CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG – OR HERBIE?
By Lancaster Insurance Services |
18th December, 2018
On 18th December 1968, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang went on release in the USA and on Christmas Eve of that year, The Love Bug was screened on a limited number of picture houses. For myself, and I suspect thousands of others, they both still convey that sense of excitement; the cinematic equivalent of a tin of Quality Street. Chitty was a staple of Christmas or Bank Holiday television, although the first time I recall seeing the Disney feature outside of a cinematic revival was on video in a bar in Mallorca circa 1982.
I originally planned to choose between these two films, but this idea rapidly proved to be as useless as an X-Factor contestant being asked to play King Lear. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was a British epic musical for children, one featuring some very familiar faces.
Asides from the utterly terrifying Sir Robert Helpmann, there was Richard Wattis, Barbara Windsor before she became automatically associated with the Carry On films (by 1968 she had only appeared in Spying and Doctor), Lionel Jeffries (who was famously six months than Dick Van Dyke), Victor Maddern, Benny Hill and James Robertson Justice. The story was based on Ian Fleming’s only story for children, and a 007 connection is maintained with the presence of Gert Frobe and Desmond Llewelyn.
As for the stellar cars, they were made by Alan Mann Racing and six vehicles were employed on screen: two for the racing scenes and four other cars including a “hovercraft” model that also appeared in the flying sequences. Power was from the Ford “Essex” V6 and transmission was a Borg Warner box.
A 1968 newspaper report excitedly noted that ‘the car is 17ft. 7ins long, 5ft. 9ins wide and 6ft. 3ins high. It is capable of 100 mph’. Mann also asked Goodyear to make the tyres from their latest racing compound as Chitty had to combine a vintage appearance with the ability to cope with the rigours of studio and location work.
However, Chitty is not the star of the film, for that was Sally Ann Howe and Dick Van Dyke. The latter insisted that he would not have to attempt an English accent for the role of Caractacus Potts in the wake of Mary Poppins - and here is a reminder as to why this would have been a very bad idea:
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is as much as a vehicle for Van Dyke’s talents as a dancer, singer and quite brilliant comedy actor as it is about the car. Incidentally, the actor’s favourite invention (which were created by Roland Emmett) was the breakfast machine.
By contrast, The Love Bug has a shorter running time and the significant difference is that while Chitty was about an invention that reflects the personality of Mr. Potts, Herbie is a real character, with “Jim Douglas” as his straight man. Dean Jones was as accomplished a light leading man as Van Dyke, but his role is to act as a proxy for the audience when confronted with a VW Beetle with a mind of his own.
The Love Bug, although not a cheap film, clearly has the lower budget of the two pictures, but this is no hardship as there is plenty of footage of San Francisco. Of course, the special effects are pure 1968 (as is the extensive use of back projection), yet this adds to the charm of the film. As for the main protagonist, it is intriguing to speculate whether the story could have worked with a different automotive hero?
Obviously, the title would have to be changed as a Volkswagen was not the only car Disney considered, for Herbie might well have been an MG, a TVR, a Toyota, a Fiat or even a Volvo. The solution was the staging of a very unusual “audition” with all of the prospective stellar cars lined up before various studio employees who had been on their lunch break. It was the Beetle that attracted the most attention; several workers felt the urge to pat it.
Re-viewing these two pictures in one’s middle age was a highly entertaining experience; I had forgotten just how frightening the “Child Catcher” was (very) and how touching The Love Bug could be at times. Mid-way through the narrative, you do believe that on hearing that Jim has acquired a ‘big, strong car…that can cut it” that Herbie is utterly distraught.
Nor does it matter that his 1966 Lamborghini 400GT manages to transform into an E-Type after being attacked by an irate Volkswagen. I had also forgotten that Herbie even attempts to throw himself off the Golden Gate Bridge, and it is a testament to Jones’s talent that the scene is genuinely tense. There is also the point that while Chitty was rebuilt and indeed created by Caracatacus, Herbie’s origins are never truly explained. As the beatnik artist “Tennessee Steinmetz” points out:
Take a car. Most guys spread more love and time and money on their car in a week than they do on their wife and kids in a year. Pretty soon, you know what? The machine starts to think it “is” somebody.
The major achievements of the original Herbie adventure are, via the stunt work, some doubles with a Porsche 356 engine and a carefully timed horn note, Disney created a fully rounded character. Herbie was as memorable a mechanical object as Robby The Robot of The Forbidden Planet fame, C-3PO, R2-D2 and, dare we say it, Christine. In fact, you might even consider the last-named the “Anti-Herbie”.
So, does this mean that I ultimately opt for the Disney film? Not necessarily, as The Love Bug and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are complementary as opposed to being rivals. The latter features that wonderful array of character actors, it is grand to see Benny Hill in a semi-straight part, the cinematography is wondrous and Me Ol Bamboo is one of the great musical numbers of British cinema.
The former absolutely mesmerised me some decades ago, and it continues to do so. Most importantly (to me, at any rate) both films can make a 40-something writer feel reasonably young again.
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From 1924 to 1971, the USSR only manufactured one million vehicles. But it still managed to produce some memorable cars, albeit often heavily influenced by Western manufacturers. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best of them.
18 May 2021
The year is 1982. Adam Ant’s solo record Goody Two Shoes is topping the charts, and the tabloid press is ranting how a forthcoming BBC programme called The Young Ones will cause the end of civilisation. Meanwhile, a holiday in Weymouth awaits, and your home from home is a Morris Marina 575 Suntor. James Ebden’s rather stunning example is a reminder of this camper’ popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s.MEET THE OWNER – SIMON DWYER AND HIS 1959 POLICE MGA
As Goodwood has scheduled the Revival for the 17th to 19th of September, there is no better time to celebrate its famous “Pace Car”. Just as notable, Simon Dwyer’s 1959 MGA 1600 Mk 1 is one of the few surviving cars from Lancashire Constabulary’s traffic fleet.
17 May 2021
Sixty years ago, Dagenham unveiled a new model that could not be mistaken for any other car. The Consul Classic was the epitome of scaled-down Americana, from its quad headlamps to its tail fins and reverse-angle rear screen. Any driver who affected a Bob Monkhouse-style mid-Atlantic patois instantly craved the “long low look” and motorway pace of “the new look of British motoring”.The Transport Café – A Celebration
While some forms of roadside building have gone the way of AA and RAC telephone boxes, it is heartening to come across a surviving transport café. The Ace, near Wembley, which opened in 1938, is possibly the best known. Another name that will be familiar to many readers is Kate’s Cabin on the A1.
14 May 2021
How can you ensure that your dream Dodge is not a dodgy deal? And if you’re selling, how can you be confident that your buyers – and their payments – are real?MG Owners’ Club 2021 (sponsored by Lancaster Insurance) Race Meeting at Mallory Park, 5th May
The first race meeting of The MG Owners’ Club 2021 season – at Mallory Park Racing Circuit – was boosted by the debuts of several drivers, writes Jim Baynam. The race had its usual quotient of high-octane thrills and was the inaugural such event for Carl Bate (MGBGT), Anthony Bate (Maestro), Mathieu Dore (MGBGT), Jack Woodcock (ZR) and Tim Grigsby (TF).
