Jet-set­ting comes to the masses in ‘63

Practical Classics (UK) - - MEMORY LANE -

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!

1.Ri­ley RME

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.

2.Rover P3

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.

3.Fiat 1800

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.

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