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Five More Terrible Motoring Ads

Written by Andy Roberts

Just when you thought it was safe to come out from behind the sofa, here’s another five of the most ill-judged motoring commercials of bygone days. Don’t say that we didn’t warn you…

 

5) Austin Allegro 1979

The third and final incarnation of the Austin Allegro was launched in September 1979. The TV ad was one of the worst things I’d ever witnessed as a nine-year old boy. Even at this age, I knew the Barry Manilow-esque production centreing on the word ‘Vroom’ in an attempt to imbue an Allegro with Manhattan-style glamour, made Houseparty or Day by Day look dynamic by comparison.

 

4) Montego 1.6 HL 1988

This masterpiece could have been directed and scripted by Alan Partridge. After a hard day in the City, what could be more appropriate transport for an up and coming young trader than a Montego? Forget Aston Martins, Bentleys and Jaguars – real men of mystery drive a sensible family saloon 1.6L. All the better to impress members of the opposite sex with its more than adequate boot space and reasonable economy…

 

3) Renault 25 1985

As with any serious small screen drama, this episode of Howard’s Way in miniature leaves so many questions unanswered. Will the company Renault 25 really be returned to the fleet manager? What will he drive next? My guess is that he’ll be extremely cross if it turns out to be Montego 1.6L.

 

2) Vauxhall range 1973

How do you sell HC Vivas and FE Series range to an ITV audience in 1973? Dress up distinguished West End farceur Julian Orchard as the Vauxhall gryphon and have him cavort about in a whimsical manner of course! This ad successfully deterred thousands of potential customers from visiting their local dealer, afraid they’d be confronted by a camp but sinister mythological beast lurking on the roof of a Ventora VIP.

 

1) Cleveland Petrol 1969

Cleveland Petrol set the bar when they told viewers in the middle of Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) that buying just three gallons could also get you a pair of tights for just 4/11d. Sadly this sparkling promotional offer did not in the words of a pre-All Creatures Great and Small Christopher Timothy, ‘pull the birds in’ or the fellas for that matter. From Christopher’s Robin Askwith accent, to the punchline of the ‘joke’ and the air of all pervasive cheapness, this ad is so brilliantly misjudged, it deserves its number one spot as the worst motoring ad of the era.

 

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05 September 2023

Join us in Celebrating Automotive Excellence at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show!

Prepare to be captivated by a world where the beauty of classic cars reigns supreme. The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show isn't just an event; it's a grand celebration of the very essence of these mechanical masterpieces.

Lancaster Insurance sponsors the National Motor Museum at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumbles!

Lancaster Insurance is passionate about supporting the classic car community and is thrilled to sponsor the National Motor Museum at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumbles – both the Spring and International meets.

100 Years of MG – On Screen

Here are just some of the MG’s roles on film and television...

Coffee and Cars at Lancaster Insurance!

The next date for your diary is: Saturday 16th September. The event will run from 10am until 1pm and is completely FREE to enter and there are NO pre booking requirements to come and enjoy the event.

August 2023

31 August 2023

Lancaster Insurance sponsors the National Motor Museum at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumbles

Lancaster Insurance is passionate about supporting the classic car community and is thrilled to sponsor the National Motor Museum at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumbles – both the Spring and International meets.

The Mercedes-Benz 600 at 60

It is the 12th September 1963, and you are a hardworking accountant somewhere in Bonn. A polished Ford Taunus 12M is parked outside your home, and you are reading about the latest Mercedes-Benz with a mixture of envy and pride. The 600 was the automotive embodiment of the German economic miracle, with a new 6.3 litre SOHC Bosch mechanical fuel-injected V8 engine propelling nearly 2 ½ tons of Mercedes-Benz to a top speed of 125 mph.

14 August 2023

MEET THE OWNER - ROBERT DESMOND AND HIS PEUGEOT 304

My first ever car was a 304 saloon, but it rusted away as they tended to in the 1980s. I looked for another for decades and saw this in the late 1990s, but it had sold. Fast-forward 20 years, I saw it again for sale in County Cork, so I bought it unseen in 2018.

SEVENTY YEARS OF SEAT

Sometimes a car does not have to be technologically advanced to cause a minor revolution in a country’s transportation. The SEAT 1400 was a sober-looking 5-6 seater saloon along the lines of the Standard Vanguard with a steering column gear change and a top speed of just 75 mph. But in 1953, the first example heralded the start of Spain’s first car manufacturer.

MEET THE OWNER – ADAM SCARBOROUGH AND HIS TALBOT HORIZON

Adam’s Talbot Horizon can potentially turn more heads than the average Ferrari or Lamborghini. As he remarks, “Near enough every time I go out, even if it is just to the petrol station, I get stopped by people shocked that it has survived. Most think the brown colour is typical of its era”.

THE PEUGEOT 604 – A CELEBRATION

We recently posted a brochure picture of the 604 on our Facebook page, and the response truly amazed us! So many remembered the flagship Peugeot of the late 1970s and early 1980s that we just had to write a special blog. When Car magazine evaluated the 604 opposite the intriguing choices of the BMW 528 and the XJ6 3.4 S2 they concluded, “The Jaguar is still a brilliant car, but in some respects Peugeot have managed to better it.

July 2023

31 July 2023

Lancaster Insurance visit Practical Classics workshop!

As long-time readers of Practical Classics, the Lancaster Insurance team were delighted to receive an extended invite to see the PC workshop. Hosted by Danny, James and Matt Tomkins; the team were in their element getting a tour of the premises and seeing just how much magic happens behind those unassuming shutters!

Step into the Classic Car Wonderland at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show!

Rev your engines and buckle up, car enthusiasts! The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show, the crown jewel of classic car exhibitions, is back and roaring with excitement - you won't want to miss it!

CLASSIC CAR VALUES by Andrew Roberts

A few weeks ago, we reported on how two Ford Capri 3.0S Mk. IIIs from The Professionals are expected to fetch £200,000 - £230,000 at the Silverstone Auction next month.

Celebrating 100 years of the Jowett Club

Well done to the Jowett Car Club who this year, are celebrating 100 years of their club. Formed in 1923, the Jowett Car Club claims to be the oldest one-make car club in the world.

40 years young: The Midget and Sprite Club

Inexpensive, beloved and well represented in terms of spares: these are just a few of the things a ‘Spridget’ has got going for it.

Coffee and Cars at Lancaster Insurance!

Each event will run from 10am until 1pm and is completely FREE to enter and there are NO pre booking requirements to come and enjoy the event. Classics of all conditions are welcome to the event and every car is made to feel welcome, whether it’s a work in progress or a concours show winner.

25 July 2023

TOP TEN IMMODEST CAR ADVERTISEMENTS

Over the years, this writer has immersed himself in the fascinating world of bygone car advertisements and brochures. With screen sales camp gains, he has learned that a Ford Corsair 2000E is the ideal vehicle for an elopement and that it was not a good idea for Bill ‘Arthur Fowler’ Treacher to take an Austin Allegro for a test-drive.

The SD1 From India – The Story of The Standard 2000

Of all the rare Rover SD1 variants – the V8S, the Vanden Plas Series 1, the 2400SD Turbo – the Standard 2000 from India is possibly the most interesting.  In theory it looked set to appeal to the discerning motorist – but in reality, the project had sone very fundamental flaws.

THE REMARKABLE TVR GRIFFITH 200

"You dreamed it...we built it". That was the marketing slogan for the remarkable blend of the TVR Grantura Mk. III with a 4,727cc Ford V8 engine known as the Griffith 200.

The BMC ADO16 – The Graham Hill Connection

Sixty years ago, the keen driver who found their family outgrowing a Mini Cooper and who really needed four doors now had the ideal car – a Morris 1100 with GT tuning by Speedwell Performance Conversions Ltd.

Meet The Owner – Siôn Hudson and his 1980 Ford Fiesta 1100L

It is often the case that seemingly mundane versions of popular cars are of equal, or greater, interest than their more expensive brethren. In the early 1980s, the Fiesta S, Ghia and XR2 were far less commonly seen than the likes of Siôn Hudson’s L – the car from a time when “5 position reclining front seats”, “Sandford” fabric trim and “driver’s and passenger’s storage door bins” represented the pinnacle of luxury in the Elm Green housing estate.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN GERALD PALMER BMC SALOONS

There is a strong case for Gerald Palmer’s creations for the British Motor Corporation to be considered some of the most elegant saloons of their generation.

THE STORY OF THE 9X – THE MINI REPLACEMENT THAT NEVER WAS

The year is 1967 and Alec Issigonis is about to commence work on one of his most ambitious projects to date – an heir to the Mini. The 9X commenced after Issigonis finished work on the  ADO14, which was to become the Austin Maxi.

17 July 2023

Meet The Owner – Neil Allen and his Austin Metro

‘A British car, to beat the world’ was the Metro’s advertising slogan in 1980 – and British car fans certainly took the model to their hearts. One such fan was Neil Allen, who’d spent his childhood in and around them, took driving lessons in a Rover Metro, and, before his 1983 Mk1 came along, had a 1988 Metro City in the garage.

