Luton Festival of Transport – June 2013

Having enjoyed the Enfield Pageant of Motoring, a long running event which diary clashes had always precluded me from attending, I was delighted to see that another similar event was also going to be possible in 2013, namely the Luton Festival of Transport as thanks to all sorts of date changes following the move of the British Grand Prix, there seemed to be nothing else on my schedule to conflict with this one, either. I’d seen pictures from previous years, and the event promised much, with both an eclectic array of different vehicles, and in recognition of the fact that Luton is still seen by many as “home” to Vauxhall (even though cars have not been made there for some years now), it appeared that visitors have typically enjoyed a particularly strong showing of cars with the Griffin badge on them. When I set off, from my parents’ house, early on the Sunday morning, it was bright and sunny, vindication of the weekend weather forecast, which I had believed when packing my clothes, so I had just T Shirt and Shorts available. As I got east, it got more and more overcast, and the temperature just kept on dropping, and it was just plain cold when I reached Luton. I was optimistic that it was going to get a lot warmer. It never did, and I almost had to abandon as I simply did not have enough warm clothes, but I am glad I persevered, as there were all manner of cars that kept on arriving all morning, with a mix of Club Displays and individual cars that are lovingly kept up and down the land and brought out for events like this. Among them were lots of examples of quite a few models that I have not seen in a long while. Here are the highlights:


The Sapphire was one of the last cars made by this once famous British marque before they abandoned production in 1960.

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A good 10 years  earlier than that came this one, the Tempest.

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Definitely a rare Audi, a first generation 200 5T model, a luxury model based on the 100 but with a turbo charged 5 cylinder engine and lots of luxury equipment.

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There were lots of the diminutive Seven models, showing some of the vast array of bodies fitted to this car between 1922 and the end of production in the late 1930s.

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Austin’s smallest car in the post war period was the A30 and later A35 like this.

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The A40 Somerset was Austin’s family sized car, although its 1200cc engine was not really man enough for powering the large and roomy body at anything other than modest speeds. As well as the saloon, there was a convertible version of the A40 Somerset which is a very rare car, so I particularly enjoyed seeing this one.

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Replacement for the Somerset was the A50 Cambridge (a lesser A40 model was offered in some export markets), which did have the 1489cc B Series engine to propel its more modern looking body. The later A55 model had different rear wings.

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It was offered in plusher 6 cylinder guise as the A90 and later the A95 Westminster. This is one of the latter.

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Representing the next body style again, was this A55 Cambridge Farina, in estate guise and the later A60 saloon.

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Also benefitting from Farina styling was the A40, launched in 1958, and claimed by many to be the “first” hatchback

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Among the 1100s were a Mark 1 saloon and an estate.

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Another rare car is the 3 litre, as fewer than 10,000 of them were ever made.

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The local Allegro owners had assembled quite a number of cars, ranging from some early ones to the final Series 3 cars.

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Frog-eyed Sprite.

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The only 4 door model the company ever made the 405.

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Late 1960s Bucks were far from small! This is an Electra Convertible.

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Not surprisingly, these bold and brash Cadillac were attracting almost more attention than anything else present.

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There were a pair of 1957 Bel Air modes, the highly prized 2 door Coupe and the less often seen 4 door version.

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El Camino

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Hard to think of the BX as a classic, but try to remember when you last saw one?

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The Sovereign was Daimler’s version of the XJ6, and this is one of those cars. There was also a Double Six Coupe, which was the Daimler version of the XJ12.

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Similarly, the V8250 was the Daimler version of the Mark 2, though in this case it was mechanically different from the Jaguar, with a small V8 2.5 litre engine under the bonnet.

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1968 Charger

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Electron Minor. Yes, really that was its name!

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There were not many Fiats present, but I did come across this 500F and a rather nice 124 Spider as well as a partocularly endearing Multipla and the far more recent Strada Abarth 130TC and Tipo Sedicivalvole

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A vast block of Capri models comprised a good mix of Marks 1, 2 and 3.

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Oldest Ford was this Model T

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Also dating from the 1930s was this V8 model.

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This Model Y is also a pre-war machine

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Ford’s post war small cars included the Popular, based very much on the pre-war design, and the Anglia/Prefect which premiered in 1953 and ran until the arrival of the reverse rear windowed Anglia 105E in 1959.