13 May 2021
Right up there with the plucky vim and vigour of the original Mini and the elegant power of the Jaguar E-Type, the rough and tough all-terrain Land Rover is synonymous with Great Britain.10 fascinating facts about DeLorean
The DeLorean DMC-12 is synonymous with the Back to the Future series, of course. But there’s much more to this classic car than a movie appearance or three.
11 May 2021
With more than 2,000 members in the UK and across the world, our Club of the Month is the MG Octagon Car Club.
07 May 2021
On the 27th of April, the Morris Marina celebrated its 50th birthday, and one of many enthusiasts is Danny Hopkins, the editor of Practical Classics Magazine:Classic four-seater convertibles
There’s a lot to be said for owning a four-seater classic convertible, as opposed to a two-seater. Above all else, they offer an element of practicality – so if you want to go away for the weekend, there’s room for luggage as well as three passengers.Best classic car clubs for American cars
When it comes to car design, the Americans clearly believe in excess. While it’s not to everyone’s tastes, you can’t deny it’s led to some incredible machines over the years. The classic car world would undoubtedly be a more boring place without the likes of the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger roaring up to classic car shows around the country.60th anniversary of the E-Type Jaguar
The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most famous cars of all time. Described as a “combination of beauty, high performance, and competitive pricing”, it sits high on pretty much every classic car enthusiast’s most wanted list (unfortunately, for most people, it remains there forever). Having now turned 60, the E-Type’s appeal and good looks show no signs of fading.
05 May 2021
On the 25th April 1961, Citroën unveiled its latest model and issued a warning to all motorists: “If you believe that the characteristics of a car - performance, comfort, safety - necessarily on the number of horsepower, the amount of superfluous chrome trim or high cylinder capacity and corresponding fixed costs are to be measured, then do not concern yourself further with the Ami 6!”THE METROPOLITAN 1500 REVISITED
Both during its lifetime and after, the British-market Metropolitan 1500 received some very mixed reviews. The Motor of 3rd April 1957 noted in a very imperious fashion that the reader would be able to “…place his own emphasis on its traits according to his own tastes and circumstances…”. In other words – if you buy this car, you run the risk of being regarded as a vulgarian and quite possibly a cad into the bargain.The MG Midget – A Celebration
When MG introduced ‘the new Midget’ in June 1961, some Abingdon traditionalists were decidedly unhappy. A Mr. R. Gowring ranted in a letter to Motor Sport: “I am one of numerous MG Midget owners who regard the ‘New Midget’ with an air of disdain. I say the ‘New Midget.’ Mr. Courtenay Edwards, the motoring correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph, calls it “the Austin Healey Sprite wearing a false moustache and dark glasses,” which I feel is a much better description.”
28 April 2021
Driving is just like riding a bike; you never forget how, but after a bit of a break, you may be a little rusty. However, you don’t want that rustiness to lead to an unwelcome incident out on the road, which could cost you dearly.What is the Lakeland Motor Museum?
For many fans of classic cars, planning a trip to the Lakeland Motor Museum is a dream come true! This unique place is truly devoted to all things motoring. From getting up close to classic vintage cars and motorbikes to immersing yourself in some of the greatest moments in UK motoring history, there’s really no place quite like it.Our favourite classic Vauxhalls
Vauxhall is not often spoken about as a brand that builds great cars. But as the UK’s oldest surviving car brand, with models rolling off its production line as early as 1903, its motors really stand the test of time.
27 April 2021
With lock down restrictions on travel being gradually eased within the four nations, albeit it at differing rates, we’re receiving queries regarding 4x4 insurance and what is covered as people look ahead to getting back on the open road. Here Andrew Evanson, Senior Operations Manager at Lancaster Insurance, talks about what is covered with our 4x4 policies.
21 April 2021
The Nürburgring is a bucket-list destination for just about every petrolhead on the planet. It attracts some two million visitors each year and is, without doubt, one of the premier automotive attractions in the world.8 fast facts about the VW Beetle
The VW Beetle has claims to be one of the best cars to ever go into production. Designed to be the ‘people’s car’, its appeal spanned cultures and generations, going on to become one of the best-selling cars of all time. It remained in production for more than 80 years, with Volkswagen eventually calling time in 2019.
16 April 2021
Did you know that the UK boasts more than 300 distilleries, producing gin, vodka and whisky? A trip to one of these can make for a very nice day out – you just need to find somewhere safe to leave the campervan so you can properly enjoy your tipple!MEET THE OWNER – MARTIN HUGHES AND HIS VAUXHALL CAVALIER SR
It is hard to believe that the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk. II is fast approaching its 40th birthday, and even more difficult to appreciate how rare they now are. There are just two examples of the SR on the road and Martin Hughes’ 1982 four-door is believed to be the last Jamaica Yellow model in the UK.ONE FAMILY FROM NEW – A MORRIS OXFORD TAXI IN GREECE
Any Morris Oxford Series VI is a car worthy of great respect – especially this 1969 example owned by Costas Georgopoulos. His father acquired it new, and the Farina served the family and the Peloponnese seaport town Nafplio as a taxi for many years.THE FIAT 127 AT 50
To celebrate 50 years of the 127 – 27 facts about this ground-breaking Fiat:20 FACTS ABOUT THE MORRIS MARINA
The Morris Marina will celebrate its 50th birthday later this month, and we plan to feature an exceptional example on the actual date. For now, here are twenty fascinating facts about a much-misunderstood car:
15 April 2021
According to How Many Are Left?, just 15 examples of the Renault 20 TX Automatic remain on the road in the UK. Forty years ago, they were regarded as desirable transport – well-appointed, versatile, extremely comfortable and with a certain degree of panache. More importantly, this example, co-owned by Chris Salter and Reg Duffett, was once the daily driver of a great friend to the classic community.THE FIAT 130 COUPE AT 50
50 years ago, Fiat unveiled one of their most beautiful cars: the 10 Coupe. It was not just a belated heir to the 2300S and the Lance Flaminia Coupe but a car fit to rival the BMW 3.0CS and the Mercedes-Benz 280CE. Famous owners included (but of course) Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.THE WORLD’S FINEST BUS? – THE CITROEN U55 ‘CITYRAMA’
In 1956, the French travel firm Groupe Cityrama commissioned the famed coachbuilder Currus to build transport suitable for a new generation of tourists.THE AUSTIN A30/A35 COUNTRYMAN – A CELEBRATION
In 1954, the motorist in search of a small estate-car had four options. The recently launched Morris Minor Traveller looked most appealing, while the new Hillman Husky was essentially a modified Commer Cob van.CARRY ON CAMPING – IN A 1961 COMMER ‘MAIDSTONE’
The year is 1961 and, somewhere in Hampshire, a family is en route to their summer holiday near Swanage. Dad is ranting about those Ton-up boys, Mum dreams of Laurence Harvey, their daughter reads about John Leyton in Mirabelle magazine, while son plots his way to owning a Corgi model of the Citroën DS19.Best car shows of 2021
For classic car owners and enthusiasts, nothing beats the excitement of a classic car show. This is especially true in the UK, which is home to a glittering array of world-leading classic car events. These shows provide the opportunity to see some of the best and rarest vehicles in the world up close, maybe even purchasing one of your own.12 of the best car movies of all time
Cars make movies. Movies make cars. The two go together as well as just about anything. We can’t imagine a time that car movies go out of fashion. At lease, we hope not.
