There’s something special about our first car
Can you remember your first car and what you paid for it? If it gave you your first taste of freedom, chances are it holds a special place in your heart.
It’s hard to believe that not so long ago the British car industry was thriving and most of the cars on our roads, from the Mini to the Jaguar E Type, were made here. How times have changed.
In the late 1940s, the Ford Anglia was one of the cheapest cars you could buy, costing £310 new. Sounds like a bargain, but when the average house price house in 1950 was under £2000 - it certainly wasn’t a steal. No wonder we were content with an old banger or pinching the parents’ car at every opportunity.
Take a look back at some of the most popular British made cars of the post war years. Have you been the proud owner of any of these?
Morris Minor - cost £358 10s 7d in 1948
A true British favourite, the Morris Minor came in all shapes and sizes, from the 2-door saloon, to the tourer convertible and the iconic wood-framed estate. Its popularity meant that in 1960 it became the first British car to sell more than a million. Even if it was nicknamed the Morris Minus, it never failed to capture our hearts.
Ford Anglia – cost £310 in 1950
This great-value family motor had three gears, a single windscreen wiper and the option of a radio and a heater if you were feeling flush. You could pick up a second hand Anglia for around £100, but you’d be nervous about parking up, just in case it never started again.
Mini – cost £497 in 1959
The Mini was the car of the 60s. It’s quirky, compact nature made it a hit with the masses, as well as the rich and famous. You’d have to push it up big hills and fold up like origami to get in it, but we loved the fact you could park it anywhere.
Morris Oxford V1 cost £869 in 1961
Early Morris Oxford models had a split screen, bench seat and three column speed change. You thought you were going like the clappers at a top speed of 30mph. And you’d often have to thump the side of the car to get the indicator to pop out.
Vauxhall Victor FB “Super” – cost £798 in 1961
This was the motor with three gears on the steering wheel, a panoramic windscreen and a two tone paint job. If you bought one new it was called a Vauxhall Victor, if you bought one second hand it was a “rust bucket” or a “knee knocker”.
Hillman Imp – cost £508 in 1963
These pint-sized cars were a driving instructor’s favourite. The nation’s teens were let loose on the roads in a Hillman Imp adorned with L-plates. While the adverts promised the car would be IMPressive, you’d have to drive at 50mph to make the heater work.
Ford Cortina – cost £963 in 1972
The Cortina’s design was a real revelation for Brits who’d been brought up on Morris Minors and Standard 8s. They even managed to look snazzy with a caravan in tow. With security not the problem it is today, it was also handy to know you could open it with your house key!
Ford Capri – cost £4,035 in 1978
The Ford Capri was the Brits’ answer to the American Mustang. Yes, you had to sit on a box to see the front of the bonnet, but its slick style and go-faster stripe made you feel like you were in a Dukes of Hazzard episode. And that did wonders for your street cred.
Ford Escort RS1600i - £6,700 in 1983
And finally, in glorious 1980s technicolour… it’s the Ford Escort. Launched in the late 1960s, it only became a top seller in the 1980s. No wonder because there was an Escort for everyone – from sensible to soft top and run-around to rally car - we couldn’t get enough of it.
Have you ever owned one of these? What was your first car and what did you pay for it? We’d love to hear your motoring memories.
Taking pictures of absolutely every living moment wasn’t as popular then as it is now, so we’ve matched the cars to the article as best as we can based on what we could find.
If you enjoyed this trip down memory lane to the days of bench seats and cars clad in timber, you may also enjoy our look back at the time when you were growing up and finding your feet - Born in the 40s, Born in the 50s or Born in the 60s.