MEET THE OWNER - STEVEN GRAY AND HIS BEDFORD HA ROMA

Last year, we met Steven Gray, the proud owner of a Vauxhall Chevette Sun Hatch. But his fleet also includes a motor home that looks as though it has strayed from the set of Carry On Camping – a 1968 Bedford HA Roma. Some time ago, I described this fine machine in a Telegraph article thus.

DO YOU REMEMBER THE FORD ORION MK. I?

Some cars take pride in being reassuringly conventional, not least the Orion, a vehicle that only Terry and June might have considered at the cutting edge of automotive fashion. Ford never intended to break new bounds, but it more than fulfilled its role as a saloon to appeal to fleet buyers.

07 July 2023

40 years young: The Midget and Sprite Club

Inexpensive, beloved and well represented in terms of spares: these are just a few of the things a ‘Spridget’ has got going for it. With the comings and goings of lockdowns, the advent of 10 per cent ethanol fuel and more competition from the internet than ever before, Andrew Parrott, club chair of the Midget and Sprite Club, reassured Lancaster Insurance Services that the organisation was more than set for the challenges of the future.

Meet The Owner – Alastair Roberts and his Ford Probe 16v

The Ford Probe was never meant to replace the Capri, but the press didn’t see it that way. Six years since the beloved model went the way of the dodo, front-wheel drive coupes were still in demand; Alastair Roberts, having owned a Capri 2.0S in the past, bought his Probe 16v after the end of an unhappy company car lease.

June 2023

30 June 2023

All NEW restoration show Tex Mex Motors is out now on Netflix!

We all love watching our favourite car shows on TV, such as Wheeler Dealers and Top Gear, but we are always on the hunt for a new one to dive into and Netflix have us covered with the launch of Tex Mex Motors. Focusing on a new business set up in El Paso, Texas, on the border of Mexico and the USA, the team have a goal to clear $250,000 in four months by buying classics in Mexico, restoring and selling them for a profit.

40 YEARS OF THE JAGUAR XJ-S EVENTER

Forty years ago, the well-heeled motorist searching for a British sporting three-door estate car had three options. Firstly, there was the Reliant Scimitar GTE; secondly, one could always opt for a specially tuned Range Rover. And thirdly, there was the new Jaguar XJ-S Eventer - the perfect shooting brake for that excursion to Goodwood.

The Lancaster team attend the MG Centenary show!

Lancaster team (Sam and Lorna) arrived at the show bright and early, looking forward to the day. With the weather not looking to promising they set up and waited for the start of the event. As the event went on, they were fortunate enough to be blessed with some sunshine and had a wonderful setting with the event being held at the British Motor Museum.

Did anybody order a Jam Sandwich?

The Rover SD1 was the archetypal police car of the late 1970s and 1980s, often referred to as the ‘Jam Sandwich’, due to its distinctive white paint finish augmented by a contrasting stripe. Many forces introduced this new livery in the 1970s, and it often featured on the Rover 3500 P6B. The replacement SD1 debuted in 1976 with a ‘Police Specification’ version.

The Lancaster team attend MG’s in the Park!

Last weekend the Car Club team, Paris and Sam, travelled across to the Cotswolds for another MG event, this time it was MG’s in the Park. The event is held at Cotswold Wildlife Park, where the team arrived nice and early to get set up for the day.

Coffee and Cars at Lancaster Insurance is BACK by popular demand!

Fire up those engines, the Lancaster Insurance Coffee and Cars meets are back for July and August; giving everyone the chance to come down and enjoy classic cars, vehicles, bikes and commercials completely free of charge!

29 June 2023

DO YOU REMEMBER – THE DATSUN SKYLINE 240K COUPE

When I encountered a Datsun Skyline 240K Coupe for Classic & Sports Car nearly twenty years ago, I wrote that it hailed from a time when "a ceramic cooker hob, Texas Speak & Spell and a car with electric windows were the three essential prerequisites for middle-class success".

MEET THE OWNER – STEVE LLOYD AND HIS OPEL COLLECTION

Many readers who live near Milford Haven will know the Vauxhall dealer W P Lewis & Son. Their managing director Steve Lloyd is also the custodian of four very rare cars that hail from when his family’s company was an Opel franchisee.

Behind The Shutters: Courtney Ward, Ambassador, Mazda MX-5 Owners’ Club

Classic car clubs have a vital role in preserving historic vehicles. Aside from the spares, camaraderie and events, they need to be a welcoming space for all interested parties. The best way to get into older motors is to start young – and Courtney Ward, Mazda MX-5 Owners’ Club ambassador, joined when she was 11.

The challenges facing classic car owners in London

It can be tricky running a historic vehicle in any city, but our capital poses its own unique challenges. As the expanding Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) will affect owners of modern classics after 29 August, Lancaster Insurance caught up with Darren Vince, founder of Waterloo Classics, to better understand the situation from within Greater London and the Congestion Charge zone.

21 June 2023

The MG Cyberster is set to become a future classic

Britain’s sports cars are among our most precious motoring legacies; of all the storied marques of yesterday, MG is sorely missed. Fans have been waiting nearly a quarter of a century for a new MG sports car – and if everything goes to plan, they’ll get one sometime next year: the Cyberster, an all-electric cabriolet that’s set to go toe-to-toe with Tesla’s second-generation Roadster.

Eight summer drop-top convertibles for £10k or less

Winter blues be gone! As the days get longer and the nights shorten, the chance of decent weather grows by the hour – and there’s plenty of open-top motoring to be had, even on a modest budget. For those seeking miles of headroom, our cheapest cars hail from the mid-Nineties and early Noughties at £2500 and wind back the decades just before breaching £10,000.

Understanding TVR: the life and times of an unforgettable British car maker

The appeal of a TVR is obvious: powerful, affordable, and handsome. Before and after the closure of the Blackpool factory in Bristol Road in 2006, the TVR Car Club enthusiastically supported (and continues to support) every TVR, from the earliest specials to the last Sagaris or Typhon.

Behind the shutters: MG Owners’ Club Race Championship

Since 1981, the MG Owners’ Club’s Race Championship has given drivers of all skill levels a chance to race for an affordable sum. Run to strict safety standards, differing little from how they left the factory, MGs from Abingdon, Cowley and Longbridge compete on circuits the length and breadth of the UK.

Summer driving: We pick the UK’s best roads

The lure of the open road becomes all the more special behind the wheel of a classic car. It’s the antithesis of the motorway grind on the cross-city commute; even if your historic vehicle isn’t particularly quick, it’s the experience and the scenery that counts more than making progress.

15 June 2023

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Father’s Day will soon be upon us, so I would like to celebrate the return to the road of one of my parent’s projects –  his 1983 Talbot-Matra Murena 1.6. Here is what I wrote about his previous projects in 2018:

Our ten favourite English motor museums

Museums still have a lot to offer classic car enthusiasts. They’re part of the preservation movement that keeps historic vehicles on the road; not only are venues given over to exhibits, but space is also allotted to owners to gather and display their cars. As institutions, they repair and display our past motoring heritage.

THE MGA – ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CARS IN MG’S HISTORY

On 27 May the British Motor Museum paid host to the Centenary of MG. Such a magnificent event prompted a question that is impossible to answer – what is the most historically significant car to bear the octagon badge? Obviously, there is ‘Old Number One’ but you could also cite the TC, the first MG officially marked in the USA, or the MGB, once the world’s best-selling sports car.

STARS AND THEIR CARS – BARRY NEWMAN AND THE DODGE CHARGER R/T 440 MAGNUM

The passing of Barry Newman on the 11 May means there can be only one choice for ‘Stars and Their Cars’ for this month. Some readers may remember the actor as Petrocelli, a television series filled with Cadillac Fleetwoods and other fine Detroit machinery.

12 June 2023

THE RETURN OF THE RALEIGH CHOPPER

The 20th June sees the return of a vehicle that embodies 1970s popular culture as much as a Ford Cortina GXL with a vinyl roof and a bottle of Hai Karate aftershave in the glove compartment. On that date, the Raleigh Chopper is to return, in either Infra Red or Ultra Violet, at a price of £950

The Panhard Dyna Z at 70

On the 17th June 1953, Panhard launched the Dyna Z at Paris’s Les Ambassadeurs – and to say it caused a sensation would be an understatement. For one, there was its appearance; the company’s Head of Chassis Development and Chief Stylist, Louis Bionier, designed and tested the monocoque aluminium body in a wind tunnel. Moreover, Panhard proudly claimed the Z had a  drag coefficient of just 0.28.

MEET THE OWNER – STEVE POWLAY AND HIS POLICE MGC ROADSTER

In the 1980s, Steve owned an MG Midget and an MGB, and his recent retirement prompted him to buy a third Abingdon sports car in July 2019. Any MGC Roadster is a distinctive machine, but this example is one of 18 commissioned by the London Metropolitan Police.

