Opinion : Goodbye suck, squeeze, bang, blow…

Lancia Lambda

Driving a pre-War or a classic car, we inevitably get comments like ‘my dad had one of those’. But very occasionally we get something far more satisfying. Someone says: ‘I had one of those!’

Before the battery or hydrogen (or ‘horn of toad’ or whatever), removes the ‘suck, squeeze, bang, and blow’ of the internal combustion engine – the very heart for all ‘petrolheads’ – we might take a minute to appreciate what we could lose forever.

Yes, I know the ICE might have a new lease of life with Hydrogen, but it won’t give off gloriously erotic fumes to be savoured in the classic garage and sniffed routinely at midnight (what do you mean I need help?) But in my view, the best motoring years was for my dad’s generation. And that was a privilege that my dad appreciated all his life – it’s not just hindsight on my behalf.

‘His’ period was driving between the Wars and few drivers today will have experienced it, but of course there may be some! For others this memorable period might be any time between the 1950s and the present day. The rest of us can only dream of such adventures. GPS and the over-exercised communications of our modern world have ensured we will never again have such freedom or adventure. We will never again have such satisfaction in motoring because we are no longer engaged in the mechanics of the journey – and we can no longer get lost!

Supercilious sat-nav

We point and squirt in whatever direction the supercilious sat-nav voice tells us to, but older cars actually needed driving and you needed a thing called a map. Today, if we leave the house without the ‘mobile’, some will drive for miles to go and get it. Others might suffer the day feeling as if their right ear had been cut off.

However, just a few decades ago, our only means of communication whilst on the road was the roadside telephone. (There were AA and RAC ‘Phone Boxes on major trunk roads if we could afford the annual fees).

My dad would set off from Mitcham in Surrey with a brother – armed with a tent and a ‘billy’ can – and head for the highlands of Scotland. The Alvis would probably need a little tinkering – if not actual repairs – several times during the trip. He told me the services of a village blacksmith had been handy on at least two occasions. They’d probably have had a puncture or two; but get there they would.

It seems motorists were generally made of sterner stuff.

Alvis Speed 20

No doubt when Tesla’s go ‘driverless’ they’ll book themselves in and go straight to the main dealer regardless of where the owner wants to go.  Following a brief look under the bonnet of our ‘modern’ (because it had a water leak), it was booked in to our favourite garage. I detest modern cars and find no joy in grubbing around amongst umpteen black plastic covers, fruitlessly in search of something recognisable.

Hands that shrink

I’m also in awe of modern Technicians who have hands and fingers that visibly shrink under the bonnet and get in the most ridiculous places. I much prefer engine bays of the 1950s – most can accommodate at least two more engines and you’d still be able to change the plugs.

During the War, (gosh, I sound like Uncle Albert!) and when on his way to Scotland in an Army issue Austin 10 ‘pick-up’ (similar in design to the one illustrated), dad had to rebuild the gearbox on the side of the road in two feet of snow and a blizzard. It was pitch black and three in the morning. Handy that he was actually delivering a load of Austin 10 gearbox spares of course!

The only drama we experience today is if the engine management light comes on, and then the on-line handbook indicates we can carry on – but reduce our speed! (Gosh, what a worry!) Contrastingly, dad came over Kingston Bridge in one of his open-top Alvises and the young lady at his side asked if the wheel that was passing them was one of theirs! (It was

The Laughing Combination

On another occasion, he was riding pillion on a ‘combination’. His dad was the pilot and his mum was in the ‘chair’. At a ‘Y’ junction grandad left it very late making a decision and tipped the thing over. He and my dad were laughing so much they couldn’t rescue my grandmother who was trapped in the sidecar! It’s funny but, when my grandmother told me that story, it sounded totally different to granddad’s version!

Sometime in the late 1930s, dad had bought his very first Alvis – at a cost of £5. It may not have been in its prime. Yet, Bertie Wooster-style, dad used the car (and later several other Alvises) to ‘swan about’ London and indulge in what young men do. But stories of long trips and favourite locations – like Shap Hill, Porlock Hill, Hardknott Pass and the Lynmouth and Lynton hills, are stuff of legend. The reality is that a modern car passes no information to the driver as to just how steep these hills are.

However, for a 1930s driver they were a challenge – but only because whilst the car would almost certainly make it – the success of the climb was directly in proportion to the skill of the driver.  There are not many of us today who could ‘change down’ on a 1 in 4 hill in a ‘crash gearbox’ car.

