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17 Jan

The Willys Jeep vs. the Land Rover... Kent Bostrom

Posted by Andrew Wood

When WWII was over many inventions had proven themselves as a must. One to become important was four-wheel-drive vehicles. Since there still was a shortage of many things, army surplus units were a cheap way to get what was needed quickly. The Jeep soon became popular with all from farmers, construction firms and road assistance organizations. Many new ideas were brought from the drawing boards to materialized vehicles. One of the good examples was the Land Rover. While the Jeep still for many years to come, only was offered in one (short) wheelbase Land Rover soon realized the possibilities for short and long wheelbase, van types and pick up’s. This civilian aspect of the 4WD gave many customers exactly what they wanted.


Because of material shortage Land Rover made their bodies in aluminum and got a light weight unit that wouldn’t rust. Firms needing capability in rough terrain chose the shortest Land Rover to deliver spare parts for a certain machine stuck in the mud or an oil drum with fuel to continue work for another. Most machines within the agriculture and construction fields needed support now and then and many companies supplying their customers with service had use for a Land Rover pick up or a van. Willys watched the British success and developed other versions of the Jeep, also completely new units, but was not even close to Land Rover’s position as No. 1 – at least not in Europe.

The original war effort and the good civilian copy (before you ask – here name is Betty Boop!)

A 1958 Land Rover 88” series I with an A 40 from 1953 at the back

13 Jan

One in the long line was special... Kent Bostrom

Posted by Andrew Wood

When WWII ended the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg was within the British sector. Their technicians and industrialists did not give much for the VW concept with an air cooled engine at the rear, but thought it would be really good if the car could bring some export income to a suffering Germany. By 1948 the first type 1’s were being sold in many countries around Europe. VW decided not to make too many changes to the  design, which meant it looked almost the same for many years to come, however most people in the old days could tell older cars from newer ones by checking if it had a split or oval rear screen.

Split screen VW

One change in the middle of the range was rather special. The first two months production in 1953 still kept the split rear window, but something quite modern was added – a quarter light for each door and a new dashboard. From March that year the oval screen replaced the old split. In 1955 the brake lights were integrated into the rear lights and the car got two exhaust pipes, making it look twice as good, seen from behind. Also that year the 1,000,000th car left the assembly lines and over the coming years more than 15,000,000 would follow.

In 1958 the rear screen got rectangular and over night the old car looked almost modern. It was sensational, because for the first time in VW’s history you had a use for the internal rear view mirror. Two years later VW revolutionised its car by replacing the traficators by white indicators at the front.

oval or split – the choice is yours

Finally, in 1965 all screens got bigger and the following year the 1200cc engine was upgraded to 1300cc. 1967 saw a new 1500cc engine with 44hp, which was an increase in power by 10hp from the old 1200 engine and now you could easily reach the speed limits. The cost was an increase in fuel consumption larger than Porsche’s cheapest sports car of 88hp.

At this time of the year people in northern Scandinavia often would find themselves stuck in the snow, but not VW owners. Depending of its light weight (ca. 1,500 lbs) and the big wheels they climbed over all snow drifts like a tractor and soon disappeared while others kept on freezing waiting for better times.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! – Kent Bostrom

26 Dec

The Best Money Could Buy - by Kent Bostrom

Posted by Andrew Wood

Was of course an Austin A 30 and second an A 35, both common in the 1950’s. These were modern cars with self-supporting bodywork, which meant they had no frame under. That was something quite radical in 1951 especially for a rather cheap motor car. The A 30 kept its traficators behind the front doors and they worked properly on the days when they were in a good mood. Some motorists forgot to turn it off after a turn, but modern technology was soon to assist. For those who wanted to modernize their older A 30 they could buy indicators to replace the old-fashioned traficators. They were mounted at the same location and had a nice, ticking sound, making it difficult to forget to turn it off.

With the introduction of the A 35 you got indicators as standard equipment and a wide rear screen instead of half-moon shaped on the A 30. On most Austin models the parking lights were placed just in front of the wing mirrors, giving the make a distinct look at night for a number of years. Both the A 30 and the A 35 got very popular around Europe, not to mention the van, which was kept in production until 1968. That was ten years more than for the other A 35 versions. To us old fans that have loved this little car it’s still a smash hit and we miss it a lot, but in our hearts it will never be forgotten. At Christmas time – Kent Bostrom

31 Oct

Jags are lovely

Posted by Andrew Wood

This really nice Jaguar XK140 from Atlas Edition is new on the website today. You can find it here: https://little-wheels.net/collections/jaguar-cars. The XK140 which went into production in 1954 evolved out of the XK120 launched in 1948 and in turn was replaced by the XK150 in 1957. The XK150 stayed in production until 1961 overlapping briefly with the E-Type. All three share the same wonderful look and the glorious straight six XK engine.

The model is from an Atlas Editions series of Jaguars. I picked up a few of them at the Chester Auction last week and so far have only got out the XK140 and the Mark 2, which is another fine model. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of them.

My love affair with Jaguars started in the 1960s. I had the Corgi Toys Mk10 which I loved and in 1968 my father took me to the Motor Show at Earls Court, which was where the XJ6 was launched. I still have the copy of Autocar magazine from the show with the XJ6 on the front.

I had to wait until I was in my forties though before I owned the real thing. It was a Daimler badged 420 from 1969 bought as a classic. However it was not a wise purchase. The car was lovely and a delight to drive, again having that XJ engine in 4.2 litre form, but it was too far gone and not viable to restore, so I sold it on.

A few years later, having decided the family no longer needed an MPV, I traded in the Grand Voyager for a modern Jaguar S Type. It was the facelift model with the V6 diesel engine. This car was a revelation. It drove like nothing I've driven before or since, my wife's BMW comes close, but it was sensational, fast, comfortable and absolutely planted on the road. I took it up to 150,000 miles when the electronics began to fail and swapped it in for an XJ6.

This was the last of the line before the new shape XJ took over and it was another wonderful car, big, sumptuous and a great way to travel long distances quickly and in fantastic comfort. Not so much of a driver's car though as the S Type.

Then I started my diecast model business and needed a load carrier so the Jag had to go and was replaced by a big Ford estate car, which is practical, but no fun. I'll be back in a Jag soon though, not one of the new ones, I don't really like the shape. No, I'll look for a low mileage S Type, they are out there and really good value for money too.

My Jag history:

30 Oct

Italian Police Lamborghini Gallardo

Posted by Andrew Wood

Yes, apparently the Italian Police - Polizia Stradale - did have a Lamborghini Gallardo, I've also got a model of one in Metropolitan Police colours (https://little-wheels.net/collections/lamborghini/products/81389) and there are pictures of that car on the internet too, so the Met presumably had one at some time. Beats driving a diesel Astra patrol car every time I would say.


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