14 April 2021
Volkswagen has enjoyed the best of times of late. The German manufacturer has famously been involved in an emissions scandal which dates back to 2008 has so far cost the company €30bn (£25bn) – and it’s rising. But VW still has a strong fanbase – especially among classic car owners.Best Instagram accounts for classic car enthusiasts
Did you know that more than 30 million people in the UK are now using Instagram, the photo and video sharing social networking service? And numbers are growing year on year. Classic car enthusiasts are not wasting the opportunity to utilise the platform either, posting thousands of pictures of rare and classic vehicles for us all to enjoy.
13 April 2021
We’ve put together this handy guide to some of the basics you need to understand in order to take the perfect picture of your classic. Making your car stand out from the crowd has never been easier.THE TALBOT SAMBA – A CELEBRATION
Of all the cars celebrating their 40th birthday in 2021, the Samba is one of the rarest, with just 19 remaining in use. They were the last new car to bear the Talbot badge - and one that represented a fresh direction for the brand.The Reliant Scimitar GTC – A Celebration
Looking at the Scimitar GTC, it is hard to believe that it debuted in the same year as the Audi Quattro, the Austin Mini Metro and the Ford Escort Mk3. This is not to imply that the Reliant looked at all dated, for it was a true Grand Tourer; handsome, purposeful and always looking ready for a dash along the A27 to Goodwood.Five special edition Ford Escort Mk2s
In 1979, there would have been few keen motorists unaware that Ford was planning a radical new third-generation Escort – a front-wheel-drive hatchback no less. In the meantime, there was a spate of Limited Edition Mk2s.The Triumph 2.5 P.I. Mk1 – A Celebration
The 2000 made its bow at the 1963 London Motor Show and by the mid-1960s Canley was already considering a more powerful version. One option was enhancing the 1,998cc-engine to create the ‘2000TS’.
12 April 2021
At Lancaster Insurance, we’re seeing a greater number of enthusiasts owning more than one vehicle. To help take away the stress of multiple renewal dates and cluttered paperwork, below is more information on our multi-vehicle policies and how they may help you!
09 April 2021
As a Mini enthusiast, you might think you know all there is to know about the British’s people’s car. But, put your knowledge to the test with these ten fast facts about this brilliant British icon.Cars driven by celebrities before they were famous
Being classic car enthusiasts, we tend to judge celebrities by the cars that they drive. So, the likes of Chris Evans and Rowan Atkinson, who are well known for their love of classic cars, are top of our list (we don’t actually have a list of our favourite celebrities, of course).8 of the best mid-engine classics
There’s nothing middle of the road about a mid-engine motor. Many high-end sports cars have their engines in front of the rear axle, making for a vehicle that’s supremely easy to handle even at top speed.The most impressive car collections in the world
If you had all the money in the world and wanted to put together the classic car collection of your dreams, which vehicles would you choose? Every classic car lover has a dream team they would build if they become filthy rich. How do real-life millionaire car lovers spend their cash?THE LAGONDA 3-LITRE – THE CAR OF HRH THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH
Of all the many motor-cars associated with the late HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, perhaps the most famous is his Lagonda 3-Litre Drophead. It was a vehicle renowned for its performance, comfort, and, most notably, an innate sense of gravitas in its heyday.
08 April 2021
Celebrating its’ 30th birthday in July this year, the Club started as a national enthusiast club for the Series 3 and later encompassed coil sprung 90 and 110 vehicles due to popular demand. Today, the Club caters for all models and members don’t necessarily have to own or drive a Landy to join, just have an interest in them!Best coastal classic car drives in the UK
From the White Cliffs of Dover to the Giant’s Causeway, British coastlines are both steeped in history and endlessly beautiful. It’s a dream for owners of a classic car who live for those escapes, getting behind the wheel and setting off to make unforgettable memories.History of car safety features
When you get behind the wheel of a modern car, you’re entering a space that has been shaped by generations of automotive engineers. You can almost date a vehicle by the safety features that are built in – a fascinating area for classic car lovers.MEET THE OWNER – DAVID FOOT AND HIS RENAULT 18TD ESTATE
For a car that was not uncommon on British roads during the 1980s, the 18 seems to have been largely forgotten. It deserves to be better remembered for it was a Renault of many good qualities and a more than viable alternative to a Vauxhall Cavalier or the Ford Sierra.5 top campervan owners clubs in the UK
Owning a campervan is a real joy. It gives you the freedom to go wherever you like, whenever you like and take all your home comforts with you. It allows you to be more active, spend time in the great outdoors, and become part of a large, friendly community. What more could you ask for?
07 April 2021
One of the many stars of the 1959 London Motor Show was found on Stand 145. Here was a coupe primed to compete with the Aston Martin DB4 and the Jensen 541R, one built by ‘dedicated craftsmen who jealously guard the hand-made reputation that has made AC the choice of the discerning motorist during the past 50 years’.SEVEN ADO16S FROM AROUND THE WORLD
As the BMC/BLMC ADO16 was the UK’s best-selling car for many years, it is sometimes easy to overlook their presence in world markets. Here are seven of the most intriguing overseas interpretations:
01 April 2021
For a time, you couldn’t go for a drive without seeing a Lotus Elise – never a bad thing. But they are a much rarer sight these days, even though they’re still in production.5 sympathetic classic car modifications
If you want to add a modern part onto your classic car as part of the restoration project – but retain the essence of your historic vehicle – then you need to be subtle with any modifications that you make.
29 March 2021
A brand synonymous with style and class, Aston Martin has produced some of the most luxurious and sophisticated sports cars ever to grace our roads.All about the Honda NSX
Stunning the motoring world when it debuted over 30 years ago, the iconic Honda NSX rivalled anything the European car makers had to offer at the time. But what started out as an experiment by the Honda team, turned out to be the making of a Japanese automotive legend.20 fascinating facts about the Fiat 500
Oozing Italian Dolce Vita charm, the diminutive Fiat 500 was a big hit throughout Europe when it first launched in 1957. And that popularity has endured until the present today.10 classic automatics
For a time, you couldn’t go for a drive without seeing a Lotus Elise – never a bad thing.MEET THE OWNER – IAN COLE AND HIS AUSTIN ALLEGRO 1300 SUPER
‘I absolutely love this particular car which took me over 20 years to secure, so it’s going nowhere’. Ian’s 1975 Austin Allegro 1300 Super is certainly an eye-catching machine, not least the paint finish – ‘“Citron Yellow”; a rare survivor and a colour that is seen on MGs of the same period and the Jubilee Marinas’.
26 March 2021
Yesterday Ford announced the end to production in 2022 of the Mondeo - bringing to end a nearly thirty-year tradition. It is quite bizarre to think that little over 11 years separates the launch of the first models from the last of the Cortinas, and some readers will remember how in 1982, the debut of the Sierra caused shock-waves amongst Ford traditionalists. Indeed, some had not yet recovered when they heard rumours of an FWD replacement.