MEET THE OWNER – THE MARK DENTON COLLECTION

“My father always had Triumphs and drove a Vanguard pick-up when serving in the RAF. I took a shine to my Vanguard van in the village when I was 13 years old”. And today, Mark Denton’s fleet includes a TR7 Convertible and no fewer than six Vanguards – one of the UK’s most important post-war cars.

08 June 2023

100 YEARS OF MG – AND 100 MG FACTS

In 1923, William Morris permitted Cecil Kimber, the General Manager of Morris Garages of Queen Street in Oxford, to build sporting versions of Morris cars. That August, the company registered the first six MG Super Sports. And so, to celebrate 100 years of MG, here are 100 facts:

WHY THE MG METRO 1300 MATTERS

The centenary of MG is the opportunity to pay homage to so many of their cars, including a model that was rather overlooked for too long. The MG Metro was neither designed nor built in the Abingdon factory but its debut in May 1982 marked the revival of one of the world’s most famous marques.

02 June 2023

MEET THE OWNER – DANIEL NICHOLS AND HIS MORRIS 1800HL

Earlier this year, Daniel employed a very unusual car for work duty. Of course, any BL ‘Wedge’ is a fascinating sight, and the Nichols HL was deployed “on the school run and delivering modern car parts for repair. In the last six months, I boast she’s done 4,000 miles on main car duty, and was only a fan belt short of 100% reliable!”.

01 June 2023

CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW CELEBRATES TEN YEARS AS ‘PERFECT PARTNERS’ WITH LANCASTER INSURANCE FOR 2023 SHOW THEME

Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show will be held 10-12 Nov 2023 at Birmingham’s NEC.The 2023 show theme is ‘Perfect Partners’. Clubs and exhibitors encouraged to take part in annual show theme. Tickets now on sale via advanced online booking.

May 2023

31 May 2023

50 YEARS OF THE AUSTIN ALLEGRO

On the 17th May 1973, British Leyland unveiled the eventual replacement for the ADO16 1100/1300 range. According to their CEO Lord Stokes:

26 May 2023

We are looking for our next Bright Young Spark!

We're celebrating and inspiring young people who want to be part of the Classic Car Industry through our Bright Young Sparks initiative.

Our car club of the month

Well done to the Allegro Club International! To celebrate 50 years of the Allegro, the Allegro Club International held a grand birthday bash and hoped to see 50 cars join them for the line up to celebrate the 50 years. The club were overjoyed to welcome 80 Allegros and various BMCBL visitors at the event on Sunday 14th May.

The Triumph Dolomite Sprint at 50

In June of 1973, British Leyland introduced a new model that would, to quote Bill Davis, the Managing Director of their Rover/Triumph division, “dispel the myth that the Continental manufacturers have a virtual monopoly of fast, medium-sized cars”. It was, of course, the Dolomite Sprint.

Cars & Coffee

Another brilliant Cars and Coffee at Lancaster Insurance! On Sunday 21st May, Lancaster Insurance opened their gates at their St Ives, Cambridgeshire HQ once again for another fantastic FREE coffee morning.

24 May 2023

YOUR CHANCE TO OWN THE PETER SELLERS ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT

You’re driving along in your spanking new Cortina 1600E and your wife starts nagging you so you suggest she reclines her seat and before long she’s dozed off because the 1600E is so quiet and you look at your reflection in the plushy walnut dashboard and think how closely you resemble Gregory Peck

23 May 2023

On Location at the Beaulieu Spring Autojumble

It would be fair to say my time at the Spring Autojumble began and ended with one of the select band of cars that may be justly described as “iconic”. The Morris Minor celebrates its 75th anniversary, and the Dorset branch of the Owners’ Club pulled out all the stops for their ‘Moggyfest 2023’ display.

CARS THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN - THE TRIUMPH LYNX

Just as it is almost impossible to name a favourite film or Beatles song, selecting a favourite car at Gaydon is futile. Put simply, each and every vehicle of the British Motor Museum could be this writer’s favourite at any given moment.

IT WAS ANOTHER WORLD – MOTORING IN 1953

The 2nd of June marks 70 years since the Coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and so we thought it timely to list just some of the vast changes in motoring over the past seven decades.

MEET THE OWNERS – JAYNE AND SIMON AND THEIR VOLVO 221

It is always a delight to encounter an old friend, such as Jayne and Simon and their beautiful 1968 Volvo 221. Here are my thoughts from Classic & Sports Car back in 2017:

THE MAN WHO DROVE KATY – ON LOCATION WITH ICE COLD IN ALEX

You are a young National Serviceman named James Wilfred Lowther, posted to Libya on detachment and assigned to the Royal Army Medical Corps. Then one day, a film company approaches the camp, asking for volunteers. The result – cinematic immortality.

YOUR CHANCE TO OWN THE PETER SELLERS ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT

If you have a few million pounds to spare and the desire to own an automotive film star, Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed may have the ideal car for you on the 14th of July. Not only did this 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT famously appear in The Wrong Arm of the Law, but it was also the off-screen property of its leading man, Peter Sellers.

18 May 2023

Why I Like The Standard Vanguard Luxury Six

Some cars have the misfortune of being overlooked due to motorists’ perception of their being “old fashioned”. A case in point is the Vanguard Luxury Six, yet it represents the bridge between the first major post-war Standards and the Triumph 2000.

12 May 2023

MEET THE OWNER – RAJAN PAYMASTER AND THE WORLD’S OLDEST VOLKSWAGEN GOLF GTI

Rajan’s Golf is not just a superlative example of the Golf GTI Mk. 1, it is the oldest surviving in the world. Every detail is virtually perfect, from the red-edged radiator grille and the tartan upholstery to that ‘golf ball’ gear knob. This is the car that re-defined the term ‘sports hatchback’, despite Volkswagen’s early concerns.

MEET THE OWNER - DAVID SCAIFE AND HIS YUGO 513

Nearly 40 years ago, motorists with limited funds were urged to “Fill in the Ticket to Ride” in their local newspaper and take it to their nearest Yugo dealer. There, they would find the 311, the second cheapest new car in the UK after the Fiat 126 and the line-up’s  513.

THE 1953 ROYAL TOUR HUMBER SUPER SNIPE MK.IV DROPHEAD

Lancaster’s Car Club manager Stephanie Hoy recently visited the Isle of Man Motor Museum, where she encountered one of the most exclusive vehicles to wear the Humber badge – the 1953 Super Snipe Mk. IV drophead built for the Royal Tour of the Commonwealth.

THE DAVID WALKER COLLECTION

Collecting can be an insidious hobby. You start with modest ambitions, only to realise 12 months later that your entire house is filled with back-issues of The Motor, Bee-Keeper Weekly or Pylon Enthusiast Monthly.

TWENTY FACTS ABOUT LIFE IN 1948

To celebrate the coronation of Charles III on the 6th of May, and Coronation Day on the 8th of May, here are twenty facts about life in the UK in the year of his birth:

CELEBRATING THE SUNBEAM STILETTO

Continuing our celebration of 60 years of the Hillman Imp is one of the most desirable members of the line-up. In 1967 the new Stiletto had no domestic rival as a 2+2 rear-engine coupe. Furthermore, it boasted an “ace-bred Sunbeam engine, ZOOM fastback styling, vinyl covered roof, twin carburettors, rally instrumentation and servo-assisted brakes”.

Land Rover’s Freelander is a forgotten modern classic in waiting

Think of the green oval logo and images come thick and fast; wax jackets and mud-covered Land Rovers remain entrenched in the hearts and minds of enthusiasts. When Land Rover appealed to urban families with the Freelander 1 however, it struck gold.

MEET THE OWNER – BEN CURTIS AND HIS ROVER 3500 ESTOURA

Ten years ago, I invited readers of Classic & Sports Car to “imagine a landowner of the Alan Clark school of tact and diplomacy driving an Estoura at speed around his properties, a 1961 Château Latour being waved out of the open driver’s window and curses being aimed at those who had bought their own furniture.”

MEET THE OWNER – JEFF DAY’S 60 YEAR OLD HILLMAN IMP

On 3 May 1963, the Rootes Group unveiled the Hillman Imp. Two months later, Jeff Day’s example left the factory – “This was one of their first Imps, sold on 2 July 1963, and it still wears its original number plates”. Today it is one of the oldest surviving examples of a fascinating vehicle.

Meet The Owner – Mark Ashbridge and his Mazda 1800

To say Mark Ashbridge is an enthusiast of Japanese cars would be an understatement. However, owning a 1968 B10-Series Sunny 1000, one of the original Datsun press cars in the UK, was not enough, so he acquired a 1971 Mazda 1800. 52 years ago, this was the sort of transport for motorists with BMW 2000 aspirations and a Ford Cortina GXL income.

Stars and Their Cars – Leslie Phillips and The Fast Lady

This is a slightly unusual “Stars and Their Cars” feature, as 61 years ago, Leslie Phillips did not buy the 1927 Bentley 3-litre Speed Model Open Tourer by Vanden Plas that he co-starred with in The Fast Lady. The actor may have been a keen motorist, even taking his advanced driving test during shooting.

