Thank you to Nathan Williams
Thanks for reminding how awful, boring and bland the nineties were. None of the cars in the pics do appeal.
It might be a regular 1.5 or 1.8 liter FWD version, but in the right combination, the 6th generation Galant was a bit of a minor legend. 4G63T with AWD and some true rally pedigree. And that oh-so-cool EQ on the head unit. Rather unboring.
Where the hell is this?
It sure isn’t Kansas Toto!
My 1990 parking lots were filled with American cars and pick up trucks parked in front of big box stores and shopping malls.
What, there wasn’t a white Pontiac LeMans sedan in every parking lot in the ’90s (and in the junkyards by 2000)?
Those UK shopping centers are an interesting format, about the same size and layout as seen in early-postwar suburbs in America, or in touristy areas (particularly with all the brown wood trim). Bigger than a strip mall but smaller than the big-boxes you’re talking about, and with a second story (office space?)
Not a LeMans but a Vauxhall Belmont. Saloon version of the Astra, not a great hit.
but a very good car none the less .There are a couple of this MK IV Astra family hard at work near me.
I spent some vacations in the UK during the 90s so these are pretty familiar to me. I’d take the green Proton for the first shot.
Huh. I had no idea that the UK had ugly American-style strips malls with sprawling parking lots like that.
Sadly yes, and some are much uglier.
We call them retail parks. They started off as a planning wheeze: local councils would give planning consent for large out-of-town retail units as supermarkets (Tesco) or selling “heavy goods” – DIY, furniture, that sort of thing. However, the consents they dished out covered all retail uses, and thus encouraged traditional high street users – Next, Marks & Spencer, Boots etc – to migrate away from their traditional high street base to the edges of town – essentially, a version of the hollowing-out that the US saw in the 50s/60s.
High streets – town centres – are now in a parlous state, though I don’t imagine old-fashioned and limited retail parks like the one pictured are doing a whole lot better.
I’d take the Volvo, or the Maxi for a laugh.
I didn’t even notice from the not-yet-enlarged first shot that this wasn’t the US, but was certainly thinking that was a rare mix of cars – a Pontiac “LeMans”, a Dodge Colt, a Rover Sterling hatchback. Not until the Tesco in the third shot was I sure where we were, and that some of those cars were not what they at first appeared to be…
I wish I had some pics like these of my childhood retail haunts I used to ride my bike to on weekends. I’d have never thought to take pictures of it back then, or even to bring a camera.
The white car is the saloon version of the Vauxhall Astra, known as the Belmont in the UK. The design was sold to Daewoo who made a budget version, which was also re-badged as the Pontiac Le Mans. I was passenger in a Le Mans once, and it was one of the worst cars I’ve been in – incredibly cheap feeling. The original Opel/Vauxhall version was well-made and a decent car.
The one in the photo looks like some kind of special edition trim level. Maybe even alloy wheels, which were quite unusual at this time for this class of car.
The 1987 ‘Club’ edition, available on Astra and Bemont. They’re white painted wheel covers though, not alloys. The black round the windows (normally on the sporting SRi & GTE models) was a ‘Club’ feature too.
I spy an Austin Maxi parked at Halfords, right next to the Range Rover. And there is a black Ford Fiesta in picture 2. How about that Volvo wagon. It might still be puttering a round today.
Did you see that the Maxi is in two of these photos? Of all the vehicles, it’s the most distinctive one in the car park that shows up most?
The first two, at least, are in Wales as MFI have a big ‘Croeso’ over the doorway, which is Welsh for ‘Welcome’. Also there are practically no 1970s cars in any of the four pictures, the oldest design I can identify is a Maxi, but that was made up to 1981. The newest is a facelifted Ford Escort (1995-2000) in the last picture though the newest visible registration is ‘M’ which would be 1994-5. Both MFI and Great Mills went bust in the early 2000s.
Nos da Bernard – you were sharp to spot the “welcome” sign.
These were obviously taken on a quiet day….
The Great Mills D I Y stores are long gone.
And here’s me without a word of Welsh thinking Croeso was the name of the shop…..
They’re in Llanelli, south west wales.
I’m biased, but I’ll still say the Volvo 245 was the best car ever made. I agree with Wolfgang that it might well be running today, at least if it was able to escape the tinworm.
I have to say I find the shapes of these cars more appealing than the small-windowed over-styled contrivances sold today. As we’ve gained technology, we’ve lost practicality.
There’s a UK government site that you can access to find out whether UK cars are still registered. Not sure if I can put the URL on here, so just google ‘GOV.UK’ and ‘Check if a vehicle is taxed and has an MOT’. Type in the car plate number and find out. It also gives you basic information about the car including the year of manufacture. It sometimes throws up a ‘Vehicle details could not be found’ message – that may have something to do with where they were registered not being on this base (eg. Ireland or Wales), but I’m not sure.
I use this site sometimes to find out whether cars I see in British TV shows and pictures are still getting around. Wish we had something similar in Australia.
The silver (1984) Volvo wagon looks like it was scrapped by November 1995. If there is one thing this site has shown me, it’s that most UK cars seem to get scrapped at 10-15 years of age.
Thankfully, the UK was still producing some great music in the 90s.
Funny to see the newest models, such as the Corsa B and Golf III which are still common as dirt today, in their environment when new. Puts into perspective how old they really are.
My favourite is the Austin Maestro; the earliest car I remember my aunt & uncle owning. Not common in continental Europe back then, haven’t seen one in at least 10 years now. Always had a soft spot for the practically-sized but unusual-looking things.
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