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Among the large cars from the 1950s and 1960s, it seemed that they were all Zodiac models, so the top of the range cars. There were Mark II, III and IV present.

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As well as Lotus Cortina Mark 1,  there were Mark 2 and 3 “regular” Cortina

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Among the Escort cars on show were a Mark 1 Estate and 1300L and 1600 Ghia Mark 2, as well as some later front wheel drive cars such as these  RS Turbo

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Among the Granada were a Ghia Coupe and a later Mark 2 car.

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Among the American Ford models were an early Thunderbird and a couple of Mustangs.

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Oldest car at the event was this 1904 model.

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This Arrow-based Sceptre was what we would now think of as a premium badged executive, a sort of 3 Series of its day, though it had nothing like the appeal or sales success, it has to be said.

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1934 Terraplane Light Six

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There were several E Types

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There were also examples of the car which preceded the E Type, the lovely XK150, as well as its replacement, the XJS.

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Sadly, this turned out not be a genuine XK-SS, but a rather good replica. Still stunning, though!

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Among the saloons, I came across this  Mark 1 XJ6 and the positively gargantuan 420G, a last hurrah for the Mark X style body that premiered in 1961.

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Never likely to win prizes for its beauty, the CV-8 was nevertheless a well designed car that was supposed to be god to drive, and a precursor of exciting things to come.

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A trio of Lotus included an example of the original and particularly dainty Elite, the Plus 2 and the Excel

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Any event like this is bound to attract a good number of MGBs, and sure enough, there were lots of them present.

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There were also a number of the smaller Midget sports cars.

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From an earlier period were this pair of TC models.

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One of the nicest of all pre-war MGs is the SA Saloon, and this was a lovely example.

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A vast array of classic Mini models, including Coopers and some of the later limited edition cars.

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Three wheeler from the 1930s.

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There were a couple of Morris Eight, the Series 2 car and the later Series E

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Of course there were plenty of Morris Minor models

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Farina Oxford Mark VI.

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An early 1100 as well as a 1300 Mark 2

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The local Marina Owners Club had assembled a variety of different examples of this much derided car, ranging from a 1300DL Saloon to one of the last Itals made, with a Mumford Convertible probably the rarest of their display.

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The colourful Metropolitan.

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There were several Manta models, with a mix of both the first generation A models and the later B in original and facelifted guises.

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Not many foreign cars were present at all, but this 911 was one of the exceptions.

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Scimitar GTE

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One of the cars attracting a lot of attention was this R16. Once a common sight on our roads, there are only a handful left now.

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RM Series

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One of the last Rileys ever made, a 4/72.

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An immediate post war product, offered only for a short while before the all new car was ready, was this P3 75

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There was a vast assembly of P4 models, reflecting the evolution of this much loved British classic from 1949 until its demise in 1964.

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Not to be outdone, the P5 owners seem to have an equally comprehensive display of their cars, too.

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Equally, there were also a whole load of P6 models.

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The SD1 was not as well represented, but there were several of these, too.

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An array of Singer models ranged from the 1930s Nine, through the Roadster of the early 1950s to the post-Rootes Group acquisition cars which were badge-engineered Hillmans, such as these Gazelles.

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There were a whole array of Vanguards on show, many of which I had seen at the STAR90 event at Gaydon the previous month. Nonetheless, it was nice to see them again in a different setting.

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This Vanguard Ute is based on the third generation model, and was made for the Australian market.

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Of the small cars offered in the 1950s, there was this Ten

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The Sunbeam-Talbot 90 was a sports saloon, early 1950s style.

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The Alpine always had to play second fiddle to the MGB, its closest rival, though it pre-dated it by some years, and was in many people’s opinion just as good as the MG.

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Similarly, the Rapier was a rival to the Ford Capri, and again this one was first to market, but it sold in a fraction of the quantities of the Ford. This is the top spec H120 model.

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There were lots of Triumph cars, as you might expect, as this marque has a huge fan base. Most numerous were the Stag

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From the small sports car range were both Mark 3 and 4 Spitfires as well as the coupe version, the GT6

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Small saloons were represented by the Herald and the V6 engined Vitesse, in both Saloon and Convertible guise.

