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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.

In a recent corporate rebranding, the Land Rover name is being dropped from the company’s title: ‘Jaguar Land Rover’, established in 2013, will become simply ‘JLR’. The Land Rover badge will remain on future models as what it calls a ‘trust mark’; instead, Land Rover’s models will be pushed as effectively, marques in their own right.

Range Rover, Defender, Discovery. There’s a fourth nameplate missing from that prestigious line up: Freelander. JLR regard it as its eighth heritage model, a best-seller in its time. Between 1997 and 2006, Freelander 1 or L314, as it was known within Land Rover, shifted 540,000 units to a market in flux.

Historians consider Freelander 1 a pivotal model in Land Rover’s history, one that paved the way for the Discovery Sport, a ‘Freelander 3’ in all but name. Some fans of the marque, however, think of the Evoque as the Freelander’s true successor.

Two land rovers
Family car buyers were spoiled for choice in the mid-to-late 90s: while people-carriers and four-by-fours battled it out in the medium and large car market segments, slowly squeezing out the traditional estate, the first ‘crossover’ models appeared, those which combined elements of both configurations to the most marketable ends.

Back then, the people-carrier (or multi-purpose vehicle) downsized to stay relevant; utilitarian off-roaders morphed into the Sport-Utility Vehicle (SUV) - high-seated, large-bodied hatchbacks with some off-road ability if needed, but confined mostly to highways and byways.

Crash test regulations saw off the MPV, and the crossover class prevailed. In 2023, British buyers can’t get enough of crossovers. The likes of the Nissan Qashqai, Nissan Juke, Tesla Model Y, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson and Volkswagen T-Roc feature prominently in the top ten sales charts.

Were Freelander 1 current, it would be considered a crossover; certainly, had the road-biased Rover proposal won out during its development, we’d have got such a car, albeit with MPV levels of versatility. In its own words, however, Land Rover regards Freelander 1 as an SUV.

Freelander may not have completely redefined the segment like the seminal Range Rover of 1971, but, like Spen King’s masterpiece, it appealed strongly to buyers who never would have considered a Land Rover in the past.

Key to its success was its on-road refinement; the likes of a contemporary Discovery would have driven further into the forest, but would have put a casual buyer off with its ponderous on-road dynamics, compromised cabin (a hangover from a body designed to sit atop the Range Rover’s separate chassis) and dedicated off-road controls.

Crucially, Freelander drove enough like a car to compete with the likes of the mini-MPVs vying for an increasingly splintered market segment. Granted, you could carry more in the likes of the Renault Mégane Scenic or Citroën Xsara Picasso, but they would bottom out in a muddy garden centre car park or get stuck when the weather turned at the end of a bracing family walk in the countryside.  

Compared to a similarly sized (and priced) four-cylinder Jeep Cherokee, however, the Freelander’s on-road manners were sublime; if you did need to divert on to unsurfaced roads, the hardware sorted it out automatically.

‘Lifestyle’ was the keyword during the Freelander’s development. Work began on what became L314 in 1989, when engineers from Land Rover and Rover, newly reunited under British Aerospace ownership, collaborated on a new, smaller model, an entry level car below the Discovery, aimed at a less hardcore customer base; these new owners, if introduced correctly, could work their way up to a Range Rover.

As AROnline’s Keith Adams wrote: “The idea was a simple one: according to ‘Meet The Ancestors’, by James Taylor, Land Rover executives liked BMW’s way of doing things: the 3 Series to entice younger people to the brand, the 5 Series for [when] they get more affluent and perhaps gain a family, and the 7 Series for when they finally make it to the top of the tree.

“All the way through the customer’s career (and life), there would be a BMW to match their needs and desires. Not only that but, with such a strong family identity through the range, there was upward aspiration without the pain of feeling second-best for owning a lower model in the range.

“With the soon-to-be released Discovery and the eternally desirable Range Rover already in the fleet, Land Rover would have its 5 and 7 Series cars; what they needed if they were to adopt the BMW plan was a ‘3 Series’.”

It was a clever move – the project, which began as ‘Lifestyle’, and was given other titles as time progressed, including ‘Pathfinder,’ ‘Oden’, ‘Cyclone’ and latterly ‘CB40’ (its official title named in 1994 after its birthplace, Canley Building 40).  

Moreover, it gave Land Rover a smaller vehicle to sell in the United States, raising its Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) index rating, something which, at the time, was also rumoured to be coming to Europe (emissions ratings would eventually determine road fund licence and clean air zone boundaries).

Refinement and ease of use were priorities – remember, Land Rover was pitching at owners who might enjoy the occasional excursion off road, but didn’t want to be encumbered with the hardware needed to cross mountains and ford streams on a daily basis.

To that end, the mixed teams – those that had previously fought on a political level as whether or not to make ‘Pathfinder’ a Land Rover or Rover – got radical.

While the new car would use Rover engines (primarily the 1.8-litre K-Series petrol and the 2.0-litre L-Series diesel) it would not use a separate chassis; much like American Motors Corporation’s (AMC’s) 1984 Jeep Cherokee ‘XJ’, CB40 employed a reinforced monocoque body shell. For the first time, Land Rover was to ditch a separate chassis.

Further weight and complexity were reduced by doing away with a low-range gearbox, forced on the team to an extent by the decision to use Rover’s PG1 gearbox, a light-duty car unit that couldn’t multiply the torque needed at crawling speeds.

Instead, a new development in anti-lock braking gave us the first instance of Land Rover’s Hill Descent Control (HDC); this feature premiered in the Freelander and was later adapted for use in future parent BMW’s X5 (though the efficacy of that particular system was rumoured to be less than stellar).

CB40/Freelander eschewed levers and locking hubs for a viscous coupling (VC), whose fluid reacted to heat. Bolted to the final drive of the PG1 was an Intermediate Reduction Drive (IRD) built by Steyr-Puch; this acted, in effect, like an automatic transfer case, sending drive to the rear wheels when traction was lost up front and the temperature rose in the VC, known in Freelander terms as the Viscous Couping Unit (VCU).  

The new four-wheel-drive system was tested to destruction under the bodywork of 22 Austin Maestro van ‘mule’ prototypes, known internally as ‘Mad Max’. Dedicated off-roaders came to hate the system, but the casual lifestyle buyer had little to worry about.

It convinced many within Land Rover, however; programme leader, Dick Elsy, told Autocar that: “I remember Roger Crathorne [Land Rover’s off-road guru] driving a Maestro prototype at Eastnor [Land Rover’s proving ground] and saying: ‘Bloody hell, that works really well.’”

Stress-free off-roading was a key piece of the Freelander’s appeal. Earlier quasi-crossovers had tried similar feats, like the two-wheel-drive Matra Rancho Grand Raid, with its limited-slip ‘Antibog’ differential.

Others, like the AMC Eagle, spent the first year as a permanent all-wheel drive vehicle – in effect, a Subaru Forester (another car launched contemporaneously to the Freelander) 17 years before the fact.

By 1981, the cabin flick-switch operated, VC assisted Select Drive system became standard on the AMC Eagle range, allowing the driver to switch between two-and four-wheel-drive on the fly.

The American car, with its wheel arch extensions, raised ride height and accessible hardware, developed by British engineer (and Ford GT40 co-creator) Roy Lunn, was too far ahead of its time to see commercial success.

Upon the release of the Eagle, Lunn accurately predicted the crossover segment in a paper submitted to the Society of Automotive Engineers decades before such cars became popular.

Furthermore, VC-controlled four-wheel-drive became a common system in modern crossovers – but it was a huge departure for Land Rover, whose reputation was in part founded on the capabilities of its sturdy, mechanical off-road hardware.

The press and public needed little convincing of the Freelander’s merits; launched in 1997 with evocative Gerry McGovern styling, and 1.8-litre K-Series petrol (and 2.0-litre L-Series diesel options), Autocar rated it above Honda’s similar-in-appearance CR-V and Toyota’s RAV4.