24 March 2021
As classic car owners, we’re really just temporary custodians of vehicles that have seen many previous owners and will hopefully see many more in the future. So, what are the options for finding a new home for your precious classic car after your death?MISUNDERSTOOD? – THE AUSTIN ALLEGRO SERIES 3
For many years the Austin Allegro was the subject of myth, folklore, received wisdom and downright abuse. Fortunately, the once-familiar “British Leyland Jokes” appear to have largely vanished, and any surviving model is now an object of fascination.
23 March 2021
If you’ve decided it’s time to sell your classic car, you’ll likely want two things: the best possible price for your vehicle and a quick sale.6 of the best classics from the 1950s
The 1950s were a good time to be alive. The Second World War had ended and people were optimistic about the future.The royal family and their classic cars
It’s no secret that the world is obsessed with the British royal family. We can’t get enough of talking about what they do, what they wear and where they go.How to plan a campervan trip to the South of France
If you’re looking for the perfect country for campervan travel, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than France. From the stunning countryside to the vibrant cities, there are plenty of places to explore. Plus, with a host of campervan and motorhome campsites, Aires and stopovers to choose from, you can plan your route (and your budget) with ease.How to jump start a classic car
Classic cars aren’t always reliable starters, as any experienced owner will know. In fact, sometimes you can find that a car will start one day without any problem and then a week later you turn the key and… nothing. However, before you reach for the jump leads, as you would do on a more modern car, just hold on – or you could potentially have a fire on your hands.
22 March 2021
We recently featured Lucy Worsley’s Bulgarian-built Maestros, but Patrick owns an even rarer version. His 1986 Moonraker Blue HLS is believed to be the only example on the road in the UK and ‘This car has only done 19,000 miles and has been sat in a garage for three years’.
18 March 2021
The pastime of collecting classic cars shows no signs of disappearing – however, the market is undergoing a seismic shift, with baby boomers making way for the new generation.What are the Pride of Ownership competitions at the NEC Classic Motor Show?
When you own a classic car, it’s natural to want to show people how fabulous it is. One way of doing that is by entering it into a classic car show or competition, such as the Pride of Ownership awards.
17 March 2021
If you’re a classic car owner, it’s up to you what you do with your vehicle.Lancaster Insurance expands cover for prestige vehicles
Lancaster Insurance has today announced a new partnership with Chubb to enhance its high value offering. Understanding that a standard policy may not always provide the right cover, the new scheme will give owners the confidence to truly enjoy their prestige vehicle with a range of bespoke benefits on offer.Fast facts about the Mazda MX-5
The mighty Mazda MX-5 is one of the most popular classics we insure here at Lancaster Insurance. It doesn’t come as a great surprise. Born in 1989, it has gone on to become one of the most famous roadsters of all time, with early models able to be picked up for peanuts (just watch out for that rust!).
16 March 2021
It is rather dispiriting to read how few examples of the BX survive in the UK, and Philip Greaves’ 1984 16TRS is one of the earliest on the road. His first experience of this very desirable Citroën was travelling in the model once owned by his mother – ‘Some of my earliest memories were in that car and of its unique dashboard - a glowing spinning drum speedo with LED rev bar and lots of switches’.Classic cars that turn 50 in 2021
From the invention of the microprocessor and the opening of Disney World to decimalisation in the UK, 1971 was a vintage year for a whole host of reasons. And many of these technological and cultural changes were also mirrored in the world of car design and production. Many car makers dropped the chrome radiator grills and wood and leather interiors of the 1960s in favour of American coke-bottle styling and black plastic.10 of the best classic vans and pick-ups
For a vehicle with stories to tell, you can’t beat the humble van. Light commercial vehicles and pick-ups are not just part of motoring history – they give insights into the bygone world of work, too.Driving your motorhome or campervan in Europe after Brexit
With European travel due to open up once again in 2021, it’s time to start looking ahead and preparing for your next motorhome adventure. Part of that preparation will be to familiarise yourself with the changes that have been imposed on travel now that the UK has left the European Union.
15 March 2021
‘The older generation usually knows of the model but due to its rarity not many have seen one. I’ve been asked if it’s a Jaguar or a kit car’. The Jowett Jupiter, owned by Anthony Jackson, is a very exclusive vehicle and one of the most ambitious products of the post-war British motor industry.
12 March 2021
Picture the scene – a semi-detached villa somewhere in East Cheam on Wednesday 15th March 1961. You are glancing at The Daily Herald over breakfast with Housewives’ Choice playing on the BBC Light Programme in the background – and then you come to the motoring page. ‘0-100 mph in 15secs - that’s the new Jag’ reads the headline while, even more incredibly, the E-Type was capable of 150 mph.MEET THE OWNER – RACHEL SMITH AND HER AUSTIN A55 CAMBRIDGE MK. I
The British Motor Corporation promised that the Austin A55 Cambridge possessed ‘an unmistakable air of authority’, and 790 XUH really does look imposing. His custodian Ms. Rachel Smith.
11 March 2021
The A90 Atlantic was one of the undoubted stars of the 1948 London Motor Show. For many visitors to Earls Court, a drophead with a “Jewelescent” paint finish seemed wholly removed from the fog, the damp and queuing for their bacon ration. This was the car Austin intended to appeal to affluent drivers in California with its ‘sports car performance with saloon car comfort’.MEET THE OWNER – GORDON MORRIS AND HIS VAUXHALL VENTORA V.I.P
Any FE-Series Ventora is now an unusual sight, but Gordon’s example is a car of special distinction. In May 1973, the advertisements stated, ‘Your Vauxhall dealer is offering a limited edition Ventora called the V.I.P. It’s black and it’s absolutely beautiful’. Mr. Morris came by his car in 1987 ‘as I was membership secretary for a while for the VX 4/90 Drivers’ Club’.The history of the Ford Escort
Few models of car offer as much variety as the beloved Ford Escort. From small family saloons to hot hatches and rally cars, from panel vans to luxury models, the range has given us everything. Between the late 1960s and the new millennium, there have been six generations of this perennially popular car on Britain’s streets. In total, some 4.1 million models were sold in the UK, and it frequently topped the bestseller lists.UK film locations to visit by campervan
If you’re a fan of British cinema, it’s well worth building a road trip around some filming locations. Not only will it help bring some of your favourite scenes to life, it’ll also give you an excuse to explore those parts of the UK that you have yet to see first-hand.What kinds of automobilia can you collect?
If you’ve run out of room to collect classic cars, the next best thing is to build up a collection of old motoring memorabilia – known as automobilia – which can come in all shapes and sizes.How to make money on a classic car
While talk of people making more money from buying and selling classic cars than property or gold might be a little over exaggerated, it’s true that you can turn a healthy profit from investing in a classic.
10 March 2021
Most owners choose not to drive their classic cars on a daily basis. In fact, the average historic vehicle is driven only 16 times a year, covering around 1,200 miles.9 fast facts about the Lamborghini Miura
As far as most people are concerned – including ourselves – the Lamborghini Miura is one of the best cars ever designed.Peugeot 205 GTi – a modern classic
Looking back on the 1980s, there were certainly some design disasters but also design triumphs in the world of car manufacture. With their bold, attractive looks and great performance, the hot hatchback has to be one of the high points!
