The Way We Were

Carlisle, July 1986

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week -

Pity the poor chap in the dark-coloured Ford Es­cort. He looks like he’s rush­ing to catch the 16:41 to Lon­don Eus­ton – but he’s left it too late to grab one of the spa­ces out­side Carlisle’s Grade II-listed rail­way sta­tion.

If he made it with enough time to slot his MkII – which we reckon is an RS2000, on ac­count of its pro­nounced rub­ber spoiler and black rear panel – into a space, we sup­pose he’d be able to rush through to plat­form three, hop on to Bri­tish Rail’s finest and un­furl a copy of that morn­ing’s News & Star for the long jour­ney ahead. If he didn’t, it’d be a long wait, per­haps over a pint of Jen­nings Bit­ter at the Cum­brian Ho­tel next door.

But it’s a fas­ci­nat­ing col­lec­tion of cars that’s pre­vent­ing our Es­cort-driv­ing pal from park­ing up. Im­me­di­ately in front of him there’s a Vaux­hall Cav­a­lier MkII, at the time the UK’s fifth best-sell­ing car (its fierce ri­val, Ford’s Sierra, was num­ber three on the list). It looks a lit­tle vul­ner­a­ble sit­ting di­rectly be­neath the scaf­fold­ing cloak­ing much of the Victorian sta­tion’s ex­te­rior; Reno­fors, the firm car­ry­ing out the op­er­a­tions, ap­pears to have ceased op­er­at­ing in the UK in the early Noughties, but is still a thriv­ing busi­ness in its na­tive France.

Parked along­side the Cav­a­lier are an early Rover SD1, a Mercedes-Benz 190E and a Hill­man Imp. The lat­ter looks like a MkIII Su­per, with an ex­tended rear num­ber­plate sur­round hold­ing ad­di­tional re­vers­ing lights.

Com­pet­ing with the Es­cort for park­ing spa­ces in front of the sta­tion en­trance are a Re­nault 25, in­tro­duced two years ear­lier to re­place the 20 and 30, and a red hatch­back that might be a Peu­geot 205. In front of it there’s a Toy­ota Ca­rina II, a Ford Capri MkIII, a post-facelift Re­nault 12 (the large rear lights are the clue) and an­other Es­cort – a Sun­burst Red MkIII.

The row be­hind, ob­scured by the rail­ings of the un­der­ground pas­sen­ger toi­lets, is a lit­tle trick­ier to dis­cern, but seems to be dom­i­nated by ve­hi­cles that weren’t ex­actly the mo­tor­ing main­stream in the mid-1980s. There’s a Citroën 2CV, at that time carv­ing a loyal UK fol­low­ing on ac­count of its long line of spe­cial edi­tion models, and an early Dai­hatsu Four­trak, per­haps driven into town by a farmer from the nearby Cumbria coun­try­side. There’s also a dis­tinc­tive yel­low hatch­back at the front – we reckon it’s a Fiat 127.

Head­ing to­wards the ho­tel – or per­haps just badly parked – is a tired­look­ing Ley­land Princess, whose faded paint­work and frilly near­side rear whee­larch are clear even from this dis­tance. Out­side the ho­tel’s frontage – and look­ing in rather bet­ter con­di­tion – is a K10-gen­er­a­tion Nis­san Mi­cra, a Ford Fi­esta MkI and a Tri­umph Dolomite. There’s also a tidy-look­ing Golf MkII parked up by the al­ley­way head­ing off be­tween the sta­tion and the ho­tel.

There’s an­other Golf MkII – a midrange CL, which dis­ap­peared from the DVLA’s records in 2003 – head­ing away from the sta­tion, fol­lowed by a Vaux­hall Viva HC which, judg­ing by the cor­ro­sion just above its off­side head­light, has seen bet­ter days. There’s also a Dat­sun Stanza wait­ing to creep out of the sta­tion car park – a fairly com­mon sight in the mid-1980s, but just 17 sur­vivors re­main to­day.

The Austin FX4 just vis­i­ble to the very right of this shot would’ve been the first of a long line of black cabs stretch­ing all the way down to the city’s English Dam­side. Per­haps if our hur­ried com­muter friend in his Es­cort RS2000 had hailed one of those rather than look­ing for a space, he’d have stood a bet­ter chance of catch­ing that train…

DAVID SIMIS­TER Hav­ing be­gun his ca­reer on lo­cal news­pa­pers in North Wales, David has been with CCW since 2013, and is still hon­ing his tea-mak­ing skills.

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