Friday January 5, 2018
With the prospect of certain local authorities being unprepared for the concept of frozen water falling from the skies, here are eight vehicles that will make snow-bound commuting a more entertaining prospect:
MOSKVICH 410/411 1957
A five-seater that was able to climb 33 degrees when in first gear and with the ability to ford nearly 12 inches of water. Then there was the quite incredible ground clearance as the Moskvich was a purposeful machine, one designed for a country where you might travel hundreds of miles of untarmaced roads before encountering a petrol station.
CITROEN 2CV SAHARA 1958
Two starter buttons, two ignitions, two petrol tanks (mounted under the front seats) – and two 425cc engines - it is a matter of some regret that the 2CV Sahara was never officially sold in the UK. Citroen thought that this incredible off-roader would appeals to oil companies engaged in work in Algeria and several examples of the Sahara found service with the Spanish Guardia Civil. It was expensive (costing virtually double the price of a standard Deux Cheveaux), complex – and altogether an incredible feat of engineering.
RENAULT 4 SINPAR 1963
Slightly more straightforward than the 2CV Sahara but no less intriguing, the 4 was converted by Sinpar, a Parisienne firm of engineers. The initial idea was to produce a lightweight utility vehicle for use by the French armed forces and the 4 4x4 was powered by a 1,100cc engine with the all-wheel driver operated by two additional levers. Alas, the Renault yet another fine off-roader that was not readily available in Britain.
JENSEN FF 1966
A 130-mph AWD coupe with anti-lock brakes that made its bow at a time of the last days of steam engines. After 51 years the impact of the Jensen FF (‘Ferguson Formula’) had not diminished one iota, especially when you consider that 1966 was a time of black and white television and when several popular British cars were still fitted with starting handles. Yes, £6, 017 10d 10d was a vast sum (you could buy ten Minis for the same amount) but entry to the Jet Set was never going to be cheap.
SUBARU 1800 GLF ESTATE 1977
Forty years ago, you might have thought that a new Subaru GLF Estate was yet another example of a well-appointed and mechanically straightforward Japanese import that was an interesting alternative to a Morris Marina or a Ford Cortina. But underneath that low-key exterior was a highly adept off-roader, for at that time the Subaru was unique in the British car market – a 4x4 that on the surface at least appeared to be ultra-conventional suburban transport.
AUDI QUATTRO 1980
‘In motoring terms the Audi Quattro must be adjudged a superb bargain. Even a few days after returning the test car to its British importers, we couldn't quite believe how utterly impressed we had been with it’. ‘Thrilling performance; a vastly satisfying and enjoyable car to drive’. In May of 1981 Motor Sport and Autocar were just two publications over-awed by the Quattro, and their reactions are very understandable. Put simply, this is a coupe that marked a watershed in the history of the sports car.
FIAT PANDA 4X4 1983
The Panda has a fair claim to being one of the most attractive economy cars of its era and in June 1983, Fiat unveiled the 4x4. The all-wheel drive system had been developed by Steyr-Puch of Austria and for your £4,390 there was also a reinforced chassis, a 965cc engine and five-speed transmission with a very low ratio first gear. And if a 1984 review by What Car– ‘off-road we were genuinely astonished at how much the little Fiat could achieve’ – does not tempt you to seek one of the very rare survivors, the sales film almost certainly will. Cue ultra-1980s music!
FORD GRANADA SCORPIO 4X4 1985
What yuppie worth his Filofax could have resisted this exclusive Ford? 66 % of torque was for the rear wheels, in order to achieve the best ride/handling compromise and Autocar believed that in terms ‘of overall road manners there is little to touch it.’ One wonders just how many are still in use today…