09 March 2021
No, this is not a misprint, as the Morris badged version is one of the rarest and most desirable models to devotees of the Metro. Virtually any car-based light commercial of the 1980s has a very poor survival rate, but the early Metro van is probably now a more unusual sight than an MG 6R4. Not to mention offering considerably better fuel economy.
08 March 2021
Fifty years ago, a factory in County Durham produced the first examples of a quite remarkable new coupe. The Clan Crusader’s production run may have lasted for little more than two years, but it made a more significant impact than other cars might achieve in ten.MISUNDERSTOOD? – THE MGC
‘All New, all powerful’, exclaimed the adverts, and on paper, a new C appeared to be the perfect sports car for the go-ahead motorist. As early as 1964, Abingdon gave serious thought to a more powerful version of the B, while the Austin-Healey 3000 was not far from the end of its distinguished career.
04 March 2021
All cars are created with good intentions. However, somewhere along the way, some cars take on dark associations. Unfortunately, in some cases, they can’t shake them off afterwards and are forever tinged with the incident or ownership that formed that shadow.The car’s the star – classic cars in films
A movie appearance can do wonders for a car. As well as making it a more desirable object, it can put some serious value on a vehicle.RARER THAN RARE – FORD CORTINA 1300 DE LUXE MK.II ESTATE
With many popular cars, it is the entry-level versions that so often have the worst survival rate. Many owners treated the likes of a Cortina 1300 Mk. II “Series One” De Luxe Estate as a humble workhorse. Similarly, the De Luxe saloon’s common fate was becoming a sub-par replica of the GT, the 1600E or even the Lotus. This is just one reason why Andrew’s 1967 “Alpine Green” example is such a fascinating machine. Another is that it recently played a very important role for his family.Meet The Owner - Theo Kyriacou and his Fiat 131 Mirafiori Sport
‘I’ve owned at least one Fiat 131s since I bought my first one, a 1600 Special in 1979, and at one point, I had three. My current metallic grey 131 Mirafiori Sport I bought in 2001 when I was told my previous silver 131 Sport was beyond economic restoration. “Everything can be fixed/repaired, but it’s not worth restoring this one! Buy another one” I was told’.THE PEUGEOT 205 - A CELEBRATION
Some new cars manage to anticipate the future and make many of its rivals look archaic; the Citroën DS in 1959, the Mini in 1959, the Fiat 128 in 1969 and the Audi 100 C3 in 1982. And when Peugeot unveiled their latest small hatchback in February 1983, there was a sense that “The 1980s” really had commenced. Even after 38 years, Gérard Welter’s styling barely dates, and for an idea of the 205’s impact in the UK, picture a bright red GR amidst a sea of second-hand Ford Cortina Mk. Vs and Talbot Solaras.
03 March 2021
As well as being a lot of fun to drive and a potentially lucrative way to invest any spare cash, there are a host of other benefits to classic car ownership.MEET THE OWNER – SIMON FIXTER AND HIS BOND
A few days ago, Simon took his Equipe 2-Litre Mk. II Convertible for its first drive out after about ten years of being off the road. It is the sort of car that virtually demands that its hood be lowered, even in February, and a genuinely individualistic machine – even if too few people recognise it as a Bond. Mr. Fixter remarks while ‘everyone seems to like it’; members of the public tend to mistake it for ‘an obscure Alvis, Bristol or Jensen’.50 YEARS OF THE VAUXHALL FIRENZA
Fifty years ago, Luton unveiled ‘the kind of car that makes you impatient to be on your way’ – the new Firenza. Here was a coupe to rival the Ford Capri at home and score a major success in the company’s crucially important Canadian export market. As it transpired, the Vauxhall with ‘distinctive styling’ reached neither goal – despite its many strong-points.
02 March 2021
Classic car restoration is not something that you should try to attempt without having some expert advice alongside you, guiding you along the way. We hope that this guide will be an indispensable source of information that gives you the confidence to make your classic car restoration project everything you want it to be.A brief history of Triumph
As a popular first foray into classic car ownership, the Triumph cars of the 1960s and 1970s hold a special place in the hearts of many UK classic car enthusiasts.
01 March 2021
This month, the Mk1 Golf Owners Club take the accolade of Club of the Month! The club caters for owners and enthusiasts of the VW Mk1 Golf and exists to be a base for the preservation and restoration of the original Volkswagen Golf. Keeping with the times, the club has members with original swallowtails to heavily modified cabriolets.Get your classic looking its best with our latest competition!
March brings with it the changing of the seasons, as we approach spring and hopefully warmer weather, and usually it signifies the start of the classic car season. Whilst we may have to wait a little longer to enjoy road trips in our classics, today we are launching our brand new competition which will hopefully bring a little cheer!CAR OF THE MONTH – HOWARD BRYAN’S TVR “WHITE ELEPHANT”
‘Photos don’t do her justice – she is a car of such presence’. Naturally, Howard’s White Elephant causes a sensation on virtually every journey, and even in his home village, people stop on the pavement and mouth ‘what is it?’. Such reactions are quite understandable, for that elegant coachwork has no TVR badges. And incredibly, just seventeen years ago, this unique piece of Blackpool Thunder was languishing in the ‘TVR Graveyard’.
26 February 2021
We’ve insured thousands of classic cars in the 35+ years we’ve been in existence. Basically, you name it, we’ve insured it. Having built up a wealth of experience and knowledge within the industry in the last three decades, we are able to quote for virtually every type of classic car available.Meet The Owner – Adrian Miller and his Vauxhall Viva HB SL90 Crayford Convertible
Last year we featured Adrian’s Viva De Luxe “Brabham” but, incredibly, this is not the rarest car in his collection. In March 1968, Crayford Engineering transformed five of the HB range into dropheads. Each was based on the SL90, finished in white and wore Cosmic Mk. I alloy wheels’. Luton officially approved the conversion, and they were distributed solely by the Leeds Vauxhall dealership Wallace Arnold.What is the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs FBHVC?
If it wasn’t for the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), many classic car owners wouldn’t be able to drive their pride and joy on British roads. The Federation was created to uphold the freedom to use historic vehicles on the road, representing the interests of classic car owners to officials, politicians, and legislators.
24 February 2021
As classic car enthusiasts, we are indebted to the many brilliant automotive designers who have given us our passion – without their unique vision, ideals and principles, we’d have nothing to get excited about. All cars would be one of the same, destined for the scrap heap at the end of their life, rather than carefully preserved as so many historic vehicles are today.How to plan a classic Italian Job-style road trip
What comes to mind when you think of the classic British film, The Italian Job? Michael Caine – certainly. The Swinging Sixties – for sure. And classic cars. Lots and lots of classic cars!
23 February 2021
The classic Porsche 911 has been found to be the most valuable historic vehicle on the market with the models bringing in over £900 million to the UK economy. Research from the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation and Endurance Rallying Association (HERO-ERA) calculates that the 23,029 models add up to an estimated valuation of £911 million. The Porsche 911 was miles out in front in the list, with the Jaguar E-Type claiming second place with an estimated worth of £371 million from 4,120 models.