Meet The Owner - Joseph Lane and his Classic Police Fleet

Nearly four years ago, we met the 1965 ex-Leicester City Police Ford Anglia 105E De Luxe owned by Joseph Lane. Since then, his fleet has somewhat expanded. As he explains:

03 May 2023

THE TRIUMPH TR2 AT 70

It is often tempting to issue sweeping statements about motoring history, but here is one I will attempt to justify. Without the TR2, which debuted seventy years ago today at the Geneva Motor Show, the Triumph name would probably have gone the way of Lanchester or Jowett by the end of the 1950s.

THE ORIGINAL METRO FROM LONGBRIDGE – THE METROPOLITAN

1953 saw the introduction of so many fine British cars, from the Jensen 541 and the MG Magnette ZA to the Standard Eight and the Ford Zephyr-Zodiac. And in October of that year, the first examples of an Anglo-American 'compact' – the remarkable Metropolitan.

April 2023

28 April 2023

TRIUMPH AT 100

2023 marks 100 years since the first Triumph badged car, the 10/20, left the factory. Selecting one model that encapsulates all the marque’s virtues is mission impossible, so this writer has decided to choose his favourite example from a shortlist of five.

THE STAG FASTBACK – TRIUMPH’S LOST OPPORTUNITY?

Many followers of ‘The British Motor Corporation/British Leyland Saga’ like to speculate on what might have been. The projects that never entered production are many and varied, from the 9X and the Austin Ant to the ‘Rolls-Healey 4000’ and  Rovers P8 and P9.

How to holiday abroad in France with your classic

Driving your historic vehicle in France is something all classic car owners should experience – whether it’s to savour the delights of the bi-annual Le Mans Classic, the riviera or one of the hundreds of enchanting villages, cities and vistas available to holiday-makers across The Channel.

27 April 2023

THE YEAR THE KING WAS BORN – 75 FACTS ABOUT MOTORING IN 1948

As the 6th May is the Coronation Day and 14th November is the 75th birthday of King Charles III, here are 75 facts about motoring in 1948.

26 April 2023

MEET THE OWNER – BOB SIMPKINS AND HIS 1975 RELIANT TW9 ‘ANT’

Never take your work home with you. A worthy adage, but one we’re lucky Bob Simpkins never paid heed. Now treasurer and membership secretary of the Reliant Owners’ Club’s Birmingham, he has three Tamworth cars in his collection: a Rialto and two TW9s, better known as the Ant.

MEET THE OWNER – PETER ROBERTS AND HIS 1974 MORRIS MARINA SUPER DELUXE

Peter Roberts wasn’t swayed by the endless kicking the Marina receives from the press – or the inevitable corrective apologism that results in its defence. An arch British car enthusiast, he wasn’t necessarily looking for BL’s Cortina, but one happened to fit the bill in June 2021. ‘I didn’t set out to buy a Marina – I was out to buy an old car,’ he recalled.

Second ‘Cars and Coffee’ meet up announced by Lancaster Insurance

After a successful first ‘Cars and Coffee’ event, with over 50 vehicles and 100 enthusiasts joining us on Sunday 23rd April, we can announce the date of our next meet at Lancaster HQ is Sunday 21st May – we hope to see you there!

Stars and their cars - King Charles III’s Aston Martin DB6 Volante

The Coronation of King Charles III on the 6th May has caused some of us to muse about his many and various motor cars. Some associate the monarch with the Mineral Blue MGC GT with a heated rear window, wire wheels, an electric aerial and a car ‘phone. He acquired the MG in January 1968 as a Cambridge undergraduate, and it remains within the Royal Family.

Lancaster Insurance will be at Beaulieu autojumble!

Come and say hello to the team at Lancaster Insurance at the upcoming Beaulieu Spring Autojumble on 13th and 14th May at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu.

Lancaster Insurance supports The Morris Register in their quest to inspire the next generation

Lancaster Insurance has pledged its’ support to The Morris Register Loan Scheme by covering the cost of the loan car’s insurance for the next 12 months.

THE MINI COOPER S AT 60

Mythology has it that the Mini Cooper S is as emblematic of ‘The Swinging Sixties’ as images of Carnaby Street. In fact, the British Motor Corporation launched it into a world of flat hats, twin sets and club blazers at Goodwood.

WHO NEEDS ERGONOMICS – THE JOYS OF MOTORING PAST

During the 1970s, one of my chief fascinations with the parental 1969 MGB Roadster was its dashboard. The passenger’s map reading lamp resembled a number plate light, various mysterious-looking switches studded the fascia, and the ventilation system was especially off-beat.

THE MERCEDES-BENZ PONTON – A CELEBRATION

At my first Classic Car Boot Sale at King’s Cross, one of the many fine cars truly appealed to me – a star of the www.afroclassics.uk display. It was the sort of vehicle seen in 1960s ‘Cold War’ dramas such as Funeral in Berlin or The Quiller Memorandum.

MEET THE OWNER – TIM ROHN AND HIS SINGER CHAMOIS MK. 2

“I started as an Imp man with my first car, which was a Paul Emery modified 1,000cc Imp Californian. Several Imps of different models later, and life got in the way -  marriage, family etc. – and larger cars became the norm.”

THE HOLDEN EH – A CELEBRATION

Many years ago, I was behind the wheel of a vehicle that belonged more to Melbourne or Sydney than to the outskirts of Southampton. The car in question was a privately imported 1965-registered Holden EH Standard, and I have craved one of my own ever since.

25 April 2023

Pick of the saleroom: our favourite cars heading to auction in April, May and June

Spring has sprung – and fascinating lots have come out of the woodwork in search of new homes. From an ex-TV star TR7 to a gigantic Dutch barn find, the coming weeks have a great deal to offer historic vehicle fans, collectors and pundits, on a local and international level.

21 April 2023

A NEW DIRECTION FOR LAND ROVER

On the 19th  April an article in The Times stated, “Jaguar Land Rover is to drop the 75-year-old Land Rover brand in a reboot of the automotive giant’. On the 20th April Autocar reported:

18 April 2023

STARS AND THEIR CARS – NOELE GORDON AND HER ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER SHADOW

On the 10th of February 1975, ATV Television filmed the wedding of Meg Richardson to Hugh Mortimer in Crossroads. The location was St Philips Cathedral in Birmingham and chauffeuring the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow on screen was none other than Larry Grayson, who appeared to be ad-libbing.

MEET THE OWNER – JOHN MCLANNAHAN AND HIS AUDI 100 CS

I recently wrote about my amazement in encountering John McLannahan’s 1981 C2-Series 100 CS at this year’s Practical Classics Restoration Show. Equally remarkably, this Audi was once on the verge of plying for hire in Istanbul – so read on…

100 YEARS OF THE JOWETT CAR CLUB

One hundred years ago, petrol was 1s 8 1/2d  per gallon, a 1lb box of chocolates was 4/- and a car coat in the finest leather was £5 10s. Meanwhile, £220 would have gained you ‘The Jowett Car’ in two-seater form – The most powerful, economical, and comfortable Car for its size that it is possible to find.

85 YEARS OF THE VOLKSWAGEN BEETLE – AND 85 FACTS

1. In 1934 Adolf Hitler decreed at the Berlin Motor Show that Germany had to increase the number of cars on its roads from half a million to 12 million.

17 April 2023

THE VAUXHALL NOVA AT 40

If you are the same vintage as this writer (born in the year of Abbey Road and Monty Python’s Flying Circus) you would probably have been aware of the Nova several months before its actual launch in the spring of 1983. Opel introduced the Corsa at the 1982 Paris Motor Show when Vauxhall’s need for a supermini was acute.

14 April 2023

Turning your hobby into your career: Joe Miller, Head of Video, Classics World

Getting paid to make classic car content is a but a pipe dream for many a young enthusiast, but for Classics World’s Joe Miller, head of video, the dream is very much a reality. It all began after YouTube viewers wanted to know more about his Fiat Seicento Sporting, a car which, nearly a decade later, is still on his drive.

How to keep your classic safe from thieves

If classic car enthusiasts were to rank their worst nightmares, losing a classic to car thieves would top the list. Stolen vehicle specialists Tracker say that, as values have increased across the board, the majority of classics are stolen to order, stripped and abandoned, with the South East of the UK a particular hotspot owing to the vicinity of Europe bound ports.

How the Mazda MX-5 Owners’ Club is preparing for the London ULEZ expansion

The London Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), set to spread to Greater London boroughs on 29 August, has got many car clubs worried, but the Mazda MX-5 Owners’ Club is busy developing strategies to cope. It has a large number of London based members, and a base of non-compliant models – the MX-5 Mk1 [‘NA’] and MX-5 Mk2 [‘NB’], to attend to.

Staying Positive: The CitiCar walked so Tesla could run

The battle between batteries and the internal combustion engine has been waged before – at the start of the 20th century. Before certain key developments put liquid fuelled cars out in front, it looked like electric vehicles were there to stay, even in the soon-to-be-car-mad United States, which soon rediscovered its love for EVs when the Fuel Crisis bit deep.