Woolly has a drink problem

Wolseley Nine

This explains why one of my cars today is a 1934 Wolseley Nine saloon (above). Yes, she does use a drop of oil and is never too ashamed to ‘break wind’ after traversing a long downhill run – and she has a drink problem. She’ll sink a gallon of ‘super’ every 26 miles.

However, at almost 90-years old, she might have saved about 40 new cars from being built – if we assume most owners change their car every couple of years. So, we have the pollution of 40 new cars being made, versus the beautifully pungent fumes so reminiscent of ‘proper cars’ – and, for us petrolheads, that’s a no contest surely!

At the dozen or so (pre-COVID) shows we did with her annually, I enjoyed explaining that, although she might look most other 1930s saloons, she had an overhead cam engine and fully hydraulic brakes. Some of her competitors had cable brakes; some hydro-mechanical brakes and some precious little brakes at all! She also had a very modern synchromesh gearbox when many a competitor had a ‘crash’ gearbox. I defend her courageously. She is British.

Not that clever

Citroen Traction Avant

Mind you, in reality, she is no Citroën or Lancia! Those companies produced cars that were intrinsically ‘clever’ for their period. The nearest we ever came to being that clever was probably Lanchester in the early years of the (last) century, Gerald Palmer’s brilliant Jowett Javelin and some Issigonis cars of the 1960s.

Although I’ve not experienced that golden era I spoke of, I’m at least grateful for being born in the late Forties and having experiences that seem light years away from our expectations today. Take the time I was about eight-years old and sat in the back of my dad’s Austin 10 cabriolet (BYL777).

In Southampton, we had just bought a new gas cooker and dad had loaded it onto the ‘fold-down’ boot lid of the car. Very shortly we negotiated a long downward hill to a set of traffic lights. The lights went red but dad sailed serenely over them with, in his words, ‘not a vestige of brakes’. He finally brought the car to a standstill with exuberant use of gears and handbrake. It took him a few moments to realise the cause of this horrendous breach of the Road Traffic Act.

The Austin had cable brakes. If one loaded the boot lid platform with something very heavy, the chassis would go ‘banana’ shape and the cables that are normally tightened by pressing the pedal – don’t!

Connectivity is king

Surely one of the greatest changes in modern society is our ‘expectations’ (or aspirations if talking about Audis and BMWs). Even the family going to buy their secondhand Hyundai Tucson will debate whether the car is for them or not because of its ‘connectivity’ – or its ease of using the Isofix. I was looking at a new Fiat 500 in a main dealer and the sales girl spent 20 minutes telling me all about the car’s ‘connectivity’ and showing me what information the central screen gave. She certainly knew her stuff.

When I asked what the 0-60 time was she said, ‘I have no idea!’

A couple of years ago I worked with a young lady who came out of her ‘I’ve just been promoted’ meeting and gleefully declared she would now get a white BMW 1 Series.

‘Why?’ I asked.
‘Well, it’s just what you do isn’t it’ she responded.
‘But do you like the BMW 1 Series?’ I asked.
‘I expect so – I’m not actually sure which one it is!’

Another guy told me he was looking for a new car. I said, have you looked at a Vauxhall Insignia? He said he had and he really liked the shape and it was very quiet and a very nice place to be, but then added ‘I think it’s got to be a BMW though – it’s just that badge isn’t it?’

Game, set and match to BMW’s marketing! Track back a few years (well, about 60 actually) and I well remember my parents buying the replacement for the ‘banana chassis’d’ Austin 10.

Mr Bond

Bond MkB

Dad had seen the car previously, but we went on a Saturday afternoon in December to purchase the beast. It was a Bond MkB (above). For those not familiar with the breed, the Bond had a single eight inch front wheel with a Villiers 197cc single cylinder engine. At the rear were two eight inch wheels. The whole assembly was very ‘aircraft like’ being mainly of aluminium construction. There was no rear suspension and being a kid I had a canvas sideways facing rear seat – a ‘deckchair’ essentially.

In the ‘cockpit’ was an acutely angled steering wheel and a column change gearshift. Starting was accomplished by pulling on a mighty great lever under the dashboard. It was a ‘soft top’ of course – Bond customers had no use for silly hardtops for goodness sake! As a ten-year old, I absolutely loved the thing to bits! Although to be fair, the journey home (about 16 miles) is etched on my memory for ever. We left the garage just as dusk was settling in. The late afternoon became a black night very quickly – and, equally quickly, a thick fog descended.

