Curbside Classic Finds: The Sights Of Summer

Summer is drawing to a close, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. It’s been, in the UK at least, a bit of an odd one. Not only has the weather been a bit off colour for most of it, those events that have happened have often been on  the “wrong” date, and various restrictions have inevitably had to continue. Indeed, it does sometimes still feel like it ought to be the 534th of March 2020. Never mind – CCs are still about – here are some of my picks of the CC season summer of 2021, in no particular order.

First up, a 2000 Fiat Coupe 20v, with the 1998cc 20v five cylinder engine with a turbocharger.

All in, 220 bhp and styling to match.

This is the car that brought Chris Bangle to the world’s attention, including the boardroom at BMW.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Something else Fiat – a 1971 Fiat 500L. L for luxury, 500 for 499cc.

It’s not often a Citroen C3 (Citroen’s Ford Fiesta competitor) can tower over anything, but it can a Fiat “Nuova” 500. Truly Dante Giacosa’s masterpiece.

A car with a universal appeal to rival the Mini, 2CV or Beetle, or indeed just about anything else.

Sticking with a rear engine, a 1973 Hillman Imp mk 2, by now a Chrysler UK product.

The Imp was not a commercial success but endured for 13 years, to 1976 and the implosion of Chrysler UK under a Government bail out.

Any Imp on the road, or even on the show circuit, is rare now, so one this good in a daily driver condition is very scarce indeed.

No such selection could be complete without a Morris Minor. In this case, a 1970 Traveller with the 1098cc A series engine.

In another case of how cars have grown, the blue next to the Minor is a European Ford Fusion, a tall crossover built on the 2002  Fiesta.

This car is dated to March 1970; production of the saloon ended in November 1070 and of the Traveller in April 1971. A very late Minor in other words, after production had been moved from Cowley to make way for the Morris Marina.

In the same car park, a 1986 Porsche 924S. The 924S was a late model of the 924 and used a detuned version of the 944’s 2.5 litre four cylinder engine, rather than the VW 2 litre engine the earlier car came with. More of an entry level 944 than a typical 924.

I don’t normally go for white cars, but this one works for me, just.

This one is not quite what it seems but it serves a purpose and deserves its moment in the sun

Despite initial appearances, it’s actually a post war 1948 Humber Hawk Mk II, though in fact any differences to the 1945-7 Humber Hawk Mk1 were minimal, which in turn was little more than a 1938-40 Hillman 14 with a bootid and no running boards.

But for WW2 military reenactors and explainers, it’s close enough to represent a senor Army officer’s transport, which was typically the larger Super Snipe or the Hillman 14.

Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery had a Super Snipe, which has been preserved.

A 1950 Morris Oxford MO series. Looking like a Minor that had eaten all the pies, it a 1476cc 4 cylinder engine. Torsion bar front suspension and unitary construction were evidence that Alec Issigonis was moving Morris forward.

Alongside it was a 1939 Morris Eight Series E, the first compact Morris with no running board and faired in headlights. This was Morris’s main family market car from 1938 to 1948, give or take the obvious interruption. The 918cc side valve engine lived on in the Minor to 1953.

An interesting paring, which were travelling together. But what were they parked in between?

On one side, MINI Clubman, from the same Cowley factory. And on the other (next to the Oxford) an MG XS, a Chinese built compact SUV carrying the famous badge….

Across the car park, a 1962-64 Austin Healey Mk2 convertible, the first beginning of the softening of the big Healey from a real man’s sports car to something a little calmer and comfortable.

Technically, a four seater, though I’m not sure quite who would want to ride in those seats over that rear axle.

Still, a nice example of a charismatic car.

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