The Way We Were Brighton, 1992
A supermarket sweep of the car park of this newly opened Sainsbury’s store reveals some hidden late Eighties gems among the shopping trollies
‘The final few yugos were just £2999, making them easily Britain’s cheapest new cars’ easTern Bloc Bargain chic
ome cars are considered to be so mundane that they’re labelled ‘shopping trollies’. And while we can delight in this car park scene from 25 years ago, we’re sure there are plenty of readers who would level that description at some of the makes and models parked outside this newly opened Sainsbury’s store in Portslade, Brighton.
The two Volvo 340s are prime examples – both are five-door models, introduced in the UK in September 1982. The red car on the left is parked next to a gorgeous pre-facelift 1981 Audi 80 in front of the canopy leading to the front of the store. The second, in two tones (did someone get carried away with the stonechip shield paint?) is almost out of frame in the bottom-right corner. The 2.0-litre GTL was a giggle, but we suspect that most of the cars, which were a mainstay in the UK’s sales charts throughout the 1980s, were powered by the more ponderous Renault 1.4- and 1.7-litre four-pots. It would be another year before
hosted by a young Dale Winton, aired on ITV, but already we can see there’s been a clean sweep for the various superminis parked outside Sainsbury’s, with no fewer than three third-generation Vauxhall Astras (which debuted in October the previous year) visible. The first is in the bottom-right corner (near the multi-coloured Volvo), the second is nearer the store, parked next to one of its MkII predecessors that’s wearing a set of oh-so-Eighties crossstyle wheeltrims, while the third is in a disabled bay next to a Mitsubishi Galant. The Galant’s black rather than colour-coded bumper rubbing strips suggest it’s a vanilla example, with either a 1.8- or 2.0-litre overhead-cam four-pot.
Other superminis in the car park include a Renault 5 parked next to the aforementioned red Volvo 340 (we suspect that it’s a Campus variant), a Mini parked directly opposite (a City E, perhaps?) a K10 Nissan Micra (the K11 was launched the year that this shot was taken), a pair of Fiesta MkIIs side-by-side and, in the bottom-left corner, almost out of frame, a 1989 MG Metro (a Turbo, judging by its body-coloured bumpers and alloy wheels). Next to that is a Citroën AX – possibly a GT, if that grille is anything to go by.
The Micra and Galant are by no means the only Japanese cars pictured, either. A red Honda Ballade, complete with a sunroof, is directly beyond the facelifted Volvo 700 estate parked next to a Jaguar XJ6 Series 3. Next to the Ballade, resplendent in chrome, is what we suspect is a T12 Nissan Bluebird (though we’ll happily be corrected here – letters to the usual address) and nearby is a fairly new Nissan Primera. Across the other side of the road from these are a red Nissan Sunny and a grey Honda Legend.
The leftmost of the three yellow cars in the centre of the scene (the others being a lightly dinged Renault 9 and a post-1980 facelift B310 Nissan Sunny) is arguably the greatest oddball – a Serbian-built Zastava Yugo 45. Underneath that distinctive paint, it’s pure Fiat 127. The first Yugos were built in 1977, but didn’t begin arriving in the UK until 1984.
Imports ended the year before our photo was taken with the outbreak of the Balkan War. The final few examples sold in 1992 cost just £2999, making them easily Britain’s cheapest new cars.
The cheapest car in our scene, then, but not quite the oldest – we think that honour goes to the 1.5-litre Volkswagen Golf GL MkI in the foreground, with its chrome and half-trim rear wheelarches, which was registered in October 1980. That said, it could also be the Jag, though we can’t quite make out its registration number.
It’s sad to think that most of the cars in this scene have gone to that big car park in the sky, but the Sainsbury’s store is still going strong and largely unchanged. Though the cars out front are now doubtless a colourless sea of grey…
The austin Metro won many friends, but there were plenty who still preferred the Mini. Production continued to 2000. Volvo’s 340 began life as a DaF, hence the option of Variomatic cVT transmission. it would become a British best-seller. with impressive handling, good looks, plus 4x4 and gTi options, this Mitsubishi should’ve been a hit. it wasn’t…