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