JUNE 1980

We’ve had plenty of cars in this se­ries. We’ve had a few trains too. Well, now’s the time for cars a train…

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

The scene is Brockenhurst sta­tion in the New For­est, on Bri­tish Rail’s South West­ern Main Line be­tween Lon­don Water­loo and Wey­mouth. As well as hav­ing been used for a ropey 1970s’ TV re­make of Brief En­counter with Richard Bur­ton and Sophia Loren, this was also one of BR’s Mo­torail ter­mi­nals.

The ser­vice had been in­tro­duced in 1955 be­tween Lon­don and Perth, back when try­ing to drive such a dis­tance in a ve­hi­cle of the era would prob­a­bly end with steam is­su­ing from un­der the bon­net some­where near Scotch Corner. So why not let the train take the strain – and pro­vide the steam – in­stead?

Routes pro­lif­er­ated through­out the 1960s and 1970s, reach­ing Corn­wall and the far north of Scot­land, but as the UK mo­tor­way net­work im­proved and cars be­came less likely to ex­pire on long trips, us­age de­clined. They were stopped in 1995, al­though there was a brief re­vival from 1999 to 2005 from Lon­don Padding­ton to Pen­zance.

Re­spon­si­ble for the train of FVX Carflat wag­ons here is a Class 33, one of the South­ern Re­gion’s main diesel-elec­tric lo­co­mo­tives. It will shunt the rake to cou­ple up with the first class and sleeper coaches on an ad­ja­cent plat­form, then head to Kensington Olympia to con­nect with an­other por­tion from Dover. From there, the train will run overnight through to Stir­ling in cen­tral Scot­land. And hope­fully only a few of the cars will get da­m­aged en route; al­ways a pos­si­bil­ity with th­ese open wag­ons de­spite pro­tec­tive wind­screen cov­er­ings in place for the near 500 mile jour­ney.

So, what’s head­ing north on this sum­mer’s day? First in the frame is a bright yel­low Hill­man Avenger es­tate. Closer in­spec­tion re­veals it’s a 1974/1975 ex­am­ple of the five-door vari­ant, which was in­tro­duced in March 1972. Its neigh­bour is a 1969 two-door Vaux­hall Viva HB, in the shade of light blue that was preva­lent on th­ese fam­ily Lu­ton­mo­biles. Like XPB 654N, the Hill­man, TLJ 707H (a fairly lo­cal Bournemouth reg­is­tra­tion) is no longer on the DVLA’s books.

Mov­ing along to the next wagon, the first of the white goods is a five-door Peu­geot 104. That it’s a hatch­back dates it to at least July 1976; when the model was in­tro­duced, it was only avail­able with a boot be­cause Peu­geot was con­cerned it might steal sales from the 204 other­wise. When that was dis­con­tin­ued, those con­cerns van­ished and the 104 re­ceived the lift­ing rear door its shape sug­gests it should al­ways have had.

In front of it, and also sport­ing a hatch­back, is a very rare beast nowa­days – a Dat­sun 120Y coupé, which deal­ers were rec­om­mended to de­scribe as ‘hav­ing the im­age of a mini Z-car’. The 120Y, known as the Sunny in Ja­pan, helped Dat­sun be­come the sec­ond most pop­u­lar for­eign im­porter into the UK, of­fer­ing high equip­ment lev­els, good value and a level of re­li­a­bil­ity that Bri­tish cars (of­ten in short sup­ply due to strikes) couldn’t match. And next to it is one of the tar­gets it badly af­fected, an Austin Al­le­gro es­tate.

This very bright yel­low Se­ries 3 must be just out of the showroom, as the third gen­er­a­tion was only in­tro­duced at the end of 1979. Yet still its new own­ers didn’t fancy driv­ing it all the way up north.

The own­ers of the ad­ja­cent Se­ries 2 Jaguar XJ6 prob­a­bly chose the rail op­tion be­cause it would still have rep­re­sented a fi­nan­cial sav­ing over the cost of the fuel they would have had to have shelled out. Then there’s an­other metal­lic Al­le­gro, this time a higher spec Se­ries 1 or Se­ries 2 with a black vinyl roof. Af­ter that, it all goes a bit vague due to per­spec­tive and the qual­ity of 1980s film; per­haps a Fiat 128 3p or Alfa Romeo Al­fa­sud Sprint, then a BMW ’02, some­thing hid­den by the foot­bridge and an­other Al­le­gro that looks iden­ti­cal to the ear­lier metal­lic blue ex­am­ple. Fi­nally, nose-tonose with the Class 33 is a Ford Es­cort MkI.

The shot be­low shows a Mo­torail train in ac­tion on the West Coast Main Line, with the hu­man ac­com­mo­da­tion up front and the au­to­mo­tive oc­cu­pants con­sist­ing of a Her­ald, two BMC 1100s/1300s, a Fiat 124, a trio of Tri­umph Dolomites and a Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle. Then comes a Vaux­hall Vic­tor FE, Ford Cortina MkII, Land­crab, Rover P6, Vaux­hall Viva HB, an­other Cortina MkII, BMC 1100/1300, Cortina MkI and… well, af­ter that, we’ve just run out of eye­sight.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.