header image
Homepage. This page: A magazine-cum-newspaper from the 1950s, advertising used cars for sale.

Car bargains galore in Motoring Weekly Advertiser, August 1957.

Alas this copy of Motoring Weekly Advertiser from August 30th 1957 isn't in the finest of fettle, but given that it's printed on newspaper-standard paper it hasn't survived too badly, cover excepted. Until maybe ten or so years ago, publications such as this would have been most people's first port-of-call when looking for a new or secondhand car. Nowadays the internet rules, and weekly car sales publications in the newsagents are a pale imitation of what went just a few years before.
Pop back to 1957 though and newspapers such as the Motoring Weekly Advertiser were good sellers, this particular paper seemingly focusing on cars, vans and motorcycles for sale in the South East of the country - London, Essex and Middlesex being the most common areas referred to in its advertisements. Its 76 pages are bulging with pre- and post-war vehicles on sale, the majority being those with dealers. This copy could well have been eagerly thumbed-through by a rogue-ish "Arfur Daley" type, selling time-worn motors from a bombsite location somewhere in the City of London. Equally it could well have been purchased by a gent - quite possibly sporting a trilby, braces, and a pencil moustache - looking to replace his tired old car - maybe a Ford Pilot for instance - with something a little more up-to-date, such as a Mk2 Zodiac, or a PA Cresta.
Newspaper advertising cars for sale in the 1950s
The cover has a number of adverts relating to well-known motor emporiums of the day, including Henlys and Pride and Clarke, both regular advertisers in car magazines either side of the war. By 1957 the availability of new and nearly-new cars was easing noticeably when compared to the early years of the 1950s, when export-or-die was the mantra drummed into the motor manufacturers' ears. The vehicles advertised in this paper are a fascinating mix of little-used saloons and light commercial vehicles, punctuated by tantalising references to fine, and at one time prestigious, motor-cars from the days when motoring was most definitely not for the masses, and only the well-healed could entertain owning a motor-car. Magnificent when new, pre-war greats from the likes of Rolls-Royce, Bentley and other marques of distinction, were by the late 1950s only of interest to the discerning buyer, who put quality and craftsmanship above modernity when considering their next purchase. Some of these exotic machines, nestled within the ranks of Austins, Morrises, Hillmans and Vauxhalls, will be described in more detail further on.
It would be impossible to describe the variety of cars on offer, so just some of the stand-out vehicles will be featured, and comparisons drawn with their similarly-priced contemporaries. While studying and being taken aback by the headline prices for many cars on sale at this time can be an enjoyable pastime, these seemingly low prices don't take into account average earnings at the time. Of more interest to me are comparisons between cars of similar value at the time, and how their relative values - and enthusiasts' interest in them - have veered in different, often wildly different, directions over the passage of time.
A car business called The Motor Exchange, in Leytonstone
How could a visitor to Oldfield's, a motor dealer on Kensington High Street in London for instance, walk past a 1936 Bentley 3.5 litre Park Ward saloon on offer for 335, preferring instead to put down a deposit on an identically-priced 1950 Standard Vanguard? In the real world no doubt the Standard was a much more realistic purchase, especially for a private buyer looking to cart his family to the seaside, go to the country, and commute to and from work, but buying a seven-year-old Vanguard in preference to a Derby Bentley - on the face of it - reads like the act of a madman today. Perhaps in fifty years' time, people will look back with incredulity that most buyers today would choose to buy a recent Ford Mondeo over a similarly-priced Bentley Mulsanne, no doubt terrified of the potential bills that running one of (then) Crewe's finest might bring. Safer to go with a mass-produced Ford it is, but such opportunities will, in future, no doubt cause much merriment and bemusement with motoring enthusiasts in decades to come, assuming that petrol-engined cars are still in use.

Bargain-basement pre-war motors.

Small pre-war cars were, by the late 1950s, cheap as chips in the main. The majority of buyers wanted swish 1950's models, with their fully-enclosed bodywork, sleek lines, and well-specified interiors. Motorists on a tight budget though would make a bee-line for the pre-war junkers, cars traded in against later models, and taking up valuable space in a dealer's car lot. Scan the dealer ads in this paper and glimpses of such bargain-basement motors are everywhere, usually right at the bottom of the advert. Hampstead Motors for instance had just the job for the hard-up motorist, in the compact form of a 1934 Austin 10, described only as in "tip top condition", and available for 49. If that was still too much of a stretch financially, perhaps a 1936 Vauxhall 14 Tickford Coupe - with rebuilt engine - for 45 sounded like a better deal? The same money would also buy a 1932 Standard - "old but in wonderful condition" according to the vendor.
However if 1950's motorist was keen to run a car on a tight budget, but didn't want the ignominy of running a tired pre-war car, held together with twine and hope, then a trip to Blue Star of 617 Finchley Road was in order, as they had two Powerdrive roadsters in stock, one a 1956 car, the other a 1957. The Powerdrive was a tiny three-wheeler, fitted with an aluminium body allowing three-abreast seating. A two-stroke Anzani engine of 322cc served up a modest level of power. The car wasn't especially successful, and production ended after just a year or so. Blue Star had their examples up for 275 and 330 respectively.
D.F. Wyatt garage in Hampstead

Hidden gems.

