Looking back at a Flintshire auction in the summer of 1961
It’s classics under the hammer, albeit from an era before the term had really been invented for secondhand cars
‘is Bernie here, surveying his kingdom and wondering how much the day’s receipts will swell his coffers?’ wHere’s BerNie aT His aUcTiON?
Oh, you just want to be here, don’t you? Browsing these rows of desirable, and not-quite-so-desirable classics, back when they were just secondhand cars seeking fresh owners. Wondering whether or not you can stretch to a triple figure sum for the rather ropy Bedford CA or one of the pre-war-designed vehicles relegated to the outer fringes of the site. Contemplating a sensible choice like a nice Vauxhall saloon or maybe pushing the boat out with something racier like a Triumph TR2. There’s something here for everybody – and, it seems, everybody has turned up for a browse. Well, assuming your definition of ‘everybody’ means generally besuited, approaching or having attained middle age (and beyond) and not female.
Our location is the evocativelytitled Bernie’s Car Auctions in Queensferry, situated in North Wales but only 17 miles and seven miles respectively from the major English population centres of Liverpool and Chester. Today the site is used by Wilsons Auctions. Is Bernie here somewhere, surveying his kingdom and wondering how much the day’s receipts will swell his business and personal coffers? Maybe that’s him on the left, in flat cap and voluminous trousers, striding contentedly past the rear of the MG Y-type with a wry smile on his face. He certainly looks like a bit of a Bernie…
The exact date of this shot isn’t recorded, but we’ll hazard a guess at summer 1961. Why? Because the vehicles range from the 1930s through to the late-1950s, but there’s no sign of any Minis, Anglia 105Es or Heralds etc, which would soon become the staple diet of such sales. As for it being summer, well, the sun is out, the trees are in bloom, and everybody is in quite lightweight clothing for any other season in North Wales.
So, which of these vehicles would you bid on? Nearest to the camera – so near, in fact, that most of it didn’t make it into frame – is what we think is a sit-up-and-beg Ford Popular, or one of its earlier Anglia or Prefect predecessors. This very spartan machine is keeping company with two of its more flamboyant contemporaries: a Ford Zephyr MkI and a Vauxhall Victor F Series 1, which in turn is dwarfing the rather dated MG YA or YB our possible Bernie is strolling away from.
Bidding will probably be fierce for the only true sports car here; the Triumph TR2, which looks quite smart. It’s bound to fetch a lot more than its neighbour, a first generation Bedford CA with two-piece windscreen. It’s less than a decade old, but the sill inside the driver’s door aperture looks thoroughly rusty while the rear wing is packed with badly applied filler. Obviously life has been hard for it so far, and probably won’t continue for too much longer.
We assume the cars on the right are in the process of being driven into the bidding area, judging by the smoke from the rear of the Standard 6cwt pick-up truck, based on the Ten model with a large chunk taken out of its rear. It’s joined in the queue by a Vauxhall Velox or Wyvern E-type (styled on a 1949 Chevy) and a Ford Popular 100E. The latter would have been comparatively new here, having only been introduced as a model type in 1959, albeit using the detrimmed body and interior of 1953’s Anglia.
Elsewhere among the mainstream Fords, Vauxhalls, Austins and others is the sleek shape of a two-tone Riley Pathfinder as well as an early 1949-52 Rover P4 with its centrallymounted ‘Cyclops’ third headlamp. And what’s happening up the top left-hand corner, where an officer of the law appears to be making some enquiries? We’re sure that every vehicle being sold here must be completely above board. Even that CA. Possibly…