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This week, we delve into the archives of British Pathe and Movietone for some priceless footage of innovations to assist the motorist. Not all this Top Ten was entirely successful, but you cannot deny their ingenuity…

10) 1957 The Slider -

Problems parking your Ford Consul Mk. II or Jaguar Mk. VIIM between a Morris Minor Tourer Series II? Then the Sidler, the invention of Archie Butterworth, might be the solution as it permitted a car to be manoeuvred into a tight space or even turned through 360 degrees on its own axis.

9) 1953 Horace the Robot -

After seeing this report, one narrated by the ever-cheerful Eamonn Andrews, I am now firmly of the belief that all service stations need a six-feet tall saluting robot named Horace.

8) 1961 Beat The Bandit

Was the reinforced bowler of this Ford Zodiac Mk. II owner the inspiration for John Steed’s headgear in The Avengers…?

7) 1962 Instant Garage

A very clever device, with bonus footage of a very early Mini. On a historical note – when did crazy paving go out of fashion?

6) 1963 This Moke’s No Ass -

Many readers will have seen this footage before but I just had to include it. This is in part because of how it illustrates the spirit of innovation at the British Motor Corporation during the early 1960s - but my main reason is that Alec Issigonis is so clearly in his element with the ‘Twini Moke’ prototype.


5) 1964 Thief Proof Car

Or, a gang of fake ner do wells attempt to break into a Ford Thames 307E ‘Anglia’ bullion van. PS Dig the dramatic music!

4) 1967 Electric Cars -

Starring the Comuta, a highly ambitious project car that was developed at Ford’s Dunton Technical Centre. Its range was around 40 miles and the top speed was 25 mph, which was adequate for late 1960s town driving. However, despite our friendly narrator claiming that ‘in a few years there is a strong prospect of seeing millions on the road’ Dagenham only intended the Comuta as an experimental vehicle - two were made, one of them now living in the Science Museum. This newsreel also features the fascinating Carter Coaster, a four-seater saloon with integrated traction motor and braking units that could be fitted inside each wheel plus another cameo from Alec Issigonis as he planned a BMC’s ‘electric town car'.

3) 1965 Amphibious Water Scooter -

This is an everyday story of a bowler-hatted gentleman and his Julie Christie look-a-like passenger taking a trip along the Thames aboard a heavily modified scooter. The background vehicles alone are fascinating – Singer Vogue, Morris Oxford Series VI, Standard Vanguard Phase 1A Estate, MGB Roadster – plus, as is so often the case, the facial expressions of the passersby.

2) 1955 Propeller Car -

A quite remarkable machine using a V4 engine formed from a bisected Ford V8 unit and built in six months by one Clifford Robins, a Yeovil grocer. The propeller car had no rear axle, clutch or gearbox and it cost in the region of £200 to construct. The top speed was 70 mph and the reactions of a GPO engineer emerging from a Morris-Commercial and a motorcycle policeman are priceless.

1) 1962 Motorised Roller Skates -

At first, I really thought this was an out-take from a Peter Sellers comedy film but, no, this is actual footage of Mr. Tom Hancocks of High Wycombe ‘giving his daughter a lift to work’ via a pair of lawn-mower engine powered roller skates. It is very hard to select a highlight of this newsreel – from the determinedly jaunty music and the hat-doffing to the shots of a mortified-seeming Miss Hancock this is automotive entertainment far greater than any edition of Top Gear.





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