The Way We Were

Plenty of mo­torists have been en­ticed by a small rev­o­lu­tion in fur­ni­ture shop­ping – and they’ve brought their early 1990s mo­tors with them

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - 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.

1991, Brent Park, Wem­b­ley

It’s a week­end rou­tine with which many CCW read­ers will be fa­mil­iar when they’re not at car shows – the end­less cir­cuit­ing of car parks and jostling with hatch­backs, hop­ing to find that elu­sive park­ing space ahead of an af­ter­noon’s shop­ping.

You’d have strug­gled a lit­tle bit harder to squeeze into a space af­ter IKEA opened its first UK store in War­ring­ton back in 1987, en­cour­ag­ing a gen­er­a­tion of es­tate car own­ers to head into out-of-town re­tail parks in search of tempt­ing­lypriced flat-pack fur­ni­ture. The Brent Park store, just off the North Cir­cu­lar, opened two years later, giv­ing Lon­don­ers their first taste of miss­ing Allen keys and ar­gu­ments over assem­bly di­a­grams.

If you’d squeezed into the one empty space in our 1991 shot both you and your pas­sen­ger stood a very real chance of clip­ping a Vaux­hall Nova with an er­rantly opened door. The lightly dinged blue three-door is a lowly Merit (one trim level down from the L), but the one on the left is the tasty SR, which played sec­ond fid­dle only to the GTE. It van­ished from the roads in 1995, but if it was still around to­day it’d likely be fit­ted with a ‘red top’ en­gine from the As­tra GTE, such is the Nova’s cult fol­low­ing with go-faster Vaux­hall devo­tees.

Surely await­ing a freshly bought Billy book­case next to our No­vas is an As­tra es­tate MkII, in 1.3L form. We’re not sure why it’s parked so close to the No­vas – per­haps its owner needed to ne­go­ti­ate an awk­ward-sized box to the tail­gate, with­out clip­ping the E30 BMW 325i parked up next to it.

Head­ing up the row be­hind is a car prac­ti­cally de­signed for trips to IKEA – a Volvo 240GL es­tate, al­though it’s tricky to tell from this an­gle whether its owner has folded the rear seats down in ex­pec­ta­tion of some freshly pur­chased shelves. Cer­tainly, it trumps the Vaux­hall Cava­lier Es­tate parked be­hind in terms of boot space. There’s also a 740 es­tate hid­ing within the as­sem­bled ranks of mass-mar­ket cars, but the other car we reckon that’s per­fectly suited to the fur­ni­ture-wield­ing shop­pers is parked up im­me­di­ately in front of IKEA’s im­pos­ing blue frontage – nope, not the Honda Ac­cord Coupé or the Su­percinq Re­nault 5, but the Ford Granada es­tate MkII. It’s tricky to see from this an­gle which vari­ant it is, but the black ra­di­a­tor grille marks it out as a pre-facelift model.

All are con­sid­er­ably roomier than the five-door Ford Es­cort MkIII in the sec­ond row, and we reckon the owner of the City-spec Mini would have been se­ri­ously ham­pered by the lack of a hatch­back or fold-down rear seats. There’s also an­other As­tra

‘ikea Brent Park gave lon­don­ers their first taste of ar­gu­ments over miss­ing allen keys’ FlaT-Pack heaveN – Or hell

MkII hid­ing in the sec­ond row – a five-door hatch which could be 1987’s Ju­bilee spe­cial edi­tion, on ac­count of its shoul­der stripe, body-coloured door mir­rors and sun­roof.

We also won­der how prac­ti­cal the sur­pris­ing num­ber of three­door coupés would’ve been at ac­com­mo­dat­ing awk­wardly-sized boxes. There’s a W-reg­is­tered Capri MkIII await­ing its owner and two Scirocco MkIIs – most of Volk­swa­gen’s buy­ers had moved onto its larger Cor­rado sib­ling by this stage, with the older model in its fi­nal year of pro­duc­tion when this shot was taken.

You don’t have to look far to find per­for­mance mo­tor­ing that’s a tad more prac­ti­cal – just across from the Capri is one of two Citroën BXs, but the tail spoiler and blacked-out rear panel mark the red one out as be­ing the range-top­ping GTi. We bet the own­ers wished they’d held onto it now, be­cause there are only 26 sur­vivors. If you look care­fully you can see also see a Ford Es­cort XR3i cir­cling the car park – pre­sum­ably hav­ing missed the empty space by the No­vas – and a tur­bocharged Saab 9000 a few spa­ces fur­ther up.

But two things re­ally stand out in this car park, start­ing with the de­light­fully beige Toy­ota Ter­cel over to the right. This Corolla-based pre­cur­sor to to­day’s crossovers – avail­able in both front- and four­wheel drive – would have been a fairly com­mon sight back in the early 1990s, but now there are just 22 left.

The other strik­ing thing is the lack of Austin-Rover mod­els – aside from the afore­men­tioned Mini there’s a lone Metro City X to the very left of the shot, but Mae­stros, Mon­te­gos and Rovers are cu­ri­ously ab­sent. IKEA’s shop­pers have pre­dom­i­nantly gone for Fords and Vaux­halls, with a smat­ter­ing of Ger­man and Ja­panese cars fill­ing in the gaps. A sign of things to come, per­haps?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.