Saturday, 16 May 2015

More classic cars from London's streets

An old car is more than a means of getting about - it is a moving, working piece of industrial and artistic heritage that should be preserved, fussed over and passed on for The Ages. It is good to see so many lovely classic cars still in use on London's streets. Cars made in Britain, on the Continent, in the USA. Here are a few I captured on recent trips to London.

Below: A late-production Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow. These are still relatively available and affordable (there's a shop in Hanwell that sells nothing but second-hand Rollers).

Below: another Silver Shadow of similar vintage though the personalised number plate obscures the date of manufacture. This stately classic was in production from 1965 to 1976; the Silver Shadow II with cheaper bumpers was built from 1977 to 1980.

Below: rarer, sportier and far more exclusive than the Silver Shadow, more the vehicle of the cognoscenti - the Bristol 410. Dating back to 1969, so concurrent with the Shadow, the Bristol 410 is the gentleman's sporting carriage par excellence. One of just 82 built; I'd hazard a guess that the vast majority have survived to this day.

Below: also from 1969, an early Porsche 911 parked outside the British Museum shows a different approach to sporting cars. The emphasis is on performance rather than prestige.

Below: utilitarian and built for the masses, a 1978 Renault 4 captured on the leafy streets of Ealing. One of eight million (!) built between 1961 and 1992. The Renault 4 has a shorter wheelbase on the left side than on the right because of the staggered torsion bars used in the rear suspension.

Below: a Scandinavian classic, also spotted in Ealing. A Volvo 144 dating  back to 1971, this side view shows the purity of the design, which was in production from 1966 to 1974.

Below: although American car manufacturers didn't bother selling their oversized behemoths to Britain with its quaint mediaeval streets, many enthusiasts of Detroit steel imported them privately. Here in Soho we see a 1967 Dodge Dart. "I got my AM radio on".

Below: Hanwell W7 is the setting for this late-70s muscle car - a Pontiac Firebird. Note that all three American cars have British registration numbers (from which you can date the vehicle), but they have been stamped in the US style for authenticity.

Below: "You traded the microphone for a Caddy?" Jake would not have approved. This 1978 Cadillac Coupe de Ville parked on Russell Square was not in the best of health, with rust bubbling through all over its flanks. But from the front, the massive grille still looks impressive.

I hope in years to come, the streets of Warsaw will be also be full of beautiful old cars, well cared for by their owners. If you want to impress, a stand-out classic does the job so much better than a brand new black SUV.

This time three years ago:
Photography and the Law of Diminishing Returns

This time four years ago:
A night at the Filters (Museum Night 2011)

This time five years ago:
Warsaw's Museum Night

This time six years ago:
Exploring my anomalous memory events

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