The big story
Baby boomer classics
One of the British motor industry’s most interesting periods is the decade after the war finished; the motoring world changed greatly between 1945 and 1955, as some smaller companies that could just get by immediately after 1945 collapsed, while bigger businesses strengthened their grip on the market.
This was also the time when car makers were coerced into exporting as much of their output as possible: the more they exported, the greater amount of steel the Government would allow them. In the meantime, with a domestic market desperate for new motors, the easiest solution was to reintroduce cars being made before hostilities began.
It’s easy to think solely of the famous three from 1948 – Jaguar XK120, Land Rover and Morris Minor – and early examples of these models (the 120 in particular) make regular auction appearances. But this period also saw companies hanging on bravely – Lea-Francis carried on until the end of the 1950s, and Allard soldiered on for much the same time.
However, today numerous other British cars, particularly saloons, from the post-war period offer usable, reliable and affordable classic motoring. South West Vehicle Auctions sold a very good 1951 MG YA for £18,360 in April and Brightwells offered a tidy, muchloved 1952 model in May, which sold for £7700.
Anglia Car Auctions offered a little-seen 1949 Vauxhall Wyvern in its April sale, and while in need of work, it was well bought at £2520. In the same sale ACA offered a pair of 1954 Morris Minor four-doors, one making £4620 and the other £5250.
Compared with Morris Minors, Austin ‘county’ cars are far rarer, but H&H’s National Motorcycle Museum sale came up with the goods – a 1954 A70 Hereford from an Irish collection, it was in very good order, with paint, body and interior all in highly presentable condition. It was good enough to make £8437.
Riley offered a more sporting take on saloon cars and its combination of looks and performance has ensured a good following for models that are often seen in the same light as Lancias from the same era. ACA sold a 1953 RMF in January for £15,540 and Charterhouse a 1954 RME for £10,080, while the following month Herefordshire Vintage Auctions’ reasonable 1954 RME went for £8600.
So while the post-war period might seem something of a Dark Ages for British classics, a fantastic selection of cars built then still makes for interesting buys today.
‘These British cars offer usable and affordable classic motoring’