It’s worth noting that Honda, though still in partnership with Rover Group, was aware of CB40/Freelander during its development, but did not collaborate on the car, nor did it receive key technical information regarding its layout and performance.

Three-and five-door Freelanders were available from the start, with the former offering soft and hard top options; Softback or Hardback, in Land Rover’s terms. Competitive pricing, and the prestige conferred by the Land Rover badge, meant sales were brisk, though the earliest cars were dogged by electrical failures, and build quality issues, which were steadily addressed, and improved upon.

It was frustrating given the Freelander’s potential that the brand-new factory to produce it in (the old SD1 body plant at Lode Lane, completely refitted) hadn’t fully exorcised the build quality issues that plagued cars during British Leyland’s tenure of the premises.

Nevertheless, buzz around the Freelander remained strong. BMW, which bought Rover in 1994, was delighted with the car as it went into production; it had long regarded Land Rover as a feather in its cap of intellectual properties and eagerly supported the project into production, developed as it was under a £450 million British Aerospace

A year after launch, 27 Freelanders took part in the last-ever Camel Trophy set in Tierra del Fuego, alongside Defenders, Discoverys, and Range Rovers. Land Rover was keen to prove the Freelander’s mettle; despite the misgivings of seasoned staff and competitors, recollections on the Camel Trophy Club website revealed that the Defender 110s needed more help than the Freelanders did.

By 1999, a Commercial van variant with a cabin partition, no rear seats and solid plastic window panelling had joined the catalogue, with three trim levels – base, Xi, and Xe.

With sales in the United States planned, the 2.5-litre KV6 engine was fitted to the model from 2000, with cars shipped across the pond the following year, available only with the larger petrol engine and automatic transmission.

2000 also saw the Rover Group broken up by BMW, which quickly saw Ford add Land Rover to its portfolio, bolstering the back catalogue of its Premier Automotive Group (PAG), created a year earlier. A collection of luxury marques that already had Aston Martin and Jaguar within its walls, PAG also brought Lincoln, Mercury and Volvo into its direct control.

As a sophisticated European upstart to the likes of the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, the Freelander’s US career began promisingly; alas, reliability woes dragged its standing down as its Japanese rivals rode higher and higher up the reliability charts.

At home, tweaks continued inside and out; joining the KV6 was a minor facelift as well as a new oil burner: BMW’s N47 2.0-litre diesel, known as the Td4, ousted the tough, but agricultural L-Series. Trim levels were also renamed: S, GS, and ES supplanted base, Xi, and Xe.

There was even a failed bid to include the Freelander the Tomb Raider film franchise. While Lara Croft drove a 88-inch wheelbase Series II in-game, her screen counterpart ended up with a Defender 110 built by Land Rover Special Vehicles. Former creative design manager, Tony Hunter, had designs for a similarly decked out Freelander to appear in Lara Croft’s garage, but her film makers disagreed.

Significant long-term changes for the Freelander arrived in 2003, revamping the by-then-dated interior, as well as updating the nose and tail to more closely resemble that of the Range Rover (L322) and Discovery 3.

At the same time, the stiffer, larger wheeled and sharper handling Sport model was also added to the family to snare buyers who wanted more on-road performance. Elsewhere, Ford had been desperately improving the K Series since it took control of Land Rover, the engine’s oft-reported inlet manifold and head gasket woes a major public relations sticking point.

Out in the wild, the death of the Camel Trophy saw a new event rise from the ashes – the worldwide G4 Challenge. Of the Freelanders tackled New York in 2003, 14 cars – all of which were V6s – went on 2006’s Brazilian leg.

As the Noughties progressed, however, Ford knew that the reign of L314 was coming to an end. The model had reconciled Land Rover with its parent, proved itself beyond argument in the toughest terrains and brought customers to the green oval in numbers it had never seen before.
A shortage of engines – and MG Rover’s imminent demise – saw L314 leave the US in 2005.

Slowly but surely, the range was reduced in anticipation of Freelander 2 (L359), its replacement. By 2006, all that remained was the Td4 turbodiesels, with four trim levels - Adventurer, Freestyle, Sport and HSE – packing in the kit to unprecedented levels. Freelander II lasted from 2006 to 2014.

Based on the Volvo P3/Ford EUCD platform, that model was never directly replaced; nowadays, the Discovery Sport and Evoque share the Freelander’s legacy.

Buying a Freelander 1 (L314)

With the Freelander on the cusp of modern classic status, historic vehicle auctions have only just begun to take them on.

For the time being, they’re the most affordable Land Rover on the market. Well-used but serviceable petrol and diesel examples start from £800; ex-Camel Trophy and G4-Challenge cars, when they appear, command a premium. Otherwise, decent pre-and post-facelift cars can be had for well within a £2500-£3000 budget.

Many higher mileage cars were rallied in events like the Britpart British Cross Country Championships and Freelander Challenge, which combined off-roading with faster mixed surface runs.

Lancaster Insurance Services spoke to Land Rover specialist, Avenger 4x4, about what to look for when sizing up a Freelander 1, and its director, Allen Walker, took us through the pitfalls. “I don’t think they’re as bad as people make out,” he said. “They’re a good little car. Service history is important on a Freelander, and they’ll all have had a few window switches, motors and regulators, though that’s minor.”

Throughout the life of the Freelander 1, four engines were offered, two petrol, two diesel. Petrols comprised a four-cylinder K-Series (118bhp) and a later, post-2000 2.5-litre V6 (KV6) producing 173bhp. Oil burners ran to a 90bhp 2.0-litre L-Series until 1999, which was replaced by a 2.0-litre BMW unit with 110bhp.

The petrols are revvier and smoother on the road, but their peakiness can sometimes cause problems off road when low-down grunt is needed.

Noisier and heavier though the diesels might be, the payback is in their thriftier fuel consumption and greater low end torque. Derv-powered Freelanders also suffer from fewer oil leaks – particularly when compared to the petrol KV6 engines, and are far less likely to run into problems with their cooling systems.

“On engines, it’s a matter of opinion”, Allen said. “[If] well-looked after, the 1.8 K-Series is good, but, once the head gasket’s gone, the engine’s toast, [and] not many people look after them properly that is the biggest thing, they skimp on parts and oil.

“[The KV6 is] a bit like the K Series if you get a good one that’s been very well looked and regularly serviced it won’t give you any grief at all. If it’s had any signs of coolant or head issues, or thermostat issues, walk away. On the petrols, once the cooling system’s played up, it’s downhill from there.

“The 2.0-litre Td4 is a BMW engine and if it’s well looked after it’s pretty bomb-proof. The pre-99 [cars] where they put the 2.0-litre L-Series in it out of the Rover, you’d have to go some to kill one of those. They’re a little bit painful [unrefined], they’re not as quick as a Td4 but they are a mega-solid engine.

“If the clutch is going [on the Td4], that can get expensive, the parts are just as expensive as the labour, especially the Td4, it runs a dual-mass flywheel, and I know a lot of garages don’t, but you should really replace all the hydraulics when you replace the clutch.”

Allen isn’t a fan of solid flywheel Freelander conversions, even though the jury online is out; similar swaps take place on Td5-engined Discovery 2s and the clutch effort, in Allen’s opinion, increases considerably.

Another Td4 issue to be aware of is the crankshaft pulley. Allen confirmed: “The crankshaft pulley has a damper built into it; they can separate and when they do, the engine clanks and people think the pistons have gone, normally it’s not, it’s just the pulley.”

A problem like this isn’t necessarily terminal, but haggle the price downwards if you encounter it. There are a couple of other diesel-specific problems to look out for, too – but again, there’s not too much to worry about. “They suffer from injection pump leaks but it’s normally an O-ring on the back, the odd injector here and there,” Allen said. Watch for high pressure fuel pump failures on Td4s, too.