DAME MARY QUANT - 11TH FEBRUARY 1930 – 13TH APRIL 2023

London is switched on. Ancient elegance and new opulence are all tangled up in a dazzling blur of op and pop. The city is alive with birds (girls) and beatles, buzzing with minicars and telly stars, pulsing with half a dozen separate veins of excitement.

13 April 2023

Get your classic ready for the spring and summer

Classic car maintenance is something every enthusiast should be familiar with – and it plays a crucial role in how quickly you can recommission your car for the spring and summer months. While warmer weather is – for the most part – kinder to an older vehicle, the way in which it sits out the winter months is also significant.

05 April 2023

THE SUNBEAM ALPINE AT 70

In 1954, Alfred Hitchcock was planning To Catch a Thief and needed a car for Grace Kelly's 'Frances Stevens'. A Jaguar did not seem to suit the character, nor did a Mercedes-Benz, but the director's wife Alma saw an advertisement for the Alpine.

THE RELIANT ROBIN AT 50

Some vehicles are vastly misunderstood, and the Reliant Robin falls into this depressing category. A) On its launch on the 30th of October 1973, it represented a genuinely bold attempt on the part of the Tamworth concern to tempt owners of four-wheel cars to three-wheelers. B) There is no such car as a ‘Robin Reliant’.  Finally, C) Only Fools and Horses used a succession of Regal Supervans, not Robins.

THE DAY MY UNCLE BOUGHT A NEW FIAT 132

In 1976, life in my small Hampshire village often lacked excitement. True, there was the ever-popular Southern Television quiz show That’s My Turnip and the occasion when some community elders decreed Ceefax to be witchcraft. But in general, it was a placid existence until my Uncle Brian arrived in his new car. The following conversation reputedly took place in the Post Office:

MEET THE OWNER – JOHN EVANS AND HIS RENAULT 16GL

“I first fell in love with the 16, aged 18, in London, borrowing my uncle’s. Then at 21, at university, I got a 6-year-old ’76 TL. It lasted a year before dissolving, but it was a great first car at an exciting time. I was studying Engineering and looking back, my course mates had 2CVs, Renault 6 and Alfa GT... quirkiness reigned on our course! And after the 16, I got a Lancia Trevi - born to be different!”

MEET THE OWNER – DENVER VKNG AND HIS FIAT 128 3P PROJECT CAR

“To be honest, I didn’t even know what sort of car was hidden under the cover.” Then, in 2020, shortly after the beginning of the pandemic, Denver and his family moved into a village and “on our daily walks I spotted the ‘thing’ covered up, so I always let my imagination have a go at the ‘guess the car game’.

March 2023

30 March 2023

Meet Matt Richardson - Furious Driving

Meet the owner, or meet the YouTuber? We should be told. A 1972 Rover 2000 P6 set Matt Richardson on the path to YouTube stardom. ‘I’ve had it since I was 17 – it’s not going anywhere,’ he said. Since then, the projects have fed the channel – and the channel has fed the projects.

Win a Car 2023 - Austin Healey Sprite MK4

With fresh bright work, wire wheels, and a smart black hood and new carpets, this Austin Healey Sprite MK4 is a car which had no expense spared in its journey to become somebody’s most loved classic. It has got a fantastic history and could be YOURS, if you enter Lancaster Insurance Services latest FREE competition.

29 March 2023

WIN this Deluxe package!

This quarter, Lancaster Insurance Services are giving you the chance to win: A weekend stay at Classic Lodges Bagden Hall Hotel with bed & breakfast and dinner. A year’s National Trust Membership. To drive 3 cars from any collection with the Drive Dad’s Car experience.

28 March 2023

THE 2023 PRACTICAL CLASSICS CLASSIC CAR AND RESTORATION SHOW

There it was, basking in its orange glory on the Lancaster Insurance Pride of Ownership stand – the vehicle of my childhood dreams. This was a 1977 Escort 1300 Sport Mk. II, one of a mere handful of survivors, and a vehicle that belonged in the Ford brochure of that era.

Behind the Shutters: Katie Bushell

Workshop technician and YouTuber, Katie Bushell, has been into cars for as long as she can remember. Coming from a car-mad family, she was bound to end up a petrolhead, with her VW Scirocco GT2 appearing at shows the length and breadth of the country.

Staying Positive: “Just remove the engine and gearbox” to make a classic electric vehicle

There are three main reasons why you wouldn’t convert a classic car to battery power. In Part 2 of Staying Positive, Jérôme André, editor of the EV Builders’ Guide, identified cost as a major factor.

Clean air zones affecting classics

Classic car owners need to stop worrying about clean air zones – at least if their vehicles are aged 40 years or older. For owners of so-called modern classics (i.e. anything younger than that), it gets complicated.

27 March 2023

MEET THE OWNER – CHRISTOPHER SHURLOCK AND HIS MG COLLECTION

I had no interest in MG cars as a young man and certainly not as a family man when other things were more important. It was only when I was approaching retirement in 2001 that I was looking for new interests. A chance trip to our local MG-Rover dealers had me looking at a new Solar Red MGF in the showroom.

23 March 2023

Meet The Owner – Mark Lee-Kilgariff and his Peugeot J7

Man, van, plan. That was Mark Lee-Kilgariff four years ago – and since opening his coffee shop to the locals around Knutsford, Cheshire, he hasn’t looked back. Tatton Perk is its name; while he now has two static locations around the town, the business began trading from a 1976 Peugeot J7 van outside the local railway station.

Meet the Owner – Alastair Fitton and his Rover 75, ‘Grace’

It’s fair to say that Alastair Fitton, founder of the Bus Stop Model Museum in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, was in the right place at the right time when an early Rover 75 came his way. Not that he was on the hunt for an example of Rover’s last great hope, you understand; he’d simply handed over £120 to stop the scrap man from carting it away.

MEET THE OWNER – RUSSELL MACFARLANE AND HIS FORD ESCORT GL MK. III

A few years ago, Russell was the proud owner of a Cortina 1300 ‘Base’ 2-Door Mk. V, but this classic Ford marked the pathway to decadence. No more would Mr. Macfarlane be satisfied with beige paintwork. But now, he craved the luxury of a dashboard with a quartz clock.

MEET THE OWNER – CHRISTINE LYNNE BROWN AND HER COMMER HIGHWAYMAN

The Commer was once part of the fabric of life in the UK – delivering milk, bread and groceries, attending to a telephone box vandalised by the local scooter boy gang or even starring in one of the best-remembered public information films of the 1970s:

The Day I Encountered a Series 79 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon

“Starting a 79 calls for a faintly disconcerting procedure; you turn the key and then press the throttle pedal to the floor, thereby activating a vacuum operated starter button.

The Lancia Fulvia Berlina at 60

If you were visiting the Geneva Motor Show in 1963, the new model on the Lancia stand would probably have drawn your eye. The bodywork, by Piero Castagnero, was low-key in the manner of many bourgeoisie Italian saloons, but to lift the bonnet was to be mesmerised.

THE RELIANT KITTEN – THE 57.5 MPG CAR

The name of Reliant is so associated with three-wheelers that its small four-wheel saloons are too often overlooked. They launched the Kitten at the 1975  Earls Court Motor to replace the long-established Rebel.

15 March 2023

THE 2023 LONDON CLASSIC CAR SHOW

Last month’s London Classic Car Show at the Kensington Olympia was an event that put many visitors in a quandary – i.e. how could I afford one of many utterly tempting exhibits without putting my entire family on eBay? It was not just the Porsche display celebrating 60 years of the 911. It was not just the trio of Harold Radford-bodied Minis that were initially the property of George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr.

Meet the Owner – Amir Keshvari and his Sunbeam Vogue

When the Rootes Group introduced their ‘Arrow’ series models at the 1966 - London Motor Show - (49) EARLS COURT MOTOR SHOW - COLOUR - YouTube, they founded a dynasty. There were Hillmans, Humbers, Singers, Sunbeams and Chryslers, with a choice of saloon, estate, coupe and, for some markets, pick-up trucks. In addition, on 1 February 1965, Rootes and the Iran National Company signed a ‘technical assistance’.

13 March 2023

SIR MICHAEL CAINE AT 90

And to celebrate Sir Michael’s 90th birthday – a very subjective ‘Top Ten’ of his best automotive moments on the silver screen: Blind Spot – 1958. Or, a typical 1950s British B-film, made with an apparent budget of 2/6d. MC is the caddish villain who tries to evade the Wolseley 6/80 of Justice in a Victor F-Type, only for it to magically transform into a 1934 Hudson Eight post-explosion.

08 March 2023

The World Cup Escort’s legacy is still felt on classic rally stages today

‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ – an apt phrase for the Ford Motor Company and none more so, in Europe at least, for the Escort. The Blue Oval’s small car contender was rallied from day one of its public career, picking up where the career of the Cortina MkII had left off.

