What Car Would You Buy
By Geoff Wheatley


What Car Would You Buy? or
How often have?
By Geoff Wheatley, 2012 ©

Geoff Wheatley

What Car Would You Buy? or

How often have?

How often have you said?. "When I win the lottery I will buy an expensive car or even two!" Of course as yet I have not won a penny but who knows? Just in case it ever happens I already have my list of another ten bucks in the state lottery. Over time my vehicles that would grace my custom built garage adjacent to my new waterfront home in some exotic location. Like many others I have been playing this game over many years as I invest yet choice of the vehicles has changed. Twenty five years ago it was a Jaguar then a Mercedes. Ten years later after experiencing these products I find I have moved on to more collectable vehicles which in real terms means more expensive. I would also have my section adjacent to the garage bar, a feature as important as the collection!

Year 1966, place London UK, ( it might have been Birmingham UK), car Show, the Jenson Interceptor caught my eye. V Eight OHV Engine, that gave over 130 MPH on the highway and gas consumption around twenty to twenty four, on a straight run. The whole car simply looked expensive with two versions available. Historically, Jenson first entered the car business by making bodies for such manufacturers as Austin Healey and became quite a success in that field. The Interceptor was their first entry into the car manufacturing world with Chrysler supplying the V Eight power units and the automatic transmission. My own feeling was and still is that a car such as this should have a traditional gear box to go with the image of the vehicle. Another feature offered was the F. F version, in reality a four wheel drive. Note: The first of its type in the car market. This was more expensive than the standard rear drive version but for its time it was unique and certainly progressive. Obviously we have moved on from the 1960's as illustrated by the fact that my last Jaguar has this feature at no real extra cost! The standard Interceptor in 1966 would set you back around $5,000 and the four wheel version about $7,500. To get some idea of that purchase price a new Rolls Royce in 1966 was just over $8,000. Today if you can find a nice example and there are a few around, expect to pay $50,000 or more. As they only produced 6,630 cars they are certainly a rare bird but beautiful to admire and I assume drive!

My second car that would sit next to the Jenson in my garage is a 1948 Jaguar XK 120, first introduced to a war weary British public in the fall of 1948 at the Earls Court Motor Show. No one had ever seen anything quite like it at the price. Before the war Jaguar had used Standard Motors engines to power their SS Range, in fact Standard made at least thirty percent of all the engines used in British cars until the 1939 and the outbreak of war. The arrangement between the manufactures and the Standard Motor Company was simple, Standard would design the engines and sell them to the individual manufacturers but they would retain the design rights. This worked quite well as the principle engine manufacturers were Standard, Ford UK, Austin and Morris Motors with GM supplying certain power units to its UK company Vauxhaul. However, in 1947 the Ferguson Tractor Company fell out with Ford and approached Standard to supply engines for their tractors ..Standard agreed thinking that the amount of production capacity would be small however, in the post war years the demand for commercial tractors increased fivefold and Standard had serious production problems.

This induced certain car manufacturers in the UK to look elsewhere or develop their own power units. Jaguar was one of the first to follow this path resulting in the creation of the now famous Jaguar twin cam six cylinder power unit that stayed in production until 1954. The name 120 was adopted as the car could reach that speed and later we have the 140 and the 150. The 140 was entered into the famous Monte Carlo race and won in its class. It is said that an American Dealer wanted to pre-purchase all the production of the XK 120 in 1949 but this was not possible. The Motor Industry, under the governments control at that time, frowned on such suggestions and insisted that although Britain was exporting most of its production there should still be a supply to the home market. In reality no one got a XK 120 until well into 1949 and then the home market was rationed. Only one car in every ten produced could be sold to a British buyer, the rest went for export. By today's standards this car had its faults, braking for this size power unit was not that wonderful with drum breaks back and front. Electrics were basically still prewar and comfort as not a consideration but it looked sporty and did provide an outstanding performance. The 140 was much the same but had better breaking, but if you also wanted comfort then the last in the series was the XK 150 a truly luxury vehicle.

