60 YEARS OF THE COMMER “SPACEVAN”
By Ellie Priestley |
25th June, 2020
As recently as the 1980s, you might regularly encounter a medium-sized van that resembled an inverted soap-dish. The latter-day examples bore “Dodge” badging, but this commercial was known to almost all as “The Commer Spacevan”. And sixty years ago, it represented a significant departure for the Rootes Group and for British commercial vehicles
The original 1500 FC debuted in 1960 as the replacement for the Commer Express and a rival to the Bedford CA, the Thames 400E and the Standard Atlas – plus the equally new BMC J4. The forward-control body, designed by Steel Fisher, and independent front suspension represented a major change for Ryton even if the engine was the familiar 1,494cc Audax-series Hillman Minx unit.
Your friendly local dealer would further extoll the virtues of a track that was narrower at the front than at the rear - to ensure manoeuvrability for urban use - and a choice of 16 body styles. The buyer could order hinged or sliding doors plus an additional side loading entrance – an option that Bedford did not offer on the CA. As for the body styles, there was the “High Top Van, the “Chassis Cab Van”, the 12-seater “Crew Bus” and the 14-seater “Contractor’s Bus” – not to mention the “Dropsider”, “Canopy Pick-Up” and “Bottle Float”.
Rootes progressively updated the FC, and it was the first van in its class available with a diesel engine. The Series 2 of 1961 boasted a 1.6-litre petrol unit as standard and the 2500 version of 1962 featured uprated suspension. By 1965 the renamed “PA1500/2500” was offered with either the new 1,725cc petrol or a Perkins 1.8 litre engines. There was even the option of automatic transmission – which was highly unusual for a commercial vehicle of that time.
However, 1965 also was “The Year of The Transit” – better to drive and as conventionally good-looking as a young Jim Dale. What helped to maintain PB sales was HM Government; in 1966 alone, the GPO placed a £400,000 order for 600 “Post Office Telephones” PAs.
Asides from government service, the Commer’s most famous role was probably as a motorhome. Coachbuilders across the UK appreciated its durability and how the body allowed for the possibility of installing six feet long transverse bed. If you look at virtually any picture of a 1960s or 1970s camping site, there will be at least one FC or PA. Bluebird Caravans Ltd. boasted that their Wayfarer could be used as a mobile office or ‘in emergencies as an extra bedroom when those unexpected guests turn up!’. Whether such individuals would ever return after being offered accommodation on the driveway was another matter.
In 1963 Autocar evaluated a “Four Berth De Luxe” devised by Commer. The firm proclaimed their in-house motor caravans were ‘The Perfect Holiday Home!’ for ‘Accommodation and transport worries’ were now in the past. The price was £927, plus £18 14s 6d for a cab heater and £37 7s 6d for a rear tent canopy. As for road manners, the writer was impressed at the way the PA could be ‘driven quite fast over really rough tracks, without the risk of smashing crockery’.
Perhaps the best-remembered of all the motorhomes is the “Auto-Sleeper”. The Worcestershire firm adopted an all-Commer policy until 1971 and buyers could specify between two to seven berths in their home from home. The equipment list even included a 24-piece cutlery for all models. By 1975 the list of extra included a “Rear Annex Tent” for just £79.84 and a free-standing table for a mere £2.43. There was also the facility to house a “Porta-Potti” in the rear offside wardrobe - a reminder of the sheer glamour that was a typical holiday of the period.
As for the standard vans, Rootes – and Chrysler UK from 1970 onwards – continued to face the major sales challenge from the Transit. Fleet buyers and small traders both appreciated how the Ford was also more straightforward to maintain than a Commer - not least because it did not require a crane to extract the motor via the front passenger door. The updated PB of 1967 with its alternator was a response to this upstart from Langley. By 1970 the De Luxe version even came with a cigarette lighter and hazard warning lamps as standard.
1974 saw the adoption of the popular “Spacevan” name, for none of its competitors could match its 200 cubic foot of load bay; the Commer was almost literally a “box on wheels”. However, by the mid-1970s it looked very dated as compared with the Transit the Bedford CF and the Leyland Sherpa.
August 1976 saw the Spacevan now wearing the faintly incongruous “Dodge” name, which was shared by almost all of Chrysler’s British-market commercial vehicles. Many drivers were probably more impressed by the electric windscreen washers and two-speed wipers than mere semantics. In 1977, the range gained a new black radiator grille, so that it could better compete with the Transit Mk. II and in that same year Commercial Motor reported on a £1.25m Post Office order for 1,185 Dodges. However, when the magazine tested the 2500 version in 1978, the scribe remarked:
We speculated at the time that if Chrysler had not been in financial difficulties, a replacement van would have no doubt been introduced. However, the Peugeot-Citroen takeover may see some changes. One wonders if the Post Office and other municipal undertakings will be so keen to buy Chrysler badged Peugeot vans instead of the PB.
PSA intended to cease Spacevan production in 1981, but the demands of British Telecom meant the final Spacevan left the factory in 1983 – several years after the launch of the Renault Trafic. By that time, it was part of the fabric of life in the UK, whether it delivered your milk or bread, or formed part of your collection of die-cast Corgi models. And the Commer also starred in one of the best-remembered public information films of the 1970s:
Why choose Lancaster Insurance?
Here at Lancaster, we love classic cars as much as you do and we understand what it takes to protect them for future generations.
We have links with some of the top classic car clubs around the country and some of our policies even offer discounts of up to 25% for club members.
