The 2019 Insurance Classic Motor Show : Phew - What a scorcher! The 2019 Insurance Classic Motor Show : Phew - What a scorcher!
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Phew - What a scorcher!

As the nation braces itself for what could be the hottest day on record, here are a few memories of past heatwave motoring -


1)      The Joys of Vinyl Upholstery


I.e. not many. Whether the interior was trimmed in the finest PVC, Vynide, Ambla or “leatherette’ available to humanity, summer travel frequently demanded powers of endurance from driver and passengers alike. Low-spec models would often be devoid of cloth upholstery, and until as recently as the 1980s  the standard pre-holiday journey ritual was to apply a damp flannel to the seats.  And within twenty miles of the holiday journey to Weymouth, the steering wheel and gear-lever would be unbearably hot as the occupants of the rear seat chorused ‘are we nearly there yet?’


2)      Air Conditioning – What Air Conditioning?


One of the seemingly minor changes to motoring in the late 1980s was medium-size family cars equipped with air-conditioning, as even ten years earlier this would have been almost unthinkable. To put this in context,  the entry-level Ford Fiesta Mk. 1 was devoid of a separate fresh air ventilation system as recently as 1976 and the idea of a car with built-in refrigeration seemed an unattainable dream. One memory from my childhood is gently simmering what felt like Regulo 4 in an early Mini fitted with sliding windows and envying the drivers of Transits and Bedford CFs who sped along the B3055 with their doors open.


3)      Overheating


Not just the owner but his or her Anglia, Morris 1100, Ford Cortina Mk. II or Vauxhall Victor FC 101, to cite but a few models. Four decades ago, no journey to the New Forest would have been complete without encountering at least one well-used Hillman Minx Series VI with steam pouring through the grille. We would all be grateful this was not our car, as in the days before mobile telephones, the unfortunate owner faced a long walk to the nearest K6 box – always assuming it had not been vandalised.


4)      Ice Cold -  in Dorset


Many of you will remember the conclusion of Ice Cold In Alex, where John Mills downs a pint of Carlsberg after the perilous desert journey of his military ambulance and its crew. It was a scenario replicated by my younger self and so many of my contemporaries, albeit on the outskirts of Bournemouth rather than in Alexandria and the goal was an ice-lolly as opposed to lager. However, after enduring thirty miles in a Hillman Avenger De Luxe during the summer heat, we felt that we merited a Space 1999 or a Fab just as much as the crew of the Austin K2 had earned their drink. N.B. The former confection is a prime example of – ‘nice promotional spin-off, shame about the TV series’.


5)      Melting Cassettes


A memory from the 1980s, as placing an array of That’s What I Call Music II or ABC’s  How To Be a Zillionaire on the top of the fascia could result in their melting after a certain period. Another peril was the tape coming loose, and most Britons carried a pencil or pen in the glove box to deal with this issue. Some cheaper sound systems were known to destroy cassettes on a semi-regular basis although, in the case of Flaunt It by Sigue Sigue Sputnik, this was a welcome relief.


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