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À la recherche du temps perdu*

* Something like “Looking for lost times” or if you want to be more literary “remembrance of things past”.

I’ve borrowed an old family photo album which contains several generations of family snaps. At one end we have postcards from 1910, at the other modern pictures. In between we have all manner of holidays, weddings, days out and the like. Some of these include the family car at the time. So what do we find?

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Let’s begin with the oldest.

Illustration for article titled À la recherche du temps perdu*
Photo: somebody long ago
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As we all know it’s a Morris Eight from 1935 to 1937. Not later, because they didn’t have the chrome grille. One can only admire the bravery needed to tow even that little caravan with a car with a 918cc sidevalve engine producing just 23 bhp and driving through a three speed (two synchromesh) gearbox.

Next up we find this, though without a caravan this time.

Illustration for article titled À la recherche du temps perdu*
Photo: somebody long ago
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Not a car as such, but a Fordson E83W van. I had thought that Fordson (JV between Ford and Ferguson) only did tractors but evidently not. This is a little further on from the Morris with the luxury of an 1172 cc engine albeit still sidevalve and still only the three gears. In order to make the best of the limited power to hand Ford fitted gearing which was so low it was almost underground and the top speed wasn’t much more than 40 mph. It was a 10 cwt model. Cwt? Hundredweight. For the benefit of those using neither metric or Imperial, a hundredweight is one twentieth of a ton or 112lbs or almost exactly 50 kg. If you wanted to shift this weight in a van this size you’d definitely need that short gearing. Still not a vehicle many would have chosen for their holidays in the 1950s but there you go.

Next we find this.

Illustration for article titled À la recherche du temps perdu*
Photo: somebody long ago
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It’s what was commonly called a Baby Ford, aka Model Y. A very old car even at the time of the picture, it featured yet another another sidevalve engine of only 933cc in this case and a three speed gearbox with synchro on only the upper two ratios. Like the others you only got the one wiper because cheaper and the passenger didn’t need to see out.

Finally we have a Vauxhall Victor F from the 1950s. It’s a series II, the series I being closer in appearance to an American GM model of the time. Like the others above it had a three speed gearbox but with the luxury of synchro on first. If this didn’t appeal you could have had the Newtondrive option which involved a manual box and automatic clutch, something that was quite a thing at the time as automatic gearboxes were imported from America and came with import tariffs.

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Illustration for article titled À la recherche du temps perdu*
Photo: Somebody long ago

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