Other benefits of classic car insurance through Lancaster can include:
- Historic rally cover
- Static show cover
- Limit mileage discounts
- Choice of repairer
- 24-hour claims helpline
Give your classic the protection it deserves and get a quote for your classic today.
News from the last 12 months
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This week marks the sixth anniversary of a television channel that is a source of delight to classic machinery and cinema fans alike. After all, who needs the likes of Celebrity Supermarket Warehouse Shift Worker and Help – Even My Agent Has Forgotten My Name?
24 May 2021
Whether you’re planning a solo staycation, a trip with your partner or a family holiday, Norfolk and the Norfolk Broads is the place to head. In this article we’ll cover what to see, where to stay and learn a little bit more about this fascinating area of the country.
21 May 2021
in the UK, we’re lucky enough to have some of the world’s best racing on our doorstep, with countless amazing circuits hosting races throughout each year.
19 May 2021
From 1924 to 1971, the USSR only manufactured one million vehicles. But it still managed to produce some memorable cars, albeit often heavily influenced by Western manufacturers. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the best of them.
18 May 2021
The year is 1982. Adam Ant’s solo record Goody Two Shoes is topping the charts, and the tabloid press is ranting how a forthcoming BBC programme called The Young Ones will cause the end of civilisation. Meanwhile, a holiday in Weymouth awaits, and your home from home is a Morris Marina 575 Suntor. James Ebden’s rather stunning example is a reminder of this camper’ popularity in the ‘70s and ‘80s.MEET THE OWNER – SIMON DWYER AND HIS 1959 POLICE MGA
As Goodwood has scheduled the Revival for the 17th to 19th of September, there is no better time to celebrate its famous “Pace Car”. Just as notable, Simon Dwyer’s 1959 MGA 1600 Mk 1 is one of the few surviving cars from Lancashire Constabulary’s traffic fleet.
17 May 2021
Sixty years ago, Dagenham unveiled a new model that could not be mistaken for any other car. The Consul Classic was the epitome of scaled-down Americana, from its quad headlamps to its tail fins and reverse-angle rear screen. Any driver who affected a Bob Monkhouse-style mid-Atlantic patois instantly craved the “long low look” and motorway pace of “the new look of British motoring”.The Transport Café – A Celebration
While some forms of roadside building have gone the way of AA and RAC telephone boxes, it is heartening to come across a surviving transport café. The Ace, near Wembley, which opened in 1938, is possibly the best known. Another name that will be familiar to many readers is Kate’s Cabin on the A1.
14 May 2021
How can you ensure that your dream Dodge is not a dodgy deal? And if you’re selling, how can you be confident that your buyers – and their payments – are real?MG Owners’ Club 2021 (sponsored by Lancaster Insurance) Race Meeting at Mallory Park, 5th May
The first race meeting of The MG Owners’ Club 2021 season – at Mallory Park Racing Circuit – was boosted by the debuts of several drivers, writes Jim Baynam. The race had its usual quotient of high-octane thrills and was the inaugural such event for Carl Bate (MGBGT), Anthony Bate (Maestro), Mathieu Dore (MGBGT), Jack Woodcock (ZR) and Tim Grigsby (TF).
13 May 2021
Right up there with the plucky vim and vigour of the original Mini and the elegant power of the Jaguar E-Type, the rough and tough all-terrain Land Rover is synonymous with Great Britain.10 fascinating facts about DeLorean
The DeLorean DMC-12 is synonymous with the Back to the Future series, of course. But there’s much more to this classic car than a movie appearance or three.
11 May 2021
With more than 2,000 members in the UK and across the world, our Club of the Month is the MG Octagon Car Club.
07 May 2021
On the 27th of April, the Morris Marina celebrated its 50th birthday, and one of many enthusiasts is Danny Hopkins, the editor of Practical Classics Magazine:Classic four-seater convertibles
There’s a lot to be said for owning a four-seater classic convertible, as opposed to a two-seater. Above all else, they offer an element of practicality – so if you want to go away for the weekend, there’s room for luggage as well as three passengers.Best classic car clubs for American cars
When it comes to car design, the Americans clearly believe in excess. While it’s not to everyone’s tastes, you can’t deny it’s led to some incredible machines over the years. The classic car world would undoubtedly be a more boring place without the likes of the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger roaring up to classic car shows around the country.60th anniversary of the E-Type Jaguar
The Jaguar E-Type is one of the most famous cars of all time. Described as a “combination of beauty, high performance, and competitive pricing”, it sits high on pretty much every classic car enthusiast’s most wanted list (unfortunately, for most people, it remains there forever). Having now turned 60, the E-Type’s appeal and good looks show no signs of fading.
05 May 2021
On the 25th April 1961, Citroën unveiled its latest model and issued a warning to all motorists: “If you believe that the characteristics of a car - performance, comfort, safety - necessarily on the number of horsepower, the amount of superfluous chrome trim or high cylinder capacity and corresponding fixed costs are to be measured, then do not concern yourself further with the Ami 6!”THE METROPOLITAN 1500 REVISITED
Both during its lifetime and after, the British-market Metropolitan 1500 received some very mixed reviews. The Motor of 3rd April 1957 noted in a very imperious fashion that the reader would be able to “…place his own emphasis on its traits according to his own tastes and circumstances…”. In other words – if you buy this car, you run the risk of being regarded as a vulgarian and quite possibly a cad into the bargain.The MG Midget – A Celebration
When MG introduced ‘the new Midget’ in June 1961, some Abingdon traditionalists were decidedly unhappy. A Mr. R. Gowring ranted in a letter to Motor Sport: “I am one of numerous MG Midget owners who regard the ‘New Midget’ with an air of disdain. I say the ‘New Midget.’ Mr. Courtenay Edwards, the motoring correspondent of the Sunday Telegraph, calls it “the Austin Healey Sprite wearing a false moustache and dark glasses,” which I feel is a much better description.”
