SPRING 1962

Clas­sics make a pic­turesque sight in this re­lax­ing scene by the River Ouse in York – but can you iden­tify the two mystery cars?

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - The Way We Were -

York mo­torists 54 years ago cer­tainly had good cause to make sure their brakes and steer­ing were up to scratch, espe­cially if they were reg­u­lars at the pic­turesque Ouse Bridge Inn. A stretched hand­brake ca­ble or dodgy caliper could eas­ily mean a disas­trous full im­mer­sion in the River Ouse. Also, while not wish­ing to cast as­per­sions on its fifine up­stand­ing reg­u­lars, we can­not help but won­der whether one or two may have had prob­lems ne­go­ti­at­ing the quay­side after a jovial evening of ban­ter and a few Taddy Ales in those pre-breathal­yser days.

All is parked and or­derly in this scene, how­ever, with new and older cars of the time stand­ing hap­pily to­gether. Oc­cu­py­ing the fore­ground is WDN 406, a Wolse­ley 1500, new in 1960 and still look­ing im­mac­u­late two years later – though the DVLA no longer has any record of it. Note the an­ar­chic po­si­tion of the tax disc in the cen­tre of the wind­screen.

De­spite lots of thrash­ing around and frus­trated moo­ing we are stuck on what the next car is. The cam­era an­gle and po­si­tion of the Wolse­ley have com­bined to con­ceal what ought to be an easy iden­ti­fi­fi­ca­tion test. It’s a four-door ve­hi­cle, pos­si­bly an MG Mag­nette ZA/B or Wolse­ley equiv­a­lent, but the Austin FX4 taxi-style wind­screen wipers don’t quite fi­fit.

Be­hind that frus­trat­ing beast is an Austin 8 or 10, then a ‘Mark’ Hill­man Minx, which the rel­a­tively or­nate front grille de­notes as a VIII or VIIIA of 1954-1957 vin­tage. The car had ei­ther a 1265cc or 1390cc over­head valve en­gine – a big im­prove­ment on the pre­vi­ous side­valve units – and was re­placed by the Se­ries I Minx of 1956, but not be­fore the won­der­fully-named two-tone Gay Look model.

Next to it is a Com­mer Cob 7cwt van vari­ant of the Minx – a rare sur­vivor to­day. In­tro­duced in 1956 it was sis­ter ve­hi­cle to the Husky es­tate car. Ar­guably stur­dier than its car-de­rived ri­vals, the Cob was re­placed by an Au­dax Minx-based al­ter­na­tive in 1958. Pur­chase tax reg­u­la­tions at the time favoured vans, so, to get around these, peo­ple would of­ten go for a com­mer­cial vari­ant of small cars like the Minx or the Austin A30/ A35 and fi­fit a seat in the back to carry ex­tra passengers. Just down the line from the Cob is an Austin A30/35 Coun­try­man or van con­ver­sion.

But be­fore that, a Mor­ris Mi­nor is next along the line, then an Austin Som­er­set. Next to that is an Austin of 1935 or ear­lier, on the cusp of preser­va­tion by 1962. It’s dif­fi­fi­cult to tell whether this car was lov­ingly cher­ished or one of many du­bi­ous sur­vivors about to be killed off by the MoT test.

Pulling into (or pos­si­bly out of) the line-up is, we think, a late 1930s or im­me­di­ate post­war Stan­dard 8 or 9, with stylish ‘wa­ter­fall’ grille and a high stan­dard of fifin­ish. Then we have a Bed­ford CA van/minibus and just be­hind the colour­ful ice cream van a two-tone Vaux­hall F-type Vic­tor.

Though there seems to be a fair de­mand for ice cream wafers and Tar­trazine Frozen Sur­prise (‘Gets young minds buzzing with E102’) ice lol­lies, the small crowd stand­ing next to the Ouse Bridge Inn seem fairly

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