OK – so what about the prospects of that much-vaunted, 16-patent drivetrain? The solutions Land Rover devised wrung the maximum from Rover’s parts bin – but in 2023, owing to breakages, many Freelander 1s remain stuck in front-wheel drive.

Allen continued: “[The viscous coupling unit is] a rubbish design [although saying that is] a bit harsh. I’ve never understood why Land Rover went from a perfectly good working transfer box on the back of a gearbox in the middle of a car to some kind of bearing viscous thing.”

“The biggest expenses on them, […] it’s not that dear if it’s there [non-functional], the viscous coupling seizes, and this is what people don’t understand, they don’t even notice it, which then does [in] either the intermediate reduction drive [IRD] or rear diff.” Worn bearings in the viscous coupling unit will, in turn, wear the longshaft (propshaft) out.

“What people [then] do is take the propshaft kit off completely with the viscous coupling, and then it’s front-wheel drive. [Once the prop’s gone] that’s it, it can’t fail, that’s normally the reason they’re taken off, for fuel economy, I’ve run them in two-wheel-drive, they are better on fuel;  most people don’t use them off road.

Bell Engineering [does] a very good refurbished unit […] a replacement viscous kit from them is about £300 and as long as your propshaft’s fine, they’ll go straight back on.”

It goes without saying that a Freelander 1 with working four-wheel-drive is worth a premium over an example running in front-wheel-drive alone; ask the vendor to demonstrate that it works.

If there’s a clunking coming on and off power or it feels like the brakes are binding, either the IRD, VCU, or both, could be at fault. Check also what tyres a car for sale has, what size they are, and their age.

Allen warned: “Matching tyres is another thing with them, the rolling radius [is crucial]; if you’ve got four different tyres on four different corners, that can knock the viscous coupling [unit] out quite quickly as well.”

Two-wheel-drive Freelander 1s are perfectly serviceable vehicles, but you shouldn’t be paying a premium for one. Manuals fare better than automatics, but neither gearbox is bullet proof, as Allen related. “My wife’s had three Autos over a period of six years, they’re just good cars. We had no problems but they can be problematic: [the autos] can go wrong and when they do, they’re expensive.”

There’s less rust to worry about with Freelanders compared to other separate chassied Land Rovers, but it’s not all plain sailing, as Allen explained:

“They’re not that prone for rotting if I was looking anywhere the fuel tank cradles rot out, they’re a stupid design, they’re available new, and they’re not that dear. We have seen one or two where they’ve gone on the inner wings, but not many.

“Second hand parts are readily available…the door seals are expensive, from memory the last time we got them in it was £125 [per door, from Land Rover]; the plastic seals that go around the door, they bubble up and can be harder to get hold of second hand ones have done the same [but] there’s an abundance of second hand and aftermarket spares for them;  it’s as with everything else, you pay for what you get.”

Easy to drive, cheap to fix and eminently affordable – while Land Rover ownership is a broad church, the Freelander 1 threw the doors open to more people than ever before. Prices won’t stay the same forever; as entry-level models go, it’s a great place in which to begin your green oval career.

Overlooked, underrated and unfairly looked down upon, he Freelander 1 deserves more recognition. It remains the most affordable modern classic Land Rover on the market, bolstered by a vast support network, with spares available in abundance second-hand and from Land Rover Heritage.

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It would be fair to say that Sven, the 1964 Saab GT850, was one of the stars of the 2024 Practical Classics Classic Car and Restoration Show at the NEC. He dominated Hall 4, his twin aluminium stripes gleaming in the artificial light.

LEYLAND PRINCESS 2200HL – DEFINITELY NOT AN AVERAGE CAR

One of the most pleasing developments in the classic car world over the past twenty years is the Princess’ Wedge’ at least receiving praise due to such an innovative design. This 1977 2200HL, recently advertised on eBay, is enough to make one re-enact “Great Scenes from Terry and June”.

Meet The Owner - Will Hollands-Smith and his Citroen BX 19TRS Mk.2

Will Hollands-Smith is a most determined young man. Owning the only roadworthy BX Mk. 1 Estate in the country was not enough to satisfy his craving for this very fine model. So, he is also the custodian of a 1986 ex-Citroen UK Mk.2 press launch/dealer demonstrator 19TRS.

08 April 2024

THE 2024 PRACTICAL CLASSICS RESTORATION SHOW

The Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show was an electrifying event, drawing 26,912 attendees to Birmingham’s NEC over the 22-24 weekend. Witnessing over 160 car clubs come together to showcase restoration demos was truly heartening.

Introducing the Lancaster Car Club team!

Hello All, We’ve had some developments on the Car Club team front which I am happy to share with you this month. We have some new members of the team...

Announcing our 2023 – 2024 Bright Young Sparks winner, Rosie Hodgson-Jones!

At The Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show, Rosie was announced as our brilliant Bright Young Sparks winner, and received her award from previous winner, Katie!

Jordan Hope’s Rover 216 Vitesse – Celebrating 40 Years of The SD3

The 19th of June 1984 was a crucial date for British Leyland, with the launch of the SD3-series Rover 200...

Brian Thomas, Car Club Executive recounts his dream ride with Sporting Bears in a McLaren 750s Convertible

Choosing which Sporting Bears car to go out in at The NEC The Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show. How do you begin to choose?

March 2024

18 March 2024

MEET THE OWNER – DJ LORD ANTHONY AND HIS LOTUS ELITE

Lord Anthony of London, the well-known DJ, has been a devotee of the Lotus Elite “ever since I was a kid. When I was travelling in our family car’s back seat, I caught a glimpse of these exotic beasts neatly lined up in the forecourt of the official Lotus dealership in Drakes Broughton, a small village near Worcestershire”.

Meet The Owner – Steve Cannon and his Austin Maxi 2

The Austin Maxi was arguably the first of several British Leyland cars to be unfairly judged for too many years. Its potential was vast; in 1969, a family saloon with five doors, a transverse OHC engine driving the front wheels, seats that could form a double bed, and a five-speed transmission was virtual science fiction.

The UK’s Most Opinionated Automotive Reviews? - Car and The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly

Personal note: Car magazine was the first motoring title that altered my younger self to how automotive writing could be witty, thought-provoking, and often idiosyncratic. To look at an edition from 1977 is to be immersed in a world of L.J.K. Setright, scoop photographs of prototypes from Hans G. Lehmann and, of course, “The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly”.

MISUNDERSTOOD – THE RILEY PATHFINDER

It was one of the most attractive saloons of the 1950s, combining overtones of Lancia with the traditional Riley grille. The RMH-series Pathfinder is handsome, imposing, and luxurious and could have represented a new direction for the marque. Yet, for too many years, it was a misunderstood car.

THE VOLKSWAGEN SCIROCCO AT 50

The 1974 Geneva Motor Show was the launch venue for one of Volkswagen’s most important models. The Scirocco was their first transverse engine car and their third front-wheel-drive vehicle, after the 1970 K70 and the 1973 Passat. When production ended in 2017 in its third incarnation, it had helped to redefine the Volkswagen name.

A CAR OF DREAMS – JAGUAR 420G

1980 - a Sunday afternoon in a small village pub somewhere in Hampshire. For my ten-year-old self, the atmosphere can be summarised in the following words: locally branded cola, obscure forms of potato crisps, Space Invaders and stultifying, Tony Hancock-style boredom.

14 March 2024

THE FORD MUSTANG AT 60

The date is the 13th April 1964, and the venue is the Ford Pavilion at New York World’s Fair. The assembled media representatives have gathered to hear the company’s Vice President, Lee Iacocca, introduce a car that would appeal to the affluent younger driver.

