Monday February 3, 2020
Or, how to achieve style and comfort with a minimum of outlay.
Austin/Morris 1800 “Wedge”
When BL unveiled their replacement for the “Landcrab” in March 1975 -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxgdRAuDsTE - the focus was inevitably on the flagship Wolseley, but the four-cylinder Austin and Morris was equally important.
They may have been devoid of a rear folding armrest, a fuel cap lock and vinyl cladding for the C-pillars but the cheapest 1800 was the ideal vehicle for government departments. In addition to being ‘the car that’s got it all together’.
Ford Consul 2000
It is the Ghia, the GXL and the Consul GT that now seem to attract the most attention, but when the Granada range made its bow in April 1972, the base-model Consul had an equally important role.
This was the Ford designed to tempt Zephyr 4 Mk. IV owners to their nearest dealership - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acYBRboM34g – in addition to appealing to fleet buyers throughout the land.
Should you crave a trip recorder, a vanity mirror, a clock, a dipping rear view mirror and a courtesy lamp for the back seat, there was the Consul L, but the basic model was perfect for mini-cab operators and anyone who wanted a large car at a reasonable price.
The 20TL was not badly fitted by the standards of the late 1970s, but in comparison with the grandeur of the 30TS it was positively Spartan.
The 20 debuted in November 1975, eight months after its 30 counterpart, and it was ideal for the 16TL owner looking for the same five-door formula on a larger scale.
It also appealed to the Peugeot 504 driver contemplating his or her first-ever FWD hatchback.
‘A superbly comfortable car with plenty of room and a pleasing feeling of solidarity – even quality – about it’ thought Car, in their comparison test with the Austin Maxi and the first-generation Volkswagen Passat.
The same writer thought the Renault needed a 1.8-litre or 2.0-litre unit rather than the 16’s 1,647cc engine and this came about in 1977 with the 20TS. Today none of the 20/30 line-up is exactly a familiar sight – and I cannot remember seeing a TL in the past three decades.
Rover 2300 SD1
In late 1977, the 2300/2600 served the replacements for both the P6B 2200 and the Triumph 2000/2500.
To anyone who scanned the BL brochures, it was immediately apparent that the 2300 was the Rover for the junior executive, for gone were the tachometer, the oil pressure gauge, the tinted glass, the power steering, the central locking and, most noticeably, the passenger door mirror.
When the SD1 received a facelift in 1982, it was noticeable that all models received the same instrumentation – a strong visual appeal is at least half of the battle for sales.
Vauxhall Victor FE 1800 De Luxe
I have long had a soft spot for the Victor FE, the last of the Anglo-American style Vauxhalls; it is always a surprise to see the floor-mounted gear lever rather than a column-selector.
Forty-eight years ago it was Luton’s alternative to the Consul 2000, and while the flagship Ventora was instantly recognisable by its vinyl roof, the 1800 De Luxe was distinguished by its lack of distracting equipment.
Carpets, a heated rear window, radial-ply tyres and – surprisingly – separate front seats were all optional extras, but the cheapest FE was still the Vauxhall ‘for people who want to stretch their horizons’.
Trivia note – the Victor gained additional publicity via an edition of the groovy TP show Engelbert with The Young Generation filmed at Luton complete with dance routines around the production lines…