Earlier this week, CC saw some of the unexceptional cars from the Festival of the Unexceptional, a show that could have been devised for Curbivores. The cars Dad had, you wanted him to have and the car you learnt to drive on. But there were also some cars that Dad, maybe if he was Adventurous Dad or Early Adopter Dad, might have bought. Let’s have a quick amble through that part of the field.
Let’s start with a Rover 2600 (SD1) and a Lancia Gamma saloon, paired through chance not subtle planning. The Gamma saloon was characterised by a four cylinder boxer engine, all 2.5 litres of it in a market that preferred a six cylinder, such as the straight six in the Rover. Drive was to the front wheels in Lancia tradition.
Despite appearance, the Gamma was a saloon, not a hatchback, again diverging from the Rover. In many ways, the Lancia was closer to the Citroen CX than to the Rover.
I have a habit of posting every Rover SD1 I see, and today is no different. This is a stunning example of the 1978 Rover 2600, so a single overhead camshaft 2.6 litre straight six, developed from the old Triumph OHV engine used in the 2000 and 2500 range for many years and which could trace its history back to the 1980s.
Much as I wanted Dad to have a 3500 V8, even I had to admit that fuel consumption was possibly out of range for a teacher, so perhaps a 2600 was a reasonable compromise – there were few external clues apart the badge, and the noise.
The profile of the Rover was not dissimilar to the Lancia Gamma and Citroen CX, and we could discuss for some time which carried it off most successfully. I’d probably pick the Rover, in certain colours of which this avocado green is one.
This CX is actually a CX prestige, the long wheelbase, high roof version designed for French mayors and captains of industry. This is a 1979 car, with the 2.4 litre 4 cylinder engine and all the traditional Citroen suspension features.
The CX superseded the DS, which was more than a tough act to follow. This is a 1972 car, so relatively late in the DS story, with a 21755cc four cylinder engine. Whenever, I see a DS, my fantasy garage gets adjusted to make space for it. This day was no different.
Another Lancia to catch the eye (something they all do now) was this 1985 Beta Coupe VX. VX denotes the supercharged 2.0 litre version of the Fiat twin cam 4 cylinder engine. The supercharger raised the power from 122 bhp to 133bhp, so the difference was not immense.
The Beta Coupe was less affected than the saloon by the premature corrosion scandal of the mid 1970s, but the image damage was still there, and the Beta range was effectively Lancia’s last offering on this part of the market in the UK, and indeed most of Europe. But. still a car with a strong Italian character, although by 1985 it was looking a little dated style wise.
But on this day, peak Lancia was this 1966 Flavia 1.8 saloon, from the first series of cars. This is a car that cost 50% more in the UK than a top line Ford or BMC saloon of similar size, and carried with it a huge amount more technically, especially over the Ford. Technically, it makes an interesting comparison with the BMC Landcrab alongside it.
Flat four engine, front wheel drive, wishbone front suspension, four wheel disc brakes, fuel injection – it was closer to a BMW Neue Klasse than a UK car. And teh styling was, still is, attractive and distinctive, with many interesting details such as the rear lights above, and the details on the boot badging also.
Dad always wanted one of these – a Rover 2000. This 1969 car was probably one the best 2000s I have seen for many years, and came from a period before the car was spoilt by the blocky 1970s style grille see on the V8 version, and it looks great in this red.
The 2000 was only really let down by the lack of power from the original 2 litre engine, hence the later 2000TC (=twin carburettor) and later still the 2200 version, and of course the 3500 V8, and by the cramped rear seat and relatively small boot. But David Bache got the styling spot on, as he usually did.
Another hit on the style front was the Jaguar XJ-C, based on the Series 2 XJ6 and XJ12 saloons, but with a reduced wheelbase and revised roof line. Is this the best looking Jaguar ever? Tough to call on a strong claim, but it has to be a contender.
This is a 1977 Daimler Sovereign 4.2 version, and unusually has no vinyl roof. Still looks the business to me though, and certainly not unexceptional. Dad wouldn’t have had one though – only 2 doors.
And finally, the Alfa Romeos. First, a 1975 Spider 2000, looking very elegant in dark blue with a red interior, and some unusual aftermarket wheels. All Alfa fans want one, except those who’ve got one already.
And this Alfasud was going to the bodyshop the very next day. Purchased from someone’s garden for a few hundred pounds, the owner was fully expecting to restore it profitably into a £15000 car.
Let’s hope it comes back next year, and under its own steam!