Curbside Outtakes: The Singles Championships Finals Weekend – The Top Seeds, And Some Wild Cards

This weekend sees the finals of the singles at the Wimbledon Championships, at the venue that is the home to what is still officially called the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, and in case you have not been following it as closely as some may have, I thought it might be useful for Curbivores to have a quick summary of some of the top seeds, and a couple of the wildcards, featuring in this year’s Championships, with some brief commentary on their chances and seeding, based on their recent appearances.

First up, a perennial local favourite and likely the first choice of many in the office sweepstake – a 1962 Morris Minor 1000.

This is still, I suggest, Britain’s favourite classic car and the one with the most entries in family photo albums and anecdotes. It’ll have a good following at the championships, but will probably also prove to be ultimately too slow at the back of the court.

A likely second choice is the MGB roadster, this one being a late 1960s example seen on the French tour.

This remains a strong favourite, and a good access point to classic car ownership. Familiar, uncomplicated, and a strong support network, but not as agile or responsive as some European competitors.

The more compact MG Midget has some strengths, in agility and ease of use, and the same strong support. This is a 1975 Mark 4, with the big black bumpers removed.

But ultimately, its compact size and low power will handicap it against physically larger competitors.

The Renault 16 was, and still is, one of the most versatile cars ever, with more positions for the rear seat than anything else I can think of. This is a 1970-74 16TS, with the larger rear lights and chrome grille, and a 1565cc engine.

A great all rounder, consequently well able of taking the challenge to anything else in the championships this year.

Deservedly one of the top seeds and many will be tipping it for success.

More powerful is this 1965 Jaguar 3.8 litre Mk2, the most powerful version of the famous Mk2 Jaguar.

Another local favourite and likely choice for the home support in the later rounds.

In a specific form of the CC effect, as I was taking these photos, a lady walked past and, seeing what I was doing, paused to talk. It transpired that her late father had been a director of Jaguar in the early 1970s, and she therefore always paused to admire an older Jaguar.

Another, older Jaguar – a 1953 Mk 7 3.4 litre, complete with an appropriate registration. XL indeed, at least for Europe.

It’s hard to think of a car more English than this, in some ways

In these championships, it’s perhaps a bit too Tim Henman – just too English to get to the final round?

Close to the Jaguar Mk 2 was the first German entry – a 1962 Porsche 356 Super 90, from the days when the top of the range Porsche could exist on just 90 bhp.

An air cooled flat four of course, and just 1600 cc in a car that dates in many ways to 1948.

This is essentially the coupe version of the 356 B Super 1600 Tatra87 showed us recently. This car was imported to the UK in 2015.

Another flat four with air cooling, and also from Germany – a 1969 VW Karmann Ghia 1500 with the stickshift semi-automatic transmission, and in terms of presentation as well turned out as Roger Federer ever was.

The Karmann Ghia gets a lot of love around the CCourts here, and you can see why.

Likely, this will be a serious contender as we move towards the final stages.

More traditionally British was this 1949 Riley 2½ Litre, perhaps the last “real” Riley. Subsequent cars were twinned with other Nuffield Organisation products and were built in Nuffield or BMC factories and managed without Riley engines. The interior is almost better than the exterior.

This design dates from 1945 and, according to the rumour, the design “took inspiration” from the pre-war German ambassador’s BMW 326 saloon (related to the more famous 328) which apparently found its way to Coventry. File that under “plausible but unproven” I suspect.

And why is Fred coming down the steps with jugs of water?

They’re for the expansion tank of his 1932 Austin Six, parked behind.

Also from Britain, and a favourite at the time, a 1992 Rover 216GSi. GSi was the top trim level, and 216 denoted a 1.6 litre engine.

For this car, that engine was the Honda D series – a four cylinder used in a variety of Hondas including Civic, CRX and Integra. In this use, it had a single overhead camshaft and 4 valves per cylinder, giving a class leading 114 bhp (beating a contemporary VW Golf GTi) and 120 mph, and avoided the head gasket failures of the rest of the range’s Rover K Series engines.

Not many earlier Rovers had revved to over 7000rpm.

This stands a chance of good support in the fairly traditional environment of the AELTC.

Another European entrant – a 1994-1996 Lancia Delta, or Lancia δ as the manufacturer preferred.

This was based on the Fiat Tipo platform, and therefore related to the Alfa Romeo 145 and 146 as well.

A strong performer at home, it didn’t fare as well on tour and was not offered in the UK as Lancia had abandoned right hand drive markets after the Beta rust debacle. Still, in with a chance at these championships.

Meanwhile, in a private multi-storey car park, two surprises lurk. First, a 1973 Triumph Stag, looking a little tired but sound. Given the attractive nature of the car and proportion of Stags that have survived, this rates as one of the more surprising familiar classics.

Though if it gets hot on the sheltered courts, the sensitive V8 may cause some bets to be off.

Two floors up was this 1979 BMW 520i saloon, from the period when BMW were truly establishing themselves as the UK’s preferred premium saloon provider.

And remember, back in 1979, 520 on a BMW meant a straight six, not a turbocharged four

Lacking a front number plate and MoT since 2020, entry into the championships may be by a wild card only, but it could do well with speed and agility.

From France, a 1975-78 Renault 12 TS. Arguably, a more mainstream car than the Renault 16 we saw earlier, but no less credible, with strong comfort, performance, space and surprisingly decent handling for a softly sprung French car.

Closely related to the 1967 on Ford Corcel built in Brazil from 1967, actually two years before Renault launched the “home market” version.

This is one of those cars that showed that front wheel drive and “not being British” were not impediments in the UK market, and arguably benefits as far as many were concerned.

Japan has some entries too. An early Honda Prelude coupe, from the 1978-81 generation with the 1.75 litre engine and aftermarket Type R badges.

The styling looks even more 1970s now then it did then.

When did you last see one of these on the road? In the rain?

A five door car with pop up headlights? Ideal to many, somehow.

And the only one I can think is the 1989-94 Mazda 323F or Familia Astina.

As far as I can tell, this is a 1.6 litre 16V car. Haven’t seen one of these in this sort of condition for some time either.

And also from Japan, a 1984 Nissan Stanza 1600 saloon. From 1982, this was Nissan’s first front wheel drive car in the mid range, and superseded the Violet in Europe.

This may not be the most exciting CC find this year, but imagine if it had been a 1984 Austin Montego in similar condition? The British public’s reaction to that suggestion tells you why can now buy a Nissan built in Britain but not an Austin.

This car was also the basis for the Nissan Prairie minivan/MPV and led the way to the UK built front wheel drive Bluebird from 1986. An outside dark horse for a trophy?

And on a wild card, a Mitsuoka Viewt convertible. based on a Nissan Micra (or March depending where you live) and not a Jaguar Mk2.

I confess that until I checked Tatra87’s post on the Viewt, I had forgotten that it came as a convertible. After all, the Jaguar didn’t.

I also confess it is not my thing. At all. But if it’s yours, then by all means enjoy it.

But it can’t be seeded this weekend.