, although it actually rides on the chassis of the post war MG Y type saloon and has independent suspension.
This car has a 55bhp 1250cc engine, and was the last MG not to have a BMC corporate A series or B series engine. To the shock of MG traditionalists, the car had bumpers; its successor the TF had headlamps faired into the bonnet and wings.
This car was perhaps the star of the show, and although it was parked by the loading bay for Marks and Sparks, owners John and Wendy were never lonely!
So, which one is on your shopping list?
I would think even non car buffs would show more interest in rarities like those on display, but many seem indifferent.
I had to find out more about English Fords to get the alien’s silly name in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: Ford Prefect. Idea was, he mistakenly thought these were typical Earthlings & tried to fit in this way.
I’m glad that Humber didn’t choose to imitate American interior design.
Nice MGB, & I like the color too! I didn’t know there was a 2.0L B engine; is there a weight difference?
The 2.0 litre engine was a bored out 1.8 litre, offered through various after market programmes and sources, though this car has a Gold Seal engine, which denotes some level of BL approval
I suspect little if any weight change, as the ancillaries are unchanged.
Like a “crate motor?” If they could enlarge the B-series like that, then it was a missed opportunity, as European makes rarely err in offering larger engines for the American market, esp. after smog controls were req’d.
I had a ’67 MGB with high-compression 1.8, rated at 98hp. Wish it had the optional overdrive, as it would’ve improved highway mileage: 3000 RPM is a bit much at those speeds.
RE: MGB W/ overdrive :
Yes , a very good addition and BMC really screwed the pooch by not making it standard equipment on North American vehicles as it makes the car easily buzz along at 80 ~ 100 MPH , a _Necessity_ in America, something the British vehicle makers had serious difficulty understanding .
The only down side I found when I added overdrive to my 1967 MGB GT MK 1 was : it didn’t stay on the road well at the speeds I liked to drive it ~ it consistently drifted wide on those high speed sweepers American highways are full of .
Nice selection. The Stag looks like it has just left the showroom. Not bad for 43 years old.
The Opel GT would be my pick, next is the Mini.
The Sunbeam will always remind me of GET SMART.
Maybe the portable version of the “Cone of Silence” is in the boot!!
I’ll take the Imp, which has to be a bit of a strange choice now that I think about it.
Great selection apart from the Opel, D type and Humber estate most of the rest are readily available here a quick search on trademe will turn up everything except the Alpine, Those 100E Fords were a good looking car back in the day its just a shame they still had the flathead engine and three speed, mildly enhanced over the previous shape but still very gutless and slow, we used to buy them cheap, blow the engine and toss in a 1340 from the 315 Consul then they get up and go like a real car.
I dont want another Herald after two I stopped liking those 30 years ago, the Jag sedan would do or the 2CV would suit maybe the Stag if it had a hardtop.
Looks like a nice Summer’s day, Roger! I’d go for the Alpine; I love the clean, simple lines.
Wasn’t the 100E Anglia Ford’s second monocoque after the 1951 Consul/Zephyrs though? The front end is still the standard car outline used on road signs.
The postcard view is quite a challenge, but here’s the ones I’ve got:
Road to left: SWB Bedford CA, Ford Zephyr Mk.III
Down LH side of square:
unknown, Ford Corsair?, BMC J4 van, ?, Triumph Mayflower? (it looks pretty squared up and small), Morris minor Traveller?, ?, BMC 1100
Heading out: MGB ZA or Wolseley 4/44
Humber Super Snipe, Ford Anglia/Popular 100E, VW Beetle, Mini van, Hillman Minx s.II or III, Vauxhall Victor F estate, ?, ?, Austin Cambridge A55 /Mk.I?, Commer or Karrier flatbed lorry, BMC LD van, ?, open sports car, possibly Triumph Herald, ?
Behind those: MG Midget or AH Sprite, another sports car?
In road behind: Farina 1500/1600?, ?