Every one of my age has seen or even driven a Morgan Three Wheeler, all the rage in the 1930's and recently reintroduced as a special order car from Morgan UK. (I think the current car is a touch better that its prewar brother!). Around the same time another British three wheel delight came on the market produced by a company that had made its fortune making guns and bullets. The British Small Arms company..(B.S.A. for short.) In the post war 1920's they had produced a couple of cars with air cooled engines and had purchased the famous Daimler Motor Company as early as 1910 as an entry into the car market. Their principle business apart from the toys of war was motor cycles, popular models designed for the average working man looking for affordable transport. From 1920 through to the mid thirties Britain had more motor cycles on its roads than any other country in Europe including Germany . Motor cycles with sidecars were also popular and BSA dominated this market with sturdy but not every dazzling models like Norton , Vincent, Triumph etc., bikes designed for speed and sports activity. The BSA three wheeler followed in the footsteps of their motor cycles, simple basic design, no frills like Morgan with JAP racing engines, simply a convenient means of getting two people to work in modest comfort .The cost per three wheeler was about twenty percent less than the Morgan depending on what engine you chose. With the BSA it was simple you took what ever they put on the front of the car to drive the front wheels, usually a one liter side valve unit manufactured by Hotchkiss who also supplied the power units for the BSA standard four wheel cars. The official performance figures were between 45/50 MPH but everything I have read indicates that this was rather ambitious unless you were going down hill with a rear gale blowing. My limited experience indicates that you would not push the performance as the whole car was at best, rather flimsily built. The Morgan was not much better but had a more powerful engine and a strong basic design. From all this you will gather than in company with the other listed cars a 1930 BSA three wheeler would grace my collection.

My next car is not a expensive vehicle in fact you can still find one at a reasonable price if you look hard enough but it's a car that has real character in every sense of that word. Sometime during the second world war, at the Morris Factory in the UK, a designer, who was later to create the now famous Mini, Alec Issigonis was thinking of a post war car that would appeal to the general motoring public, who everyone knew would buy just about anything once the war was over, and of course they did, good bad or what ever. The design turned into the Morris Minor that was produced from 1948 through to 1971! In total 1.4 million of these cars were rolled off the factory floor and another half million were turned out as commercial vehicles. Performance was not a high point, a steady fifty on the highway was about the limit from the early side valve power unit that was designed for the 1938 Family Morris Ten! Over the 21 years of production various designs were offered including the soft top semi sports, the estate version, and even a pick up that was popular with the farming community. Built like a tank except for the British curse of rust, they were the ever popular car of the new driving public. The engine size was increased to meet the demands of the new highways being built throughout the UK in the early 60's, which did enhance the joy of driving these cars. Sometime in the late 1960's I rented one of these cars for a week or so , as far as I can recall my usual transport , a Ford Capri, was once again in the local garage for attention, it seemed to like that location rather than the highway. I was totally impressed with the Minor as a practical vehicle and if I could have found some one to take the Capri off my hands would have rushed out and purchased a M. M. Next to a Yugo I would place the Capri on my "Wish I had never seen it" file! Yes I did buy a Yugo but that's another story for another day!

My final car is certainly expensive and not very practical but I would love to own one, a AC Cobra better known in the USA as the Shelby Cobra. A British body with an American power unit that can touch 140 mph on the road and leave almost everything standing! In total 1,137 original cars were produced but since 1968 when the official production ceased the market has been expanding with what we now know as Cobra Replicas! Its hard to see any difference unless you know the original vehicle, However I am not an expert on these cars so I simply admire the whole presentation original or not. I once had the joy of driving a 1966 Cobra on a motor highway in Britain, of course I never touched the 140 mph in fact I don't think I made three figures but, what an experience. All I have to do is win the state lottery and you can come and see my collection.. Gotta close as the draw is tomorrow and I have not yet purchased my Lotto tickets!
© 2012 Geoff Wheatley Contributing Editor

Bookmark and Share