28 April 2021
Driving is just like riding a bike; you never forget how, but after a bit of a break, you may be a little rusty. However, you don’t want that rustiness to lead to an unwelcome incident out on the road, which could cost you dearly.What is the Lakeland Motor Museum?
For many fans of classic cars, planning a trip to the Lakeland Motor Museum is a dream come true! This unique place is truly devoted to all things motoring. From getting up close to classic vintage cars and motorbikes to immersing yourself in some of the greatest moments in UK motoring history, there’s really no place quite like it.Our favourite classic Vauxhalls
Vauxhall is not often spoken about as a brand that builds great cars. But as the UK’s oldest surviving car brand, with models rolling off its production line as early as 1903, its motors really stand the test of time.
27 April 2021
With lock down restrictions on travel being gradually eased within the four nations, albeit it at differing rates, we’re receiving queries regarding 4x4 insurance and what is covered as people look ahead to getting back on the open road. Here Andrew Evanson, Senior Operations Manager at Lancaster Insurance, talks about what is covered with our 4x4 policies.
21 April 2021
The Nürburgring is a bucket-list destination for just about every petrolhead on the planet. It attracts some two million visitors each year and is, without doubt, one of the premier automotive attractions in the world.8 fast facts about the VW Beetle
The VW Beetle has claims to be one of the best cars to ever go into production. Designed to be the ‘people’s car’, its appeal spanned cultures and generations, going on to become one of the best-selling cars of all time. It remained in production for more than 80 years, with Volkswagen eventually calling time in 2019.
16 April 2021
Did you know that the UK boasts more than 300 distilleries, producing gin, vodka and whisky? A trip to one of these can make for a very nice day out – you just need to find somewhere safe to leave the campervan so you can properly enjoy your tipple!MEET THE OWNER – MARTIN HUGHES AND HIS VAUXHALL CAVALIER SR
It is hard to believe that the Vauxhall Cavalier Mk. II is fast approaching its 40th birthday, and even more difficult to appreciate how rare they now are. There are just two examples of the SR on the road and Martin Hughes’ 1982 four-door is believed to be the last Jamaica Yellow model in the UK.ONE FAMILY FROM NEW – A MORRIS OXFORD TAXI IN GREECE
Any Morris Oxford Series VI is a car worthy of great respect – especially this 1969 example owned by Costas Georgopoulos. His father acquired it new, and the Farina served the family and the Peloponnese seaport town Nafplio as a taxi for many years.THE FIAT 127 AT 50
To celebrate 50 years of the 127 – 27 facts about this ground-breaking Fiat:20 FACTS ABOUT THE MORRIS MARINA
The Morris Marina will celebrate its 50th birthday later this month, and we plan to feature an exceptional example on the actual date. For now, here are twenty fascinating facts about a much-misunderstood car:
15 April 2021
According to How Many Are Left?, just 15 examples of the Renault 20 TX Automatic remain on the road in the UK. Forty years ago, they were regarded as desirable transport – well-appointed, versatile, extremely comfortable and with a certain degree of panache. More importantly, this example, co-owned by Chris Salter and Reg Duffett, was once the daily driver of a great friend to the classic community.THE FIAT 130 COUPE AT 50
50 years ago, Fiat unveiled one of their most beautiful cars: the 10 Coupe. It was not just a belated heir to the 2300S and the Lance Flaminia Coupe but a car fit to rival the BMW 3.0CS and the Mercedes-Benz 280CE. Famous owners included (but of course) Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni.THE WORLD’S FINEST BUS? – THE CITROEN U55 ‘CITYRAMA’
In 1956, the French travel firm Groupe Cityrama commissioned the famed coachbuilder Currus to build transport suitable for a new generation of tourists.THE AUSTIN A30/A35 COUNTRYMAN – A CELEBRATION
In 1954, the motorist in search of a small estate-car had four options. The recently launched Morris Minor Traveller looked most appealing, while the new Hillman Husky was essentially a modified Commer Cob van.CARRY ON CAMPING – IN A 1961 COMMER ‘MAIDSTONE’
The year is 1961 and, somewhere in Hampshire, a family is en route to their summer holiday near Swanage. Dad is ranting about those Ton-up boys, Mum dreams of Laurence Harvey, their daughter reads about John Leyton in Mirabelle magazine, while son plots his way to owning a Corgi model of the Citroën DS19.Best car shows of 2021
For classic car owners and enthusiasts, nothing beats the excitement of a classic car show. This is especially true in the UK, which is home to a glittering array of world-leading classic car events. These shows provide the opportunity to see some of the best and rarest vehicles in the world up close, maybe even purchasing one of your own.12 of the best car movies of all time
Cars make movies. Movies make cars. The two go together as well as just about anything. We can’t imagine a time that car movies go out of fashion. At lease, we hope not.