Behind centre line in the market: Ford Thames van, Commer PB van, Ford Thames van
Down RH side of square: Farina 1500/1600, Mini, Bedford CA chassis cab, Ford Transit, something with a rooof rack (Minor?), van possibly BMC J4, Bedford CA (LWB?), Commer Walk Thru, ?, BMC Farina possibly the 3 litre
The Ford Transit seems to be the newest design there so I’d guess the photo was taken around 1965-7.
Great spotting Bernard – I don’t think I can challenge any of them with any certainty, although is the white sports car at the back a Mercedes 190SL? Could be, though maybe unlikely in that location?
Could be. If the original negative still exists that might tell. Looking again it is perhaps too big for a Spridget. If it is a Merc then the cream one behind it might be a Triumph Spitfire.
In the middle line, I’m wondering if the ? 2nd from the end in front of the (blue) A55 might be a Sunbeam Talbot 90. The rear window proportion looks a bit odd for a two door; perhaps the characteristic slope is partially disguised by the light shining through near the tops of the windows.
Oh, and I forgot to mention the green Post Office Telephones Luton van at the front. By the windscreen shape I reckon that’s the BMC FG cab, but with a non-standard sliding door. If the photo had just a little more depth the kerbside windows would have been visible and confirmed it beyond all doubt.
Roger, I’ll take the Ford Prefect. Does it come with a towel?
I was hoping for a 1962 Zaphod Beeblebrox. Preferably the four headlight pre-facelift model.
A nice selection for a summer’s day! If I were going to take one home I think I’d have either the Alpine or the Stag.
The Herald must have been remarkably old-fashioned looking by the end of its run! It seems more 1960-ish than 1970-ish. Charming, but definitely old-fashioned.
The Herald came out the same year as the Mini, 1959. Even that updated form, the 13/60, has a variation of the 1962 Vitesse bonnet, so yes, it was definitely showing its age by the end of its run.
I would take the 1972 MGB, very attractive in red. The Stag would be a close 2nd.
Lots of nice cars there, but I keep coming back to the Humber. A big Humber of that era showed that you had it made, but still had quiet good taste. Like a Rover, only more stylish.
Are there any ‘prestige’ cars like that these days? To me they all seem to be outdoing each other for in-your-face crassness.
What , nary a single Morris Minor ? .
I’d prolly choose the Imp , I rather like the later ones .
I love the blue color of that Sunbeam. Incredibly, just 2 hours ago, I saw the same color on a 2016 Bentley Continental GT parked in front of my bank. Spectacular car that actually caught my attention long before I got near it. Maybe it was the color as most new cars never attract my attention.
That Humber Hawk is really talking to me. Has a junior Packard vibe to it. Maybe packard should have been importing them during the import boom of the 50s.
I thought the same thing, seeing more Packard in this than Chevrolet.
Its trimmed like the Super Snipe it is check the script on the front doors early model Super Snipes that body style only had two headlights like a Hawk.
A lot of interesting cars there, but as another “Get Smart” fan, it’s tough to choose between the Sunbeam and the Opel.
I’m with you on the BMW interiors. I also agree with those above in their admiration of that Humber Hawk – it somehow strikes just the right balance between fifties glitz and real class. Finally, I am left to wonder what rounds out the author’s list of “five good movies” besides The Italian Job….
Some one was bound to ask that…….I’m not really a film buff (I prefer the vdieos you find on CC), But, they are
The Dam Busters (a British war story with a pretty low coefficient of factual accuracy)
The Sound of Music
See, I said I wasn’t a film buff……
Apollo 13 and The Sound of Music are both top-notch, and the Italian Job (with Michael Caine) is fun; haven’t seen the other two. Though if The Dam Busters is related to the mission to knock out the dam in Norway where they had the heavy water operation, it reminds me of an article I read a few months back. It was an interview with a former Norwegian soldier involved in the raid, and he said at one point their success hinged on a set of bolt cutters that he’d picked up on a whim the previous day at the hardware store in the English town he was based in. Just shows you can never be too prepared, I guess.
