|Homepage.||This page: Further motoring recollections|
Those Oxford daysI’m a generous hearted soul, but even I can’t help thinking sometimes that some rather dubious cars are being granted classic status. Having said that, I do hope that no one would ever take an irrational dislike to the Morris Oxford. Now before you Ferrari owners start laughing, yes, I know that the Oxford was not the most exciting car in the world, but at the time its owners held it in considerable regard. After all, it must have had something going for it, as it remains in production to this day (albeit in the guise of the Indian-built Hindustan Ambassador).
I remember that our Oxford also had a radio, an item which was by no means common at the time. Unfortunately, it seemed to be permanently tuned to the Billy Cotton Band Show, although under pressure from my sister it could be persuaded to produce Radio Luxembourg on our long journey home over the Pennines to Manchester when we had visited my Grandparents. In pre-M62 days, this journey was regarded by some as being distinctly hazardous, and one of my father’s colleagues, who had to make the trip twice a week (in an Oxford saloon, funnily enough) used to arrive a gibbering wreck and in need of a lie down for an hour or two if the weather was anything less than perfect. Most enthusiasts have a distinct tendency to look back on their favourite era through rose-tinted specs, but we occasionally need to be reminded that, in some circumstances, motoring in the late 50’s was not the effortless and sometimes soulless pastime that we take for granted today. Manipulating a ton or more of drum braked family car running on cross-ply tyres (or even the “Town and Country” tyres favoured by many in winter months, in a sometimes vain attempt to find some rear-end grip in the snow) cannot always have been much fun on some of the nastier roads of the day. When you remember that even major highways of the day, such as the A1, would hardly have passed muster as B roads today, it makes you realise that motoring in the good old days didn’t always leave you with a nice rosy glow - especially if your car had no heater.
Our Oxford was the car in which I recall my first really long journey, a holiday trip from Manchester to Hastings. Such a drive was something of an adventure before the motorway network covered the country, and so the old man wrote off to the AA and asked them to send him details of the best route. I hope they still do this, because I seem to recall him telling me later that the route was constructed in incredible detail, only just stopping short of such gems as “open door of car, insert key in ignition, etc”. Off we went, and tempers became frayed at a fairly early stage due to Mum’s inability to read out the directions properly (said Dad) and/or Dad’s inability to understand simple instructions (said Mum). Several unscheduled stops were made and things got really bad at one point when we found ourselves within the confines of the Morris factory at Cowley. The Oxford obviously had a homing instinct.
Even the most loyal owner would never claim that the Oxford had any pretensions towards being a performance car, although in its favour I remember reading somewhere that David Hobbs used to race one. That must have been a wonderful sight and I wish I had seen it. But I think it was rally driver Roger Clark, something of a hero of mine, who was the first to refer rather unkindly to the MGB as being nothing more than a two seater Morris Oxford. Actually, that was quite a compliment to the Morris, although members of the MG Owner‘s Club were no doubt distraught to hear it. Realistically, it would be unfair to criticise the Morris too much because few of its competitors were any quicker to a significant degree. 0-60 figures held little fascination for Mr Average Family Saloon Driver in the 1950s and, truth be told, getting such cars to the dizzy heights of 60 mph was quite an achievement for some of the less spirited motorists of the day. I really have no idea what the top speed of an Oxford Traveller in prime condition would have been; I would hazard a guess at somewhere around the 75mph mark, but when it was pointed out to me one day that we were travelling at a speed which amounted to a mile per minute I was enormously impressed and thought that this was what motoring was all about. Surely nothing could ever be better than this?
Well, perhaps it could. All good things come to an end, and eventually the Oxford was replaced by a Mark II Zephyr. But that’s another story!
Thanks for sending that in Ian, a great read!
Do you have fun motoring memories that you'd like to see featured on oldclassiccar??? please let me know if so - see motoring memories for details.
|www.oldclassiccar.co.uk (C) R. Jones. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.|
|Website by ableweb.|