Staying positive: when EVs go off the beaten track

In our last feature on battery converted classics, Lancaster Insurance Services met Matthew Quitter of London Electric Cars and his modified 1953 Morris Minor, now running as an electric vehicle in and around the capital.

Carbon offsetting for classics: two sides of the environmental coin flip

While the extent to which historic vehicles pollute is debated, their tailpipe emissions remain the most contentious issue. The continued burning of fossil fuels, for need of a better description, is what the aims of Net Zero environmental policies aim to stop – the curtailment of so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ heating up the planet.

FORTY YEARS OF THE PEUGEOT 205

The 15th of February 1983 marked the launch of a car that, by 1984, would end the Renault 5’s long reign as France’s best-selling car. It was also once Peugeot’s most successful model in the UK and the model that changed its identity in this country. It was, of course, the 205.

MEET THE OWNER – KEITH JONES AND HIS VAUXHALL CAVALIER GLS COUPE

‘I receive a lot of attention, and I must have spoken to thousands of people at the NEC. The main start to the conversation “was usually my dad had one of those.” But this is only to be expected when you own one of the few Vauxhall Cavalier Coupes still on the road.

THE BMW ISETTA – A CELEBRATION

The bubble car is often associated with the 1950s, but they really belong to the previous decade. The Isetta belongs to a lost country, one of skiffle, Teddy Boys and Tony Hancock and Sidney James squabbling in the front parlour of 23 Railway Cuttings. It is also the vehicle that helped save BMW.

THE CHEVROLET CORVETTE AT 70

‘I was very impressed with the Corvette as a one or two-passenger touring car for those whose minds are not twisted too seriously. The performance is not startling – in fact lukewarm for a 3 ½ - litre sports car but is still fast enough to keep the flies off Aunt Nellie’s head as you whip her over to the pool parlor.

THE RISE AND FALL OF THE TRIUMPH HERALD

On 22nd April 1959, the Albert Hall paid host to a new car from Canley. An audience of the motoring press and dealers could enjoy a musical gala with rock & roll dance numbers and – the piece de resistance - a team of engineers building a Herald Coupe on stage in just four minutes.

THE DATSUN 240Z – A CELEBRATION

The year is 1970, and there is no shortage of distractions at the London Motor Show. Visitors had the chance to appreciate the Triumph Stag, the Ford Cortina Mk. III, the Vauxhall Viva HC – and an incredibly handsome Japanese coupe. Nissan had been selling its products in the UK under the Datsun brand for the past two years.

30 YEARS OF THE ROVER 600

When realising the Rover 600 will be celebrating its 30th birthday on 7 April, two thoughts come to mind. Firstly, this writer feels completely antique as he recalls the Top Gear report with a young Mr. J. Clarkson -

THE ACE CAFE – A CELEBRATION

In days gone by, when Strand cigarettes cost xx/d for twenty, there was a network of transport cafes in and around London. Today, most of them are all but memories, but the Ace in North London is still very much a landmark venue.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today is International Women’s Day (IWD) – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the globe. This year’s theme is #EmbraceEquity and its aim is to get the world talking about Why equal opportunities aren't enough. People start from different places, so true inclusion and belonging require equitable action. We all have our part to play.

07 March 2023

The future of classics is with youngsters

Like or not, the car – and by extension, historic vehicles – is under threat. Fewer youngsters aspire to drive than ever before, at least by the statistics of a 2021 Guardian report, which found just 2.97 million 16-25 year-olds had a licence, compared to the highs of 3.32 million in March 2020, and 3.42 million in 2012.

Pick of the saleroom: our favourite cars heading to auction in March

With 2023’s sales well underway, March is looking excellent for fans of British classics – whether they be barn finds, ex-celebrity or working vehicles with a new lease of life. Last month saw a fascinating collection of historics go under the hammer at Silverstone Auctions’ Race Retro sale on 25 February, including an unregistered, 300-mile rubber-bumper MGB and a cache of seven Lotus Elans from the Piddington Collection, including an S3 drophead given to the late Dame Diana Rigg.

THE AUSTIN-HEALEY SPRITE FROM ITALY – THE INNOCENTI 950/1100S

“A version of the Sprite with innate appeal to the sort of motorist who habitually wore sunglasses indoors” – that is how I described the Innocenti nearly eight years ago for Practical Classics and I stand by my words. It is the sort of sports car that belongs in the world described by Peter Sarstedt in Where Do You Go To My Lovely?, yet its underpinnings hailed from the UK.

03 March 2023

Class of 1984: the stars of the National Classic Motor Show still doted on today

Alongside Ghostbusters, Purple Rain and the Austin Montego, the National Classic Motor Show appeared on the scene in 1984. It had to have started somewhere – and in the case of the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show with Discovery, that year was 1984.

Buying a classic at auction: five top tips for how not to get carried away

You’ve seen the programmes, you’ve read the magazines: you want a classic car of your own. There are hundreds of auction houses, both online and in-person; if you don’t want to haggle via the classifieds, the salerooms are the place to go. For a newcomer, however, the process can be a daunting one; the adage of ‘buyer beware’ applies, as always.

02 March 2023

Four underrated Eighties Japanese cars you should consider giving a home to

The Japanese car industry was on a roll in the 80s. Critical acclaim was rolling in from Europe and the United States – and as export markets grew, a greater awareness of Western tastes developed. Some brands gained notoriety owing to motorsport, anime or hard-won reputation; others, equally as deserving, had to live in their shadow.

February 2023

28 February 2023

Thank you for joining us for Coffee with a Cause!

Thanks to everyone who joined us at Lancaster Headquarters on Thursday 16th February as we supported Practical Classics in seeing off their ‘Rebel with a Cause’ restored Reliant Rebel on a road trip around the south-east of the UK.

27 February 2023

STAYING POSITIVE: LONDON ELECTRIC CARS

Examining the pros and cons of electric vehicles – especially where converted classics are concerned – is long overdue. In the first part of a new series, Lancaster Insurance Services spoke to London Electric Cars, a firm transforming historics in Vauxhall, South London.

Three reasons why you should add a 90s car to your collection – if you haven’t already

Bag a car from the late 20th century, before youngsters, emissions zones and collectors beat you to it.

Nostalgia on wheels: why the Ford Escort Mk3 should be your next classic

Ford of Europe’s first front-wheel-drive Escort was a sales chart phenomenon that you can still afford to run and enjoy in 2023 It can’t have escaped your attention that the Eighties is back in fashion.

PRIDE IN HISTORICS: THE GAY CLASSIC CAR CLUB

Classic cars insulate us from the world and its troubles. The chance to enjoy shared interests with like-minded people is a welcome respite; unfortunately, the LGBTQ+ community isn’t always afforded the same opportunity.

24 February 2023

ULEZ BEATING CLASSICS FROM ACROSS THE DECADES

London’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone is set to move from the North and South Circulars to the Greater London Boroughs on 29 August 2023, meaning any non-compliant car is liable for a £12.50 charge to drive inside the zone.

23 February 2023

MEET THE OWNER – MICHAEL RYMAN AND HIS 1967 WARTBURG KNIGHT

Michael’s fascination with the Wartburg Knight commenced in 1974 when his father bought a Carmine Red Mk. 4 Tourist from Woodman’s Garage in Thundersley. Nearly 50 years later, his stupendously rare 1967 RHD example reminds British motorists of a time when such cars offered cheap and very practical transport.

MEET THE OWNER – ROBBIE POOLE AND HIS NISSAN MICRA K10

It all started when I was 16, my dad was working at a garage and a customer of his owned a 1986 pre-facelift Champagne Gold K10 that I used to love the look of - it was a 1L Automatic model”. The impact of that first-generation Micra on Robbie Poole was such that today he is the proud owner of a 1986 example that looks as though it has emerged in our dimension via a time warp.

MEET THE OWNER – GARY LAZARUS AND HIS ROVER 2000 TC

Gary’s 1968 Rover is not just a prime example of the 2000 TC; it has also enjoyed television stardom as Dr Gordon Ormerod’s transport in The Royal. In addition, the P6 has featured in The Damned United and made a guest appearance on Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, where naturally, it caused a sensation.

MEET THE OWNER - PATRICK BRADLEY AND HIS AUSTIN MONTEGO VANDEN PLAS AUTOMATIC

The story commences on Facebook where recently Patrick received a message asking if he would be interested in buying a Montego. Of course, as the proud owner of a Maestro Advantage, Mr. Bradley was naturally curious, even before he learned it was one of only two Vanden Plas Automatics on the road.

MEET THE OWNER – PETE MARSHALL AND HIS LADA 1200 ESTATE

“It took me years to track one down - my dad had seven, one after the other when I was growing up. It’s a UK car I found in a barn - not on a driveway on bricks kind of barn find!” And today, Pete Marshall is the proud owner of a 1976 Lada 1200 Estate – the result of one of the most important international collaborations in motoring history.

MEET THE OWNER – STEVE BRANDRETH AND HIS FORD CAPRI GHIA MK. III

To say Steve’s Ford Capri Mk. III causes a sensation whenever he goes for a drive would be an understatement. He remarks, “The reaction I get every time I use it is incredible and the number of people that constantly take photos of it at every opportunity beggar’s belief.”

