Going down a bomb
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!