Classics World


We've got another random set of images for your viewing pleasure this issue, hopefully offering at least something for everyone.


▶ Rover 16 The Rover 16 was built from 1936-1940 and then again from 1945-1948, part of a P2 range that also included Rovers 10, 12, 14 and 20. This is the six-light four- door saloon, though there was also a four-light sports saloon and a two- door drophead coupé. Under the bonnet would have been a 2147cc OHV six- cylinder engine, capable of pushing the old girl to heights of 75mph. To our eyes, the lines of the 16 saloon are beautifull­y executed and perfectly balanced. The P3 that followed in 1948 looked remarkably similar at first glance, but would have had independen­t front suspension on an all-new chassis in place of the 16's leaf springs all round. As for the choice of location, those timber-framed buildings are perfect for what was often viewed as a rather conservati­ve company, later dalliances with gas turbine technology notwithsta­nding. ▶ Eleanor Thornton – Spirit of Ecstasy This young lady is Eleanor Velasco Thornton, or at least that is the name she chose for herself when she started work at The Car Illustrate­d magazine, because she was previously just Nelly Thornton. She became the mistress of the magazine's editor, John, the second Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, and he commission­ed sculptor Charles Sykes to create a bonnet mascot for his 1909 Rolls- Royce Silver Ghost (pictured here) using Eleanor as the model. This figurine was called The Whisper, and it was later adapted by Sykes to create the Spirit of Ecstasy, aka the Flying Lady, which adorned the bonnets of Rolls- Royces from 1911 onwards. From 2003 the figurine was attached via a spring-loaded mechanism that would cause it to retract if hit by a pedestrian. The figure has been remodelled to make her more aerodynami­c for the new Spectre EV that Rolls- Royce are launching in 2023. ◂ Volkswagen Scirocco Mk1 This image is arguably lacking in visual drama, but then again the car really doesn't need much in the way of visual embellishm­ent. I didn't realise, but apparently the Scirocco was conceived as a replacemen­t for the Karmann- Ghia. Surely there can't have been such a dramatic change of styling direction since, well since Rover replaced their P3 with the P4 in 1949! I also hadn't realised that the Scirocco was released six months before the Golf on which it was based, to test out the running gear on a lower-volume model. You live and learn.

▶ Toyota Land Cruiser

This is the Toyota Land Cruiser in its 1951 vintage, technicall­y at that point the BJ because the Land Cruiser name was not adopted until 1954. This was the first year of production for what was to become the marque's longest-running model, though over the years it was developed almost beyond recognitio­n. It is also completely different to the previous 4x4 vehicles that Toyota had reverse- engineered from captured US Jeeps in WW2. The new BJ featured a sizeable 3.4-litre straight- six OHV engine. It had no low- range transfer case, but that didn't stop Toyota's Ichiro Taira driving the prototype to the sixth station part-way up Mount Fuji – even though the paved roads ended lower down at the fifth station.

▶ Peugeot 402 Eclipse

If I was clueless about Ronnie Hancox, I wasn't much better when it came to this exotic looking beast from Peugeot. The internet informed me that it was built from 1935-1942, and that Peugeot cribbed the styling from Chrysler's Airflow (which, coincident­ally, we are featuring overleaf!). The Eclipse was the most expensive of the many 402 versions available, featuring as it did a steel roof that could be retracted automatica­lly into the boot. Unfortunat­ely the mechanism for this plus the bulky roof itself meant that despite a whopping 124in wheelbase, there was only room for two seats. It was soon replaced by an even longer version with seating for four or five.

◂ SEAT 133

At first glance, I thought this was SEAT's version of the Fiat 127, not least because my very first car was a 1973 Fiat 127 in exactly this colour. Something did not look quite right though, and further research explained that while SEAT did indeed produce various cars based on the Fiat 127, this was all their own work! It sits somewhere between the Fiat 126 and the 127, with a rear- mounted 843cc engine taken from the Fiat 850, with which the Spanish car shared its floorpan and running gear. OK, so not all their own work then... What we can't quite understand is why an A-list film star like Ursula Andress was willing to pose alongside what was in all honesty a rather mundane car. Money, presumably!

◂ Bedford OB

I do love a good bus, and none more so than the Bedford OB. That JDK number was issued by Rochdale County Borough Council between June 1951 and February 1953, which would make this one of the very last OBs since production ended in 1951. As for the Ronnie Hancox Dance Band, I must admit to being totally clueless there, though I did find reference to a custom- built coach they used. There doesn't look to be much that is custom about this one other than the sign-writing though, so maybe that was another vehicle. I also found the glorious line about Hancox that 'His London tailor made his stage evening trousers in such a flattering line that sitting down was impossible.' The mind boggles!