14 April 2021
Volkswagen has enjoyed the best of times of late. The German manufacturer has famously been involved in an emissions scandal which dates back to 2008 has so far cost the company €30bn (£25bn) – and it’s rising. But VW still has a strong fanbase – especially among classic car owners.Best Instagram accounts for classic car enthusiasts
Did you know that more than 30 million people in the UK are now using Instagram, the photo and video sharing social networking service? And numbers are growing year on year. Classic car enthusiasts are not wasting the opportunity to utilise the platform either, posting thousands of pictures of rare and classic vehicles for us all to enjoy.
13 April 2021
We’ve put together this handy guide to some of the basics you need to understand in order to take the perfect picture of your classic. Making your car stand out from the crowd has never been easier.THE TALBOT SAMBA – A CELEBRATION
Of all the cars celebrating their 40th birthday in 2021, the Samba is one of the rarest, with just 19 remaining in use. They were the last new car to bear the Talbot badge - and one that represented a fresh direction for the brand.The Reliant Scimitar GTC – A Celebration
Looking at the Scimitar GTC, it is hard to believe that it debuted in the same year as the Audi Quattro, the Austin Mini Metro and the Ford Escort Mk3. This is not to imply that the Reliant looked at all dated, for it was a true Grand Tourer; handsome, purposeful and always looking ready for a dash along the A27 to Goodwood.Five special edition Ford Escort Mk2s
In 1979, there would have been few keen motorists unaware that Ford was planning a radical new third-generation Escort – a front-wheel-drive hatchback no less. In the meantime, there was a spate of Limited Edition Mk2s.The Triumph 2.5 P.I. Mk1 – A Celebration
The 2000 made its bow at the 1963 London Motor Show and by the mid-1960s Canley was already considering a more powerful version. One option was enhancing the 1,998cc-engine to create the ‘2000TS’.
12 April 2021
At Lancaster Insurance, we’re seeing a greater number of enthusiasts owning more than one vehicle. To help take away the stress of multiple renewal dates and cluttered paperwork, below is more information on our multi-vehicle policies and how they may help you!
09 April 2021
As a Mini enthusiast, you might think you know all there is to know about the British’s people’s car. But, put your knowledge to the test with these ten fast facts about this brilliant British icon.Cars driven by celebrities before they were famous
Being classic car enthusiasts, we tend to judge celebrities by the cars that they drive. So, the likes of Chris Evans and Rowan Atkinson, who are well known for their love of classic cars, are top of our list (we don’t actually have a list of our favourite celebrities, of course).8 of the best mid-engine classics
There’s nothing middle of the road about a mid-engine motor. Many high-end sports cars have their engines in front of the rear axle, making for a vehicle that’s supremely easy to handle even at top speed.The most impressive car collections in the world
If you had all the money in the world and wanted to put together the classic car collection of your dreams, which vehicles would you choose? Every classic car lover has a dream team they would build if they become filthy rich. How do real-life millionaire car lovers spend their cash?THE LAGONDA 3-LITRE – THE CAR OF HRH THE DUKE OF EDINBURGH
Of all the many motor-cars associated with the late HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, perhaps the most famous is his Lagonda 3-Litre Drophead. It was a vehicle renowned for its performance, comfort, and, most notably, an innate sense of gravitas in its heyday.
08 April 2021
Celebrating its’ 30th birthday in July this year, the Club started as a national enthusiast club for the Series 3 and later encompassed coil sprung 90 and 110 vehicles due to popular demand. Today, the Club caters for all models and members don’t necessarily have to own or drive a Landy to join, just have an interest in them!Best coastal classic car drives in the UK
From the White Cliffs of Dover to the Giant’s Causeway, British coastlines are both steeped in history and endlessly beautiful. It’s a dream for owners of a classic car who live for those escapes, getting behind the wheel and setting off to make unforgettable memories.History of car safety features
When you get behind the wheel of a modern car, you’re entering a space that has been shaped by generations of automotive engineers. You can almost date a vehicle by the safety features that are built in – a fascinating area for classic car lovers.MEET THE OWNER – DAVID FOOT AND HIS RENAULT 18TD ESTATE
For a car that was not uncommon on British roads during the 1980s, the 18 seems to have been largely forgotten. It deserves to be better remembered for it was a Renault of many good qualities and a more than viable alternative to a Vauxhall Cavalier or the Ford Sierra.5 top campervan owners clubs in the UK
Owning a campervan is a real joy. It gives you the freedom to go wherever you like, whenever you like and take all your home comforts with you. It allows you to be more active, spend time in the great outdoors, and become part of a large, friendly community. What more could you ask for?
07 April 2021
One of the many stars of the 1959 London Motor Show was found on Stand 145. Here was a coupe primed to compete with the Aston Martin DB4 and the Jensen 541R, one built by ‘dedicated craftsmen who jealously guard the hand-made reputation that has made AC the choice of the discerning motorist during the past 50 years’.SEVEN ADO16S FROM AROUND THE WORLD
As the BMC/BLMC ADO16 was the UK’s best-selling car for many years, it is sometimes easy to overlook their presence in world markets. Here are seven of the most intriguing overseas interpretations:
01 April 2021
For a time, you couldn’t go for a drive without seeing a Lotus Elise – never a bad thing. But they are a much rarer sight these days, even though they’re still in production.5 sympathetic classic car modifications
If you want to add a modern part onto your classic car as part of the restoration project – but retain the essence of your historic vehicle – then you need to be subtle with any modifications that you make.