SEVEN INGREDIENTS FOR THE IDEAL OUTDOOR CLASSIC CAR SHOW

The 6th March was the date for the 2024 Cowley Convoy from the BMW MINI factory to Lord Nuffield’s house near Henley-on-Thames. And as my Wolseley headed through Oxfordshire to join the event, and throughout the day, the Convoy reminded me of seven ingredients for a splendid outdoor classic car show:

MEET THE OWNER – CHARLIE SMITH AND HIS AUSTIN MONTEGO VANDEN PLAS

“I think the Montego is gaining lots of respect as a classic car. My Vanden Plas gets so much interest when we take it to classic car shows and we get many questions about her!” And rightly so, as Charlie Smith’s 1985 example is a very special machine. In his words:

THE ORIGINAL MINI ESTATE

Early this month BMW announced the imminent demise of the MINI Clubman after seventeen years. But their heritage dates to a far earlier time. The original Morris Mini Traveler and Austin Seven Countryman first appeared in autumn 1960 - a world when such phrases as “National Service” and “You’re Never Alone With A Strand” were part of everyday vocabulary.

06 March 2024

Meet the Owner – Dave Troughton and his Vauxhall Ventora FD

There are several reasons why people acquire classic cars - performance, handling, impressing the neighbours and fine television programmes of the 1960s. Dave bought his Ventora FD for the last-named reason, and for those unfamiliar with this gem from ITC productions, here is a typical scenario from Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased):

Hidden Gem – The Triumph 1500

Some cars have the misfortune of being overshadowed by more than one member of the same family. The Triumph 1500 often seems to be unfairly neglected compared with its 1300 predecessor – the marque’s first front-wheel-drive car – and the later Dolomite. Yet, it has a distinct appeal of its own.

The Car You Always Promised Yourself – The J.D Classics Ford Capri 1300L Mk. I

A great deal of mythology surrounds the Capri Mk. I, including the belief that virtually every model on the road in this country was at least a 2000GT in XLR specification. A variation of this delusion is the 3000E and the later 3000GXL were relatively common sights in the early 1970s.

04 March 2024

The Citroën Traction Avant at 90 by Andrew Roberts

When Citroën presented the Traction Avant to its dealers in March 1934, it made automotive history. This was not only the company’s first front-wheel drive car, but there was also rack-&-pinion steering and all-independent suspension.

Meet The Owner – Kieron Trumper and his Triumph 2.5 PI Mk. 1

I bought the car last April when I was 20. I always knew I wanted a Triumph 2000/2500 as my dad had them 20/30 years ago and still owned one when I was a little kid, and it is my earliest memory of cars.

Immerse yourself in the Practical Classics World at the NEC Classic Car & Restoration Show!

Don’t miss the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show from 22-24 March at the NEC! No matter whether you’re currently engaged in a restoration project or someone who just simply appreciates the beauty of classic cars, this is the perfect place to be.

Announcing our February Bright Young Spark, George Swift!

Where did your passion for classics start? ‘Many different places: an interest in the history of engineering, being brought up around older cars, my curiosity to understand how all the components of a car come together to produce an operating vehicle.

February 2024

14 February 2024

Meet The Owner - Lewis Buchan and His Collection

Owning a classic car is a joy with a few challenges en route: maintenance, restoration costs, having to source spare parts from across the globe and being asked “What’s that then?” in the Tesco car park approximately 1,354 times. Now, imagine those experiences multiplied by 28.

January 2024

31 January 2024

Announcing our January Bright Young Spark, Rosie Hodgson- Jones!

How did it all start? ‘My dad and grandad have always enjoyed tinkering and driving their vintage cars. Since I was really little, we have always gone out in them and on holiday with them, especially with the Ford Model T car club.

Join us at the 2024 Practical Classic Restoration Show!

Gear up for a fantastic start to the year at the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration show, taking place from March 22 to 24 at the NEC.

29 January 2024

TOP FIVE GHIA-BADGED FORDS

When Ford acquired complete control of the Turin design house Carrozzeria Ghia in January 1973, the result was a sea change for their British flagship models. Aspirational motorists craved the car with the shield badge instead of the previous 'Executive' versions. And here are the five pioneering Ghias:

MEET THE OWNER – JON COUPLAND AND HIS ROVER 75

For many years, the virtues of the Rover 75 were taken for granted: its comfort, level of standard equipment and quiet dignity. Now they are receiving the attention that is due to them, and Jon Coupland is especially taken with his early Cowley-built 1.8-litre version. He explains:

24 January 2024

Meet The Owner - Siôn Hudson and his Vauxhall Cavalier L Mk. II

Once familiar, cars often undergo a seven-stage cycle. Firstly, they are launched with maximum fanfare before entering the second stage of their middle years. Next comes the last-of-the-line special editions, intended to clear showrooms for its replacement, followed by twilight in used-car listings.

22 January 2024

MEET THE OWNER - JON BENTLEY AND HIS SAAB 95 TWO-STROKE

To be the custodian of one classic car is a major responsibility - to have a 17- strong collection is virtually a full-time occupation. Jon Bentley’s 1965 95 is one of his fleet of Saabs that established the firm as a car maker.

A Remarkable Car – The Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas Series One

For many years, this writer has regarded the Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas Series One as the pinnacle of the XJ family. It is a car that exudes opulence and good taste in equal measure, a saloon of quiet but definite presence.

MAGNIFICENT SEVEN LOST MODELS

Or seven versions of familiar BMC and British Leyland models that never made it to the showrooms:

Classic Cars – An Ongoing Story

Of all the automotive anniversaries that will be taking place this year, the one that stuns me the most is that the Citroen CX will be celebrating its half-century. I was aged about five when I saw my first example, and to say I was mesmerised was somewhat of an understatement.

15 January 2024

TWICE THE ABILITY – THE STORY OF THE TWINI MOKE

The Mini Moke celebrates its 60th birthday in 2024, and possibly the most fascinating variant was the dual-engine ‘Twini’. When the British Motor Corporation displayed a prototype to the media in January 1963, their Managing Director George Harriman told the press:

Ten Vehicles That Altered Their Identity

It could be watching a film shot in New Zealand and wondering why a Hillman Minx is badged as a 'Humber 80' or seeing an old US advertisement for an Avenger under the name 'Plymouth Avenger'. And in 1981, when this writer was aged 11, he was mesmerised by the Fiat-based SEATS on his first visit to Spain.

09 January 2024

STARS AND THEIR CARS – THE STARSKY & HUTCH FORD GRAN TORINO

For a long time, Starsky & Hutch was a fixture on BBC1. Every week, Captain Dobey would order, “You two jokers - in my office”, and Huggy Bear would observe “You ever try to get ten horses in a basement?”.

Forgotten Hero – The Citroën Visa

The sales copy said it was "A serious challenge to those who are ahead of the Joneses" and asked potential buyers ", Do you sincerely want freedom of choice"? Equally importantly, it would allow the owner to progress "smugly in winter when other cars dig their own graves with their rear wheel drives".

60 YEARS OF THE MINI COOPER’S MONTE CARLO VICTORY

Sixty years ago, a Morris Mini Cooper 1071S, registration 33 EJB, was among the 299 entrants of the Monte Carlo Rally. As for the favourites, Motor Sport observed:

08 January 2024

Charity Heroes - Craig Cheetham on festive fundraising efforts

There’s a good chance you’re reading this issue of PC during the festive season and, while the temptation may be to snuggle down in front of the fire with a mince pie and a glass of eggnog, there’s also plenty to be getting on with where your classics are concerned.

Land’s End to John O’ Groats Reliability Trial 2023 is toughest for 7 years!

After 1500 miles over 5 legs, in 75 hours, the Land’s End to John O’ Groats Reliability Trial 2023 reached its end at a fine and sunny John O’ Groats, somewhat ironic after the dire conditions experienced during the event.

05 January 2024

Announcing our December Bright Young Spark, Courtney Ward!

My love for cars has definitely become my way of life. My grandfather was a brilliant mechanic, so naturally my dad followed suit with a passion for cars and detailing; I've grown up around it.

