Don Kincl uploaded some vintage photos to the Cohort that a relative took in Hong Kong in 1970.
I wonder about the driver of the Dodge sedan; was it a low level diplomat? If so, it just doesn’t seem like the kind of car for such an occupation. On the other hand, the costs of importation must have been substantial, even then. I suppose we’ll never know for sure! 🙂
Likely the same RHD model sourced from Canada that was available in Australia. Commonwealth tariff preference still applied at this time.
Same reason why Canada got Vauxhalls not unlike the HB Viva in the third pic while GM’s small-car imports in the US were all Opel after the 1958-60ish experiment with both.
That HB is actually a Holden Torana (the wheelcaps tell it). Holden designed the four-door, perhaps because Aussies just don’t buy 2-doors, and I think the panels were shipped as a kit, just 7,000 miles to the UK for the Viva. No extra chances for rust to occur in that highly-efficient process, I’m sure!
Oddly, this exact thing happened again years later with the J-car Cavalier wagons.
Yes, a ‘series II’ Torana HB. The four door was planned from the outset for the HB Viva
even before it got that First Class restyle by Leo Pruneau, with prototype clays with 2 doors one side and four the other. It took nearly 2 years to arrive after the 2 door though.
That giant red license plate is odd, and must be a clue, but I’m not sure what it means.
If I remember correctly, Great Britain issued dealer license plates that had white letters on a red background… I’m not positive about that, but if so, the Dodge may have belonged to a dealer or distributor, or perhaps some other business entity (assuming that Hong Kong license plates were largely similar to British plates at the time).
The red license plate with white characters signifies a public vehicle (e.g. Buses) so that Dodge was used as an Uber of sorts. The Benz taxi behind it has white characters on black, which was used for commercial vehicles. Black characters on white was used on private vehicles.
After 1983 or so, reflective plates were mandated and all plates followed the British system of black on white in front and black on yellow in the rear.
Thank you so much! Were these public vehicles considered different than taxis, since the Mercedes in the photo doesn’t have a red plate?
When I lived there in 2000, there was a whole class of beige, mainly Toyota minibuses that weren’t the same as the regular transit buses. One of them served my neighborhood in Pokfulam. It’s a guess, but the Dodge might be a precursor of those as it seems to sport some kind of a livery.
But cars used like this were long gone when I arrived. Red Japanese taxis, almost all Toyota Crown Comforts, were still very much present, though. I have a toy one, along with one from Tokyo on my desk.
I went there in ’99, and I remember a lot of the taxis were pre-Comfort type Crowns. I particularly recall the 5-seater taxis (3 in the back, 2 on the front bench next to the driver) were of the older variety and had a 4-speed on the tree, which even in 1999 seemed antediluvian.
You could order Comforts with a 4-speed column shifter and a bench seat, I have seen those in Japan and Singapore. Not sure they still have 5-seater taxis in HK, but if they do, they’re still Toyota Crowns.
Yes, these public vehicles were hire cars that were separate from taxis and were basically like Uber or Lyft today. Apparently they can only be reserved by phone and can’t be hailed on the street. These were eradicated by 1977 and were converted to taxis.
Dealer or trade plates, are red on a white background, clipped on for demo and delivery drives etc.
HK plates, as seen here, are clearly UK influenced but not the same as UK plates.
Wow – what an evocative selection. A BMC Farina taxi! A Leyland Atlantean (I suspect). Avenger, Viva HB Austin 1300GT Triumph Herald convertible!
But also a changing of the guard feel, with the obvious rise of contemporary Japanese products.
In that same picture with the Farina taxi (which is in Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon – my guess, Nathan Road) – you can see that already starting with the Nissan Cedric 130 taxis on the other side of the road.
Some of photos are probably shoot after mid-1970s being Japanese cars were seen mostly. My uncle lived in HK until 1972, he had a Austin, my dad friend had a Humber and acquired his first Japanese car, 1978 Collora liftback (TE52). Until 70s, British cars were dominating the private car market.
You did see few American cars then, most of them were Chrysler, AMC and Holden from GM Australia. But American car had passed its golly days of 1950s in Hong Kong. I was told other family friend who was wealthy in 1950s, decided to move to Thailand, he moved his 1956 Cadillac to his new home.
