Patience and determination are the keys to tracking down a hen’s teeth-rare Vanguard, and imports from Down Under are most likely to be commercials
T he time has come for this old beauty to be better appreciated, but if you want one, you won’t find many to choose from in the UK. Time to be intrepid, very intrepid…
The Vanguard was Standard’s brave effort to enter the post-war era with a car it could sell across the Commonwealth, and it did just that – so determinedly that Phase I models were produced for export only during the first two years.
Those shapely curves took a dash of American inspiration from US manufacturer Plymouth, though America was never the Vanguard’s main target audience – instead, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand were the car’s key markets. And since the first two have quite dry climates and all three drive on the left, that all bodes well for buyers here in the UK. Phase Is, IIs and IIIs all saw complete knock-down (CKD) production in Australia.
Not that the Vanguard enthusiast needs much incentive to cast his or her net wide, because these cars are painfully scarce, both in the UK and overseas. We spent hours scouring classifieds all over the world and could only find a few cars on the market, mostly in Australia.
We then turned to Peter Foster, who is the Standard Motor Club’s Vanguard Spares Officer (01727 868405, standardmotorclub.org.uk). He says: ‘I know of a few Phase Is and IIs that have been brought to the UK from Australia and they were all vans and utilities.’ Clearly, the Vanguard is riding the recent increased interest in retro utility vehicles, while demand for passenger versions hasn’t generally been strong enough to warrant importing.
‘The original UK commercial models tended to be hammered into the ground,’ says Peter. ‘There was some locally sourced content for the CKD cars built in Australia, so exterior detailing and some bits of interior trim are a little different from UK models.’ Something to enjoy investigating, then…
Despite their rarity, Vanguard values remain down-to-earth, which helps mitigate the £3000-4000 it will cost you to import one from Australia. You might even find it financially worth your while – bring a solid and interesting one home, keep it dry, and there’s a good chance you’ll make a profit if you sell it on.
If you want real exclusivity, look out for one of the Phase I convertibles, made by coachbuilder Impéria in Belgium only. We haven’t managed to find any for sale – so happy hunting, and do let us know if you find one!
BUYING CLASSICS ABROAD