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Homepage. This page: A full collection of pre-war cigarette cards featuring popular cars of the day.

An Album of Motor Cars (Second Series).

John Player & Sons (part of The Imperial Tobacco Company of Great Britain and Ireland Ltd at the time) produced a set of collectors' trading cars titled "Motor Cars A Series" in 1936. Their output of cigarette cards was prolific, covering all manner of subjects. That first set of motor-car cards was swiftly followed up by the Second Series in 1937, and is the set featured here. Once again it proved to be a very popular subject, and many cards and albums survive to this day.
The cover of their 1937 album features an illustration of a family enjoying a day at the seaside, having been transported there in the sumptuous surroundings of a mid-1930s Daimler drophead. In all, this collection contains 50 different cars to collect, ranging from wallet-friendly motors such as Fiat's 500 "Topolino", to exotics from the likes of Delage, Bugatti, Delahaye and Mercedes-Benz. How many of the cars would have been familiar to Joe Public at the time didn't really matter, as the objective was to collect a full set of cards, regardless of their content. Cars familiar to British motorists in the 1930s, rub pages with delectable machines from across the globe, in this small (5" x 7.5") album of delights.
Cover of the cards' album

The 50 cards described.

All but the final page in the album, has space for three car cards to be stuck in. Adjoining each position is a write-up, shedding light on each car's manufacturer, specification, and list price, as would have also been printed on the reverse of the cards. Illustrations of traditional street scenes are sprinkled throughout the contents.

Pages 2 and 3 The first trio of cars are as follows:
The AC Greyhound Saloon, the Alvis 4.3 litre Vanden Plas Saloon, and the rarely-seen Armstrong-Siddeley 20/25 Atalanta Saloon.
Of the Alvis, we're told that "... it is the logical development of the successful 3.5 litre, and while retaining the traditional Alvis qualities of speed and power, the utmost care has been spent on making the performance phenomenally smooth and silent at all speeds."

Pages 4 and 5 Familiarity on Page 4 is dealt with by the solid Austin Fourteen "Goodwood" Saloon, which is joined by the delectable Aston-Martin 2-Litre Speed Model, and the stunning Auburn Speedster, in supercharged form. With a 4.5 litre engine beneath the bonnet - or "hood" - the Auburn offered acceleration described simply as "terrific". One novel feature was the incorporation of a dual-speed rear axle.
Facing them are examples of Bentley 4.5 litre, British Salmson 14hp Saloon and the beautiful Bugatti Type 57S "Competition" Model.

Pages 6 and 7 Cars of transatlantic origin populate page 6, thanks to cards portraying the (Canadian) Buick Empire Saloon and Chevrolet Master De-Luxe Sports Sedan, plus the Chrysler Richmond Touring Saloon. Just one British car is to be found on this two-page spread, a regal Daimler Light Straight-Eight, which accompanies a Citroen Sports-Twelve Saloon - a "... daringly unconventional design ..." and a raffish Cord Sportsman's Convertible Coupe.

Pages 8 and 9 Two French beauties head up this spread - namely the Delage DS 100 Mouette Saloon, and the impossibly-dashing Delahaye Sports Drop-Head Coupe. Below them is the humble Fiat 500 Convertible Saloon, in what must be its most attractive incarnation. Opposite, is a handsome Ford V8 "22" Touring Saloon, a good-looking Frazer-Nash BMW 326/50 Saloon, and the competition-oriented Frazer-Nash T.T. Replica, beloved of circuit racers, sprinters, and hillclimbers.

Pages 10 and 11 British cars from makers that, bar one, have long-since disappeared into the history books feature next - namely the Hillman Hawk Saloon, the Humber Snipe Sports Saloon, Lanchester's 14hp Roadrider Sports Saloon, and the imposing - if not overly exciting - Lagonda 7-Seater Limousine, a 12-cylinder car designed by W.O. Bentley no less. These traditional Brits are joined by the Hudson Eight Saloon De-Luxe (which was in fact part-assembled in the UK), and the Lammas Graham Foursome Drop-head Coupe.

Pages 12 and 13 Cars from overseas manufacturers appear on page 12, namely the Lancia Aprilia, the semi- streamlined Lincoln-Zephyr, and the uber-desirable - and rare - Mercedes-Benz Type 540 Coupe, for which a not-inconsiderable price of 2,200 GBP was asked - compared to the 480 GBP price tag of the previous Lincoln-Zephyr. Facing this threesome, are cards for the compact MG Midget T-Series, Morgan's 4/4, and the dependable Morris Fourteen-Six Series II Saloon, recognisable from its predecessor by the fitment of solid disc wheels.

Pages 14 and 15 Two more Americans occupy the head of page 14, Packard's 120 Touring Coupe and Pontiac's De-Luxe Eight Sports Coupe. Below them is a yellow Railton Fairmile Coupe. Opposite them are cards bearing illustrations of the Renault 12.1hp Touring Saloon, and two British classics of the pre-war years, the Riley 9 Monaco and the Rolls-Royce Phantom III Continental Touring Saloon - "the last word in comfort, speed and silence" we're told.

Pages 16 and 17 All but one of the cars featured in this next two-page spread are of British origin. Leading the charge is a bright red Rover 16 Sports Saloon, from a time when Rover was a marque known for the quality of its cars, a Siddeley Special Touring Limousine, and a four-door version of the Singer 12hp. Rather more exciting is the SS100 Jaguar, followed by the extremely rare Standard Flying 20 V8 model, which sold in very low numbers only. Rounding out the page is a Studebaker Dictator De-Luxe.

Pages 18 and 19 To the final pages of cards now. The Sunbeam Thirty Sedanca De Ville, with its straight-eight powerplant, must have cut quite a dash at the time, as did the Talbot 3.5 Litre Drop-head Foursome Coupe I'm sure. The original Triumph Dolomite wasn't a bad looker either.
The final page sees cards number 49 and 50, namely the Vauxhall 25hp Continental Touring Saloon and Wolseley's two-tone 25hp Super Six Sportsman's Saloon, "... as smooth running and noiseless as a fine town carriage, and as well appointed".

As has been said already, Player's were prolific producers of card sets, all published in a bid to increase interest in their tobacco products. Other series produced in the same year included "Birds & Their Young", "British Regalia", "RAF Badges" (with and without motto), and the promising-sounding "Speedway Riders", perhaps another set to look out for sometime.
Return to the motor-related trade cards section at oldclassiccar. A set titled "Safety First" is one of these sets, and is described on this page.

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