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London-set British films and television programmes of the 1960s usually featured a regular cast of vehicles.
What do you consider to be the most aesthetically stunning car of the 1950s? Across the Atlantic, one might cite the Hudson Hornet, the ‘53 Studebaker Commander, the ’57 Continental, the ’57 Thunderbird or even, by the end of the decade, the Pontiac Bonneville.
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=NxgdRAuDsTEhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxgdRAuDsTE - the focus was inevitably on the flagship Wolseley, but the four-cylinder Austin and Morris was equally important.
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The array of models produced by the overseas plants of BMC/BL do tend to prompt one question – could any of them have succeeded in the UK? The Australian-market Wolseley 24/80 - a 16/60 powered by the locally-designed “Blue Streak” 2.4-litre six - certainly had its merits but by 1964 it would have clashed with the Austin 1800 “Landcrab”.
The scene – a warehouse somewhere in London docklands, circa 1953. A gang of ne’er do wells, as immediately recognisable by their scowls, black shirts and white ties, have stolen a several crates of kippers and are making their getaway in a Ford V8 Pilot acquired that very day from a bombsite motor trader.
Where else but at The Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show are you likely to find not one but three Austin Ambassadors, all of them the flagship Vanden Plas version, and a 1975 Wolseley-badged blue Wedge?
It must be said that the chap in the Riley brochure looks as jaunty as a young Nicolas Parsons or indeed any other actor who was prone to saying ‘gosh’ in a 1950s Technicolor comedy. And it is no wonder that he is tipping his hat to the new One Point Five, as it was – and indeed is – one of the most delightful British cars of the late 1950s.
There is a select group of British films in which the viewer thinks a) what great cars b) the poor cast and c) I have just wasted at least 70 minutes of my life on this utter tripe. Here are just seven pictures which are always worth watching for various Jaguars, Triumphs or Wolseleys, even if they have the dramatic impact of the BBC Test Card. Enjoy….