The Way We Were

March 1969, Sh­effield

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Vaux­halls didn’t have the great­est of rep­u­ta­tions for rust re­sis­tance dur­ing the 1960s, and we’ve had a few pre­vi­ous The Way We Weres fea­tur­ing Vi­vas and their brethren look­ing a lit­tle sorry for them­selves. So it’s gen­uinely grat­i­fy­ing to see this shot of Sh­effield in 1969, and a brand-new Viva HB look­ing ab­so­lutely pris­tine. YLB 846G would have been fresh out of the show­room when this snap was taken, and there’s not a mark on it. It may only be in base model spec, but that mid-blue shade al­ways suited the small Vaux­hall’s ‘Coke bot­tle’ styling, and looks very hand­some, even with­out the higher-spec cars’ em­bel­lish­ments. It might even have be­longed to the proud photographer, be­cause it’s cer­tainly very prom­i­nent in this picture of Sh­effield’s im­pres­sive 1870 Mid­land sta­tion, with the ar­chi­tec­turally con­trast­ing Park Hill flats in the back­ground. Nor­mally, a rust-free un­blem­ished Vaux­hall would be the stand-out ve­hi­cle of any The Way We Were, but this is an im­age that keeps on giv­ing. For over on the left is some­thing scarce even for the era. It’s an

Au­to­bianchi Bianchina Fur­gon­cino, the van ver­sion of the tiny Ital­ian minicar fit­ted with the Fiat 500’s 499cc en­gine, giv­ing it a po­tent 17.5bhp. This is the low roof model; you could fit marginally more in the later tall roof vari­ant. It’s only three years old here, yet al­ready look­ing care-worn, es­pe­cially com­pared to the Viva.

Be­yond the Vaux­hall is a Wolse­ley 1500 MkII or MkIII that’s also seen bet­ter days, with dents on the front wing, a nib­bled wheel arch and a big patch of tin­worm on the scut­tle. We sus­pect it may not be much longer for this world. A Ford Anglia 105E is next, look­ing a lit­tle minis­cule com­pared to its Ford Cortina MkII neigh­bour. We then re­turn to the Anglia theme (or at least its style) with the bright blue Model 70 In­vacar, which must have been a very early ex­am­ple of the mo­bil­ity ma­chine that cham­pi­oned the Anglia’s re­verse rake win­dow ar­range­ment into the 1970s. Most sud­denly dis­ap­peared in 2003 when the gov­ern­ment de­stroyed most of them as no longer fit for pur­pose. This one’s parked next to a Mor­ris Mi­nor.

Parked along from the Au­to­bianchi are two vi­sions in brown – a 1966 Tri­umph Her­ald 12/50 keep­ing close com­pany with a 1967 Austin 1800 MkI in a slightly paler shade. There’s yet more brown – it would be­come al­most in­com­pre­hen­si­bly pop­u­lar in the com­ing decade – on the Ford Es­cort MkI that’s par­tially-con­cealed by the Wolse­ley.

Sh­effield sta­tion’s arches are glazed in these days as part of the pas­sen­ger con­course, so any car park­ing be­yond them would have to be the re­sult of a very un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dent. But there were no such re­stric­tions back in 1969. So, hud­dled un­der the stonework are, over on the left, a Ford 100E, Re­nault 10, Ford Cortina MkII, Re­liant Re­gal and Cortina MkI. Lurk­ing be­hind the pil­lar to the right are a Ford Cor­sair, BMC J2 van (which, with its dark paint, could be a se­cu­rity or Bri­tish Trans­port Po­lice van), and the front of a BMC Fa­rina. An­noy­ingly, there’s just a glimpse of the rear busi­ness end of an NSU Prinz 4, pok­ing out over on the right. We’re in­trigued be­cause it adds to what is quite an eclec­tic mix of ve­hi­cles out­side the sta­tion. If only we could see more of it.

This photo works on dif­fer­ent lev­els, and up and over in the far dis­tance, out­side one of Park Hill’s flat blocks, there are two Fords – a Clas­sic Capri and a Cor­sair. The area, once known as ‘Lit­tle Chicago’ due to its crime lev­els, was re­de­vel­oped in bru­tal­ist style be­tween 1957 and 1961. The com­plex was, some­what con­tro­ver­sially, Grade II-listed in 1998 and is now be­ing re­vi­talised and re­vamped, in a scheme due to be com­pleted in 2022. The Capri and Cor­sair are prob­a­bly long gone, though…

500cc or 600cc Steyr-Puch en­gines pow­ered In­vacars af­ter the orig­i­nal 147cc Vil­liers, al­low­ing a frankly ter­ri­fy­ing 82mph top speed. TER­ROR ON THREE

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