That Dodge was probably the car from North America for the right hand driver market like Japan, Australia, other South East Asian countries.
Could the slide have been flipped ?
If so, the numbers on the license plate would be backwards. There were quite a few American cars sold with RHD conversions.
“Put that steering wheel over here where it belongs!”
Long time reader – first time commenter. My father was transferred to Southeast Asia in 1970 from Southern California. The first picture is Repulse Bay. The long light colored buildings on the left side of the picture were the Repulse Bay Hotel. My family lived in a flat on the beach just out of view on the right side. The third photo is the famous floating restaurant in Aberdeen. The fourth picture is looking back at Mid-level, and the last picture is Victoria Peak. I graduated from high school here in 1972 – thanks for the memories!
My mother was born in Hong Kong in 1916 (her father was with an oil company there). There are pictures, somewhere, of their rather grand, sun-canopied house high up on one of the peaks, with little else around it. Another era.
Actually, the 4th picture is Causeway Bay, Hong Kong Island, looking eastward. You can see Victoria Park on the left hand side. The clue is the neon sign of the bank in the right foreground, which says “Causeway Bay Branch”.
Also the presence of the trams that run across the northern section of Hong Kong Island is a clue as well.
Thanks for pointing out where these pictures were taken. I looked up Repulse Bay and was surprised that the low-slung beachfront building is still there — looks like it’s a private club… in recent photos it looks amusing out of place, with its 1960s architecture.
My enduring memory of Hong Kong in 1990 was seeing 747’s shrieking just above the tops of Kowloon buildings, coming in for landings at Kai tak airport.
Landing at said airport led my girlfriend to sinking her nails into my arm.
Lol I completely forgot about this until reading your comment. Mom, pregnant with me, said she craved milk to the tune of a gallon a day. While giving birth, she bit into my Dad’s arm, hard. I was 9 pounds 10 ounces and 26 inches long! She reversed course with the no epidural idea with my sister.
I used to ♡ Hong Kong, having spent quite a bit of time there over a couple of decades. It’s a shame, really.
Ah, Hong Kong when it was free. Definitely another time by a wide margin.
Great photos. Imagine the fun of being on the stinky old double-decker in the tropics when the things barely had ventilation enough for Blighty! Or in a miserable narrow-gutted Farina with only quarter vents to air you: you can notice a number of the Nissan taxis have windows up, meaning a/c, hardly a viable proposition on the last-of-Empire Farina (which, incredibly, could have been as little as a year old in ’70).
Now to the expertise only available at CC. Second photo from last, red car furthest right, that looks a tad like a mutant Cortina, what is it?
I can speak about the fun on the double deckers! 🙂 They had full sliding windows so ventilation was actually quite alright once on the move. Also, the velour upholstery used in UK was usually replaced by vinyl so it was more comfortable in the heat. No idea about the mutant Cortina though.
And don’t forget the driver’s periscope!
I was puzzled by that too – first thought on a glance was a Humber but definitely not. Closest I can get is a Zephyr or Zodiac mk3 but I’m far from convinced.
Zooming in, the window shapes look a Loewy Studebaker to me, and there’s a giant Rootes feel to the whole thing.
Great photos. One of my regrets is that I didn’t scrimp, save and sacrifice to pay for traveling to Hong Kong in the early ‘90s, when I was in my late 20s. Now that I can afford it, I have no desire to go.
There are several places I’d wish I could enjoy in person, but the rush of new travel isn’t worth the reward (I’m not referencing COVID). My best friend’s parents have a beautiful timeshare just outside of Kingston, Jamaica. My not bashed in skull is more valuable to me. No way, no how.
In the 3rd photo, the back left is I’m sure a silver S60 Toyota Crown, produced early 1971-74. Likewise, in the last photo bottom right is a 1st gen/A20 Celica, launched a few months earlier… so the absolute earliest these photos could be is mid-71, but much more likely later since I’d guess they’d have started coming to HK a little after their JDM launches.
I do love to see these former cityscapes though, always very interesting not just for the vehicles but also the architecture and ephemera and other such things, a window into a lost world and I guess in some ways a lost culture. I’ve never been to Hong Kong and I guess it’s less easy now.
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