Memories : Liverpool, 1973


It’s May 1973, and we’re looking at the petrol forecourt of B&K Motors in the Kensington area of Liverpool. Judging by the crowds, there’s something interesting going on, but we’re not close enough to tell what the action actually is. As months go, it’s quite a significant one, because Value Added Tax has just been introduced in the UK to replace the old Purchase Tax, following on from a number of countries in Europe – we’re lagging behind somewhat considering France and Germany introduced it during World War 1.

Kit car manufacturers have already expressed their displeasure at the imposition of the new tax, as previously they weren’t covered by Purchase Tax. Now, with additional tax added to the basic cost of a kit, the costs of them would rise significantly, thus making them a whole lot less attractive than they used to be. Until last month, kit cars were selling well – but we’ll have to wait for the full effect of the new tax to manifest itself. The early signs aren’t good.

May 1973 has also seen the launch of the Austin Allegro (below) – the new driving force from Austin – which its maker hopes will sell in huge numbers, just like the car it’s replaced, the BMC 1100/1300. The main issue British Leyland has in selling its vitally important new car is that most of its factories are either on strike, or on go slows because of other factories within the supply chain. A quick look at AROnline‘s news archive for the month shows that it was dominated by industrial action.

So, tell us about the cars

The forecourt is a lovely freeze-frame moment, showing signs for Green Shield stamps (who collected those?) and BP’s own Quad Stamps, which were given with petrol sold and could be used to collect gifts. On the forecourt, we have a Ford Cortina Mk3, an Austin Maxi 1750 and a Cortina Mk2. That car’s deadly rival the BMC 1100 (can’t tell if it’s an Austin or a Morris from here) sits behind – and, nearest to the camera, is what looks like a Mini Clubman.

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. Meanwhile, to see what the site where B&K Motors used to reside looks like today, scroll down for a view from Google Streetview.

How it looks today

Keith Adams


  1. “As months go, it’s quite a significant one, as Value Added Tax has just been introduced in the UK to replace the old Purchase Tax, following on from a number of countries in Europe – we’re lagging behind somewhat considering France and Germany introduced it during World War 1.”

    “Lagging behind”? Progress, Jim, but not as we know it. 1973 – in January of that year Heath had signed our sovereignty away. Probably why we had to ditch the simple purchase tax for ever-closer-union VAT. 2020 – leaving the EU. Progress, Jim – if it happens.

    • There was nothing simple about Purchase Tax, the fact that the state was needing to employ Tax Inspectors to go and interview purchasers of Lotus Seven kits, to validate if they had or had not assembled the kit themselves, shows that it was anything but simple in operation.

    • Purchase tax was a confusing mess of different rates depending on hoe much of a luxury a product was.

      Almost every budget the rates would be changed, so it meant companies found it hard to do their own budgets.

      VAT eventually was charged at the same rate for everything to save the confusion.

      Only a brainwashed stooge would think otherwise.

  2. Back to the cars, a great photo but a dull selection of vehicles! None of those dastardly “foreign” cars LOL

    • Also Ford and British Leyland having factories in Liverpool might explain why every car on the forecourt was made by them. I do recall Vauxhall Vivas being popular on Merseyside due to them being made in Ellesmere Port. ( OK Ellesmere Port is in Cheshire, but it’s on the edge of Merseyside and would have employed a few thousand people on Merseyside at its peak). Similarly Ford used to be predominant in south Essex for the same reason, Dagenham and its associated factories were huge local employers.

      • To an extent though none of those cars were made in Merseyside! No Triumphs or locally assembled Fords like the Anglia and Escort

    • Shhh, don’t tell them Issigonis was half Greek, or that the Cortina was designed by an American and given an Italian name!!

  3. I don’t remember BP Quad Stamps; could it be quad Green Shield stamps, a very common offer? I did very well with them as I was driving great distances 1973-1985, always seemed to be redeeming them for high-value items and was very sad when they finished, and the redemption stores became Argos. Still, I did very well with ESSO vouchers in later years.

    • I remember Green Shield Stamps had a comeback in the late 1980s.

      Texaco had their star vouchers for a few years, I remember my secondary school had a scheme to collect them off parents who didn’t want them.

      There was also some Pink Stamps at one time, I’m not sure who offered them.

      • It is interesting to see that the Maxi has a pre 1963 registration plate. That would be very unusual in those days.

      • Pink stamps were issued by S&H, an American firm that started green stamps in the US in the 1930s, but had to find another colour when they introduced them over here in the early 1960s; Green Shield having taken green when they started in 1958.
        I agree Quad stamps almost certainly means 4x the normal amount of stamps. By that time Double and Triple offers were already common.
        There were blue Co-op stamps too, replacing the old ‘divi’ system.

        • I’ve often heard referenced to Green Stamps in American songs & TV shows, & wasn’t sure if they were related to schemes over here.

          Green Shield issued larger value stamps in the 1970s, to save the bother of sticking so many in a book.

          My parents still had an old book around, along with some Co-op blue stamps, which were in values of 5 and 40.

          I remember another offer in the late 1980s were Blue Chip stamps, but I only remember my Dad getting them once or twice.

  4. Anyone remember when filling stations sold road maps? I still have an Esso road map of Northern England from 1971 that retailed for 15 pence.

    • There’s a whole generation of drivers now who wouldn’t have a clue what to do with maps in books !

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