The Way We Were

Water­loo Bridge, 1962

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - ANDREW ROBERTS Film his­to­rian, un­briefed bar­ris­ter and en­thu­si­ast of mo­tor­ing cul­ture. He blames his writ­ing ca­reer on hav­ing seen Carry On Cabby in 1975.

‘What truly dates this im­age is that the 220 Pon­ton and A50 have their win­dows left open’

This is a vista that would be un­think­able to­day. Traf­fic war­dens had been part of the Lon­don road scene since 1960 and park­ing me­ters since 1958 but in March of 1962, it was still pos­si­ble to park with­out hin­drance on Water­loo Bridge.

As is so of­ten case, it is the in­ci­den­tal de­tail that lends such in­ter­est to this shot, such as the gentle­man in the Tony Han­cock hat on the right of the pic­ture who might be hum­ming Won­der­ful Land, the lat­est num­ber one hit from The Shad­ows, al­though we frankly doubt it. Then there is the stick-on demis­ter panel on the rear screen of the Vic­tor F-type – in the days be­fore heated back win­dows they of­ten proved ef­fec­tive, if a lit­tle frag­ile.

In a marked con­trast to the Vic­tor’s espresso bar ex­u­ber­ance is the Morris Ten in front of it and the side­valve Hill­man Minx be­hind, which looks as sen­si­ble as a pair of army boots. In 1962 it would have been the per­fect car for a bud­get­minded sub­ur­ban­ite who re­garded Adam Faith as a com­mu­nist agent.

Mov­ing along the bridge there is a Morris Mi­nor 1000, the first Bri­tish car to sell a mil­lion ex­am­ples and the Van­guard Phase II, the first pas­sen­ger car to be made in the UK with a diesel en­gine op­tion. If the Stan­dard here was one of the oil­burn­ing mod­els, we reckon it would have taken its owner about a week to reach Put­ney.

Af­ter a sec­ond pale-coloured Mi­nor is a Ford Con­sul MkI – one of Da­gen­ham’s sta­ples of the pre­vi­ous decade – and an ex­am­ple of an ‘Au­dax’ Hill­man Minx. Be­hind it is a dark 100E Ford which is just about dis­tin­guish­able as a Pre­fect, then there’s a Tro­jan 200 rep­re­sent­ing the twi­light of the bub­ble­car era and a W187-se­ries Mercedes-Benz 220. The lat­ter would have been such an un­usual sight on Bri­tish roads in the early 1960s that we won­der if it was owned by a mo­tor trader or was brought to the UK by a ser­vice­man re­turn­ing from West Ger­many.

There is a strong urge to linger on this side of Water­loo Bridge but that would mean ig­nor­ing an­other 220; in 1962 Lon­don was pos­si­bly the only city in the UK where you might see two Mercedes in the same street. The twin chrome strips be­low the doors de­note the 1954-1956 ‘Pon­ton’ ver­sion while the Dauphine in front would have been a far more fa­mil­iar sight, mar­keted un­der the slo­gan ‘A Penny Farthing a Mile and You Travel in Style!’ There ap­pears to be a logo on the roof so it is pos­si­ble that this Re­nault is a mini­cab op­er­ated by Wel­beck Mo­tors – ‘Just call WEL­beck 0561 for prompt ser­vice at just a shilling a mile.’ These were not pop­u­lar with FX3­driv­ing taxi­men – Time mag­a­zine re­ported of ‘cab­bies shak­ing fists and shout­ing un­print­able war cries’ – so per­haps it is safer to move on to the A50 Cam­bridge with the ‘cow hip’ rear wings of the 1954-1957 ver­sions.

Just ahead of the Austin is one of its main ri­vals in the form of a sec­ond Con­sul MkI and an A60, the lat­est in­car­na­tion of the Cam­bridge. The lack of chrome or wood dec­o­ra­tions on the white 100E-se­ries Ford es­tate de­notes the lower spec­i­fi­ca­tion Es­cort, which had only ceased pro­duc­tion the pre­vi­ous year. Da­gen­ham would re­vive the name six years later.

It is parked be­hind its four-door Pre­fect sta­ble­mate al­though it will prob­a­bly for­ever re­main a mys­tery why that gentle­man with the Del Shan­non hair­style in the long over­coat is eye­ing it up.

Then there’s the ex­u­ber­ance of the PA Cresta and Anglia 105E, which look like mo­bile juke­boxes com­pared with the 100E, while the Phase III Stan­dard would have been as­so­ci­ated by many with Na­tional Ser­vice.

Driv­ing to­wards the cam­era are an Anglia 105E Deluxe, a Thames 300E van and an­other Dauphine. Sev­eral of these were as­sem­bled at Re­nault’s plant in Ac­ton be­tween 1957 and 1961 to cir­cum­vent im­port du­ties. And what truly dates this im­age is that the 220 Pon­ton and the A50 Cam­bridge both ap­pear to have been left with their win­dows open. March 1962 re­ally was an­other world…

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