22 February 2021
In this article, we set the record straight on what the new law will mean for classic car owners and help you keep up to date with the government’s long-term plans. But, first, it’s important to put it all into context by looking at the environmental impact of classic cars in the UK.DO YOU REMEMBER – THE LANCIA GAMMA BERLINA?
In the early 1980s, certain large cars were more frequently encountered in brochures and the automotive press than in the metal – the Talbot Tagora, the Renault 30 TX and the Gamma Berlina. All deserved far more commercial success, especially the Lancia - one of the most distinctive saloons of its generation.
19 February 2021
When Jaguar unveiled the E-Type at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961, several observers cast their minds back to 1957 – and an equally remarkable two-seater sports car from Browns Lane. The XKSS came about after the company temporarily retired from competition racing in 1956. However, there were several unsold D-Types at the factory while Jaguar’s dealers in North America saw a demand for a “Class C” production racer.
17 February 2021
Many classic car enthusiasts hope to make money from their hobby, but sadly not all of them are so lucky. So, what is it about a classic car that makes it appreciate in value? What factors should you consider when choosing a car as an investment? And how should you care for your car in a way that will boost its value over the years to come?What is green laning?
Do you love driving? Enjoy a challenge? Want to get off the beaten track – literally? Then why not give green laning a try? This exciting hobby, which involves seeking out and exploring lesser known byways, is much loved by drivers of classic Land Rovers and other 4x4s. It’s a great way to remind yourself of those bygone days when motoring was still a thrill.What is the Gay Classic Car Group?
The classic car community loves welcoming new owners into the fold. They’re a welcoming bunch who love sharing their passion with others, and passing on some of their motoring knowledge. With hundreds of classic car clubs up and down the country, you won’t have to look far to find a club that’s perfect for you and your vintage motor.
16 February 2021
‘Usually, the response is I drove one of those when working with BT. Or surprised to see one of those thought they had all rusted away. I enjoy going to car shows and like the response of people in regards to seeing an everyday car from years gone by’. The HA-Series Viva is indeed a rare sight; the production run was only from 1963 to 1966 and, as with several British vehicles of that era, it was prone to corrosion.
12 February 2021
In France the Estafette genuinely merits the term ‘iconic’; from mobile shops and ice-cream vans to mini-buses and as transport for the telephone service. The Renault could also be seen delivering bread, acting as a support vehicle at the Tour de France, and, as with Simon’s 1963 example, as a police van.
10 February 2021
'It was through my other half that I started getting into Maestros' remarks Lucy 'Steve has had many over the last 15 years and, after meeting him eight odd years ago, I got into the car scene.'MEET THE OWNER – BEN SPEARS AND HIS TRIUMPH VITESSE 2-LITRE MK.I
When Standard-Triumph planned the Vitesse, they intended its grille and quad headlamps to distinguish it from its cheaper stablemate. However, this has not prevented members of the public from greeting Ben’s 1967 example with ‘Wow - that’s a lovely Triumph Herald!’.
08 February 2021
Through no fault of their own, some cars never seemed to establish a niche in the UK. In Spain, the SEAT 133 was regarded as the heir to the 850. However, British motorists were perplexed by what seemed to be an enlarged Fiat 126. The Cherry Europe was the product of an ambitious agreement between Nissan and Alfa Romeo, but it seemed to have no apparent role in Datsun GB’s line-up.
05 February 2021
1981 - the year of the Royal Wedding, Adam and the Ants singing about the perils of being a dandy highwayman and BMXs making the Raleigh Grifter look passé. It was still a time of three-channel television, Sunday closing for shops, and the Ford Cortina as the best-selling car in the UK.FIVE PIONEER BRITISH HOT HATCHBACKS
One of the most persistent debates in the world of classic cars is 'what was the first "Hot Hatchback?" The answer is often 'the Simca 1204', but here we are considering the first British-built examples of the genre. Some cars are automatically ruled out of contention; neither the Mini-Cooper nor the MG 1100/1300 were available with a factory-fitted tailgate.MEET THE OWNER – DAVEY PESKETT AND HIS NISSAN PRESIDENT
Few, if any, people are likely to approach Davey on seeing his 1974 Nissan and tell him ‘my dad/mum/next-door neighbour/teacher used to have one of those’. The H250-Series President was never officially sold in the UK, and Mr. Peskett ‘only bought it by fluke from Japan’. In its homeland, this was the car for senior politicians, business tycoons and the Royal Family.
01 February 2021
‘It’s a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No extended wheel arches, very discreet “V8” badges and not a lot to give away its performance, asides from the four exhaust pipes’. Richard Monk is the General Manager of the MG Owners’ Club, a valued long term partner of Lancaster Insurance, and the custodian of a very special MG ZT-T XPower 385 - the only one built on the production line.Time to get your tools in order!
With restrictions still in place for many of us, we wanted to spread some cheer among classic car enthusiasts and give you the opportunity to win some amazing prizes!Don’t let your classic become a statistic
Our classics mean the world to us, and worryingly on our Facebook forum (The Classic Car Enthusiasts Forum – Powered by Lancaster Insurance) we’ve seen a spate of owners sharing the unfortunate news that their pride and joy has been stolen or involved in a fire, some of which haven’t had the right insurance in place.Club of the Month – The Classic Corvette Club
Our first accolade of the year goes to the Classic Corvette Club UK (CCUK). An enthusiastic and friendly club, we have been working with the team for over five years and currently sit on their insurance panel, offering members a discount of up to 25% off their insurance premium.
28 January 2021
We recently showcased the Rover 800, and Alex Sebbinger-Sparks is the proud owner of a rather notable top-of-the-range example. ‘Being registered in the first week of August 1986, this car was one of the first batches of “Silver Leaf” 800s’.
26 January 2021
Classic cars are a source of joy for their owners – why not share that joy with children who are in need? That’s the idea behind Sporting Bears Motor Club, a group of classic car and sports car enthusiasts who come together to raise money for good causes and make children’s dreams come true.
25 January 2021
In the 1950s a Morris Oxford belonged to the same comfortably secure realm as The Billy Cotton Band Show and Mrs Dale’s Diary – which is why the Series V caused alarm and consternation on its launch in March 1959.DO YOU REMEMBER – THE VOLVO 760 TURBO?
Picture the scene. It is the spring of 1986 and waiting at a set of traffic lights are a sober-looking new Volvo Estate and a 1977 Capri 3.0S Mk. II festooned with “Go Faster” stripes and driven by a Paul Calf-look-alike.
22 January 2021
Back in 2019, we posted a feature about the Traction Avant Commerciale, the car that is arguably the world’s first hatchback. And today, our star classic is Matthew’s 1956 example, which is used and enjoyed the way Citroën intended.THE LEYLAND PRINCESS 100 CLUB SPECIAL – A CELEBRATION
Some Limited Edition cars, along the lines of the Ford Zephyr 6 Mk. IV Special or the Hillman Hunter Topaz, were produced to clear the showrooms of soon to be replaced models. Others, such as the Morris Minor Million, the Mini 1100 Special or the Ford Capri 280 “Brooklands”, celebrated a milestone anniversary or marked the end of a highly respected vehicle.Can you use E10 fuel in your classic car?
