Retro

Retro cars road test

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1956 AC Aceca

Automotive explorer Chris Dady has raced, restored and toured his way through 70 cars. Will a day driving a 1956 AC Aceca sway his next classic purchase?

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1939 Lagonda V12 Rapide

Back in the UK after more than half a century undercover, this Lagonda V12 Rapide once belonged to a top British spy. But as we discover, it may have inspired fictional escapades too.

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1962 Aston Martin DB4 Series V Vantage

With a longer body, faired-in headlights and distinctive shape, the DB4 Series V Vantage was a precursor to the all-conquering DB5. Yet the car was more than just a trial and is an important and highly desirable model in its own right. We drive a rare example to explain why.

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1976 Aston Martin V8 Vantage Prototype

If the V8 Vantage is the first British supercar, then this 1976 prototype is the origin of the species. We look at the history of the car before driving it ourselves.

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1967 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow

Unloved for decades, the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow is now back in fashion – and with good reason, argues Mark Dixon.

Editor's comment
No decade for young men

The cultural touchpoints that unify every British child of the ’70s are myriad. On the telly there was Blakes 7 (Glynis Barber, say no more), the memory of your parents hurriedly covering your eyes during the sexy bits of I, Claudius and, because things weren’t quite bleak enough in real life with non-stop power cuts and non-start bin emptying, there was The Survivors to cheer everyone up of any evening.

The pop charts were full of nowdisgraced lascivious men in stacked heels, represented by now-disgraced impresarios and introduced by now-disgraced disc jockeys. Driveways were packed with Marinas, playground arguments were largely over who was the sexiest member of Pan’s People and, inexplicably, Joe Bugner was everywhere. And that is only the tip of the iceberg of the misery. Of course it wasn’t all bad: there was the summer of 1976, and most of all a Corgi 1:43 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow in every toy box. Mine, like most of my friends’, was the far-rareron- the-road MPW two-door (in Silver Sand, I think). If any car reflected the fortunes of the decade itself, the Shadow was it. It went into 1970 as a glamorous five-year-old, the pinnacle of sophistication and class both mechanically and in status, and came out of the 1970s as the slightly tawdry wheels of choice of the more successful northern working men’s club comics. As if things couldn’t get worse, this glorious machine that once laid claim to be The Best Car In The World then had to endure years in the wilderness as the wedding car of choice.

How did everyone – except the wedding hire companies – forget the sheer magnificence of the Silver Shadow? Has there ever been a more dramatic fall from motoring grace? Which is why I am so delighted that the Shadow seems to be enjoying a long overdue rehabilitation. Because of my age, I simply can’t support all the elements of the motoring 1970s that a younger generation now deems acceptable – like russet, saffron and all the other BL euphemisms for excrement-coloured paint – but the re-gentrification of this oncearistocratic Royce (Rolls is for proles, as they used to say) is a cause I can get right behind. The number of its champions has been quietly but steadily growing under the radar, except for Harry Metcalfe whose campaign is rather more public, and prices have been rising accordingly. Good; everyone deserves a second chance.
134
1973 Citroën DS23 Pallas Semi-Automatic

The Citroën DS seemed like a spaceship when it was launched nearly seven decades ago – how does it stack up today?

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1959 Jaguar 3.8 Mk1

This Jaguar Mk1 has been developed to a high pitch over the last 27 years of ownership. And it became a crime-busting TV star on the way, as Robert Coucher discovers.

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1935 Singer Nine Le Mans Special Speed

This Singer Le Mans once belonged to a tail-gunner from the intrepid wartime Dambusters mission. John Simister retraces its old Air Force haunts.

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1982 MG Metro

After the demise of Abingdon and the MG sports cars, the Metro arrived amidst some controversy. It wasn’t a big hit with the purists but, today, Austin- Rover’s first hot hatch has quite a following…

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1957 Cadillac Sedan De Ville

Retired from the funeral business, this three-owner superlative Cadillac now enjoys European holidays towing a caravan, but looks in better nick than some cars 40 years younger!

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1965 Austin Mini Cooper 970S

The Mini Cooper 970S was created for 1000c production saloon racing, but this one enjoyed a rock star-studded life in the hands of Humble Pie guitar roadie, John Hammel.

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1937 Bentley 4¼ litre James Young DHC

Opportunity knocked when a coachbuilder invented cantilevered sliding doors.We drive one of seven Bentley 4. Parallel-Door DHCs to test the novel system.

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1954 Austin-Healey 100

Get yourself a car that can do both. Clive Kelsall loves classics that pair engineering brawn with undeniable beauty. Will a day driving a dream 1954 Austin-Healey 100 uncover his perfect polymath?

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1966 Cadillac Coupe De Ville

This beautifully preserved ’66 Coupe De Ville lived in Babylon, New York, all its life until John Lond got bored one Christmas and turned on his computer…

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