Go­ing down a bomb

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Your Letters - NICK LARKIN

Iwas much amused to read our piece in Clas­sic Car Weekly (20 Jan­uary) about an ap­peal for pre-1963 clas­sics to ap­pear at the forth­com­ing Atomic Vin­tage Fes­ti­val, be­ing held against the su­perb pe­riod back­drop of Sy­well Aero­drome in Northamp­ton­shire.

This two-day ex­trav­a­ganza rev­els ‘in the cul­ture and fash­ion of the 1940s and ’50s.’

‘I hope it doesn’t bomb,’ I wit­tily stated to glazed ex­pres­sions in the of­fice. ‘Bomb, Atomic? Oh, please your­selves!’

The word ‘atomic’ doesn’t just apply to that ter­ri­ble weapon of mass de­struc­tion how­ever. Or the very real fear in the 1950s and 1960s of a cer­tain na­tion not un­known for its vodka con­sump­tion, or a ri­val coun­try fa­mous for burg­ers and milk shake, both press­ing lit­tle red but­tons and de­liv­er­ing us all into obliv­ion. ‘The Atomic Age’ also sums up a post-war era when there was fas­ci­na­tion with tech­nol­ogy but the feel­ing was that much of it was for the pub­lic good, im­prov­ing health, ban­ish­ing dis­ease and mak­ing our tele­vi­sion pic­ture of Rawhide even clearer. Sci­ence was sexy, and could do great things.

Black-and-white news­reels of the Wind­scale nu­clear power sta­tion sug­gested Bri­tain led in so many sci­en­tific ways and one day we wouldn’t have whack­ing great elec­tric­ity bills. The new tech­nol­ogy was mar­keted as clean, even healthy.

The Atomic Age is also de­fined by the fins-and-chrome-laden Amer­i­can cars of the post-war era and their UK equiv­a­lents.

To­day, or­gan­is­ers of nos­tal­gia events are re­al­is­ing that clas­sic cars are a vi­tal part of any re­cre­ation of the past. The same goes for TV and film pro­duc­ers. Take one road, place a Ford Pre­fect and a Wolse­ley or two on it, and there you have a 1950s film set. Clas­sics are mini time cap­sules, which­ever era you’re after. No won­der they are such a vi­tal part of the world’s most im­por­tant event of its type, the Good­wood Re­vival

While we all like noth­ing more than a good old chat about cars, it’s also good to at­tend an event where as well as a goodly dis­play of clas­sics to en­joy there are many other attractions. This is so use­ful should you be at­tend­ing with a non-petrol­head.

I do won­der about some 1940s re­vivals which have peo­ple hap­pily swag­ger­ing around in Nazi uni­forms and a feel­ing that 1939-45 was just one big fun­fest. It is prob­a­bly time for a fes­ti­val of the 1970s and 1980s, where peo­ple can at­tend dressed as skin­heads in Chrysler Alpines. There could even be reg­u­lar power cuts and a Lady Thatcher looka­like con­test.

We’ve just been de­bat­ing when the ‘Atomic Age’ of­fi­cially ended. It hasn’t in many ways, no matter how many wind farms we now have.

The Atomic Fes­ti­val takes place from 30 April to 1 May. www.atom­icfes­ti­val.co.uk

Now, that’s atomic power!

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