Motoring fans like nothing better than starting up their classic and taking it out for a regular run through the countryside. After all the pleasurable hours of tinkering, it’s fantastic to really let rip and soak up some admiring glances from other road users.The Austin Metro turns 40
Much-loved cheeky 80s runabout the Austin Mini Metro turns 40 this year. Often the butt of jokes for being on the rusty, dowdy, unreliable side, the Austin Metro is now achieving a cult following from a new, younger crowd.5 classic cars with crazy doors
Not all doors are created equal. While many of us know only the standard car door (supercar owners aside), there have been some innovative (some might call them crazy) attempts over the years to switch things up – with varying degrees of success, we might add.
21 January 2021
The Mini Cooper will be 60 years on 20th September, and naturally, we will be celebrating this milestone in summer. To best understand just how the Austin “Seven” Cooper/Morris Mini Cooper twins transformed the sports saloon, take a look at five potential rivals from 1961.MEET THE OWNER – PAUL MATTHEWS AND HIS FORD FIESTA SANDPIPER II
About twenty years ago, the first-generation Ford Fiesta seemed to largely vanish from Britain’s roads – which is one reason why Paul’s 1981 model attracts attention wherever it goes. And course, any Sandpiper II automatically stands out in any classic car gathering.What to see at Beaulieu Motor Museum
If you’re planning a trip to Beaulieu any time soon, there’s a lot to offer any classic car enthusiast. You could get behind the scenes of BBC’s Top Gear to see cars of all shapes and sizes driven by The Stig and co. Or, you may prefer checking out some of TV and film’s most famous motors courtesy of the ever-changing On-Screen Cars exhibition. Think Del Boy’s Robin Reliant, Mr Bean’s Mini, Bond’s Jaguar XKR, and many, many more...
19 January 2021
Bubble cars from the 1950s and 1960s have become increasingly collectable over the past few years. With their quirky designs, fuel efficiency, ease of maintenance and huge fun factor, bubble cars make a great way to enter the classic car club.DO YOU REMEMBER – THE JENSEN-HEALEY?
Some high-profile British cars struggle to transcend a negative image created by the problematic versions. The Hillman Imp falls into this category, as does the Austin Maxi and the Jensen-Healey. Yet it is often forgotten that the last-named was the best-selling vehicle to wear the Jensen name.
18 January 2021
By any standards, the 164 is a very special motor-car. It was the last of the “Tipo 4/Type 4” family, predated by the Fiat Croma, Lancia Thema and the Saab 9000. It was also the last Alfa Romeo developed before the Fiat takeover of 1986 and one of its generation’s finest sports saloons.MEET THE OWNER – STEVE TENNICK AND HIS MORRIS MINOR TRAVELLER
A short while ago, Steve was in search of a particular type of Morris Minor Traveller. His wife Marina particularly wanted a split-screen version fitted with an art deco fascia – ‘which turned out to be something of a rarity.
15 January 2021
If you are the proud owner of a classic car, then depending on which year it was made it may or may not be fitted with seat belts. But what are the laws relating to seat belts in classics? What are the insurance implications? And if you don’t need belts, are there any restrictions to be aware of?The best Japanese classics
Are you looking to invest in a classic? Perhaps this is your first foray into collecting classics, or perhaps you’re wanting to grow your already-sizeable collection. Either way, this is the fun part: choosing which motor to invest in.What is the Mille Miglia?
In 1955, the late great Sir Stirling Moss won the Mille Miglia in a record time. His drive in the race has passed into legend as he managed to come out on top against the odds. Even if you’ve heard the story before, it never gets old…A quick history of Le Mans
Just about everyone has heard of Le Mans – although not everyone has quite got the pronunciation down… They probably know that it’s a 24-hour race, but that’s where most people’s knowledge ends.
08 January 2021
1986 - the year I started sixth form and my first sighting of an imposing metallic silver saloon. It was a car that looked as though it could cope with any road conditions while barely dislodging the owner’s Filofax and A-ha cassettes. It was the new Rover Sterling, a car attempting to bridge the worlds of the Ford Granada Scorpio/Vauxhall Senator and BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz. Enthusiasts will tell you that it more than succeeded in this goal.8 of the best hot hatches
Here are eight of the best hot hatches (in our humble opinion) from over the years - many of which we’re proud to cover here at Lancaster.
07 January 2021
1) When The Avengers first aired on 7th January 1961 - the leading man was Ian Hendry as Dr. David Keel, supported by Patrick Macnee as the intelligence agent John Steed.Classic Fords you remember from childhood
No matter how young or old you are, you’ll remember Fords on the streets of your hometown. From Anglias to Zodiacs, the Ford range over the decades has been quite extraordinary. So which Ford model makes you go all misty-eyed? Jog your memory by reading all about our top 12 Fords in the UK from the 1960s to the 1980s.
06 January 2021
You don’t need to be a druid or wait until summer solstice to watch the sunrise. There are beautiful places around the UK that make the perfect spot for you to park up your campervan and enjoy one of nature’s greatest shows.MEET THE OWNER – MEL HOLLEY AND HIS BEDFORD HA
There was once a time when the HA van was part of the daily routine. It might have delivered your post or your new DER television set, distributed the Co-Op’s groceries or attended to yet another malfunctioning telephone box.MEET THE OWNER – STEVE TENNICK AND HIS AUSTIN 152 PARALANIAN
The Austin 152 and its Morris J2 twin deserve to be remembered for many reasons. In 1956, they were BMC’s first unitary-construction vans and familiar sights long after production ended in 1967. And they also provided the basis for some delightful motor caravans, such as Steve’s Paralanian motor home
04 January 2021
‘They love it, but some are unsure of what it is as they’ve never seen one before.’ Such a public reaction to Anna’s Fiat 132 Bellini is quite understandable, for it was an unusual sight even when it was new 41 years ago. ‘Beautiful, si?’ read the original advertisements; for here was transport for those whose sartorial role model was “Lewis Collins in Lounge Lizard Mode”.
30 December 2020
Choosing a Top 10 of French classics is a near-impossible task, with the likes of Renault, Peugeot and Citroën competing against each other as well as lesser-known gems. So, we’ve picked out 10 examples of great cars from the post-war era up to the 1980s that still hold huge appeal for motoring enthusiasts today.
23 December 2020
The DVLA has recently announced changes to information on vehicles displaying the old style pre-1973 black and silver number plates.MEET THE OWNER – GRANT HOWLETT AND HIS ONE-FAMILY-FROM-NEW MG MAGNETTE ZA
Any Z-Series MG is an object of desire – one of the finest British sports saloons of the 1950s and certainly one of the most beautiful. But this 1955 ZA is an exclusive motor-car even by Magnette standards. Not only does it have a total mileage of 54,000, but one family has owned it from new. And it has delighted motoring enthusiasts on both sides of the Atlantic.