The Ford Capri II at Fifty by Andrew Roberts!

When Ford unveiled the Capri II on the 25th of February 1974, they faced a vast challenge – how do you improve on the original Capri?

Congratulations to Les, our Austin Healey winner!

Last year we gave you the chance to WIN a beautifully restored Austin Healey. We had thousands of entries, and we can announce that the lucky winner was Les!

FORGOTTEN HERO - THE LANCIA FLAVIA

Quite simply, the Flavia was a crucial model in Lancia’s history - their first front-wheel-drive car. It is also hard to envisage how unusual a sight it would have been in the UK when it was new. Autocar described the Flavia as “a car for the connoisseur”, and Motor Sport regarded the Lancia not so much as a status symbol but as a:

The SEAT 600 – The Car That Changed a Nation

It is a scenario familiar to many of us. You are casually scanning the eBay listings, gazing at the cars you cannot afford, when one vehicle metaphorically leaps out of the screen.

MATCHBOX TOYS AT SEVENTY

This blog is by way of a triple celebration. Lesney issued its first Matchbox die-cast model in 1953, its first buses and lorries in 1954, and for seven decades they have delighted motoring enthusiasts of all ages.

04 January 2024

The Car That Came In From The Cold – The Borgward P100

For many years, this writer has regarded the Borgward P100 ‘Big Six’ as one of the most fascinating German cars of its generation. To find an ex-Guernsey RHD example being recently sold by Classic Car Auctions | 1961 B rgward P100 B g S x-F r Sale sorely tempted him, for the P100 belongs in a world of Cold War spies.

Meet The Owner – Callum Cubbage and his Talbot-Matra Murena

For many years, I thought my father’s gold Talbot-Matra Murena 1.6 was one of the most unusual cars he had ever owned. Certainly, no one else in our village had decided to invest in an LHD three-seater mid-engine coupe. So, imagine my delight in seeing Callum’s example. He remarks: “This car is totally original apart from the replacement engine.

Meet The Owner – Michael Drewry and his Austin Ambassador 2.0 HL

Michael is the owner of one of the most misunderstood cars to hail from the British Leyland empire. To quell one myth immediately, the motoring press did not lambast the Austin Ambassador. Motor Sport was impressed by the trim’s quality and noted how the ride, handling, and steering had all been improved compared with its predecessor.

MEET THE OWNER – CALLUM ANDERSON AND HIS VAUXHALL ASTRA EXP

Marvel at the Hazelnut Metallic paintwork. Thrill to the Antique Gold side stripe and wheels, glass sunroof, front fog lamps and tinted windows. Then savour the decadence of the Chevron Tweed upholstery. In 1982, to spend £4,995 and upwards on a Vauxhall Astra EXP was to be a member of the suburban elite – i.e. the sort of person who had a Sony C7 video recorder in their living room.

Wolseley Running Report

Or what I have learned and experienced over the past twelve months. i) Panic. Yes, that was the emotion I felt on seeing smoke billow from the radiator grille and the boot last summer when the Wolseley was taking part in a show.

MEET THE OWNER - PATRICK BRADLEY AND HIS AUSTIN MAESTRO 1.3L PRESS CAR

We have previously featured Patrick’s Maestro Advantage and Montego Vanden Plas Automatic, and the latest member of his fleet is equally fascinating. In his words:

December 2023

27 December 2023

A look back at an incredible 2023

As we approach the end of 2023 and reflect on all we’ve achieved over the year, it’s a time of great pride for me.

20 December 2023

Ten Remarks You Do Not Want to Hear at Your Local Classic Car Show

A well-run local car show is one of the joys of the year. But, as many owners will tell you, the main challenge is coping with such remarks as these -

THE WORLD’S RAREST HILMAN? THE BRITISH MOTOR MUSEUM’S HILLMAN GT

Visitors to the British Motor Museum are guaranteed to be mesmerised by the sheer variety of rare machinery on display – including a very exclusive member of the Rootes Group 'Arrow' family. In 1969, the Hillman GT was the perfect car for the motorist who regarded a Jason King moustache and string-back driving gloves as high style.

Meet The Owner - James Ross Sinclair and his BMW 320/6

The 3-Series was probably the first BMW to gain mass popularity in the UK. Speeding Home Counties motorists in the 1970s might have encountered a Thames Valley police 3.0S and a successful barrister might have chosen 528 but even the cheapest of the 02s were never widely seen. James Ross Sinclair is the proud owner of a 1982 320/6 A in splendid condition.

“Sheer poetry in motion”– The Hindustan Contessa

For many Britons, the final of 25,085 VXs leaving the Luton factory in July 1978 marked the end of the Victor story, one that commenced in 1957. But this was not quite the end of the narrative, as Vauxhall sold the design to Hindustan Motors for £1.5 million. In the 1990s, the Contessa appeared in several films and was known as “the muscle car of India”.

Ten More Lost Motoring Sights

Young people, eh? With their music, their hairstyles, and their IT gadgets. They will never have experienced the joys of trudging along a dual carriageway in the rain, looking for a working public telephone box to call for a breakdown truck. Or any of these:

The BMW 2002 Turbo at Fifty

As I recently noted in my blog about the 3-Series, during the 1970s, any BMW seemed to be an exclusive sight on British roads, while the 2002 Turbo belonged in the realm of the exotic.

Rosemary Smith - 7th August 1937 - 5th December 2023

In the beginning, I was a dizzy blonde, the young one with the blonde hair and false eyelashes. Then, after I started winning things, there was a bit more of a grudging acceptance, and then when I got the drive with Rootes in England, they started to take note: ‘She must be quite good. Now, when I talk to some people I raced against, I get much more respect.

11 December 2023

SCALEXTRIC – THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR THE FUTURE STIRLING MOSS

In days gone by, the approach to Christmas could be marked by the Advent Calendar, the promise of seasonal specials on television, and the Woolworth commercials. Meanwhile, another advertisement appeared to keen future motorists who were still at school  - YouTube

Meet The Owner – Alastair Inglis and his Peugeot 203 Styleside

There are those rare occasions when a classic car enthusiast encounters a vehicle they were unaware of. The 1952 203 Styleside ute owned by Alastair Inglis, the  203 Registrar of Club Peugeot UK, is one such exclusive machine. The ute was a version sold only in Australia, where just two remain on the road.

FIT FOR A PROFESSIONAL – THE FORD CAPRI GHIA MK. II

In 1976, this Ford Capri Mk. II Ghia, offered for sale by Praters, represented the high life to the discerning motorists; on seeing that shield badge on the front wings, neighbours and business colleagues would regard you with awe as a member of that exclusive club – 'The Fellowship of Ghia'.

TOP TEN 1970S LIMITED-EDITION FORDS – PART 1

In the 1970s, Ford GB demonstrated a mastery of the art of the limited edition special model. Here are just ten of such desirable cars -

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?

November 2023

28 November 2023

FIFTY YEARS OF LADA IN THE UK

Fifty years ago, visitors to the London Motor Show saw an unfamiliar marque displayed on Stand 152. The Moskvich sold by Satra Motors Ltd. was an established sight in the UK, but Earls Court was the first time most Britons encountered its fellow USSR product - a Fiat 124 clone named Lada. The sales publicly claimed:

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? You have dropped subtle hints for the past few weeks, but your parents claim it is “far too extravagant”.

27 November 2023

The Vauxhall Firenza Droop Snoot at 50

The year is 1973, the place is the London Motor Show, and your attention is drawn by the Vauxhall display – namely, a striking-looking coupe. The sales team called it the “High Performance” Firenza, but showgoers were already referring to it as the “Droop Snoot”.

THE FORD CORSAIR AT 60

The year is 1963 and your recently gained managerial status demands a new car and Ford seem to have the ideal vehicle. You excitedly read an article by the famous publisher Jocelyn Stevens entitled “Corsair – with man in mind” which states “‘To me, But the man of today is sophisticated, cool, tough – and on the outside, casually elegant.

