The Way We Were
‘Only one vehicle here seems to be conforming to tinworm stereotype’ NOT ALL 1970S CAR WERE RUSTY
What a difference 40 years make. Our location this week, Stamford’s last surviving tenement dwelling, looks fit for demolition, with broken windows, subsiding, cracked stonework and the general aura of decrepitude that comes from having 1970s’ Fords and Vauxhalls parked outside. Yet fast-forward to 2017 and it’s the buildings that have survived; the cars having been replaced by award-winning fish and chips. Of course, some might suggest that the 1970s’ products of General Motors and the Blue Oval had similar structural integrity to battered cod, but CCW would never be so unkind.
Actually, only one vehicle here – the Escort MkI two-door – seems to be conforming to tinworm stereotype – the other seems to be lasting pretty well. Although, to be fair, most of what’s conveniently ignoring the ‘Private property – parking strictly prohibited’ sign is just a few years old.
It looks like the local Ford and Vauxhall dealerships have Stamford all sewn up. It’s Ford 4, Vauxhall 3, and the rest of the world just 1, a Morris Minor being the nonDagenham/Halewood/Luton intruder. However, it’s to the Victor the spoils, with a trio of Vauxhall’s big bruisers dominating. In fact, was this patch of waste ground being used by the nearby Vauxhall dealership for overflow stock? It could explain why parking was strictly prohibited for some, but not for others.
Obeying the rules by parking on the street is a Ford Anglia 105E Deluxe estate, visible through the left archway. It’s outside the London Inn, where pint-sized Tom Cruise allegedly popped in for a pint-sized beverage during filming of the most recent Mission Impossible film. The opening featured him hanging off an Airbus A400M Atlas over the town, shortly after take-off from nearby RAF Wittering (pretending to be Minsk in Belarus). He probably badly needed a beer or two after that. Could the two female Stamfordians walking towards us – one of whom is rocking a delightful floral blouse and waistcoat ensemble – possibly imagine such frentic future aerial excitement? Coincidentally, RAF Wittering was a Cold War base for nuclear-equipped Victors before Harriers started arriving there in 1969.
The first of our Victors here, HXD 525K, thankfully isn’t armed with Blue Steel missiles. But it’s still quite a potent weapon, the crossed grille and Rostyle trims marking this 1971/1972 FD out as the sporty VX4/90 variant. Its two-litre overhead-cam twin-carb engine boasted 112bhp, meaning 100mph was attainable.
What’s next is newer but less virile. The final FE Victors came along in 1972. The sleek and distinctive estates proved especially capacious load-luggers. This looks to be a 2300SL Victor by its silver rear panel and wheel embellishers. Its neighbour is a 1975/1976 Ford Capri MkII with that essential 1970s addon, a vinyl roof. This, together with the black side strip, suggests a Ghia. Something other than Vauxhall or Ford finally appears with the adjacent Morris Minor. It’s not doing badly considering that it’s at least 15 years old; certainly better than its Escort MkI neighbour. Black underseal on its sills and rear wings suggests rust has started festering. Still, at least its owner has balanced things out with a black roof, perhaps hoping that people will overlook its bog-standard hubcaps and think it’s a 1300E. He’s probably not fooling anyone though.
The last of our triumvirate of Victors is next, a standard FD 1600 or 2000. Finally, there’s another Escort MkI; a basic 1100 or 1300L according to the front wing badge and glimpse of poverty-spec dashboard.
It’s no surprise that such a prime spot by the River Welland, in a town just voted the second best place to live in Britain, is no longer wasteground, but now hosts an upmarket fish and chip shop. But beyond, the original buildings are still there. Albeit in a lot better state of repair.
Bath Row in Stamford. Where ‘No parking’ signs are routinely ignored.