It’s worth mentioning here that this country no longer has ‘fog’ – we only have ‘mist’ and it’s been like this since the 1970s. What I’m talking about here is fog where the extremities of your Jaguar bonnet were not visible from the driver’s seat! We then discovered that our ‘Mr Bond’ had something of a wicked sense of humour.

He would allow us to run the engine and the single wiper – but not with the lights on! He would allow us to have side, head and rear lights – but not if the engine was running! The resultant journey involved my dear mum walking alongside the car and giving dad clear instructions. (She was ex-Fire Service in the ‘blitz’ so giving orders came easy to her). ‘Left a little – straighten up – right a little’ etc. If mum heard a car coming up behind she would say, ‘engine off – lights on’ etc. It was rather scary if we came upon a very wide junction – even mum lost her bearings at that point!  ‘I don’t know where the hell I am!’ was never a comforting sentiment.

A red traffic light simply caused a ‘sunset glow’ across a junction; the orange all but disappeared and the green could only be seen if you stood at the bottom of the pole! I was slightly concerned that some big truck might appear unexpectedly and catch mum out – and simply run over us all, including Mr Bond. So having left Eastleigh at about four in the afternoon we eventually got home just before nine.

Within a day or so dad had sorted the little Bond and we used it for a year or so. It was replaced by a 1938 Jowett Eight. Lovely though the Jowett was, it could never compete with the extreme frugality of Mr Bond who only drank about a gallon of fuel every 100 miles. But before it went, we had numerous adventures, like the time we were going down a very steep and narrow lane out of our village – and the postman in his Morris Eight Series E van was coming flat out the other way.

There was no room to pass as the lane was encased by a steep bank either side. Dad applied the brakes and we heard a ‘light-hearted’ scuffing sound. We were very used to this noise – it was the rear wheel brakes (all we had) locking those tiny eight inch tyres. The postman, (bless him), aimed for the bank and somehow clawed up it and over us. He was a jolly fellow and still smiling as he looked down on us – still with momentum thankfully. Had he been going slower, gravity would have seen our certain demise!

Amusingly, when the front tyre burst, dad tried to get a new one but none was to be had. I saw him eying up the wheel barrow tyre – I could see where he was going with that. Ply? What’s Ply?

Hot – but devoid of a heater

I’ve always been reluctant to move away from older cars and in the early 1970s we still had an ‘upright’ Ford Pop. I loved the thing to bits – it was so unstoppable and idiosyncratic. The head gasket had failed on the combustion side – on Number 4, the cylinder nearest the bulkhead. The car would start and run on three cylinders with never a complaint. Admittedly, the cabin got a bit warm ‘cos the bulkhead glowed red after a while – but I made sure the wiring was out of the way and in any case our Labrador (Prince Albert Loui the 15th) had destroyed the carpets months ago. The extra heat was nice in the winter ‘cos the dear little thing was devoid of a Smiths device.

The cable brakes on a ‘Pop’ are legendary. It’s always a lottery as to which wheel will brake first. I well remember having to stop suddenly and for some reason the nearside rear wheel locked up. My new young wife looked at me and said:

‘Was that my side rear?’
I said ‘Yes – why?’
She looked puzzled and said ‘Well, it’s not a Tuesday.’

You see, we’re never going to get memories like that driving an electric Kia!

Ford Popular 103E

21 Comments

  1. Being born in the 70s I never had the real experience of early motoring, the oldest car I have ever been in was an MG TF. But my dad, born in 51 use to tell me about going rallying with his father and his mate, Bert, in a pre war MG, with just a map and a box of tools and parts to keep it going.

    I hate modern tech in the car. My 3 series (yes I know but it was a very good buy at 3 years old and 5000 miles) has the annoying i-drive, where you have to scroll through tons of rubbish just to find the control you want, where my old Volvo you just pressed a button on the dash! And I have never ever used a sat nav in my Life. Have a look at a map before you leave, point me in a direction and I will find my way, even if there is a few turn around. My wife and brother in law both used their sat nav and it sends the bloody wrong way!