29 March 2021
A brand synonymous with style and class, Aston Martin has produced some of the most luxurious and sophisticated sports cars ever to grace our roads.All about the Honda NSX
Stunning the motoring world when it debuted over 30 years ago, the iconic Honda NSX rivalled anything the European car makers had to offer at the time. But what started out as an experiment by the Honda team, turned out to be the making of a Japanese automotive legend.20 fascinating facts about the Fiat 500
Oozing Italian Dolce Vita charm, the diminutive Fiat 500 was a big hit throughout Europe when it first launched in 1957. And that popularity has endured until the present today.10 classic automatics
For a time, you couldn’t go for a drive without seeing a Lotus Elise – never a bad thing.MEET THE OWNER – IAN COLE AND HIS AUSTIN ALLEGRO 1300 SUPER
‘I absolutely love this particular car which took me over 20 years to secure, so it’s going nowhere’. Ian’s 1975 Austin Allegro 1300 Super is certainly an eye-catching machine, not least the paint finish – ‘“Citron Yellow”; a rare survivor and a colour that is seen on MGs of the same period and the Jubilee Marinas’.
26 March 2021
Yesterday Ford announced the end to production in 2022 of the Mondeo - bringing to end a nearly thirty-year tradition. It is quite bizarre to think that little over 11 years separates the launch of the first models from the last of the Cortinas, and some readers will remember how in 1982, the debut of the Sierra caused shock-waves amongst Ford traditionalists. Indeed, some had not yet recovered when they heard rumours of an FWD replacement.
24 March 2021
As classic car owners, we’re really just temporary custodians of vehicles that have seen many previous owners and will hopefully see many more in the future. So, what are the options for finding a new home for your precious classic car after your death?MISUNDERSTOOD? – THE AUSTIN ALLEGRO SERIES 3
For many years the Austin Allegro was the subject of myth, folklore, received wisdom and downright abuse. Fortunately, the once-familiar “British Leyland Jokes” appear to have largely vanished, and any surviving model is now an object of fascination.
23 March 2021
If you’ve decided it’s time to sell your classic car, you’ll likely want two things: the best possible price for your vehicle and a quick sale.6 of the best classics from the 1950s
The 1950s were a good time to be alive. The Second World War had ended and people were optimistic about the future.The royal family and their classic cars
It’s no secret that the world is obsessed with the British royal family. We can’t get enough of talking about what they do, what they wear and where they go.How to plan a campervan trip to the South of France
If you’re looking for the perfect country for campervan travel, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one better than France. From the stunning countryside to the vibrant cities, there are plenty of places to explore. Plus, with a host of campervan and motorhome campsites, Aires and stopovers to choose from, you can plan your route (and your budget) with ease.How to jump start a classic car
Classic cars aren’t always reliable starters, as any experienced owner will know. In fact, sometimes you can find that a car will start one day without any problem and then a week later you turn the key and… nothing. However, before you reach for the jump leads, as you would do on a more modern car, just hold on – or you could potentially have a fire on your hands.
22 March 2021
We recently featured Lucy Worsley’s Bulgarian-built Maestros, but Patrick owns an even rarer version. His 1986 Moonraker Blue HLS is believed to be the only example on the road in the UK and ‘This car has only done 19,000 miles and has been sat in a garage for three years’.
18 March 2021
The pastime of collecting classic cars shows no signs of disappearing – however, the market is undergoing a seismic shift, with baby boomers making way for the new generation.What are the Pride of Ownership competitions at the NEC Classic Motor Show?
When you own a classic car, it’s natural to want to show people how fabulous it is. One way of doing that is by entering it into a classic car show or competition, such as the Pride of Ownership awards.
17 March 2021
If you’re a classic car owner, it’s up to you what you do with your vehicle.Lancaster Insurance expands cover for prestige vehicles
Lancaster Insurance has today announced a new partnership with Chubb to enhance its high value offering. Understanding that a standard policy may not always provide the right cover, the new scheme will give owners the confidence to truly enjoy their prestige vehicle with a range of bespoke benefits on offer.Fast facts about the Mazda MX-5
The mighty Mazda MX-5 is one of the most popular classics we insure here at Lancaster Insurance. It doesn’t come as a great surprise. Born in 1989, it has gone on to become one of the most famous roadsters of all time, with early models able to be picked up for peanuts (just watch out for that rust!).
16 March 2021
It is rather dispiriting to read how few examples of the BX survive in the UK, and Philip Greaves’ 1984 16TRS is one of the earliest on the road. His first experience of this very desirable Citroën was travelling in the model once owned by his mother – ‘Some of my earliest memories were in that car and of its unique dashboard - a glowing spinning drum speedo with LED rev bar and lots of switches’.Classic cars that turn 50 in 2021
From the invention of the microprocessor and the opening of Disney World to decimalisation in the UK, 1971 was a vintage year for a whole host of reasons. And many of these technological and cultural changes were also mirrored in the world of car design and production. Many car makers dropped the chrome radiator grills and wood and leather interiors of the 1960s in favour of American coke-bottle styling and black plastic.10 of the best classic vans and pick-ups
For a vehicle with stories to tell, you can’t beat the humble van. Light commercial vehicles and pick-ups are not just part of motoring history – they give insights into the bygone world of work, too.Driving your motorhome or campervan in Europe after Brexit
With European travel due to open up once again in 2021, it’s time to start looking ahead and preparing for your next motorhome adventure. Part of that preparation will be to familiarise yourself with the changes that have been imposed on travel now that the UK has left the European Union.
