It’s a cold Monday. These cars have driven down from Glasgow and are now awaiting a special boat to Boulogne, then onwards for the Monte Carlo Rally
‘The standard 10’s occupants survived a 200ft fall from a bridge after suffering a blowout’ lucky escape on The ‘59 rally
Film historian, unbriefed barrister and motoring culture enthusiast. Blames his career in the latter on having seen Carry On Cabby in 1975.
This is an image that could almost have come from a 1959 Pathé Newsreel, complete with a golly-gosh announcer extolling the virtues of manly British cars and their hopes for victory on the Monte Carlo rally. As it was, the outright winner was Paul Coltelloni in a Citroën ID 19, but there’s an air of anticipation here and a fascinating mix of entrants.
Some of the names of drivers and navigators will be familiar to the more mature CCW reader and nearest to the camera is car 65, the John Melvin/Edwin Foden Sunbeam Rapier Series II with the 1494cc ‘Rallymaster’ engine. Behind the handsome Rootes coupé is the diminutive form of the Standard 10 of Cyril Corbishley and John Beaumont; they memorably survived a 200ft fall from a bridge during the rally after suffering blowouts in both offside tyres.
Next in the queue is the Singer Gazelle of Amy and Frederick Vivian and inches away from its tailfins is one Jaguar’s finest postwar offerings, a MkI 3.4 crewed by Vernon Cooper and Geoffrey Barker. It was certainly a marked contrast to some of the other transport here. There’s another MkI saloon in the second row, illustrating the type’s high profile in 1950s rallying. Just in front of it is another Jaguar – this time an XK150 Drophead Coupé with the hood snugly raised, but the window down, presumably to prevent the windows from fogging over. To the rear of the XK, someone has opted for a slightly more flamboyant form of transport in the shape of a PA- Series Vauxhall. In the third row is what looks like a Ford Consul MkII Deluxe, the ‘three window’ Vauxhall PA of John Banks and CG Dunham and one of several Riley One Point Fives entered in the 1959 Monte.
What lends this picture special fascination is not merely the vehicles but the fashions – cheesecutter caps, Brylcreem and Jack Hawkins-style duffle coats are evidently de rigueur for chaps – and the equipment fitted to the various cars. This was a time when a major rally victory was a greater marketing tool than it is today; the various Jaguars, Rootesmobiles and Vauxhalls may have been fitted with spotlamps and Halda Speedpilots, but they still looked much like the standard road cars parked behind them.
In the far background, an RAC patrolman marches past a Redex Ford Thames 400E, the light commercial with ‘shock free suspension’ and ‘dynamic braking power’. Lucas clearly favours an Austin Loadstar, Longbridge’s first post-war lorry, and to its right is a Hillman ‘New Minx’ Special with its extensive extras – including ashtrays. The Standard Super Ten alongside would have had slightly more luxury – namely a trip recorder, bumper overriders and an opening boot lid – although the external sun visor does look rather surplus to requirements in such wintry weather.
Moving along there is a fourdoor Minor decorated with KLG spark plugs PR material, and a now phenomenally rare Ford Consul MkII Farnham estate sandwiched by two fine examples of the Hillman Husky. A Minor 1000 apparently being operated upon obstructs the next vehicle in the line-up, but the Ford Thames 300E and the Standard 7cwt (the latter featuring a roofmounted Michelin Man) would have been everyday sights 58 years ago.
Partially obscuring an Austin A35 two-door is a Standard Vanguard Phase IA Estate while the brace of RAC A35 vans anticipates the eventual demise of the association’s motorcycle-sidecar combinations. Facing the sea are two much older machines, although the advent of the MoT in 1960 would markedly reduce the number of such cars on British roads. Finally, just behind the Lodestar is an RAC scooter, as used by ‘Patrolettes’; those uniformed young ladies who issued directions, but didn’t repair cars.
‘There’s nothing like a smiling girl to hearten the most despondent motorist,’ claimed the RAC in a tone reminiscent of a Leslie Phillips’ comedy. Pat Moss and Ann Wisdom may have won the 1959 Monte’s Ladies Cup in their nowfamous Austin A40 Farina ( XOE 778), but such absurd PR copy is proof positive that 1959 was an altogether different world.
Frugal-minded drivers have sworn by redex fuel additives since 1922. This Ford Thames is a suitably vibrant advertisement. ThAmES liNk This Moggy’s been adorned with klG spark plugs marketing guff. a klG employee, perhaps, or just an unfortunate private owner? miNOR pR