    The problem with today Society is that they are addicted to technology. Why bother with a connected watch when the phone is in your pocket? Why do I need a connected washing machine, when I still have to fill the thing up anyway?

    My favourite cars are those from the 60s, 70s and 80s without tech. We’ll a sliding sunroof and electric windows are nice but do I need a g force meter?

    • In the mid 60s a colleague of mine ( Bill Kewley where are you now ? ) had a Bond, and the most memorable thing I recall was his parking technique…. put the nose in at about 45 degrees to the kerb, everbody out, and he would then pick up the back end, wlak it round until parallel with the kerb, and then drop it with a great crash!

  2. i can identify with many points made in the article, but no way would I ever want to go back to them.

    My father was a motorcycle man (although not a biker). I grew up in the 50s-60s and we had a succession of sidecar combinations; I covered a considerable mileage in the back seat of a sidecar and wouldn’t want to repeat the experience. They were a H & S nightmare; basically a plywood box on a pram chassis, with absolutely no crash protection whatsoever.

    And we also had a Bond 3-wheelers. I’ve been a rear seat passenger in the sideways hammock, whilst freezing to death thanks to no heating – and I remember the performance with wipers/lights etc.

    And Bonds also had no locks on doors, or any form of security. The side window was just a flap/curtain, and you had to reach inside to open the door.

    I’m very happy with present-day motoring, and no way would I want to return to the mythical, so-called golden age.

    • Got to agree. Tales like these are amusing, nostalgic, and not a little hair raising. But who the hell would want to go back those days? When I was a child we lived on a housing estate built on hill, and our house was at the top. The cars we could afford were in no way guaranteed to start in the morning, particularly cold, damp or snowy mornings. I have abiding memories of pushing the likes of Mk3 Zephyrs and FD Viictors down that hill while Dad attempted to bump start them. On one occasion the thing still hadn’t started as we reached the main road, so it was across the road and down the farm track to the old buttery that lay at the bottom of the hill. and still not a kick from the engine. Not fun. I’ll take (mostly) dependable moderns for my transport needs, and enjoy reading, and looking at pictures of the cars of my youth on AROnline, thank you.

  3. My first car was a 1982 998cc Mini which had recieved a heart transplant to make my insurance cheaper (previous was a 1275) It had a concave head due to the heart’s previous owner running it dry. Until I found a little engineering shop who would do a skim for me at a price my student pocket could afford, (and even afterwards!) we went nowhere without my full toolkit. The record for a gasket changeover was 30 mins in the dark with no torch on the M27 sliproad. Most of my motoring tales are from that car or the 85 metro and 87 740, all of which were well over 15 years old when I got them, though the Rover 216 also tried its best. I use Satnav in moving map display mode only… no voice, but as my wife has zero sense of direction before in car GPS I had to hand draw her pages of maps detailed down to the markings on the road lanes so she would not get lost, so I cannot say I don’t appreciate the advent of electric maps!

  4. i had a Mark 2 Cavalier that liked its oil to the point it was using nearly as much oil as petrol. Being in jobs that paid £ 3-4 an hour in the mid nineties( rubbish even then), I couldn’t afford anything better and the car was coming to the end of its life, which made major work on the engine expensive and pointless. Yet so long as I filled the Cavalier with five litres of cheap oil every 400 miles, the car always went without complaint and in two years of ownership, all I spent was £ 15 on a second hand starter motor from a scrapyard as the original was dying and two new tyres( budget brand). Eventually with an MOT looming and the car smoking like a factory chimney from the back, I sold it for £ 100 to someone who got another year out of it.

  5. Our first car, bought in 1958, was a 1947 Morris Ten, Series M which was a slightly face-lifted version of the 1938 Series M. The model had a known appetite for half-shafts. Whether this was due to inadequate material specs or inadequate heat-treating is debatable. It also blew the carburettor gasket; I fashioned a replacement cut from a cornflakes packet; it was still on the car when dad replaced it with a Mark II Consul some four years later…

    My first car was a 1957 LHD 300 cc BMW Isetta bubble car; the sliding Webasto roof occasionally proved useful as an alternative door, when some thoughtless person parked too close to the front. It was far more comfortable on my 75-mile commute to RAF Benson than my 250 Jawa, especially in the winter! The 1952 1265 cc side-valve Mark V Hillman Minx that replaced the Isetta the following year was a considerable improvement again. Later, I had a Mark VIII Minx Estate, which sheared the dynamo adjuster bracket one dark winter’s night, just south of Deddington on what was then the A423. I bolted a double open-ended spanner into place and, despite the fan-belt being slightly loose, it got me the 30-odd miles home without depleting the battery or boiling the engine. Try doing that on a modern car – or even finding the engine beneath all those plastic covers!