THREE DAYS AT THE LANCASTER INSURANCE CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW

How do you select a Car of the Show from the recent event at the NEC? It is a true Mission Impossible from the moment you enter any of the Halls, with cars as varied as a Volvo 262C and a Vauxhall Cresta PA waiting to bombard your senses. At one point, I covetously eyed a Riley Pathfinder in metallic blue, but then I suddenly noticed its Wolseley 6/90 Series One stablemate in grey.

16 November 2023

RARER THAN RARE – THE TALBOT TAGORA SX

In 1981, when this writer was eleven, and Adam and the Ants were the pop group du jour, certain mass-produced executive cars were about as rare as a watchable episode of Runaround. I seldom encountered a Vauxhall Viceroy, a Renault 30TX, a Citroën CX Prestige, a Volvo 264 or a Rover SD1 V8S on Lower Swanwick’s (less than) mean streets.

OVERLOOKED GEMS – THE SINGER SM1500 AND HUNTER

Amidst the many and varied cars displayed at the 1948 London Motor Show was a formal-looking saloon that offered "dignity, style and perfect balance". The SM1500 was Singer's first post-war design, and today it merits far greater recognition.

MEET THE OWNER – ERIC DALTON AND HIS AUSTIN AMBASSADOR VANDEN PLAS

Readers of Practical Classics will instantly recognise Eric’s Austin Ambassador Vanden Plas in all its Opaline Green magnificence. As he explains:

15 November 2023

STARS AND THEIR CARS - DOCTOR WHO AT SIXTY

At 5:15 p.m. on Saturday 23rd November 1963, after Grandstand and before The Telegoons and Dixon of Dock Green, BBC Television premiered the first episode of a series they billed as  “A new adventure in time and space”. And the first car to be seen in Doctor Who was a Wolseley 6/80 – albeit only the front half, which the production crew mounted on castors.

13 November 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.

10 November 2023

MEET THE OWNER – JOHN KINGSFORD AND HIS VAUXHALL CARLTON MK.I

There is an elite group of cars that fall into the category of “whatever happened to” - cars such as John Kingsford’s magnificently Orange Tan Vauxhall Carlton. 45 years ago, this was the perfect transport for the someone who was really “going places” – and who chose a paint finish that would undoubtedly stand out in the office car park.

Meet the Owner – 1972 Toyota Crown Custom Estate

There are those rare but wonderful times when an advertisement for a classic car stops you in your tracks. A 1972 Toyota Crown Custom Estate in the finest orange available to humanity is just such a vehicle. 51 years ago, this would have been the vehicle for the local elite – the sort of motorist who also owned two colour television sets.

MEMORIES OF THE 1983 LONDON MOTORFAIR

What would have caught your eye at the 1983 London Motorfair, which ran from the 20th to the 30th October? The second-generation VW Golf? The Renault 11? The Fiat Regata? Or the Ford Fiesta Mk. II? All of which impressed the then 13-year-old writer, although I cannot recall seeing the AC Cobra Mk. IV by Autocraft.

09 November 2023

A VISIT TO THE 1973 LONDON MOTOR SHOW

At last, the doors to Earls Court are opened - The Lamborghini Countach is the most expensive car of the 1973 London Motor Show at £16,314, and the Fiat 126 is the cheapest at £699. Your initial ports of call are the British Leyland stands, and firstly, there is the Austin Allegro, which made its bow on the 17th May.

07 November 2023

A VISIT TO THE 1963 LONDON MOTOR SHOW

The first car you hope to see at the London Motor Show is the Lotus Cortina, which debuted earlier that year. £1,100 2s 11d may be rather a lot of money, but The Motor thought it "a good compromise for a keen driver who has to remember that the family must sit somewhere".

October 2023

30 October 2023

Revving Up for a Classic Car Paradise at the NEC!

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!

The Triumph 2000 at 60

When Motor Sport tested the Triumph 2000 in 1964, they described it as "a 6-cylinder, luxuriously equipped and styled family-type 5-seater saloon, likely to appeal to ordinary rather than discerning motorists".

Announcing our October Bright Young Spark!

Announcing our October Bright Young Spark!

27 October 2023

MGB is revealed as fan favourite

2023 is a big year for MGs, as it marks its 100th birthday and the MG Owners’ Club (MGOC) achieves its 50th anniversary, and to celebrate Lancaster Insurance has revealed the top MG model favoured by owners, the B.

THE JAGUAR S-TYPE AT SIXTY

Sixty years ago, Jaguar introduced a new model for the driver who lived in a world of expense account steak and scampi. Seeing an S-Type in the driveway would show the neighbours that you had reached ‘the top’ and induce envy in all Ford Zodiac owners.

Meet The Owner – Graham Walker and his Renault 6 TL

Sometimes, when looking at used car advertisements, you encounter a vehicle that gives you an overwhelming rush of nostalgia - Classic car Renault 6 hatchback luxury 4 model ready to enjoy rare | eBay. A 1977 Renault 6TL seems to belong to a lost world of The Old Grey Whistle Test on BBC2 and Space 1999 iced-lollies from your local newsagent.

MEET THE OWNER - SEBASTIAN SAUER AND HIS HONDA ACCORD SERIES ONE SALOON

Sebastian has long been an enthusiast of old cars, and he recently sold his 1987 Toyota Celica to buy this incredibly rare machine – “It was a no-brainer!”. His 1978 first-generation Honda Accord saloon is believed to be the only remaining example in Gibraltar.

25 October 2023

A Car of Temptation – A Riley Two-Point-Six

Auctions can be places of great temptation to the unwary classic car enthusiasts. Take the 1959 Riley Two-Point-Six to be sold by H&H on the 29th November. After just one look, this writer was plotting to eBay several members of his family to raise the necessary funds - 1959 Riley 2.6 Saloon (handh.co.uk).

MEET THE OWNER – TREVOR HANDY AND HIS FORD GRANADA 3.0GL MK. I ESTATE

The public reaction is very good, especially when you lift the bonnet you can eat your lunch off it. I have always been a fan of big cars and estate cars, especially Ford, so when I first saw this one, I knew I would end up with it.

24 October 2023

AUSTIN A90 ATLANTIC

Seventy-five years ago, the A90 Atlantic was a star of the first post-war  London Motor Show. Many of the 562,954 visitors to Earls Court were agog at those gold-faced instruments,  the ECKO radio set,  the heater, the centrally mounted fog lamp and the "Jewelescent" paint finish. Plus, any car with a power-operated hood was a world apart from a realm of smog, Woodbines and queuing for the cheese ration.

1970 AUSTIN-HEALEY SPRITE

In late 1969, British Leyland extensively revised the MG Midget Mk. III and its Austin-Healey Sprite Mk. IV companion model. The black grilles and Ro-Style wheels altered the line-up’s image. It was farewell to blazers, cravats and Graham Hill moustaches and hello to Jason King sideburns and large amounts of Hai Karate aftershave. And who could resist the “Racy 3-spoke steering wheel with simulated leather-bound rim”?

1955 CITROEN ‘ONZE NORMALE’ TRACTION AVANT

When Citroën unveiled the original Traction Avant to the public on the 18th of April 1934, it marked an evolutionary step in the development of the motor car. There was the elegant uni-body construction, the front wheel drive, the torsion bar suspension and the hydraulic brakes. By comparison, other saloons of that era looked as though they had recently emerged from The Ark.

1967 JAGUAR E-TYPE

In December of 1961, Car & Driver rhapsodised over the E-Type: Our first impressions of taking over this car are not easy to describe. The car is beautiful to look at from any angle, and it was said by many, who saw it in the flesh for the first time when meeting our test crew, that pictures so far published had all failed to do justice to its appearance.