15 March 2021
‘The older generation usually knows of the model but due to its rarity not many have seen one. I’ve been asked if it’s a Jaguar or a kit car’. The Jowett Jupiter, owned by Anthony Jackson, is a very exclusive vehicle and one of the most ambitious products of the post-war British motor industry.
12 March 2021
Picture the scene – a semi-detached villa somewhere in East Cheam on Wednesday 15th March 1961. You are glancing at The Daily Herald over breakfast with Housewives’ Choice playing on the BBC Light Programme in the background – and then you come to the motoring page. ‘0-100 mph in 15secs - that’s the new Jag’ reads the headline while, even more incredibly, the E-Type was capable of 150 mph.MEET THE OWNER – RACHEL SMITH AND HER AUSTIN A55 CAMBRIDGE MK. I
The British Motor Corporation promised that the Austin A55 Cambridge possessed ‘an unmistakable air of authority’, and 790 XUH really does look imposing. His custodian Ms. Rachel Smith.
11 March 2021
The A90 Atlantic was one of the undoubted stars of the 1948 London Motor Show. For many visitors to Earls Court, a drophead with a “Jewelescent” paint finish seemed wholly removed from the fog, the damp and queuing for their bacon ration. This was the car Austin intended to appeal to affluent drivers in California with its ‘sports car performance with saloon car comfort’.MEET THE OWNER – GORDON MORRIS AND HIS VAUXHALL VENTORA V.I.P
Any FE-Series Ventora is now an unusual sight, but Gordon’s example is a car of special distinction. In May 1973, the advertisements stated, ‘Your Vauxhall dealer is offering a limited edition Ventora called the V.I.P. It’s black and it’s absolutely beautiful’. Mr. Morris came by his car in 1987 ‘as I was membership secretary for a while for the VX 4/90 Drivers’ Club’.The history of the Ford Escort
Few models of car offer as much variety as the beloved Ford Escort. From small family saloons to hot hatches and rally cars, from panel vans to luxury models, the range has given us everything. Between the late 1960s and the new millennium, there have been six generations of this perennially popular car on Britain’s streets. In total, some 4.1 million models were sold in the UK, and it frequently topped the bestseller lists.UK film locations to visit by campervan
If you’re a fan of British cinema, it’s well worth building a road trip around some filming locations. Not only will it help bring some of your favourite scenes to life, it’ll also give you an excuse to explore those parts of the UK that you have yet to see first-hand.What kinds of automobilia can you collect?
If you’ve run out of room to collect classic cars, the next best thing is to build up a collection of old motoring memorabilia – known as automobilia – which can come in all shapes and sizes.How to make money on a classic car
While talk of people making more money from buying and selling classic cars than property or gold might be a little over exaggerated, it’s true that you can turn a healthy profit from investing in a classic.
10 March 2021
Most owners choose not to drive their classic cars on a daily basis. In fact, the average historic vehicle is driven only 16 times a year, covering around 1,200 miles.9 fast facts about the Lamborghini Miura
As far as most people are concerned – including ourselves – the Lamborghini Miura is one of the best cars ever designed.Peugeot 205 GTi – a modern classic
Looking back on the 1980s, there were certainly some design disasters but also design triumphs in the world of car manufacture. With their bold, attractive looks and great performance, the hot hatchback has to be one of the high points!
09 March 2021
No, this is not a misprint, as the Morris badged version is one of the rarest and most desirable models to devotees of the Metro. Virtually any car-based light commercial of the 1980s has a very poor survival rate, but the early Metro van is probably now a more unusual sight than an MG 6R4. Not to mention offering considerably better fuel economy.
08 March 2021
Fifty years ago, a factory in County Durham produced the first examples of a quite remarkable new coupe. The Clan Crusader’s production run may have lasted for little more than two years, but it made a more significant impact than other cars might achieve in ten.MISUNDERSTOOD? – THE MGC
‘All New, all powerful’, exclaimed the adverts, and on paper, a new C appeared to be the perfect sports car for the go-ahead motorist. As early as 1964, Abingdon gave serious thought to a more powerful version of the B, while the Austin-Healey 3000 was not far from the end of its distinguished career.
04 March 2021
All cars are created with good intentions. However, somewhere along the way, some cars take on dark associations. Unfortunately, in some cases, they can’t shake them off afterwards and are forever tinged with the incident or ownership that formed that shadow.The car’s the star – classic cars in films
A movie appearance can do wonders for a car. As well as making it a more desirable object, it can put some serious value on a vehicle.RARER THAN RARE – FORD CORTINA 1300 DE LUXE MK.II ESTATE
With many popular cars, it is the entry-level versions that so often have the worst survival rate. Many owners treated the likes of a Cortina 1300 Mk. II “Series One” De Luxe Estate as a humble workhorse. Similarly, the De Luxe saloon’s common fate was becoming a sub-par replica of the GT, the 1600E or even the Lotus. This is just one reason why Andrew’s 1967 “Alpine Green” example is such a fascinating machine. Another is that it recently played a very important role for his family.Meet The Owner - Theo Kyriacou and his Fiat 131 Mirafiori Sport
‘I’ve owned at least one Fiat 131s since I bought my first one, a 1600 Special in 1979, and at one point, I had three. My current metallic grey 131 Mirafiori Sport I bought in 2001 when I was told my previous silver 131 Sport was beyond economic restoration. “Everything can be fixed/repaired, but it’s not worth restoring this one! Buy another one” I was told’.THE PEUGEOT 205 - A CELEBRATION
Some new cars manage to anticipate the future and make many of its rivals look archaic; the Citroën DS in 1959, the Mini in 1959, the Fiat 128 in 1969 and the Audi 100 C3 in 1982. And when Peugeot unveiled their latest small hatchback in February 1983, there was a sense that “The 1980s” really had commenced. Even after 38 years, Gérard Welter’s styling barely dates, and for an idea of the 205’s impact in the UK, picture a bright red GR amidst a sea of second-hand Ford Cortina Mk. Vs and Talbot Solaras.