    With Lucas electrics, SU carburettors, dynamos, starting handles and the like, the cars of the 1940’s to 1970’s may not have always been 100% reliable, but they could be identified by their individual sound and had individuality of design and character. They were also (mainly) easy to work on; none of these things could be applied to today’s sanitised vehicles, which are more akin to whitegoods than anything else – take away the badge and most folks would be hard pressed to say what make the vehicle is. With the advent of what will be disposable EV’s (due to the extortionate price of replacement batteries, never mind the high initial purchase price), there could well be a resurgence of interest in classic cars.

  6. I passed my test on October 10, 1966 after turning seventeen on August 26. To be fair, I had driven from fifteen when we lived lived in Virginia, but only on a vast Chrysler automatic, so I had to master changing gear in a 1956 Ford Prefect on which the synchromesh didn’t work. The final words from the examiner were

    “If you can drive this, you can drive anything”.

  7. I don’t think anyone’s advocating going back to pushing the Cortina but it’s great that so many appreciate the good things we have lost. Chris (above) and I have a tenuous link – I went from a Heinkel bubble car to a Hillman Husky Mk 1! Both were utterly reliable but the Germain car was greater fun to drive. It also had the ability to successfully traverse snow covered roads as the single rear wheel was usually in virgin snow. Impossible to roll it too – despite my 17 year old enthusiastic driving!!! More memories.

  8. Like many others on here I have owned a lot of older and simpler cars (Mk2 Cortina being the oldest) and experienced my share of blow-ups and breakdowns. I do miss that, sort of, but there’s no denying the ease with which our modern(ish) car laps up the miles in smooth quiet comfort with reliability and efficiency which far outstrips its smaller, lighter and less powerful forbears. But, as Martyn says, the writing is on the wall for fossil combustion engines as we know them.
    As for on-board technology, you’d better get used to it because it isn’t going away. In fact it’s only going to become more prevalent as we move towards automated vehicle technology, as in vehicles not only using sensors for parking, adaptive cruise control, automated lane-keeping etc but expanding that capability to interact with ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) for full-blown automated vehicles. That stuff is in the pipeline. Be interesting to come back to this in another 10-15 years and see what the state of the art is then.

  9. Nice one Martyn! I was born in 1938 so may of the cars you mentioned were those which figured during my childhood.. Re the Morris post-office van, did it have rubber front wings, lessening the damage?

  10. No one really wants to go back to the days of very unsafe and very unreliable vehicles, that would leave you stranded very easily and very often. Nostalgia can make us look at the past through rose-tinted glasses, and trick us into thinking that the nasty old days were exciting and romantic, whereas what is REALLY making us pine for the past is that we were YOUNG.

    Haing said this, you might think that my feet are firmly planted in the modern world of the EV. No. I hate electric vehicles with a passion! I would prefer to walk barefoot everywhere over broken glass, with a big backpack for my shopping, rather than get around in these government-shaped and sanctioned, ugly, sterile boxes…that will monitor all your driving habits, your mileage, where you go and at what speeds… To quote Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner, I am neither a sheep nor a cabbage, and “I am not number! I’m a free man!”. Yes… I can hear our government bureaucrat masters laughing…

    I know that I am dreaming, but ideally I would like a world where there is always some petrol available for those who wish to drive classic vehicles that are in a good state of repair. I would be willing to make compromises by paying more for the petrol and limiting the mileage to be driven in a year…so that at least we can drive our classics during the summer. Again, I know I am dreaming… Internal combustion-engined cars as well as petrol itself, are on BORROWED TIME, and politicians’ mad dash to be “greener” and more “politically correct” than the next politician or political party, will ensure this.

    I have ALWAYS driven classic sports cars since I was sixteen–at least during the summers– and am now sixty-three. I am not looking forward to the day when the government bureaucrats force me out of my OTS E Type… To paraphrase the Lennon-McCartney tune World Without Love, please don’t allow the day when I can’t live in a world without my classic sports car…(yes, I can hear our government bureaucrat masters laughing their heads off again…).

