So many of the details of Gary King’s fleet of Datsun Sunny 120Ys reflect a distant past when square instrumentation was the height of fashion and when tinted glass on a family car was a talking point. His 1975 Estate and 1977 Coupé also evoke memories of the delights of summer holiday journeys in cars with black vinyl upholstery – and when at least one neighbour would mutter about the lack of patriotism shown by modern drivers. In the 1970s the Sunny 120Y tempted many a former Vauxhall, BL or Ford customer to buy a Japanese vehicle and a 1974 edition of the Thames Television Drive In programme reported on the growing popularity of “foreign cars”. As Britain grappled with its participation in the new-fangled Common Market (sound familiar?), a stern-faced Tony Bastable highlighted the Cherry 100A, the 610-series Bluebird and the Sunny 120Y as the cars that helped Datsun to “collar nearly five per cent of the entire United Kingdom … [Read more...] about UK’s rarest cars: 1975 Datsun 120Y Estate and 1977 Coupé, two of only 35 left on British roads
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There is no such a vehicle as a ‘Robin Reliant’ and nor did any form of Robin appear on Only Fools and Horses. The sitcom in fact used Reliant Regal Supervans. The website 3-wheelers.com wisely points out that buying a Robin Van and writing 'Trotters Independent Trading Co.' on the sides is akin to “buying a VW Passat and painting it like Herbie”. Meanwhile, Chris Gunby finds the two standard responses to his 1977 Silver Jubilee are either “you don’t see many of them any more” or, from those passers-by aged under thirty, “it’s only got three wheels!”. When the Robin was introduced in October 1973, the Reliant brand was equally associated in the public mind with suave medallion wearing types in Scimitars and Regal 3/25s driven by flat-hatted gentlemen en route to their local whippet club meeting. Tom Karen of Ogle Design had been working on the Robin since 1963 and the new model as intended to appeal to female drivers as much … [Read more...] about UK’s rarest cars: Reliant Robin Silver Jubilee, a three-wheeler of distinction
To view almost any British television drama of the 1980s is to be reminded of the sheer volume of Morris Itals that were once on the road. They lurk in the background of Howards’ Way or Dempsey and Makepeace, exuding their trademark lack of charisma and featured as the (often disappointing) “star prize” on quiz shows such as Bullseye while, during the commercial break, Patrick Mower would advise you to “move over to Austin Rover”. Today, Ray Brewer’s 1981 1.3 HL is one of only 11 still left on the road in the UK. You don’t need to look that carefully to notice that it is closely based on the Marina that preceded it. The Marina (itself borrowing heavily from the preceding Morris Minor) appeared in 1971 and was intended as a stop-gap car to be replaced within a few years, a plan that was soon undermined by British Leyland’s parlous finances. Brewer remarks that the debut of the Ford Cortina Mk4 in 1976 was … [Read more...] about UK’s rarest cars: 1981 Morris Ital 1.3 HL, one of only 11 left
In 1961, celebrated American racer Dan Gurney shipped his own Chevrolet Impala SS to the UK to beat the Jaguars in the British Saloon Car Championship (BSCC). His dominance in the Silverstone race led to ruffled feathers and a rumoured ban. The car returns to the UK for the first time since 1961 at this year’s Goodwood Revival. “I will, in time,” the late Gurney wrote in Autosport, “get over the fact that I spent a lot of time and money in bringing the Impala to Great Britain, but I will not readily forget the suspicion that there may have been some behind-the-scenes sabotage to prevent the Chevrolet from running at Silverstone.” The great American racer Gurney didn’t pull any punches, aimed at the British Jaguar teams, after he mysteriously couldn’t enter his Chevrolet Impala SS for a second time in the 1961 British Saloon Car Championship. Asked many years later why he didn’t protest more, he replied simply, “Why fight City … [Read more...] about Ex-Dan Gurney Chevy returns to UK for first time since 1961 at Goodwood Revival
Let's have a peep into the near future: You wake to find the road outside your home liberally covered in snow … and the imminent drive to work seems even less inviting then usual. A thought suddenly springs to mind: ‘Should I have invested in winter tyres?’ Figures show that UK drivers are six times more likely to have an accident during the winter months, with the numbers rising further when snow and ice add extra hazards. So a seasonal move to cold weather tyres is becoming increasingly popular, but most of us have little idea of their effectiveness. Before the chilly conditions begin, we decided to call on someone with relevant recent experience. Lee Meredith, who swapped England for Norway is now used to taking to the wheel in freezing conditions. Lee, who works in the oil industry, drives a Kia Sportage. The front-wheel drive model dons winter tyres when the temperature, inevitably, drops. In Norway, as with other Scandinavian and Alpine countries, there is … [Read more...] about Should UK drivers buy winter tyres?