A buyer calling in at Bray Motors in West Hampstead, with 125 burning a hole in their back pocket, would have had a few interesting propositions to mull over. If he or she had a large family, and had little concern for fuel costs, then a 1938 Buick 8-seater limousine - with winding division (perfect if young children were to be carried) - may well have fitted the bill at 125. The same figure would also secure a post-war (1948) Jeep. Of course he or she may have preferred to buy a sporting little number instead, in which case the 95 being asked for an MG J2, finished in British Racing Green - a car that "goes like a bomb" apparently - would probably be the one to go for. Not bad, considering that a three-year-old Ford 103E Pop would have cost an extra 255 over and above the J2's 95 asking price. Oh for a time machine...and a large de-humidified shed to stash these hidden gems away in.
Haverstock Garage was worth a visit if you were the aforementioned type who placed quality over modernity. For in their stock, hidden down the bottom of their list of cars, was a 1930 Rolls-Royce 20/25 with Barker coachwork. Described as in excellent condition, it was on sale for 199. Was it expensive? Maybe, maybe not, but when compared to the 1952 Ford 10cwt light removal van at the same price, or the 1952 Austin Devon at 399, it looks like a good buy. Certainly if our hypothetical buyer did opt for the R-R over the Austin or Ford, and still owned said vehicle today, he or she would be very happy indeed. What a shame that few of the cars listed have photographs accompanying their details. Over at Scott Cars in Hampstead, a 1939 Buick drophead ("excellent runner") looks like another one well worthy of consideration, and very eye-catching when compared to the remainder of their stock - which includes worthy but common motors such as A40 Somersets, an Austin 8 Utility from 1942 (a Tilly?), a post-war Standard 8, and an Anglia, all of which would have cost more than the Buick's 99 screen price.
Adlards Motors Limited, the garage business of car builder and racer Sydney Allard, advertises in a number of locations within the magazine. In addition to several run-of-the-mill saloons, he has one of his own J-Type Allards on sale for 310, or to put it another way, for 10 less than a 1952 Ford Prefect...
Adlards Ford car garage, belonging to Sydney Allard
Simmons, of 12 Rex Place, W1, only stocked cars of quality. Their quarter-page advertisement lists a number of swish machines, mainly from Bentley and Rolls-Royce, with a lone Hotchkiss 3.5 litre "Provence" Sports - a former Olympia Motor Show exhibit no less - upsetting the order. Their cars in the main date to the late 1930s and 1940s. At the foot of their stocklist, almost as an afterthought, is a two-line reference to a properly-old motor-car, even for those days. Priced at a not-inconsiderable 550, a 1914 Napier - described as a "gentleman's gun carriage ... in very little distinguishably different condition than when delivered" sounds very interesting. If 550 was a little on the steep side, then perhaps Sir or Madam would have lowered their sights, tightened their belts (relatively), and instead put their name down on a short-chassis 1930 Bentley 4.5 litre, "blower crank model", with coachwork by Corsica, for a more modest 385. Not an inconsequential sum in those days, but given that on the opposite page, Windovers of Hendon had a 1948 Morris 10, and a 1949 Vauxhall Velox, on sale for near-identical amounts, I can't help but wonder whether buying the Bentley for "high days and holidays", and a cheap old junker for the daily commute, would have been the way to go in preference to an L-Type Velox. The benefit of hindsight!
It's sobering to think that nearly all the cars referred to in this weekly paper will have long-since been scrapped, with just a few lucky survivors enjoying a leisurely retirement, either preserved and used occasionally, or perhaps buried away under junk in a shed, waiting to be discovered. One car though, I really hope has survived, primarily because it's such a stunning looking automobile. In a small advertisement for Gresham Motors Ltd of Brixton, along with a 1939 Fiat 500 and a 1938 Hillman Minx, is a 1939 Cord. Described as a "specimen car", the streamlined Cord was on offer at just 150. Considering that the Fiat of the same year was 170, and the Minx 179, the Cord appears to have been a steal at the price. The aerodynamic Cord 810/812 was in fact only produced until 1937, with a re-worked version produced by Hupmobile and Graham-Paige making a brief appearance in 1940, so perhaps 1939 refers to the car's registration date in the UK.
Motoring Weekly Advertiser isn't a magazine I'd heard of prior to this old copy turning up. Does anyone know when it was launched, and for how long it remained in print?
Return to the car magazines section, to read about other US and British motoring titles.

Custom Search
Old Classic Car (C) R. Jones 2020. Content not to be reproduced elsewhere.
Website by ableweb.
Privacy Policy, Cookies & Disclaimers