MEMORIES OF THE FIAT 600 MULTIPLA

There are some cars you will never forget. Nearly 20 years ago, I took to the wheel a Fiat 600 Multipla, a pioneer people carrier and a vehicle with quite industrial levels of charisma. Opening the back-hinged front door revealed a fascia best described as “ultra-minimalist” and a driving position that was slightly challenging.

SUPER-ECONOMY MOTORING - THE MESSERSCHMITT ‘BUBBLE CAR’ AT SEVENTY

Seventy years ago, if you were in need of a cheap urban two-seater, the new Messerschmitt KR175 was a viable option. For one, it was nine feet long and weighed just 485 pounds. The 170cc single-cylinder two-stroke engine was capable of 50 mph, and the steering was via a handlebar (with a twist-grip throttle on the left) directly connected to the track rod ends.

MEET THE OWNER – MATTHEW CURTIS AND HIS CITROEN CX 2000 CONFORT

Sometimes, a classified advertisement for a classic car acts as a siren, tempting you to throw caution (and overdraft) to the winds. Such a vehicle is the 1975-model Citroën CX 2000 Confort owned by Matthew Curtis.

The Austin Maestro at 40 years by Andrew Roberts

It is Tuesday, the 1st of March 1983 and British Leyland has just unveiled the successor to the Austin Allegro. Not only was the “Miracle Maestro”, promoted by one of the most over-the-top commercials in ITV history.

Introducing our February Bright Young Spark – Harvey Annable

Our friends at Practical Classics magazine caught up with Harvey Annable a true mechanic, enthusiast, YouTuber, and Bright Spark.

Car Club Corner – News

With clubs finding their membership is ageing and with worries for the futures of both their clubs and cars, Lancaster Insurance Services decided it was time to lift the lid on the secrets of setting up and maintaining a successful Young Members register within a main car club.

Meet the owner Aidan Sanderson

It is a major shock to realise that the 205 will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2023. That Gérard Welter styling still looks up-to-date, and it is hard to believe the early models were contemporaries of the Morris Ital. Today, the Peugeot is attracting an increasing number of younger enthusiasts, such as Aidan, the owner of this very handsome 1992 Junior Mi16.

21 February 2023

THE PORSCHE 911 AT SIXTY

DO YOU REMEMBER – THE VOLVO 66?

We could have equally called this blog “Twilight Under Another Marque”, as several long-running models ended their careers with a different marque name. The Chrysler Hunter falls into this category, as does the Dodge Spacevan and the final DAF saloons, which were sold as Volvos in their last five years of production.

16 February 2023

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…SARAH CRABTREE

Sarah Crabtree needs no introduction, but in case you’re unfamiliar, she’s now Sales Manager for Evoke Classics, the online classic auction house headquartered in Essex. Before that, she stole the show during Bangers and Cash, the documentary series, recently renewed, that follows the trials and tribulations of Mathewsons auctioneers.

13 February 2023

Celebrating “The Biggest News Since The Mini” – Simon Hayes and the Leyland Princess Enthusiasts’ Club

Like a lot of classic car owners, my interest was started by nostalgia – we had a Princess in the family back in the 80s, and I was always amazed at its shape, its size, and the noise its engine made. As a child I can remember being taken to Norwich, and my Auntie bought me the Dinky Toys Princess model – I vowed one day I’d have a real one.

10 February 2023

MEET THE OWNER – MATT ‘FURIOUS DRIVING’ RICHARDSON AND HIS FLEET

Meet the owner, or meet the YouTuber? We should be told. A 1972 Rover 2000 P6 set Matt Richardson on the path to YouTube stardom. ‘I’ve had it since I was 17 – it’s not going anywhere,’ he said. Since then, the projects have fed the channel – and the channel has fed the projects.

07 February 2023

FIVE UNDERRATED JAPANESE CARS FROM THE 70S

In the 70s, the Japanese motor industry was on its way to world domination. Buyers were hooked on the enticing promise of generous standard equipment and turn-key dependability; innovative though British cars were, industrial action sabotaged build quality, and ruined any chance of getting a new model when it first appeared.

Celebration of a special charity restoration - local enthusiasts invited to join in the fun!

On Thursday 16th February, Practical Classics magazine and Lancaster Insurance Services are celebrating the completion of a special charity restoration and are inviting local enthusiasts to join them!

MEET THE OWNER – SEAMUS NEILSON AND HIS 1976 OPEL KADETT C COUPE

“I bought it from a guy in the Bristol area in February 2016 and have been slowly restoring it since then. We had a saloon when I was a kid and had always wanted one since then”. Seamus’s 1976 Kadett 1200 Coupe is not only one of the few surviving examples, it is also a reminder of a time when the Opel badge was a familiar sight on British roads.

Rules, O-Kei? A potted history of how the light automobile put Japan on wheels

Small in size, sales surprise: born of governmental restrictions, the tiny Japanese Kei (pronounced ‘Kay’) class of cars trace their roots back to 1949

Rules, O-Kei? A potted history of how the light automobile put Japan on wheels

A rapidly growing phenomenon, the Kei car came to symbolise Japan at its most industrious; the formula was working, and more people could afford a car than ever before

Rules, O-Kei: Honey, I shrunk the modern car!

Kei cars were poorly prepared for the ‘seventies, but rule changes would see them flourish once more. The Kei was a beast of burden no more – it could be fun, too

03 February 2023

THE NATIONAL CAR CLUB AWARDS RETURN TO NEC TO CELEBRATE ACHIEVEMENTS OF CLASSIC COMMUNITY

Following the success of 2022, The National Car Club Awards, sponsored by Lancaster Insurance, will once again be held at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show, with discovery+, held at Birmingham’s NEC from 24-26 March 2023. The awards ceremony will take place on Saturday afternoon on the Classic World stage – with all visitors invited to attend.

January 2023

31 January 2023

40 YEARS OF COMPULSORY SEAT BELT WEARING

Forty years ago today, the BBC broadcast this footage of motorists remembering – or not – to obey the new seat belt regulations.

VAUXHALL’S FIRST PURPOSE-BUILT ESTATE CAR

One of the many joys of watching Talking Pictures Television is spotting various cars that are now less frequently encountered than Halley’s Comet. Calculated Risk is a rather good 1963 B-film, and the final reel boasts a guest appearance from a  Victor F-Type Estate.

27 January 2023

60 Years of the Humber Sceptre by Andrew Roberts

On the 15th of January 1963, the Rootes Group made bold claims about their latest Humber. “Never before has there been a car so superbly equipped… with such performance… at so modest a price”.

Introducing our January Bright Young Spark – Katie Bushell

Our friends at Practical Classics magazine caught up with Katie Bushell a true mechanic, enthusiast, YouTuber and Bright Spark.

Staff Car Story - Triumph after Disaster: how a £30 engine saved my motor! By Steph Hoy

Classic car owners are supposed to be the more sensible people in the car community. We aren’t the ones doing burn outs, madcap speedy adventures and taking the risks some of the pluckier members of the car community seem to take.

Car Club Corner: Is a Triumph Toledo worth the investment?

Simply put… yes! The Triumph Toledo is the 70s saloon worth investing in for 2023. In a world of rising costs for 60s and 70s classics, the Triumph Toledo is the classic car which has quietly not budged too far out of the savvy buyer’s budget in the last few years.

Leylandprincess.co.uk seeks new staff to avoid closure

President and treasurer call it a day after 20 years; club could close if replacements not found. Britain’s largest club for the Austin-Morris-Wolseley 18-22 Series, Leyland Princess and Austin Ambassador, Leylandprincess.co.uk, needs your help.

A second set of eyes can save lives

Lancaster Insurance Services urges owners to ensure their classic is checked annually by an independent expert. The discussion of MOTs is once again in the spotlight with the announcement that a consultation has been launched into whether new cars may be exempt from needing an MOT for the first four years, an extension of a year from the current rules.

23 January 2023

SADLY MISSED - THE LITTLE CHEF

In 2017, a friend and I visited a Cambridgeshire branch of Little Chef to ask permission to stage a photo shoot in their car park. After two minutes, it became evident we could have produced a re-enactment of The Wicker Man outside their front door, and no one would have cared.

20 January 2023

THE TVR VIXEN S1 – A CELEBRATION

A long time ago, in the year when Brotherhood of Man won the Eurovision Song Contest, I encountered a fascinating two-seater coupe in the village garage. Most of the time, the front yard seemed to contain a familiar array of decaying Singer Vogues and Vauxhall Viva HAs, so this was an entirely different form of car.

THE LOTUS CORTINA AT 60

The Daily Telegraph noted that it was the fastest car yet marketed by Ford GB. Autocar warned that using it for domestic purposes was akin to “putting a spirited hunter into the shafts of a coal cart”.