22 December 2020
Was it really 45 years ago that this writer avidly scanned the Dinky brochure for possible birthday and Christmas presents? From 1934 until 1979 the company based at Binns Road in Liverpool produced models that set the benchmark for British die-cast. This newsreel captures the factory in 1967 as it produces one of my favourite Dinky toys – the Fiat 2300 Estate “Pathé Newsreel Camera Car”
21 December 2020
A highlight of the May 1993 edition of Car magazine was Roger Bell’s evaluation of a 620SLi opposite the BMW 318i, the Citroen Xantia 2.0 and the Ford Mondeo 2.0 GLX. His article was headlined ‘Rover bites back’, and he concluded:Top Ten Screen Motoring Clichés
Or – what I have learned over several decades of viewing: 1) “Period Dramas” in which virtually every car is a new or recent model for that year. The road footage of almost any 1950s or 1960s newsreel will contain a multitude of elderly vehicles. And just take a look at The Sweeney, with its armies of corroding Austin A60 Cambridges and Singer Vogues on the streets of Hammersmith and Battersea
18 December 2020
There is a select group of cars that are so quietly efficient and dependable that they were often taken for granted during their lifetime. The Vauxhall Senator is one such vehicle – purposeful, luxurious and rather handsome. Plus, in 24v form, one of the great Q-Cars of the late 1980s and early 1990s.
17 December 2020
At first, it looks like any other example of the exquisite Armstrong Siddeley Star Sapphire – until you notice those quad headlamps. Then you realise that it is fitted with a larger rear screen and more prominent rear wings while the cabin features front head restraints that double as picnic tables for the occupants of the back seat. This is the one and only example of the Star Sapphire Mk. 2.
16 December 2020
The Reliant 3/25 family is so well-known in the UK that the impact of the original Regal three-wheeler is frequently overlooked. Today they are chiefly spotted at car shows or in the background of 1950s and 1960s British film, but this was the vehicle that helped to transform the marque’s image.
15 December 2020
The Ford Granada Mk. I Estate has to be one of the most attractive station wagons of the 1970s – and the rarest. Some of us of a certain age will remember the green metallic example driven by “Jeffrey Fourmile” in George and Mildred and today Matt’s 1975 2.5 “Series 2” is almost guaranteed to cause a sensation. After all, there can be very few examples of a ‘completely unrestored original 45,000-mile car never been welded or messed about with’ still on the road.What to do if you’ve lost your MOT certificate
An MOT has been an important part of owning a vehicle for many years. It’s a test that is carried out on cars, vans, campervans, motorbikes and lorries annually. If you’re buying a new vehicle, it will require its first test after three years – and yearly after that.
14 December 2020
In the years immediately before the launch of the MGB GT in 1965, a sports car enthusiast who craved greater weather protection for winter had a limited choice. None of the “Big Five” manufacturers offered a sleek 2+2 tourer with the partial exception of the Consul Capri GT. However, the sort of motorist who favoured flat hats and club blazers would probably have regarded the Ford as transport for flashy types who used too much aftershave.
11 December 2020
While you might have classic car insurance in place to protect you against any mishaps, you don’t really want to be claiming on your policy for something that was avoidable. That’s why we’re bringing you some tips on how to care for your classic convertible’s hood.SPOT-ON MODELS – A CELEBRATION
During the 1960s Tri-ang’s “Spot-On” models - so-called because its products were precisely to 1/42 scale – often seemed a cut above those of Corgi or Dinky. Sales commenced in April 1959 and from the outset their die-cast toys featured interior detailing, predating both of its major rivals. They also adopted a ‘constant scale’ policy, at a time when the products of other manufacturers would vary according to need.
10 December 2020
When Tony Bastable took the Fiat X1/9 through its paces for Thames Television’s Drive In - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvLyqB8MPrQ - he reported ‘it’s got style, its lively and it handles beautifully’. At that time British motorists had been awaiting imports of the X1/9 for several years. By 1974 Radbourne Racing Ltd. offered a RHD conversion, but it would not be until January 1977 when Fiat would officially launch a UK-market version.DO YOU REMEMBER – THE SUNBEAM STILETTO?
The year is 1967, and your dilemma is a) craving a new Porsche 911 while b) having a most unsympathetic bank manager. Fortunately, the Rootes Group had just launched a new car ‘for men whose wives think they’ve given up sports cars’. The advertisement further invited the reader to ‘show her how luxuriously saloon it is – four deep seats, the front ones reclining, plenty of room, and swish twin headlamps’.CORGI TOYS - A TRIBUTE
In July 1965, the nation’s toy shops stocked a new type of die-cast model car – ‘Corgi Toys - ‘The One’s With Windows’. At a time when rival products lacked such a feature, this was important news indeed for the discerning consumer. Corgi cars also came in individual illustrated boxes while Dinky Toys supplied their products in trade-packs to retailers.
09 December 2020
When Autocar tested the 2.0 GLS Sports Hatch in February 1980, they accurately described it as ‘just plain nice’. It was a truly desirable machine – less overtly aggressive in appearance than the Ford Capri Mk. III - and a Jade Green Metallic Sports Hatch was as much of its era as bomber jackets and Harp lager in thin glasses. And although the Cavalier Mk. I was Luton’s interpretation of the Opel Manta B; the Sports Hatch was a British creation.THE AUSTIN LANCER AND THE MORRIS MAJOR – A CELEBRATION
While watching certain Australian television shows during the 1970s and 1980s, I sometimes noticed a very peculiar looking car in some background shots. Whether the programme was Skippy – which I will admit to enjoying, Prisoner: Cell Block H (which I won’t) or the early BBC screening of Neighbours (ditto), there might be a vehicle resembling a love-child of a Wolseley 1500 and a Ford Anglia 105E.Car of the month!
We wanted our last ‘Car of the Month’ award of 2020 to be extra special and the winning recipient’s classic is just that – a 1973 Porsche 914-4! Paul Hibbert entered his example into the Lancaster Insurance Pride of Ownership display at last month’s online NEC event and was crowned the winner! Painted in period ‘’Zambezi Green’ and with classic Fuchs alloy wheels, we can see why it captured viewers’ attention.
08 December 2020
During the (very remote) youth of this writer, there were three virtually guaranteed sights in his Hampshire village. Firstly, as if by ancient rite, every farmyard had to contain a disused Audax-series Hillman Minx. Secondly, every week a dark green Ford Transit Mk. I mobile shop would dispense Twix bars and other essentials to the remote settlements of the A27-belt. And thirdly, no day seemed to pass without sighting of at least one Vauxhall Viva HC.
07 December 2020
Tony very accurately describes his 1978 Renault as ‘Uniquely stylish’, for the 16 could never be confused with any other car. It is a vehicle that revels in its idiosyncrasies such as the virtually hidden handbrake and the many and various ways of arranging the passenger accommodation. After all, very few cars can boast a rear seat folding mechnanism that involves suspending the backrest from the grab handles.Lancaster Insurance’ Christmas Opening/Closing Times
From everybody at Lancaster Insurance, we hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a prosperous start to the New Year! Below are the opening and closing times over the festive period, should you need to speak to one of our team.MEET THE OWNER – CHRIS FIGG AND HIS AUSTIN METRO VANDEN PLAS
Chris had two reasons for buying his Cashmere Gold Austin Metro Vanden Plas. Firstly, he is a fan of the Kingsbury-based coachbuilder, and also owns a VDP 1500. Secondly, he has also been a Metro enthusiast ‘since the launch at the NEC in 1980...queuing up at the stand waiting to sit in this award-winning car’.