The Way We Were

We’re off to Mid-Wales, where mar­ket day seems to have at­tracted a lot of cars and a fair few buses as well

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - RICHARD GUNN

July 1972, New­town

Well, it’s all go­ing on in New­town, isn’t it? De­spite threat­en­ing clouds bub­bling up over­head, this Welsh town looks rather en­tic­ing on this still-sunny sum­mer’s day in 1972. It’s pre­sum­ably mar­ket day, judg­ing by the stalls in the back­ground, and the pres­ence of the pop-up traders – as some might re­fer to them these days – has ob­vi­ously pulled in the pun­ters. They’ve ar­rived on foot, by car and by bus, cre­at­ing the sort of con­ges­tion that you’d ex­pect more from the 21st cen­tury. We’re not sure quite where this is in New­town – our vir­tual Google Streetview am­ble around the town was in vain – so if any­body can en­lighten us, please do.

De­spite this shot be­ing snapped in 1972, it’s very 1960s in flavour. Nearly ev­ery car here could have been from that decade. Only two have def­i­nitely come from the 1970s – the fake wood trim-en­dowed white Mini Club­man es­tate by the stalls was only launched in 1969 and there’s a 1970-born Vaux­hall Viva HC in among the mix as well. In the case of a cou­ple of the coaches, their ori­gins go back much, much fur­ther.

Let’s check the buses out first of all – they stand out (al­most) more than any other ve­hi­cle here. All four are in the blue and cream/white colours of Mid-Wales Mo­tor­ways, whose HQ was in New­town and op­er­ated some routes over the bor­der into Eng­land. They’re all Bed­fords, with the two more an­ti­quated-look­ing long-nose ex­am­ples be­ing OBs, built from 19391951. The clos­est looks to have a Du­ple Vista body, but its com­pan­ion boasts B29F coach­work from the same man­u­fac­turer. They’re ac­com­pa­nied by their suc­ces­sors – 1960s Bed­ford SB3 buses sport­ing much more up-to-date Yeates Europa stream­lined shapes. The ob­scured red-roofed coach be­hind prob­a­bly be­longs to Worth­ern Mo­tors, an­other lo­cal op­er­a­tor.

But enough about the buses – there’s a won­der­ful se­lec­tion of cars to be rel­ished, too. The car that leaps out the most is the ma­roon Citroën DS or ID. Even though we can only see half of it, it looks svelte and enor­mous com­pared to what’s around it. It’s right-hand drive and has a UK tax disc, so isn’t an over­seas vis­i­tor, per­haps mak­ing a pil­grim­age to the nearby birth­place of so­cial re­former and utopian so­cial­ist vi­sion­ary, Robert Owen. Thus it was quite prob­a­bly built at Citroën’s Slough fac­tory, which op­er­ated be­tween 1926 and 1965, as it has the post- Septem­ber 1962 op­tional aux­il­iary driv­ing lights but pre-dates the 1967 Robert Opron-de­signed shark-like nose.

Sur­round­ing it are a grey Mor­ris Mi­nor Trav­eller – a pre-1961 ex­am­ple, be­cause we can see traf­fi­ca­tors be­hind the front doors – and a black sa­loon vari­ant. There are also two Hill­man Hunters in al­ter­na­tive shades of blue, neatly sand­wich­ing a 1962-1967 Ford Anglia 123E Su­per, in the pop­u­lar colour scheme of two-tone Lime Green and Er­mine White. There’s a green Mini to the right of the Citroën and a dark blue Mini MkI be­yond – we think it’s a ba­sic model that has, at some point, re­ceived some bright sill and whee­larch fin­ish­ers to vamp it up a bit. Next to this is a Vaux­hall Viva HC, which is prob­a­bly the new­est ve­hi­cle here, cer­tainly in terms of de­sign, if not ac­tual age. It’s ac­com­pa­nied by a Ford Cortina four­door MkII, af­ter which it all goes a bit vague.

Fords pre­dom­i­nate on the other side of the road, along with the Bed­fords. There are two Anglias, for starters – one a van, per­haps the trans­port of a mar­ket trader – and a D-se­ries truck, which might be­long to an­other trader who has an even big­ger stall.

The round-up of ve­hi­cles here is fin­ished by the 1963 Mor­ris Mi­nor sa­loon fol­low­ing the bus out of the car park, with an HB Viva be­yond and then the Mini Club­man es­tate men­tioned at the be­gin­ning. Which brings us, rather neatly, full cir­cle.

Joined Clas­sic Car Weeky in 2000. Now free­lance, but has al­ways main­tained his con­nec­tion with the news­pa­per that started his ca­reer. ‘De­spite this be­ing 1972, it’s very 1960s in flavour. Nearly ev­ery car here could have been from that decade’ OLD-SCHOOL CHARMERS

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