Classic vehicles galore!

Posted by Chris Graham on 10th June 2021

We dip into Nina Smith’s postcard collection once again, and offer you a another trip down memory lane, with classic vehicles galore!

Classic vehicles galore

Classic vehicles galore!: One of those long, oversized postcards, offering a wide-angle view of The High Street, Berwick-on-Tweed. The view dates from the early-to-mid-1950s. On the left, we can see a new-looking Austin Somerset, being passed by a pre-war-looking delivery van, maybe a Bedford W Type. There are various older cars parked on the left, with another van – possibly a Thornycroft – behind the Morris Oxford ‘MO’. On the right, there’s a street market, with a couple of vans, including a blue, Ford 5 cwt. In the foreground, a crowd has gathered, including some soldiers in ‘glengarry’ caps, from North of the Border. I wonder what they were all looking at?

There was a time when writing postcards to family or friends was an essential part of the holiday or trip away from home. Of course, it wasn’t everybody’s favourite pastime and, to be honest, I always found it a bit of a chore. But, postcards do offer a real flavour of the places they depict and, these days, it’s quite understandable why postcard collectors are so keen on them.

From our point of view – as vehicle enthusiasts – the all-pervading presence of cars, vans, lorries and buses in just about all postcard scenes is most welcome. They help date the images for us, especially if there are buses on view; they help place the scene in its area and, of course, add a lot of interest.

This won’t be the case for everybody, though. Some will find the vehicles an intrusion on the scene and, to be honest, in some rural scenes that’s undeniably true. But, until somebody invents a way for us to get around – and to visit these places – they are going to be a part of the scene. One day, somebody might look at these photographs, as they might at the magazine as a whole, and say: “Oh look, remember when we used to travel about in all those cars and buses?” But, thankfully, in my view at least, that’s a long way off…

Classic vehicles galore

A view of The Grand Parade, Cork City, Ireland, from across the River Lee, with the National Monument in the foreground. There are lots of parked cars; from the left we can identify a Humber Hawk, Hillman Husky, Morris 8, two Oxfords, an Austin Somerset, Vauxhall and a Morris Minor, next to an Opel, which Nina says were assembled in Ireland. Passing were a Ford, a Volkswagen and another Vauxhall. Further away, we can see a CIE double-decker to the left and a red, Thames Trader lorry and blue DKW pick-up (also locally assembled?) plus a horse and cart.

In most cases, postcards show a ‘roadscene’, so often with vehicles which were already somewhat out-of-date when the postcard was sent, never mind about now. Some of the locations are readily recognisable, while others are truly historic, with rebuilding and road ‘improvements’ changing the scene beyond recognition.

The postcard scenes here are wide-ranging, from across Britain, Europe and beyond. The vehicles in some of them will be less familiar, but nonetheless interesting. Maybe they will remind readers of their own holidays or trips taken in the past. Something to look forward to again, after our enforced time at home in recent months.

We’ve had quite a response to the previous selections of postcard views, in the form of comments, further information and more contributions, so I hope these ones prove as welcome. We have more to come in future issues from other readers, as well.

Classic vehicles galore

A view of Falmouth Harbour – the pretty part, rather than the docks, where the cargo ship is in the distance. China Clay being loaded maybe wouldn’t be the tourist attraction we might think it is! The only commercial is a Volkswagen pick-up, but there are some nice, late-1960s cars on the right; a BMC 1100 Estate, MGB, Ford Cortina Mk II, Zodiac Mk III, Minor soft-top, Cortina Mk I, Anglia 105R, another Zodiac or Zephyr, Humber Hawk and more.


Classic vehicles galore

East Grinstead, in Sussex, where the High Street boasts ‘the longest continuous run of 14th century, timber-framed buildings in England.’ This view shows some typical, early-1970s vehicles; from the right, a Ford Zephyr Mk III, Mini Clubman Estate, Simca 1000, Austin 1100, Renault 12, Peugeot estate, Bedford CF and Mini vans and a Land Rover.