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There were examples of every different TR model, from a brief visit from TS2, the oldest known TR2, the TR2 itself, then TR3 to TR8.

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Of the large cars, there was a Mark 1 2000 and a couple of late model 2500S cars

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One of the rarest Triumphs of all these days is the last model to bear the name plate, the Acclaim

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In complete contrast was this fabulous Gloria from 1934. Lovely!

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The luxury 1100 was expensive when new, but even so sold quite well.

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As well as the Austin badged Allegros present, there were a couple of the plusher Vanden Plas model.

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There were a number of pre-war Vauxhalls on display. These are rare now, so it was particularly interesting to see them.

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The Velox and Wyvern were the only product offered by Vauxhall for most of the 1950s. They were aimed at the more affluent family motorist, and as the models evolved, so they became more brash, with more styling excesses and chrome. Just what a lot of motorists wanted in the recovery years of the 1950s.

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The PA Cresta was unashamedly derived from what was popular on the other side of the Atlantic in the mid 1950s, with its wrap around windscreen, tail fins and bright two tone colours. There were several of them on show at this event, and they were certainly colourful!

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Its replacement. the PB model was far more restrained in appearance. Among them was a particularly rare Martin Walter converted Estate model.

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There was just one PC Cresta present, and it looked like it needs a bit more tlc, or at least a good polish.

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Vauxhall added a second body style to their range in 1957 with the launch of the F Series Victor, and there were a couple of these on show.

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The FB Victor was only produced from late 1961 to 1964, and as rust protection was minimal, most of them dissolved into MOT failure-dom a long long time ago, so it was nice to see a number of examples of this rather neatly styled car, as well as the more sporting VX 4/90.

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The FC Victor also only had a three year life, from 1964 to 1967, and these are even less commonly seen, so again, it was nice to see quite so many survivors, and again some of the more sporting (it’s all relative!) VX 4/90s.

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The FD appeared in 1967 and was the first family car to offer an overhead camshaft. The only example present was the sporting VX4/90.

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Among the HB Vivas on show were a couple of the GT model. Offered late in the model’s life, they only sold in small quantities, as the idea of a 2 litre engine in a car that was usually sold with just 1159cc as a family saloon car was a bit of ahead of its time.

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There were several HC Viva, too, including the rare Viva E, an economy special which was intended to combat the Escort Popular.

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Although the first Cavaliers were made in Belgium, as the model increased in popularity, and to help with fleet sales where a “Buy British” policy still applied, as indeed it did in most companies in the 1970s, production started in late 1977 with the 1300 model. You can be sure that the bright yellow 1.6 GL, the oldest known Cavalier, and the one used for the press launch in late 1975 was not built locally, but some of the others had been. As well as the popular saloon, there was one of the elegant Sports Hatch models.

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Among the second series Cavalier were a couple of SRi models, the car that many a rep who drove a 1.6L longed to get, as well as Convertible.

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The Viceroy was a short lived sister model to the Opel Commodore. Essentially a Vauxhall Carlton with a six cylinder engine and a slightly longer bonnet to accommodate the bigger engine, it sat below the Senator/Royale in GM’s range in the very early 1980s. Only a very few Viceroys were sold before GM decided to brand all their luxury cars as Opel in the UK.

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A real highlight of the day was to see this, a VW 412, one of just three believed left in the UK.

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Here’s another car which most of us could not wait to see disappear from our roads, thanks largely to the stereotypical drivers of them! This 340GL was fabulously well preserved.

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To some extent the same could be said about the 240, and this is a late model Estate version.

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The 1500 saloon was based on a design intended to replace the Morris Minor, but which never went beyond Wolseley and Riley variants and which came and went before Minor production ceased.

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The 15/60 was the first version of the Farina range of mid-sized BMC cars, reaching the market in early 1959. Later models had a bigger engine, and reduced tail fins and are the ones that yo see more frequently at classic car events.

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The Wolseley versions of the ADO16 cars were popular, offering that bit more luxury and exclusivity than the Austin and Morris cars. This is a Mark 2 1300.

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Despite the rather low temperatures and my lack of warm clothing (my fault, I guess!), I did enjoy this event. It was nice to see some different cars, which reminded me yet again that going to different venues around the country does pay dividends if you like variety.

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