MEET THE OWNER – GARY WATERFALL AND HIS MORRIS ITAL 1.3L

A few months ago, Gary Waterfall acquired a very rare British Leyland product of the early 1980s – “I sold an Escort Cosworth after owning Ford RSs for nearly 30 years and bought the Ital: I love it”.

17 January 2023

TOP FIVE WOULD-BE CARS OF THE YEAR

As the Jeep Avenger was recently declared Car of the Year 2023, what better opportunity to consider five highly significant models that still never achieved that COTY accolade - 1965 – Winner: Austin 1800.

10 January 2023

MEET THE OWNER – AIDAN SANDERSON AND HIS PEUGEOT 205

It is a major shock to realise that the 205 will celebrate its 40th birthday in 2023. That Gérard Welter styling still looks up-to-date, and it is hard to believe the early models were contemporaries of the Morris Ital.

MEET THE OWNER – JON MURDEN AND HIS TWO HILLMANS

Both of Jon Murden’s Hillmans seem to belong in the world of post-war comedy. You can imagine Tony Hancock dreaming of the day when a gleaming 1957-vintage Audax Minx would be parked outside of 23 Railway Cuttings instead of a battered pre-war Ford V8 saloon acquired by Sid from a bombsite dealer.

60 YEARS OF THE VOLVO AMAZON ESTATE

2022 was a year of significant 60th anniversaries, including one from Volvo. The five-door version of the Amazon was not, of course, their first estate car, as the 1953 Duett remained in production until 1969.

LIFE AT THE TOP – SEVEN EXECUTIVE FORDS

For over ten years, the ‘E’ or ‘Executive’ badge on a British Ford denoted living the high life – cigars, unlimited Luncheon Vouchers and dining at the Angus Steak House every Friday. So which of these very magnificent seven would you choose?

09 January 2023

“You can’t beat a bit of Bully!” – James Ross Sinclair and his Bullseye Star Prize Fiat Panda

For those readers too young to remember the magnificence of Bullseye, it was a quiz show from 1981 to 1995. ATV made the early editions, followed by Central after 1982.

FINDING MY FAMILY’S VW TREKKER – HTK 275 P LIVES!

The time is autumn of 1981, and the place is a village near Southampton where very little seemed to happen.

04 January 2023

TOM KAREN OBE 20 MARCH 1926 – 31 DECEMBER 2022

On the 2 January, Practical Classics issued the sad announcement that Tom Karen OBE died on the 31 December 2022 at the age of 96. It is almost impossible to describe the impact of his designs on British culture, from the Bush TR130 radio to the Raleigh Chopper – and the Reliant Scimitar GTE and Bond Bug.

December 2022

06 December 2023

Biggest and best! Experts and enthusiasts celebrate at NEC classic season finale!

The Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show lived up to its ‘biggest and best’ tagline this weekend as 71,290 enthusiasts joined at Birmingham’s NEC to celebrate another great year for the classic car community.

Announcing our November Bright Young Spark, Joshua Finch!

Dad always had a classic car restoration project. My earliest memory is of a Morris Traveller. Helping him with his projects from a young age was what really sparked my passion for cars...

The Austin J40 continuation – The ultimate pedal car for Christmas?

Picture the scene. It is Christmas Day, 1958, and beneath the tree is a large package – more to the point, a pedal-car-sized package. Could it possibly be the Austin J40, the country’s ultimate pedal car?

30 December 2022

EIGHTY YEARS OF THE KERB DRILL

1) At the kerb, Halt! 2) Eyes Right. 3) Eyes Left. 4) Eyes Right Again. Then, if the road is clear -   5) Quick March. Don’t Rush. Cross quietly.

MEET THE OWNER - DON SCOTT AND HIS AUSTIN A99 WESTMINSTER

Don Scott has recently acquired what many will consider the ideal automotive Christmas present – an Austin A99 Westminster. To quote the launch advertisement, here was a motor car where “the good looks come naturally, without need of ornament or frippery”.

29 December 2022

The Great British Trade-up Challenge Finale

Douglas Hester was the very proud winner of our Great British Trade-up Challenge car and has now collected his prize, congratulations!

Introducing our December Bright Young Spark – Nathaniel Tegg

Our friends at Practical Classics magazine caught up with Nathaniel to find out more about where his interest in vintage and retro styles first began. Nathaniel has always enjoyed vintage things since he was very young.

28 December 2022

THE FORD CORTINA XLE – THE ULTIMATE MK. III?

At first sight, this is the perfect Cortina for all drivers who regarded a Jason King moustache as the height of fashion and the Berni Inn as the pinnacle of haute cuisine. It certainly appears to be a prime example of a facelifted Cortina XL Mk. III but then you notice the white reflectors on the front bumper, different hubcaps, a ‘V6’ shield on the front wings and the ‘Big 6’ badges.

THE CONTINENTAL MK. II – A CELEBRATION

In 1956 a car with power assistance for the brakes, steering, front seat, windows and even the quarterlights, an AM radio with an electric aerial and whitewall tyres, was not so much luxurious as downright extravagant. Inside, the upholstery was either leather by Bridge of Weir of Scotland or a selection of cloth trims and you could also have your name engraved on a plate on the centre of the passenger compartment floor.

THE BIG FREEZE – WINTER MOTORING OF SIXTY YEARS AGO

Sixty years ago, the nation saw its lowest temperatures since 1740, with some parts of the country enduring 20-foot snowdrifts and power cuts. Some villages were cut off for days, and on Dartmoor, 6,000 animals went without food for four days until helicopters were able to drop supplies.

MEET THE OWNER - PAUL BARNES AND HIS FORD CORTINA HUNTSMAN

In 2009, the Ford enthusiast Paul Barnes was searching for a Cortina Mk. II but was unable to find any suitable example. Finally, however, one of his colleagues told him that his father-in-law had just lost a close friend and had one in his garage.

MEET THE OWNER – SHAUN BROADBENT AND HIS VAUXHALL VICEROY

Shaun Broadbent is selling one of the rarest Vauxhalls in the country. Only 2,295 Viceroys left the dealerships between 1980 and 1982, and today a mere nine remain on the road - Search results for 'Vauxhall viceroy' - How Many Left? Yet, it had genuine potential and is a prime example of how poor marketing can seriously hamper a car's prospects.

AMERICAN SPLENDOR - THE KAISER MANHATTAN

Sometimes – in fact, often – eBay is a place of great temptation. You begin your search with the intention of buying a new pair of driving gloves, but within an hour, you are contemplating another classic car. And when presented with the chance of bidding for a Kaiser Manhattan, this is wholly understandable.

THE FORD CAPRI MK.I – RIGHT CAR, RIGHT TIME, RIGHT MARKET

This writer was recently re-watching the Capri launch film and marvelling at a) how the plot gave hope to all middle-aged Brylcreemed would-be lotharios and b) Ford's superlative marketing. The development costs amounted to £20 million, so nothing was left to chance with the launch of "The Car You Always Promised Yourself" on the 5th of February 1969.

21 December 2022

TOP TEN REASONS WHY CAR CLUBS ARE WONDERFUL

This could have so easily been a ‘Top 50’ or a ‘Top 100’, but here is just ten of the reasons why car clubs are wonderful.

19 December 2022

MEET THE OWNER – ADRIAN WAINWRIGHT AND HIS VOLVO 244 GLE THOR

"My dream car when I was 17 was not a sporty Ford or Vauxhall but a Volvo 265 GLE Fuel injection automatic - a dream still not realised as yet!" But Adrian Wainwright now owns an even more exclusive Swedish car – the 244 GLE Thors.

30 Years of the Ford Mondeo

There are several aspects of the 1990s that many hope will never return – The Word on Channel Four comes to mind – but others are fondly missed. I mention this as a significant Ford has recently celebrated its 30th anniversary but the Mondeo Mk. I is now a fast-vanishing sight.

THE 1952 MOTOR SHOW

The date is the 22nd October 1952, and the ethos of the British motor industry is still very much 'Export or Die'. During this year, companies across the UK produced 448,000 vehicles, but they allocated 308,942 for export. But at least the end to the 'Car Covenant' looks in sight.

13 December 2022

THE MERCEDES-BENZ W201 AT FORTY

It is almost impossible to believe the W201 celebrated its 40th birthday on the 8th December. Some cars have styling that appears locked in 1982, while Bruno Sacco's lines for the original 190 is timelessly elegant. It was also a crucial Mercedes-Benz alternative to the BMW 3-Series and the Audi 80.

THE AUDI 100 COUPE S – A CELEBRATION

In the early 1970s there was one car of choice for the executive who wanted a grand tourer more exclusive than the Ford Capri GXL, more ‘Continental’ in looks than the Reliant Scimitar GTE and more comfortable than a Triumph Stag. It was, of course, the Audi 100 Coupe S.

Why I Crave a Fiat 2300

It is the mid-1980s, and the BBC is screening a not particularly distinguished 1966 Peter Sellers film titled After the Fox. Much of the film was shot on location in Italy, and for the final reel chase, the police favoured a handsome saloon with tailfins and quad headlamps. From that moment onwards, I craved a Fiat 2300.