ROVER 2600 SD1

When British Leyland commenced work on the SD1, David Bache,  Rover’s Head of Design, intended to create a five-door supercar on a limited budget. He later stated: “It may be more difficult to achieve high standards with a simpler design because more intensive development is needed:

FORD SIERRA SAPPHIRE RS COSWORTH

"It's not for the inexperienced, but oh, how it rewards skilful, fluent, driving". That is how Ford promoted the new Sapphire RS Cosworth on its launch in 1988 – "Developed on the track, there's little to touch it on the road".

2004 MG SV-R

The best things about the car, however, remain the chassis and the steering, which has a lovely feel to it. The chassis is sharp without feeling snappy, taut without riding harshly. The car feels smart and intimate: you feel on top of the job.

1993 Ford Fiesta

1993 – a time when Meat Loaf announced I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That) and when Angus Deayton still hosted Have I Got News For You. And a time when a Ford Fiesta was a familiar sight. Thirty years later, time and the impact of various scrappage schemes means that it is now an increasingly rare sight on British roads.

19 October 2023

75 YEARS OF THE JAGUAR XK120

Many people are familiar with the history of the XK120 – that Browns Lane intended it as a ‘test-bed’ for the latest Jaguar engine and how its appearance at Earls Court was because of the Mk. VII saloon would not be ready until 1950 due to body-tooling problems.

02 October 2023

1967 Mini T – The Mini From Italy

At first glance, this handsome Mini looks like a prime example of a Morris  Mk.1 Traveller. Then you notice the left-hand-drive layout and the unfamiliar badging. It is, in fact, a 1967 Innocenti Mini T - one of the 437,234 Minis built in Milan.

70 YEARS OF VOLKSWAGEN IN THE UK

The 1953 London Motor Show marked the first time a British motorist could buy a German car since the Second World War, but the Beetle had been a presence on the UK’s roads for a number of years. VW had sold them to British service personnel in Germany for £150 during the late 1940s, and on demob, they were allowed to take their Beetles home.

MEET THE OWNER – ELTON MURPHY AND HIS OPEL COMMODORE GS

Just take a look at the veloured magnificence of that interior, with wooden decorations reminiscent of a top-of-the-range hostess trolley. Then, marvel at the vinyl roof, the matt black grille and those elaborate wheels.

A VISIT TO THE 1953 LONDON MOTOR SHOW

It is the 21st October 1953, and the Duke of Edinburgh is to open the London Motor Show - an event that heralds the beginning of the post-war buyer’s market. Of course, Vauxhall buyers might still be awaiting delivery of the Wyvern or Velox they bought in 1947 and Morris dealers  may still be fulfilling orders for the Minor placed in 1948.

The Forgotten Ford Granada – Made By Hyundai

Some of us (all right, me) have long been fascinated with large European saloons that enjoyed an afterlife or a parallel career in another continent. India’s  Hindustan Contessa (aka the Vauxhall Victor FE) and the Standard 2000 (aka the Rover SD1) are prime examples of the former; we have the Hyundai-built  Ford Granada Mk for the latter. II.

THE WORLD’S OLDEST LANDCRAB?– A 1963 PRE-PRODUCTION AUSTIN 1800

It is always a pleasure to follow the progress of a car you wrote about previously. Many years ago, I compared a pre-production Austin 1800 ‘Landcrab’ with a Slough-built Citroën ID19 for Classic Cars magazine and described it as “a scaled-up BMC 1100 and is just as enjoyable to drive”. And now 531 NOF is in search of a new custodian.

THE MORRIS MINOR TRAVELLER AT SEVENTY

Autocar of 9th October 1953 profiled a new version of a vehicle, one “considered by many people as a classic design of its type, and as such is often used as a yardstick when comparing small cars”. They further praised the “very bright and light interior” and the “particularly useful luggage compartment”. It was, of course, the Morris Minor “Travellers Car”.

September 2023

29 September 2023

HAPPY 50TH BIRTHDAY TO THE RELIANT ROBIN

The 1st November 1973 edition of Autocar concluded its report on a crucial new British car with glowing praise: All told, the Robin marks a real step forward in three-wheeler design.

70 YEARS OF THE 2CV IN BRITAIN

the work of a designer who has kissed the lash of austerity with an almost masochistic fervour. Simplified to the point of crudity, it seems almost needlessly ugly, but it is full of original ideals planned to cut weight and cost and increase production. Besides this the Volkswagen is elaborate and the baby Renault a voiture de luxe.

26 September 2023

A Car of My Dreams - The Fiat 2300 Familiare

I recently wrote about how and why I craved a Fiat 2300, and, by pure chance, one is being sold by Anglia Car Auctions in November. Better still, this 1967 example is the even more exclusive Familiare estate version, in RHD form, and is possibly the only surviving version in the UK with optional automatic transmission.

Announcing our September Bright Young Sparks Winner!

Mark’s Story……. ‘I’ve found my passion' Mark Wager followed his dream after being knocked back at school.

CMS News

The UK’s biggest and best is only 2 months away! Prepare for an awe-inspiring journey through automotive history at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show 2023!

75 years of the Morris Minor by Andrew Roberts

The 1949 Morris models are being kept secret until today. We believe an aerodynamic car with the four-cylinder side-valve engine used in the former “Eight,” known as the Morris Minor, will be on show, together with larger models, one of which will be called the Morris Oxford. Go and see for yourselves!

Club of the month: Marina Owners Club

As many clubs begin to get planning for the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show in November, we hear the Marina Owners Club have already pulled out all the stops to create a show stopping display for the ‘Perfect Partners’ theme.

Lancaster Insurance enhance specialist MX-5 scheme to offer owners reduced premiums

Renowned for its MX-5 cover options, and close association with the model, Lancaster Insurance is thrilled to be reinforcing its commitment by developing its specialist scheme to offer owners reduced premiums across the MX-5 range.

THE ROVER 75 AT 25

On the 20th October, the Rover 75 will celebrate its quarter-century – a fact that seems impossible to many classic enthusiasts of a certain vintage. For many of us, including this writer, it seems to be almost yesterday that Mr. J Clarkson reported on the Rover's launch for Top Gear -

Meet the Owner - Joseph Lane and his Police Wolseley 6/80

Our old friend Joseph Lane has recently acquired another Wolseley to join his 6/90 and the other members of his classic police car fleet. His 1953 6/80 is the sort of vehicle that seems to dominate the output of Talking Pictures Television; a car associated with such black & white film dialogue as “You got me bang to rights Inspector!’  and “Dash it all, Superintendent – I was dining at the Blue Parrot nightclub that evening!”.

Meet the Owner – Tony Ludovico and his Alfa Romeo Alfa 6

My car was registered in Italy in 1986, but it was actually manufactured in 1984. I imported it to the UK it in 2018 after it had stood in a barn in Verona for 16 years  - and after a wash and wax and the original paintwork was still amazing!

THE VOLVO 145 - A CELEBRATION

As most readers already know, earlier this year, Volvo announced the demise of their estates, ending a tradition that commenced in 1962 with the station wagon version of the Amazon. Five years later, its 145 successor founded a dynasty that lasted until as recently as 1993 and is still the image conjured by so many Britons on hearing the words “Volvo Estate”.

Meet The Owner – Scarlett Devey and her Austin A40 Somerset

Creativity can spring from the strangest of places. Sometimes, it’s a case of making the most of what you have – for Scarlett Devey, it wasn’t a case of ‘make do and mend’, more ‘build back, and better’. Having spent her life to date around classics, custom cars and hot rods, she knew that she wanted something special for her first car; as it turned out, an Austin A40 Somerset more than fit the bill.

The real cost of restoring an MGB

When describing the MGB, words like ‘seminal’ and ‘evergreen’ come to mind. A worldwide favourite, beloved among enthusiasts, it remains an obvious candidate for restoration, owing to the parts supply, advice and support network available. But should you take the plunge? The MG Owners’ Club (MGOC) stepped into the breach to advise.

