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When Chris Pollin takes his Trans Am for a spin, the public reaction is sometimes dramatic. This is hardly surprising, for not only is the Pontiac a rather magnificent vehicle in its own right, but it is also a doppelganger for the star of a certain television programme.
It would be mission impossible to select a Car of The Show from the thousands of fine machines at the recent BMC & Leyland Show 2021. However, it would be fair to say that one of the vehicles that attracted the most attention was the Austin 3-Litre Ambulance owned by John Wilkins.
As with many of my generation, I first encountered the Austin K2/Y via re-screenings of Ice Cold in Alex on television. It is a film that showcases the talents of John Mills and Anthony Quayle at their considerable best and one of the principal characters is the battered but indomitable ambulance, which was one of the key British military vehicles of the Second World War.
Just as with cinema, food and literature, every country has its own unique take on car manufacture. Historically, the Europeans and Japanese have highlighted handling, while the traditional American approach was to go for power. And they don’t get much more powerful than the American muscle cars of the 60s and early 70s.
Chris had two reasons for buying his Cashmere Gold Austin Metro Vanden Plas. Firstly, he is a fan of the Kingsbury-based coachbuilder, and also owns a VDP 1500. Secondly, he has also been a Metro enthusiast ‘since the launch at the NEC in 1980...queuing up at the stand waiting to sit in this award-winning car’.
When it comes to car design, the Americans clearly believe in excess. While it’s not to everyone’s tastes, you can’t deny it’s led to some incredible machines over the years. The classic car world would undoubtedly be a more boring place without the likes of the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger roaring up to classic car shows around the country.
The term ‘icon’ is one vastly overused in the media, from soap actors in with the dramatic power of Stingray, to popstars who have extended their range by learning a fourth chord. Similarly, in terms of British motor vehicles, only a select group may be genuinely described as ‘iconic’ - including the Transit Mk 1. Put simply, this was the Ford that redefined the light commercial.