Jet-setting comes to the masses in ‘63
Heathrow Airport, 1963
This splendid view of Heathrow airport’s main car park, as it was in 1963, is looking north towards the entrance to the tunnel under the runway, and out towards the A4. Rather surprisingly the tunnel seems to have been sponsored by Rothmans, whose name and enormous model fag packet is just visible over the entrance. This is barely ten years after the first tent-like terminal was replaced with a permanent building, but the airport is growing fast.
From the left in the front row we have a two-tone Austinhealey, an MGA with a hard-top, a Riley RME, an Austin A55 Cambridge, a Ford Zephyr MKII, an Austin Mini Countryman, a Morris Minor MM, a smart new Cortina MKI, another MGA and an Austin (Mini) Seven.
Second row, left to right we find a Standard Ten, an Austin A60 Cambridge, a white Ford Anglia with its driver’s door ajar, a Vauxhall FB Victor, an Austin A40 Somerset with a battered nose, an Austin Mini Minor with a natty black roof, a Triumph TR3 and another A55 Cambridge, then another Healey, this one a 3000 MKI. Right at the end is a Vauxhall Victor F-type estate.
A few stylish foreigners stand out elsewhere. In the middle of the third row is a DKW 1000, and two cars further back is a little Renault Dauphine. Go three cars to the right of the Dauphine and we find a Fiat 1800. In the same row as the DKW but further to the left, we find a Peugeot 403 nestling between an F-type Victor and a Minor. The older cars really stand out now – spot that Rover P3 two rows back from the Peugeot. And next to our Fiat 1800… is that a pre-war Ford Eight? It’s half the width of the Jag MKIX in front of it!
This was the last of the RMS offered, with a 1.5-litre version of the famous twincam engine and shortened front wings with no running boards. Hydraulic brakes didn’t stop it looking a little old-fashioned by 1954.
Is it a 60 or 75? We can’t tell what’s under the bonnet of this P3, which has the four-light sports saloon body. These were among some of the most durable, dependable cars of the Forties, so it’s no shock to see it still in use.
These rarely-seen Fiats used a new six-pot engine designed by Aurelio Lampredi, and made some British rivals look rather old and dull. All-synchro ‘box, servo front-disc brakes from ’61, and 90mph performance.
4.Vauxhall Victor Estate
The first Victor arrived looking like a ’55 Chevy and left in a cloud of rust fragments, often not very long afterwards. The estate was never common, and the hard lives they led must make them uber-rare today.
5.Austin A40 Somerset
The 1200cc A40 and the 2199cc A70 Hereford were so similar we’re still not 100 per cent sure we’ve got this right. Wouldn’t a car this size be a little ponderous with just 40bhp? Well, yes. But it’s very cute.