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?