Hark The Herald

Triumph Herald in storage.

Beneath years of dust and fossilised spare part boxes, a pair of Triumph Heralds sit forlornly between a breeze-block garage wall and the metal casing of a former paint spray booth. Five more Heralds and a Vitesse occupy the main floorspace, a Dolomite Sprint and Herald-based MG TF-like Gentry are parked within the booth. Automobilia laden shelves, motoring photographs and posters cover the walls. An adjoining room contains tottering piles of car magazines and books alongside numerous ancient bicycles and the component parts of a large train set. A second…

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Ford Fiesta Mk1 Popular

Mk1 Ford Fiesta Popular.

As someone who spent a large part of his youth competing in races, sprints and hillclimbs in a variety of Vauxhall Novas, I suppose I should have been programmed to dislike early examples of the Ford Fiesta. Fiestas, like Minis, were the enemy in those days. The Road Saloons up to 1300cc class was flooded with both, most of them driven by people of great talent and determination. There were times when I thought that if they would all scuttle off and leave me in peace my motorsport life would…

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Honda Insight

Contemporary press shot of first-generation, left-hand drive Honda Insight.

When I say that petrol-electric hybrid cars are nothing new, I don’t just mean they’ve been around for as long as Facebook. Porsche put one into limited production in the early years of the 20th century, and a single example of the Armstrong Phaeton was built in Connecticut even before that. The original Honda Insight is much more recent, but it has the distinction of being the first hybrid to go on general sale in the UK, the earliest example in this context having been registered in March 2000. This…

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Skoda Felicia

1990s publicity shot of a blue Skoda Felicia parked next to a stone bridge.

A casual observer seeing a Felicia for the first time might assume that it was simply an ordinary little hatchback of the 1990s. The assumption would be correct, but not complete. As a car, it is nothing special, yet it is also the first model produced during Skoda’s transition from being seen (in the UK at least) as a joke brand to becoming a major and respected player in the motor industry. Before the Second World War, Skoda was a manufacturer of premium cars such as the 422 we wrote…

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Audi 100 GLS

1978 Reseda Green Audi 100 GLS.

As he hands over the keys in the car park of Audi’s UK headquarters in Milton Keynes, Alex from the press office tells me something he’s only just been told himself. The 100 GLS we’re standing beside may be the only one within sight today, but forty years ago, before he was born, the place was full of them. At management level, almost everyone wanted to have a 100, and perhaps more importantly to be seen to have one. This was neither the first nor the last generation of 100….

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1971 Vauxhall Viscount

Vauxhall Viscount parked on a narrow country lane.

The Vauxhall Viscount, of which fewer than sixty are still registered with the DVLA, was an upmarket version of the already rather formidable Cresta PC. There was a certain irony to this: Vauxhall had first used the Cresta name back in 1954 for a similar reason, namely to denote a special variant of the Velox which at the time had already been on the market for six years. Three more generations of Cresta, all of them stand-alone models in their own right, were to follow, the last of them being…

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A Skoda From A Different World

Yellow British-registered Skoda 422.

Ask the man in the street to express an opinion about Skoda nowadays and it’s unlikely that you’ll hear much in the way of ridicule. Nor should you, as the Czech outpost of the Volkswagen Group is producing a generally fine range of cars, most notably (in my view and apparently that of several others) the third-generation Superb. It wasn’t always like this. Skoda developed a bad reputation in the 1960s which lasted – partly due to the efforts of comedian Jasper Carrott, and in spite of extraordinary success in…

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Vauxhall Lotus Carlton

Vauxhall Lotus Carlton being pushed hard into a downhill left-hander.

The speedometer needle was sweeping past the 130mph mark as the Carlton bellowed its way along a long straight on the test track just outside the Lotus factory near Hethel in Norfolk. “Another thing about this car,” said suspension expert Tony Shute, who seemed a lot more calm about driving it than I was about being a passenger, “is how stable it is in extreme situations. Watch.” He touched the brake pedal, bringing the speed down to about 110mph, and turned in to the next right-hander. Instead of powering through…

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Ford Model T – Motoring 1912 Style

Red Ford Model T Tourer studio shot.

At the time of writing, the oldest car I have ever driven, and perhaps the oldest car I shall ever drive, is a Model T Ford, part of its maker’s splendid Dagenham-based Heritage Collection. Dating from 1912, it is by no means the first Model T ever built, because Ford had started churning them out in America four years previously, but it is an early example of a Model T built in the UK. Using Ford’s then revolutionary mass-production process, it was assembled all those years ago at Trafford Park,…

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