03 March 2021
As well as being a lot of fun to drive and a potentially lucrative way to invest any spare cash, there are a host of other benefits to classic car ownership.MEET THE OWNER – SIMON FIXTER AND HIS BOND
A few days ago, Simon took his Equipe 2-Litre Mk. II Convertible for its first drive out after about ten years of being off the road. It is the sort of car that virtually demands that its hood be lowered, even in February, and a genuinely individualistic machine – even if too few people recognise it as a Bond. Mr. Fixter remarks while ‘everyone seems to like it’; members of the public tend to mistake it for ‘an obscure Alvis, Bristol or Jensen’.50 YEARS OF THE VAUXHALL FIRENZA
Fifty years ago, Luton unveiled ‘the kind of car that makes you impatient to be on your way’ – the new Firenza. Here was a coupe to rival the Ford Capri at home and score a major success in the company’s crucially important Canadian export market. As it transpired, the Vauxhall with ‘distinctive styling’ reached neither goal – despite its many strong-points.
02 March 2021
Classic car restoration is not something that you should try to attempt without having some expert advice alongside you, guiding you along the way. We hope that this guide will be an indispensable source of information that gives you the confidence to make your classic car restoration project everything you want it to be.A brief history of Triumph
As a popular first foray into classic car ownership, the Triumph cars of the 1960s and 1970s hold a special place in the hearts of many UK classic car enthusiasts.
01 March 2021
This month, the Mk1 Golf Owners Club take the accolade of Club of the Month! The club caters for owners and enthusiasts of the VW Mk1 Golf and exists to be a base for the preservation and restoration of the original Volkswagen Golf. Keeping with the times, the club has members with original swallowtails to heavily modified cabriolets.Get your classic looking its best with our latest competition!
March brings with it the changing of the seasons, as we approach spring and hopefully warmer weather, and usually it signifies the start of the classic car season. Whilst we may have to wait a little longer to enjoy road trips in our classics, today we are launching our brand new competition which will hopefully bring a little cheer!CAR OF THE MONTH – HOWARD BRYAN’S TVR “WHITE ELEPHANT”
‘Photos don’t do her justice – she is a car of such presence’. Naturally, Howard’s White Elephant causes a sensation on virtually every journey, and even in his home village, people stop on the pavement and mouth ‘what is it?’. Such reactions are quite understandable, for that elegant coachwork has no TVR badges. And incredibly, just seventeen years ago, this unique piece of Blackpool Thunder was languishing in the ‘TVR Graveyard’.
26 February 2021
We’ve insured thousands of classic cars in the 35+ years we’ve been in existence. Basically, you name it, we’ve insured it. Having built up a wealth of experience and knowledge within the industry in the last three decades, we are able to quote for virtually every type of classic car available.Meet The Owner – Adrian Miller and his Vauxhall Viva HB SL90 Crayford Convertible
Last year we featured Adrian’s Viva De Luxe “Brabham” but, incredibly, this is not the rarest car in his collection. In March 1968, Crayford Engineering transformed five of the HB range into dropheads. Each was based on the SL90, finished in white and wore Cosmic Mk. I alloy wheels’. Luton officially approved the conversion, and they were distributed solely by the Leeds Vauxhall dealership Wallace Arnold.What is the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs FBHVC?
If it wasn’t for the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs (FBHVC), many classic car owners wouldn’t be able to drive their pride and joy on British roads. The Federation was created to uphold the freedom to use historic vehicles on the road, representing the interests of classic car owners to officials, politicians, and legislators.
24 February 2021
As classic car enthusiasts, we are indebted to the many brilliant automotive designers who have given us our passion – without their unique vision, ideals and principles, we’d have nothing to get excited about. All cars would be one of the same, destined for the scrap heap at the end of their life, rather than carefully preserved as so many historic vehicles are today.How to plan a classic Italian Job-style road trip
What comes to mind when you think of the classic British film, The Italian Job? Michael Caine – certainly. The Swinging Sixties – for sure. And classic cars. Lots and lots of classic cars!
23 February 2021
The classic Porsche 911 has been found to be the most valuable historic vehicle on the market with the models bringing in over £900 million to the UK economy. Research from the Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation and Endurance Rallying Association (HERO-ERA) calculates that the 23,029 models add up to an estimated valuation of £911 million. The Porsche 911 was miles out in front in the list, with the Jaguar E-Type claiming second place with an estimated worth of £371 million from 4,120 models.
22 February 2021
In this article, we set the record straight on what the new law will mean for classic car owners and help you keep up to date with the government’s long-term plans. But, first, it’s important to put it all into context by looking at the environmental impact of classic cars in the UK.DO YOU REMEMBER – THE LANCIA GAMMA BERLINA?