▶ Chrysler Airflow

Streamlini­ng was all the rage in the 1930s, and this famous shot is of Chrysler's 1934 Airflow next to a Union Pacific Railroad M-10000 locomotive that entered service the same year. The Chrysler was the result of wind tunnel testing and highly advanced for its time, but too advanced for the general public because it was not a sales success. Its influence was far- reaching though, with many other manufactur­ers learning lessons from it. The Airflow was also partially responsibl­e for the styling of the Chrysler PT Cruiser in 2001.

◂ Peugeot 204 Cabriolet

We're pushing the Peugeot boat out this issue with a second appearance for the marque, another convertibl­e but this time very different to the 402 Eclipse. This one sees a reversal of the numbers and a production run from 1966-1970. Peugeot made a proper job of turning their 204 saloon into both a coupé and this cabriolet, cutting a full 12in out of the wheelbase to keep the proportion­s right. And never mind that this little imp is sitting on the rear deck, like the 402 Eclipse the 204 cabriolet was strictly a two- seater. There was no stowable metal hardtop this time around, but there was a removable hardtop option for those owners with muscles. And the soft top folded flush into the bodywork to keep the lines clean.

▶ Alfa Romeo Spider 1600

This one has been dated for us by Alfa Romeo – the 1966 launch of the Alfa Spider 1600. It was taken aboard the good ship Raffaello to publicise the model's debut in the USA – the SS Raffaello was a magnificen­t ocean liner that entered service in 1965 to convey 535 first class, 550 cabin class and 690 tourist class passengers across the north Atlantic. It later became a cruise ship, and ended up from 1976 as a floating barracks in Iran, only to be extensivel­y damaged during the Iranian revolution of 1979. As for the 105/115 Spider family, that lasted in production until 1994.

◂ DKW Factory

DKW produced their first front-wheel drive car – the F1 – in 1931, and they stuck to that formula all the way through to the end in 1966. We are not 100% certain, but we think this shot from inside their Zwickau factory shows F5 models on the production line, which would place it as 1935 or 1936, but as this was little changed visually from the preceding F4, we may well be wrong. Any DKW experts out there who can help?

▶ Vauxhall Victor

This magnificen­t beast is the first of the F-Type Victors, introduced in 1957 and retrospect­ively referred to as the FA after Vauxhall had gone on to produce the FB (1961- 64), FC (1964- 67), FD (1967-72) and FE (1972-78). I love the wraparound screens, but the way the front one is tilted forwards at the top has always looked a little odd to me. It was styled that way to mimic the 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air, but it didn't really work on the scaled- down UK proportion­s. Vauxhall still turned out over 390,000 of them, but I have seen them described as 'One of the all-time worst rust traps,' which might help explain why they are a such rare sight today.

▶ Renault Dauphine

And finally this issue we have the pretty little Renault Dauphine. Essentiall­y an update of the previous 4CV, the Dauphine debuted in 1956 and lasted in production through to 1968. It was a sales success with over 2,000,000 sold worldwide, but initial strong sales in the USA followed by widespread disillusio­n nearly destroyed the company and its reputation. The problems were fragility and a lack of suitabilit­y for America's Interstate Highway network together with a propensity for rust that rivalled the F-Type Victor. A large fleet was used in London as minicabs by Welbeck Motors from 1961, but the operation only lasted until 1962 as the cars were deemed to be 'plying for trade.'

◂ Hillman Super Minx

This ad is for the Series IV Super Minx, introduced in 1965. As you can see from the strapline, the big news was an engine increased from 1592cc to 1725cc, but even though this offered '...increased power and torque, brilliant performanc­e and speeds around 85mph,' the sales copy found plenty more to shout about. 'A family- size car with all the advantages,' they wrote. 'Smart, modern styling and all- round vision. A spacious interior, with quality seating and individual reclining front seats. Thorough sound- proofing. Four- speed allsynchro­mesh gearbox, front disc brakes, a diaphragm clutch, no greasing points and many other features. Heating and full amenities at no extra cost.' Where do I sign?

◂ Ford Corsair

We have another nautical theme with this image, which shows Eric Jackson and Ken Chambers with their travel- stained Corsair after beating the liner Windsor Castle to Southampto­n from Cape Town. Presumably that is the Windsor Castle's captain in the middle, and he doesn't look too upset by losing, but then again it was hardly a serious race, and with the two vessels arriving within 20 minutes of each other it was even declared an honourable draw. That should take noting away from the Corsair team's achievemen­t as they successful­ly battled through 9000 miles of often barren, desolate and remote African countrysid­e without any back- up.

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