It’s 8 August 1974 and we’re in the ancient market town of Bury St Edmunds in the beautiful county of Suffolk. We’re standing in the first floor of the Athenaeum overlooking the car park of the Angel Hotel, and are a hop, skip and a jump away from the beautiful Abbey Gardens. The birds are singing, the sky is deep blue, we can just hear the burble of a Morris 2200’s exhaust in the background, and all is peaceful. As days and locations go, there aren’t many better right now.
It all seems a million miles away from political turmoil that’s happening in Westminster. We’d undergone a General Election in February, which left Harold Wilson in charge of a minority Government – and it has been proving troublesome getting anything through Parliament. That’s nothing compared with the situation in Washington DC, where president Richard Nixon (below) has just announced he’s quitting the role – the first time in US history.
Nixon initially said he had believed it was his duty to complete his term of office despite the Watergate charges. ‘In the past days, however, it has become evident that I no longer have a strong enough political base in the Congress to justify continuing that effort. As President I must put the interests of America first.’ So it’s goodbye from Nixon and hello to Gerald Ford.
So, tell us about the cars
This one’s a veritable feast, and there’s no point naming them all. It’s a nice selection and clearly driven by an affluent and diverse slice of society. Yes, there are the usual British Leyland and Ford entries in the car park – if nothing else, it’s heaven for fans of the BMC 1100 and Ford Cortina, just like anywhere else in the UK. In the first row in full view, we see a Simca 1100 on the far left parked nose-to-nose with an Austin Allegro Super with fetching red vinyl roof. The latter hadn’t long since left the showroom, and would have cut quite a dash at the time.
Two cars along and we see a delectable Fiat 124 Coupe next to the Rover P6. Lovely… And did you spot the bright orange Datsun Violet 140J (710) next to the Allegro? Hard to miss that one. In front of the Vauxhall Viva HA we can just see the bright red Citroën GS facing away from the camera – almost opposite a white Datsun 120Y (B210) with the obligatory 1970s black vinyl roof.
Look further beyond, and you’ll also see a BMW 5 Series (E12) cutting a dash, and looking a million years newer than the black Austin A55 van towards the right of the picture. There are a couple of two-tone American cars further back, but they’re not quite sharp enough for a positive ID. Why the Americans? We’re not that far from RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall and both bases have a significant number of US servicemen and women stationed on them.
If you enjoyed this, let us know in the comments and, if you have any pictures you’d like featuring, drop me a line via any of the links below. Below is how it looks today, according to Google Streetview.