Curbside Outtakes: All In Day’s Work

The UK has just had that most remarkable thing – a bright, sunny, warm public holiday weekend, over the last weekend in May. Normally, we expect rain; this year was different. Such an event brings out the Curbivore in (almost) all of us. So, with the Alfa Romeo Spider Twin Spark now all ready for summer, camera phone charged up and no real fixed itinerary we set forth. A quick photo trail therefore of two days of typical English Bank holiday.

Let’s take a gentle sunny day ramble through some of the sights of the next two days, across a fairly wide stretch of southern England.

Firs up, a 1968 Morris Minor 1000 Convertible with a respectable share of patina. This is from the last years of Minor production – the design was twenty years by now and even its obvious but never declared successor, the BMC ADO16, was six year sold.

A brief conversation with the owner revealed that this car was actually built as a saloon and converted at a later date – a not uncommon event for Minors.

Still, few will complain, as they’ve almost certainly got a Morris of some sort in the family album.

Distantly related to the Minor was this 1967 MG Midget. Hard to believe that this is Frogeye Austin-Healay Sprite (Bug Eye) derivative, and that production continued until 1979.

Visually, this car is a 1964-1966 Mark II, with the flat topped rear wheelarch, but is fitted with a Mark III 1275cc engine, nominally with 65 bhp. I’ve left this picture largely uncropped to emphasise the compact size of this car – just 54 inches wide. The car in front is a Citroen C3 Airstream, a jacked up supermini with SUV styling cues, and no more than a four seater – about as compact as you can get aside from a Fiat 500.

Inside, the gearlever and handbrake look to be challenging the passenger for personal space. You need to know your driver well, as you’ll be rubbing shoulders fairly frequently.

If you need more space, try this – a 1958 Jaguar XK150 DHC (drophead coupe).

The XK150 was the zenith of the sequence that started with the innovative 1948 XK120, and then the 1954 XK140. Each generation gained power and weight, and luxury, such that the XK150 DHC and its fixed roof alternative the FHC had moved significantly from the sports roadster towards a boulevard cruiser.

This car has the 3.4 litre 5 cylinder XK engine; later models had the 3.8 litre version.  Varying states of tune were available, but the peak 250bhp took it to 132 mph. Where’s Jason Shafer when you need him to conduct another roadtest?  Jaguar’s naming policy was not quite working, but not much could catch it for the money.

And has a style ever worn quite so well and been aped so much?

And it’s unlikely your car has a badge (not just a window sticker) noting 5 wins at Le Mans in 7 years.

And then, perhaps, the ultimate drive by. A 1965 Mercedes-Benz 230SL roadster (W113 Pagoda). And what an example!

Just between you and me, I prefer these to the Jaguar E Type roadster. When you see one like this…….one day, one day….

Just the other side of the zebra crossing, another blast from the past – a 1980 Ford Escort Mk2 1.3 Ghia – the last year of the rear drive Ford Escort.

For the first half of the 1970s, the Escort was Ford’s European entry model, and offered in a full range of affordable configurations,. But the Ghia trim level took it a step up – complete with velour, vinyl roof, alloy wheels, wood dash and everything else the late 1970s could offer it. Always relatively rare, and comparatively rarer than a Cortina Ghia for example, it offered those who wanted to downsize or splash out an option other than a tarted up Austin Allegro.

The ploy was successful enough to be quickly copied by Vauxhall and BL for example.

This is the first one I’ve seen on the road for many years, and clearly being properly cared for, with a Ford twist shown by the screen visor and steering wheel cover.

The front wheel drive Escort was ultimately succeeded by the standard setting 1998 Ford Focus – a car that Europe largely considered as a “best in class” candidate and a better car to drive than a contemporary Golf. We still see Mk1 Focuses (Foci?) around but the saloon was always rarer, and discontinued in much of western Europe after the Mk 2.

This is a 2003 1.6 Ghia saloon – perhaps the smartest Focus of its generation, aside from the outright sports ST and RS variants, and looking a lot tidier than many of its age.

Going a little back in time, a 1939 Austin 10-4 Cambridge saloon – 1125cc, separate chassis but (relatively) forward mounted engine and transmission, giving space for a boot.

This design dates from 1936 and ran to early 1939, when a semi-monocque design superseded it.

Not the most dramatic profile you’ll ever see, but Austin was never about excitement.

And now for something different – what the UK Government data calls a “Dodge (USA)” Challenger R/T. 5.4 litres of Detroit’s best confidence.

I won’t try to tell my fellow Curbivores much about this – either you’ll already know it or I’ll get lost in a rabbit hole finding it out.

It was first registered in the UK in 2015, and is recorded as being “green”, though not the way many people think of being green now.

You certainly won’t mistake it for a Morris Marina or Hillman Avenger.

And something else unusual to close –  a 1989 Leyland Roadrunner truck, which almost certainly started life delivering bread or parcels and has now been reformatted for use as a horsebox. The nearside corner has a distinctive additional window for kerbside vision and visual modernity purposes. 5.8 litres of diesel power, holding you up on a sunny Sunday….