In the early 1980s, certain large cars were more frequently encountered in brochures and the automotive press than in the metal – the Talbot Tagora, the Renault 30 TX and the Gamma Berlina. All deserved far more commercial success, especially the Lancia - one of the most distinctive saloons of its generation.
19 February 2021
When Jaguar unveiled the E-Type at the Geneva Motor Show in 1961, several observers cast their minds back to 1957 – and an equally remarkable two-seater sports car from Browns Lane. The XKSS came about after the company temporarily retired from competition racing in 1956. However, there were several unsold D-Types at the factory while Jaguar’s dealers in North America saw a demand for a “Class C” production racer.
17 February 2021
Many classic car enthusiasts hope to make money from their hobby, but sadly not all of them are so lucky. So, what is it about a classic car that makes it appreciate in value? What factors should you consider when choosing a car as an investment? And how should you care for your car in a way that will boost its value over the years to come?What is green laning?
Do you love driving? Enjoy a challenge? Want to get off the beaten track – literally? Then why not give green laning a try? This exciting hobby, which involves seeking out and exploring lesser known byways, is much loved by drivers of classic Land Rovers and other 4x4s. It’s a great way to remind yourself of those bygone days when motoring was still a thrill.What is the Gay Classic Car Group?
The classic car community loves welcoming new owners into the fold. They’re a welcoming bunch who love sharing their passion with others, and passing on some of their motoring knowledge. With hundreds of classic car clubs up and down the country, you won’t have to look far to find a club that’s perfect for you and your vintage motor.
16 February 2021
‘Usually, the response is I drove one of those when working with BT. Or surprised to see one of those thought they had all rusted away. I enjoy going to car shows and like the response of people in regards to seeing an everyday car from years gone by’. The HA-Series Viva is indeed a rare sight; the production run was only from 1963 to 1966 and, as with several British vehicles of that era, it was prone to corrosion.
12 February 2021
In France the Estafette genuinely merits the term ‘iconic’; from mobile shops and ice-cream vans to mini-buses and as transport for the telephone service. The Renault could also be seen delivering bread, acting as a support vehicle at the Tour de France, and, as with Simon’s 1963 example, as a police van.
10 February 2021
'It was through my other half that I started getting into Maestros' remarks Lucy 'Steve has had many over the last 15 years and, after meeting him eight odd years ago, I got into the car scene.'MEET THE OWNER – BEN SPEARS AND HIS TRIUMPH VITESSE 2-LITRE MK.I
When Standard-Triumph planned the Vitesse, they intended its grille and quad headlamps to distinguish it from its cheaper stablemate. However, this has not prevented members of the public from greeting Ben’s 1967 example with ‘Wow - that’s a lovely Triumph Herald!’.
08 February 2021
Through no fault of their own, some cars never seemed to establish a niche in the UK. In Spain, the SEAT 133 was regarded as the heir to the 850. However, British motorists were perplexed by what seemed to be an enlarged Fiat 126. The Cherry Europe was the product of an ambitious agreement between Nissan and Alfa Romeo, but it seemed to have no apparent role in Datsun GB’s line-up.
05 February 2021
1981 - the year of the Royal Wedding, Adam and the Ants singing about the perils of being a dandy highwayman and BMXs making the Raleigh Grifter look passé. It was still a time of three-channel television, Sunday closing for shops, and the Ford Cortina as the best-selling car in the UK.FIVE PIONEER BRITISH HOT HATCHBACKS
One of the most persistent debates in the world of classic cars is 'what was the first "Hot Hatchback?" The answer is often 'the Simca 1204', but here we are considering the first British-built examples of the genre. Some cars are automatically ruled out of contention; neither the Mini-Cooper nor the MG 1100/1300 were available with a factory-fitted tailgate.MEET THE OWNER – DAVEY PESKETT AND HIS NISSAN PRESIDENT
Few, if any, people are likely to approach Davey on seeing his 1974 Nissan and tell him ‘my dad/mum/next-door neighbour/teacher used to have one of those’. The H250-Series President was never officially sold in the UK, and Mr. Peskett ‘only bought it by fluke from Japan’. In its homeland, this was the car for senior politicians, business tycoons and the Royal Family.
01 February 2021
‘It’s a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No extended wheel arches, very discreet “V8” badges and not a lot to give away its performance, asides from the four exhaust pipes’. Richard Monk is the General Manager of the MG Owners’ Club, a valued long term partner of Lancaster Insurance, and the custodian of a very special MG ZT-T XPower 385 - the only one built on the production line.Time to get your tools in order!
With restrictions still in place for many of us, we wanted to spread some cheer among classic car enthusiasts and give you the opportunity to win some amazing prizes!Don’t let your classic become a statistic
Our classics mean the world to us, and worryingly on our Facebook forum (The Classic Car Enthusiasts Forum – Powered by Lancaster Insurance) we’ve seen a spate of owners sharing the unfortunate news that their pride and joy has been stolen or involved in a fire, some of which haven’t had the right insurance in place.Club of the Month – The Classic Corvette Club
Our first accolade of the year goes to the Classic Corvette Club UK (CCUK). An enthusiastic and friendly club, we have been working with the team for over five years and currently sit on their insurance panel, offering members a discount of up to 25% off their insurance premium.
28 January 2021
We recently showcased the Rover 800, and Alex Sebbinger-Sparks is the proud owner of a rather notable top-of-the-range example. ‘Being registered in the first week of August 1986, this car was one of the first batches of “Silver Leaf” 800s’.