Indeed, tailfins were already passé in Detroit in 1962, but focusing on automotive fashion is to misunderstand the Ford’s raison d’être.
In certain provinces, where the Swinging Sixties did not commence until approximately 1969, the presence of a chrome-laden third-generation MkIII on the driveway was a tangible success symbol.
To be known as Mr Fred, the foundry proprietor and Zodiac driver, probably represented the pinnacle of the owner’s social ambitions.
Snug rear legroom in the ‘six-seater’ Zodiac MkIII
The Austin is the largest and oldest design in our trio.
The original, Pinin Farina-styled A99 Westminster made its debut in the summer of 1959, together with its upmarket Wolseley and Princess stablemates.
It gained a new grille as the A110 two years later, and the brochure quite blatantly appealed to the reader’s inner social climber.
The Austin A110 Westminster has gobs of torque at its disposal
Not only was it ‘resplendent in an array of dignified colours’, but ‘a car of distinction, for people of distinction’ and perfect for ‘top business executives in a hurry’.
Somewhat more prosaically, Autocar called it: ‘Sedate in appearance, and roomy… eminently suitable as executive transport’.
Another facelift came in 1964 as the MkII, with production ending in early 1968.
Modest badging on this classic Austin’s grille
By then, an Austin that initially rivalled the Zodiac MkII and Cresta PA was competing against the PC-series Vauxhalls and MkIV Fords.
Yet even the last Westminsters didn’t seem particularly archaic, thanks in part to their finely balanced proportions.
As a Wolseley 6/99 owner I have to admit to a certain bias, but those restrained Italian-American lines have dated very well.
The Austin A110 Westminster has a comfortable driving position