    • Were are you getting the idea that EVs involve government monitoring? That is just conspiracy non-sense.

      EVs are more refined, cheaper to run and much faster, in the real world, than petrol/diesel cars. I have seen teslas blow high performance cars into the weeds. the movement they are affordable, I’m having one.

  11. Yes, the P.O. Morris Series E van did have rubber wings.
    I agree with all those here that make the point about not wanting to go back to the ‘old days’. But only in some respects because we have lost two key elements in our lives. We have lost the satisfaction of achievement. Any new driver with but a few hours under his belt could drive from Weymouth to Manchester – the BMW 3 Series, the motorways, the satnav will all make it just a ‘walk in the park’. Go back to doing that trip in 1938 and you would actually have ‘achieved’ something! This is not rose tinted spectacles – this is fact. You would have felt really proud of yourself! The other thing we have lost is simply ‘the adventure’. Folks today can only read about great feats like doing the Paris to Peking trip in an Austin 7 about 80 years ago. In terms of motoring, satnav and ultimate reliability have killed any actual adventure for us. I’m not saying it was better – but just to appreciate the loss.

    • Yeah.., I don’t really get it. If you want a sense of achievement you could go hillclimbing or learn to ice-skate, or something. Bemoaning technological advances in motoring is Luddism IMHO. Extreme nostalgia, deep rose-tinting, precisely that which you deny! I assume you wouldn’t care for a return to hunting/killing for food and fashioning clothes from the skins? That would be an achievement! Seriously though, who wants to return to the days when there was a good chance of failing to reach your destination simply because your transport couldn’t be counted on not to fail en-route? I love older vehicles, and I miss the individuality and the mechanical and technological variety. But it wasn’t better then. It just wasn’t.

  12. I am afraid, Standhill, that it is you who have a rose tinted view of the present situation. In the past part of my motoring career ( 1961 onwards) the vehicles were perfectly reliable even if they were old , so long as they were properly maintained . More to the point, an electrical failure usually just meant a roadside repair was needed, whereas now even quite a minor failure incapacitates the vehicle and requires a recovery operation. Furthermore, the cars have become so complicated that in my view they are dangerously distracting to operate : my wife’s Honda Jazz has ( IIRC) 28 buttons on the steering wheel and its adjuncts, and a handbook running to 602 pages, as well as a plethora of gongs and other visual and audible warnings , and if you can deal with that safely whilst negotiating modern traffic then you are a better man than me

  13. If a reader has totally misunderstood a piece then the writer must take the blame. But, I thought I’d made it clear with statements like “no one wants to go back to pushing the Cortina” that I really wasn’t wanting to go back in time. To do so would be ridiculous and futile. The piece was only lamenting the loss of the two facets of travel from A to B. This has nothing to do with rock climbing or anything else – just getting from A to B! Apologies to all if this was not made clear. Personally, I go no where without a Satnav and my home and all other vehicles are as high tech as the next guys. I’ve made a note for 2022 – must try harder!

  14. Classic cars are great to look at and drive on a warm weekend but as a means of getting around, forget it. A car from the last 20 years has one feature that owners of cars from the 50s, 50s and 70s could only dream of. They start first time every time. Not to mention the fact you can take them on a winter road without worrying about them dissolving.

    As for electric cars, as soon as they get affordable, I am having one. Quiet, fast, efficient and clean, what is not to like? They are superior in every way.

    • Exactly – Classic cars are wonderful to behold but as a reliable, comfortable. safe means of transport on a daily basis absolutely hopeless. I would suggest we need to celebrate just how far the car has come, just as we celebrate the fact that we have central heating, dont take tin baths in front of the fire, dont have to go outside to use the toilet and have broadband to browse websites like this!

  15. My earliest car memories are of our Mark 2 Cortina 1600 E, a highly desirable car in 1969 with its sports wheels, vinyl roof, metallic paint and sports car like interior, plus the luxury of a fitted two band radio( not common then). However, would I now want a car that had a weak single speed heater, no rear demister and single speed wipers that made driving in winter a real chore, and should it crash, would only have lap and diagonal seatbelts for protection( not compulsory in the seventies). While the Cortina proved to be a fairly reliable car for the time, except for some overheating in the red hot summer of 1976, I wouldn’t go back to those days.

  16. BMW – from Ultimate Driving Machine to Everyday Aspirational Appliance in a single generation.

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