Curbside Outtake: Is England Getting Back To Normal?

It’s June, the weather seems to have suddenly caught up with the calendar, as our special eight week long March ended. Gardens have begun to bloom, some hope of a reduction in COVID precautions appears to getting closer to the horizon, the English cricket lost a test series at home, Wimbledon is just a few weeks away. Normality seems to be emerging from the gloom. And the curbside (or kerbside perhaps) sightings suggest this too.

The highlights have to be these two Jaguar E Type (XK-E) – the red car is a 1969 4.2 litre and the blue car a 1971 built but 1972 registered example.

Or, in other words, someone bought it rather than buy a Series 3 V12 and this could be one of the last sic cylinder E Types built.

Both cars had notices suggesting they were participating in the E-Type’s 60th birthday party at the Shelsey Walsh hillclimb venue, not far from where these photos were taken.

I guess we can discuss which is your favourite  and/or the best version of the E Type – personally, I’ve always liked the 2 seat Coupe version better than the Convertible but, if the weather obliges, then that call gets harder.

Opposite the blue Jaguar was this 1953 MG TD Midget.

This car first came to the market in 1950 and was met with a certain reaction from MG fans for being “soft”, with such indulgences as bumpers, decent weather protection, illuminated instruments and five inches of extra width over the earlier (and essentially pre-war) TC.

Power came from a 1250cc four cylinder, with perhaps 50bhp. Other advances included independent front suspension and (usually) disc rather than wire wheels.

Given only 1600 cars, 5% of production, were not exported, the number remaining in the UK in the several hundreds is perhaps surprising.

Of course, one car stands head and shoulders above most for its nostalgia appeal in the UK – the fondly remembered, by just about every one and every family, Morris Minor.

This is a 1963 Morris Minor 1100 saloon – the last major change to the Minor was adding the 1098cc A series engine, at the same time as BMC produced Sir Alec Issigonis’s Morris 1100 (ADO16, Austin America), a car that was arguably a better answer for 1962 to the question answered by the Minor in 1948, and which perhaps set the template for compact saloons for many years.

This car was seen just a few miles from Cowley – the birthplace of all Minor saloons assembled in the UK.

The convertible, in what can only be described as 1950s bathroom pale green, is a 1961 car, now fitted with a 1098cc engine, and was outside the front door at Lord Nuffield’s home, Nuffield Place, just 30 minutes from Cowley.

Much to the amusement of one of the guides, the car appeared to be same colour as the painted kitchen units which were fitted around the same time.

And last but not least – a 1970 Volvo 144 saloon, with the 1986c engine. It’s not often, to be honest,  that I stop for a elderly Volvo, but this caught my eye, probably as it predated the blatantly “safety first” era of big bumpers and running lights.

There’s quite a bit of Volvo love and knowledge on CC, so I’ll add little, other than that whilst we may see 240 estates from the early 1990s fairly easily, a 50 year old essentially stripper Volvo is less usual. And with a non-factory two-tone paint scheme.

So, is normality returning? Maybe, but at least some things are going back to what they were…..