And Apollo 13 reminds me: there’s a scene with Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell driving a Corvette to dinner with his wife and it dies at a stoplight. Lovell’s book has more to say about that unreliability, including that GM supplied all the astronauts with Corvettes for free, due to the obvious publicity value! Maybe someone with more time than me should look into that for a future article.
Dambusters was the story of a lowlevel bombing raid on the Rhur valley to knock out three dams it actually happened the raid was led by Kiwi Guy Gibson it was partially successful in that the electricity production was crippled along with materiel production but the rebuild was faster than expected.
I read that same article just yesterday as it happened to show up on facebook. Interesting how such small things can mean the difference between success and failure!
I am with you on the Sunbeam Alpine, although I would not turn down an MGB either.
That Triumph Herald is just fascinating to stare at. It must have seemed quite modern when it came out in 1959, looking like a mini 59 Buick in the front and a mini 59 DeSoto in the back. I don’t mind the front and rear, but whoever was in charge of those sides has something to answer for. Not sure I have ever seen such uninspired design as the sides of this car. Those fake fender lines pressed into the panels – Ouch!
your comments have been forwarded to Giovanni Michelotti…….
Another great post, Roger! The Sunbeam Alpine is the great looker, but being from the U.S. and only having seen the Triumph name attached to spot cars, I’m the most intrigued by the Herald. I like that it just looks so angular against, say, a Spitfire.
I’ve been watching vintage game shows on Buzzr cable channel, and I saw an episode of “Let’s Make A Deal” where a young married couple had won a new Triumph Stag. I wondered at that time what their ownership experience had been like, and how long it had lasted. (The car, not the marriage. LOL)
I don’t believe there ever was a 2 litre version of the B-series engine produced by BMC/British Leyland (other than experimental prototypes) ? Aftermarket tuning firms like Osselli and others offered bored out modified engines for performance gains, but I don’t think there ever was any such thing as an off-the-shelf factory ‘2.0’ B-series engine, even in overseas market.
The engine in question may well be a “Gold Seal” factory replacement engine, but I’m guessing the over-bore was added later.
Agreed. There’s nothing out there that suggests that any factory 2 liters were ever sold. I’m guessing someone didn’t get the facts quite right. Overbores on these can be a bit tricky, based on the core shifts on various blocks.
BMC/BLMC never sold 2.0 litre MGBs of any sort, and taking a B series to 2 litres is not easy.
There were some competition engines built at 2000cc and a development project in the early 1970s to create a 2.0 litre B series, but which never came to series production.
This car was sold 3 years ago with a 2 litre B series conversion of some sort, it is possibly a factory “Gold Seal” exchange unit (though whether it was bored out and then Gold Seal or the other way round I do not know) and is registered at 2000cc.
” Hi JP, your comments have been forwarded to Giovanni Michelotti…….”
very good ! I guess styling is always subjective. I think the Herald was fairly sharply styled car – bearing in mind it was no Ferrari – but an inexpensive, practical small family car of its time…
Also, the story if the manufacturing situation surrounding the Herald is interesting, and informs the eventual design decisions.
Standard-Triumph’s regular bodywork supplier, Fisher & Ludlow, was taken over by BMC in 1953. Standard-Triumph were no longer able to design and plan new models without its significantly larger competitor having inside information of what they were building. And eventually, BMC to Standard-Triumph that when existing contracts had expired, Fisher & Ludlow would no longer supply them with car bodies.
Standard-Triumph owned several small subsidiary companies that could handle metal fabrication but not for a whole car body. The specifically designed the Herald to be constructed in smaller sub-assemblies that could be bolted up together to make the whole car. That is why they had to revert to a separate chassis when just about very other manufacturer was already going over to unibody. This principle carried on for all the Herald, Spitfire, Vitesse, GT6 family.
so, to get back to J.P.’s comments… I think the relatively angular slab-sided design was also partly driven by the need to make the body easy to assemble like a jigsaw !