Meet The Owner – Alex Sebbinger and his Rover 825 Sterling

Cars go through hundreds – if not thousands – of interim changes during their production lifetimes. The purest of their kind, they’re normally the rarest of all; altered, improved, facelifted, or scrapped early on after flaws were exposed. Few survive, and even fewer are cherished. For arch Rover 800 enthusiast, Alex Sebbinger, his 1986 825 Sterling is something of a holy grail.

21 September 2023

THE VAUXHALL VIVA HA AT 60

The 26th September 1963 was an important date for Vauxhall – the public launch of their first post-war car. To promote the "1-litre car with the millionaire ride," there was a cinema commercial featuring Peter Gilmore, with a six-minute advertising feature screened on ITV on the 29th September.

MEET THE OWNER – BILLY HEALEY AND HIS 1962 BEDFORD CA ROMANY

The year is 1962, and you have fully prepared your new Bedford CA Romany De Luxe for a holiday in Dorset. The cool box contains a supply of UHT milk while the cupboards bulge loaves of Sunblest bread, jars of Bourn-Vita, and tins of the finest Heinz tomato soup available to humanity. Best of all, Frank Ifield singing I Remember You playing on Radio Luxembourg, accompanies the journey along the A35 to that holiday camp in Swanage.

MEET THE OWNER - KIERON MAUGHAN AND HIS PANHARD 24

Sometimes, you have the unexpected pleasure of writing about a car so rare that you have only read about it. When Panhard launched the 24 on the 23rd June 1963, it marked their swansong as a car manufacturer, and Kieron Maughan owns one of a handful of RHD models.

15 September 2023

The Wolseley’s return

Here, you see two Thames Valley officers admire my Wolseley 6/99 on display at Cowley’s Templars Square Shopping Centre.

MEET THE OWNER – GLENN LOUCH AND HIS 1978 OPEL KADETT C

One of the many Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show’s stars last year was a smart two-door saloon in pale blue.

14 September 2023

Lancaster Insurance enhance specialist MX-5 scheme to offer owners reduced premiums

Renowned for its MX-5 cover options, and close association with the model, Lancaster Insurance is thrilled to be reinforcing its commitment by developing its specialist scheme to offer owners reduced premiums across the MX-5 range.

Seventy Years of The Original Ford Zodiac

Seventy years ago, Ford GB unveiled a new model that instantly became the object of desire of Teddy Boys at the Hammersmith Palais and ambitious business owners alike. It was, of course, the Zephyr-Zodiac with exterior trim plated in nine-carat gold. Here was quasi-Hollywood glamour for only £851 2s 6d. Ford proudly claimed such a price placed it “within reach of those who would otherwise consider such motoring beyond their means”.

A Day at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumble

On arriving at the 2023 Beaulieu Autojumble, I was greeted by a Hillman Avenger Estate belonging to the museum's Chief Executive, Dr. Jon Murden, and a green Volvo 145. Lancaster Insurance's Austin-Healey Sprite was in the distance, as orange as a Space Hopper. Naturally, I immediately felt at home.

The Austin FX3 at 75

This year marks the 75th birthday of the Citroën 2CV, the Jaguar XK120, the Land Rover and the Morris Minor, to name but a few fine vehicles.

13 September 2023

MEET THE OWNER – JAMES WADE AND HIS ROVER 2400SD TURBO DIESEL

Four years ago, this writer first encountered James Wade, Rover SD1 enthusiast extraordinaire, and his 1986 police model.

THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN SPORTING FORD ESCORTS

From a time when no edition of ITV’s World of Sport would have been complete without the sound of an Escort in full cry...

MEET THE OWNER – NEIL GRUBB AND HIS FORD CORTINA GHIA MK. IV

Around 47 years ago, Neil Grubb’s father was a devotee of British Leyland and had recently taken delivery of a Princess 2200 HLS.

Harris Mann 1938 - 2023

The late Harris Mann said: “We’re not trying to be either transatlantic or European. The Americans are big and ornate and the proportions are wrong for what we’re trying to do. We’re not trying to be Europeans...

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

24 May 2024

MEET THE OWNER – JON COUPLAND AND HIS TOYOTA MR2 MK.1A

“It is exceptionally rare, being one of the earliest in the UK. It is a Mk.1a, which they only produced for a year (the same as the colour). I know of maybe only four in the UK in that shade”.

MEET THE OWNER – JOHN WALLIS AND HIS BORGWARD P100

If the fates had been kinder, the name "Borgward" would have been as familiar to 2024 drivers as Audi or BMW. John Wallis, a long-term devotee of the German marque, has recently become the custodian of the P100 ‘Big Six' - Borgward's last hurrah and a car with the potential to be one of the finest big saloons of its generation.

Meet The Owner – Steven Gray and his Vauxhall Chevette 2300HS

Steven Gray recently fell prey to a phenomenon known to many classic car owners. There he was, minding his own business and thinking his current fleet of Bedford HAs and Vauxhall Chevettes was quite enough, when suddenly he was caught in the tractor beam of a tempting vehicle.

Meet the Owner - Ian Gillson and his Renault 16TL

“My father had TL back in 1977, and around 1980, the family acquired a 1974 TS. Sadly, it succumbed to the dreaded rust and ended in Renault 16 Heaven, but I never forgot them”.

13 May 2024

THE SUBARU 360 – THE CAR THAT TRANSFOMRED JAPANESE MOTORING

Bonham Cars Online is currently listing one of the most significant cars in Japanese motoring history: This 1968 360 is an example of the vehicle that brought mobility to so many families. Not to mention that the 360 was the pioneer car to wear the Subaru badge.

MEET THE OWNER – PHILIP HANSON AND HIS WOLSELEY 16/60

“My Wolseley was registered in Worcester in January 1967 and is a manual gearbox model. It has covered only 46,000 miles and I am only the second owner.” Philip undertook some body restoration in 2016 and the result is a car that lives up to the British Motor Corporation’s promise of: “Luxuriously practical...a car that satisfies.”

Meet The Owner – Carl Pearce and his Triumph Stag

There are mixed reactions to my Triumph – you often get told how these cars used to blow up. This is incorrect; they suffered from overheating, which was caused by casting sand that hadn't been properly removed when the engine blocks were made. The sand used to block the radiator, hence the overheating.

03 May 2024

A Truly Exclusive Renault – Jason Crawley’s 20TX

At last year’s Silverstone Festival, many visitors were seen mouthing the phrase “What is it?” at a handsome, burgundy-coloured hatchback. Some seemed to think it was a Lancia while others were under the belief it was an Audi. Few seemed to recognise Jason Crawley’s 20TX – the car Renault claimed was “certainly no slouch”.

Sportissimo – Robert Meldrum’s Vauxhall Viva HB De Luxe Estate

This is a totally and utterly subjective view, but this writer regards Robert Meldrum’s Viva HB as one of the most handsome estates of its era. Today, his white Vauxhall creates a stir whenever he goes for a drive, with amazed reactions from members of the public too young to recall the HB.

Meet The Owner – Darren Staples and his Vauxhall Nova Sola

The reasons why people engage with a classic car are as diverse as the vehicles themselves. It could be due to their performance or the opportunity to realise a childhood dream of owning a machine last glimpsed in The Ladybird Book of Motor Cars. For some, it is the chance to experience a favourite television programme or film vicariously.

MEET THE OWNER - ANDREW THOMSON AND HIS VOLKSWAGEN SANTANA

Andrew Thomson recently acquired a car from the 1980s that has been almost entirely forgotten in the UK through no fault of its own. The Santana GX5 was spacious, dependable, and very well-appointed, but its main fault was that the Volkswagen badge meant little to the UK’s middle managers.

01 May 2024

Join us for the Lancaster Insurance Services Classic Motor Show at the NEC on 8-10 November!

Tickets go on Sale for the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show on 8 May!

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.