Classic vehicles galore

Here we see ‘Stortoget’ or The Market Place in Oslo, Norway, with a flower market in progress, around 1970. There are lots of light commercials to be seen, including a Ford Transit or two, several Volkswagens and Mercedes-Benz 206/306, less commonly seen in the UK. There are tram tracks in the background, but no trams – perhaps it was a Sunday?


Classic vehicles galore

A view of Il Duomo (the Cathedral) in Bolzano, Italy. Again, there are lots of parked cars, predictably including lots of Fiats (500s, 600s, 1100s, a 126), plus Renault 4L and Volvo interlopers. An OM lorry is parked on the pavement on the left, as Autobianchi and Alfa Romeo ‘berlinas’ pass by.


Classic vehicles galore

Another market scene, this time from Cape Town, in South Africa, with Table Mountain seen behind the baroque architecture of the City Hall in the background. Dating from the 1950s, the people are looking at a fascinating array of ‘antiques’, brought in the green Bedford PC and Commer Express vans, seen among the stalls.


Classic vehicles galore

A view of St Anthony Square, Sassari, in Sadinia, Italy, again around 1970. As in Bolzano, the parked cars seen are mainly Fiats, but there are a couple of Innocenti versions of BMC models and, again, the van is an OM (Officine Meccaniche, founded in 1899, taken over by Fiat in 1938, from when only commercials were built, and subsumed into Iveco in 1975).


This postcard, in black and white reflecting the ‘Cold War’ period when it was sent, shows the junction of Jerusalem Avenue (Jerozolimskich) and New World Street (Nowy Swiat) in Warsaw. The cars on the foreground were GAZ-M20 ‘Pobeda’ saloons, produced in the Soviet Union from 1946 until 1958, with Skodas and Volgas and FSO Warszawa pick-ups passing.


On to sunnier climes, with the Don Francisco Gomes Square, in Faro, in the Algarve, Portugal, which many will recognise from their holidays. There are some British vehicles to be seen among those parked, a Triumph Herald Coupé on the left and an Austin or Morris J2, behind the VW double-cab pick-up in the foreground. The Shell petrol station on the waterfront to the right is an unusual feature.


There’s a nice selection of 1950s French cars – just the thing for French Dinky toy fans – in this view of the Place Masséna, in Nice, on the Côte d’Azur. Between two Vespa scooters, we see a Renault Fregate, following two Renault Dauphines round the fountain, with a Peugeot 403 ‘Familiale’ or estate, following a Peugeot D3A van to the right. A Simca Chambord and Ford Vedette and Citroen 2CV are among the parked cars.


Perhaps an unusual subject for a postcard is this view along the Avenida del Generalisimo Franco – the road into Barcelona from Madrid, with the city in the background. The traffic moving away from the camera includes a DKW 1000 van (probably Spanish-built), Seat 1400 or 1900 saloon, Seat/Fiat 600, Mercedes-Benz 190 ‘Ponton’, while a Land Rover is glimpsed coming the other way.


More Fiat 500s predictably feature in this view of Via Della Conciliazione, in Rome, in the early 1960s. There is also an Innocenti version of the Farina A40 on the right, behind an NSU Prinz’, a VW Beetle, with a yellow Autobianchi ‘Jardiniera’ in the middle.


Here we’re in Mayrhofen, a town in the Zillertal (Ziller river valley) in the Austrian state of Tyrol​. With the mountains in the background, we can see a Ford Taunus 17M/20M ‘Turnier’ (estate) passing an Opel Rekord ‘Car-a-Van’, another estate car, in the foreground, with other Taunus cars parked beyond, plus a couple of VW vans or minibuses.


To finish, here’s a fine old view of Lugano, in southern Switzerland, with the lake of the same name and Monte San Salvatore. The picture has been hand-coloured, rather more carefully than is often the case, matching the stylish location. The vehicles are difficult to identify, but typical of their time, with opening canvas roofs for touring cars and buses.

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