Digging up London's street-parked gems of the past


Author: Martin PortPublished:

For most of us, spotting another classic on the road is a comparatively rare occurrence these days. I usually see only two or three over the course of a week and normally this is enough to induce a serious amount of head-swivelling, neck-craning and road-crossing just to get a closer look.

Elliott seems to have better luck though – as those regulars on the C&SC Facebook page will know. Perhaps it is something about living in London, but it seems like he spots something on a daily basis that is worth bringing to our attention and I will admit to being a little jealous that, for him at least, the daily grind still offers an insight into the classic-owning community.

Of course, if you could turn back time (no, I’m not doing a bloody Cher impression), then things would be different. A simple (and self-gratifying) web search for AC Buckland resulted in an unscheduled visit to www.etypeuk.com and in particular its forum where one of the administrators of the site had posted dozens of old car photos. The link between all of the images? They are all of cars parked on the streets of London in period. Of course there are a few that suggest that the geography isn’t limited purely to the UK’s capital, but for the most part it seems perfectly plausible.

Naturally the majority of the cars photographed weren’t wearing the ‘classic’ tag at the time – they were merely cars in use, but I’d doubt the contemporary vehicles gracing London’s streets nowadays would prompt someone to go around taking snaps in the same way. Once the first Range Rover Evoque was dispatched with, then where would you turn? 

Decades on though, and there are some real gems to be found on this humble web page. The Embericos Bentley just three images in for instance,  or 63 EMU – the works’ Aston DB3S that is now a regular at Goodwood (although admittedly it is on a trailer in the photo!). 

Oddities such as a Trident Clipper share the streets with a Mini and an A35, while a snapshot of the ‘70s shows a NSU Ro80 parked up while a VW Beetle and Transit motion past.

Just imagine the potential excitement if, as a classic car enthusiast, you could pop back in time and walk the streets captured in these photographs. Then consider just how long it would take you to reach your destination after all of those distractions and attempts to haggle a bargain purchase of something you now know to be almost priceless! 

Pop along to http://tinyurl.com/lwuwgnq and start dreaming.

Of course, if by posting these pictures I have infringed anyone’s copyright then I apologise and please let us know, but to whoever the photographer was, thank you because it was a great excuse to avoid doing any proper work for at least an hour!


Chris Martin

Don't ask me to go there Martin; now I will have to spend a whole day rifling through old photo albums, I was always a keen photographer and car nut since I was in short trousers (I am again now, but that is normal in the Australian summer) in the sixties.
But just looking at that second from top one to start with, and in colour, and the main thing I notice that we miss now is how different cars were then.
I mean different from each other.
That street scene shows what would probably have been a decent mix at the time, but how about a Jag' XK Coupe, MKII Zephyr or Zodiac, Standard Vanguard, a pair of 100E Fords sandwiching a 'Frogeye' Sprite and what looks like a Standard Flying Nine on the left for variety?
That Trident is parked behind a MKII Cortina, with MKII Jag', HA Viva, MK III Zodiac and W108 Mercedes, which make up a perfect sixties collection.
Of course with hindsight, these could all be called classics, but I well remember as a skint hippy in the early seventies when such old bangers as100E Fords or HA Vivas could be bought for the price of a decent pair of orange 'Loon Pants' because nobody else wanted them.
I doubt though when some old fart is showing his grandkids his digital photo library in fifty years time that anybody would get nostalgic for a Hyundai Excel, partly because they could not tell one from a Mazda Thingy, a Toyota Wotsit or a Skoda/Ford/Beemer something-or-other.



I wondered if that colour photo was genuine at first. All those cars look so clean. As I remember those days a really gleaming motor was quite a rarity.
There's a wonderful film on BritishPathe'site: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/anglo-american-vintage-car-rally/query.... This is a glorious twelve minutes or so of automotive heaven from 1954. Not only the Rally entrants but the "ordinary" cars appearing are fascinating. The background music is so typical of that era. In another film, "Looking at Britain" there is part of the same film but in colour.


If you only follow F1 you're missing all the magic.

Chris Martin

My guess on how clean they look, is this:
We are in London, the metropolitan Police sign gives that away, in what looks to me like a typical Kensington type street, certainly not one of the poorer neighbourhoods, and if this was taken around 1960 when some of these cars were new, or recent, it makes sense that the owners would have had them looked after. Of course the same selection of cars in a cheap suburb in the seventies would have received different treatment.
Also, remember the fact that the photo was even taken on COLOUR film shows somebody thought this scene worth preserving.



I really enjoy Classic Car shows seeing automobiles that were common place so many years ago whilst also casting my eyes on the iconic and glamours cars that were not an everyday site.

These pictures show a total different story, one and all the cars are there being used in anger. Then you see the poster and race cars just there in the street open to the elements. No concurs for these cars definitely no Garage jewelry.

What is most fascinating is the reminder of the era these cars were new, the surrounding automotive profiles they kept as company. The Stratos next to the Anglia van, the Countach behind the Simca 1100. The 911 with a Zodiac across the road and the Marcus with the American whale wing. Then you remember why you were in awe when you saw them back in the days of black and white TV, Space Ships exotica.

Cheers for the link.


Marinus Rijkers has created a fantastic and comprehensive webpage about Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows. One of the galleries has some great pictrues from 70s and 80s London. http://www.rrsilvershadow.com/EGall/Gall7080.htm


Great pictures, big difference is no where to park these days. I bet all those locations are yellow lines!
I used to look at what I believe now was a Peerles, but it had no name badge, in the early 70's each time I went to my grandparents in Hammersmith. Could have been an AC Aceca or a Reliant Sabre6 (but I wasnt very aware of anything not in Motor each week at that time).

It sat very sad and slowly deteriorating over several years, it eventually disappeared. Missed opportunities, like the Healey Silverstone I turned down as an old heap sitting in a scrap yard in West Drayton in 1980....wish I knew then what I know now I only thought of 3000's and Sprites.

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