A Photo For Sunday: Peugeot 404

When this series began first I used stock photos. Since then, I have switched to ones I have taken myself (or have been sent by our local correspondents). Today, I revert to stock images but with good reason.

1960 Peugeot 404: John Hinde Collection

The photo above is from the John Hinde collection: “To mark St Patrick’s Day, the Photographers’ Gallery in London is releasing newly restored pictures of rural Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s by a pioneer of British and Irish postcard art, John Hinde”. St Patrick’s Day was yesterday. The photo shows the Bloody Foreland, in County Donegal, Ireland and is one the earliest photos published by the John Hinde Studio.

What the John Hinde Studios did was to use quite brave (or strident) colour photography for postcards which, let’s not forget, were quite bland and static. Remember that postcards enjoyed remarkable popularity up until cameras and mobile’ phones fused. Every village sold them.

(Yes, yes, yes, but look at the 404 with an L plate and a dent. The fellow with the beige tweed jacket looks like my idea of a motoring correspondent from the time.)

1956 image by John Hinde

John Hinde’s work has enjoyed an upswing since the time it first crept into my awareness in the 1980s. Around then Hinde’s intense colours had become deeply unfashionable (intense colour is now normal). His imagery of freckled red-headed farming children in traditional clothes and donkeys also struck the wrong note in a country trying to modernise (see the Prince of Wales Hotel below).

Hinde wasn’t just making it up though. When Hinde first began his business (1955) there actually was an awful lot about Ireland that would have not looked odd to an Irish time-traveller coming from 1900 to 1955. So, his photos weren’t very far from a part of the truth. They were not, though, the Ireland that Ireland wanted to project.

John Hinde caught the residues of the 19th century in his by-now classic images. As I might have said already, even in 1978 there remained traces of 1900 as I can testify: with my mother I visited my grand-uncle and grand-aunt one summer’s day and I can recall that their house lacked electricity and running water.

It wasn’t a hovel but a well-maintained stone-built house with a large garden – dark and cool with flag-stones in the kitchen. I would imagine the couple were in their 70s at that point, born just after the turn of the century but very much of the 1890s, I suppose. So, a lot of 1960 Ireland was also 1899.

I have chosen to highlight here some other John Hinde photos, ones with cars somewhere in the image.

Achill, 1955: John Hinde

The pink cardigan (above) stands out as being particularly unconvincing. The scenery doesn’t demand that kind of jarring colour, does it? The car is an Austin A30.

Shannon Airport, c. 1955: John Hinde Studios

I recognise the Beetle and suspect many of the other cars are BMC products: three seem to be the same type of car: a Ford Consul (1956). Is the one with the two-tone roof a W-120 Mercedes?

This one shows Grafton St in central Dublin. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, it’s Dublin’s main shopping street. Pedestrianisation occurred in 1983 (at one point one could drive from Grafton St to my childhoon home in about ten minutes, today you can’t):

Grafton St., Dublin, c. 1970s: John Hinde Studio

I can see a Renault 4 and a Mini. Is the yellow car a Datsun 120Y? The shop on the right is Switzers, a middle-market department store, which has become Brown Thomas, a posh department store**.

I think it was a more enjoyable street when cars still ran down it. These days it has the sterile character that the corporate Disney paving gives and it has the same shops found in any international airport around the world (with a few exceptions).

Evidently Hinde’s photographer managed to use the same viewpoint for this later photo:

Grafton Street, Dublin: John Hinde Studios

I should say that when it was open to cars Grafton Street often featured a long and immobile mass of vehicles stuck at the lights leading to Nassau Street and the air quality must have been appalling. Still, we were happy. The yellow car is a Toyota Corolla; the ubiquitous Mini is there. Any guesses about the white car in the centre? I want to say Rover SD1 but can it be?

Has anyone any idea what this car is, below?

Donegal, 1955: John Hinde Collection.

Here is another pre-pedestrianisation image, this time of College Green, Dublin. Dublin’s nascent light-rail system has been plumbed in here at the expense of most of the other traffic. In this image one can see a 2CV and some British cars like the Mini – today it’s taxis and busses and the light rail infrastructure. Quite a lot of the cars are black, grey and white. Were the 70s and early 80s an anomaly in terms of the diversity of car colours?

College Green, Dublin c. 1960 (?): John Hinde Collection

The next image moves deeper into the 1960s. It is the Prince of Wales Hotel in Athlone (surely renamed by now?) and a fleet of what I imagine are executive cars.

Prince of Wales Hotel, Athlone, c. mid-sixties: John Hinde Collection

I can spy a blue Cortina and what might be a Humber Snipe or Hawk; behind it is a Zephyr? What’s the red car in front of the entrance? 1962 Cortina Mk1 and the blue one is a Mk2 (1966), most likely.

(I did a little research and the hotel still exists with the same name. It now has a cod-Georgian facade but is probably nice to visit. I like hotels.)

Ireland joined the EEC and gradually the car its market opened up. However, until then various European marques assembled cars. Allianz Insurance has a small (partial) list of marques assembled in Ireland. From 1950 to 1985 VW’s importer assembled cars including the Beetle which was made not far from my old turf in central Dublin.

It’s still a car dealer today. The Renault 4 was made in Ireland between 1962 and 1984 and Fiats were made from CKD kits in Meath. Ford had a real factory in Cork, closed in 1984. It seems to have made cars in the Escort and Cortina classes. Towards the end some Sierra production took place – are there any Irish-built Sierras left, one wonders.

Allianz’s article is far from comprehensive. An RTE News report from the mid-sixties notes there were about sixty car assembly plants in Ireland. The New York Times notes British Leyland as having a plant there (in Dublin 2 – it is now the site of an apartment and office block). Is that grounds enough to explain the preponderance of British cars in the John Hinde photos?

** Brown Thomas used to face Switzers, on opposite sides of Grafton Street. Brown Thomas bought Switzers and moved. Marks And Spencers moved into the Brown Thomas building. Among the things lost in the move was the sense of BT being a very big shop, with different sections.

Today much of it consists of franchises which means a Boss section, a Thomas Hilfiger section and so on. Prior to the move you found all the different brands sharing the same rails and shelves, which means service not the brands were the motive force.


Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

25 thoughts on “A Photo For Sunday: Peugeot 404”

  1. Richard, starting at the bottom photo of the hotel: the dark blue car is a Ford Zodiac, the light blue car is a Ford Corsair; in the College Green picture, I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Renault 4CV next to the 2CV. The later Grafton Street picture does indeed feature an SD1 behind the Renault 18, the yellow car is a Datsun 120Y, I can also make out a Datsun Violet, a Citroën GS, a Saab 99 and a Saab 900 right behind it, a Toyota HiAce van, a Bedford TK truck and a Ford D Series truck, not to mention the Escort van in front of the Mini. The older picture above has a yellow Toyota Corolla. The Shannon Airport shot has an Austin Westminster parked in the corner plus some Ford Prefects and an Anglia.

    1. HiAce a good spot, Sean.
      I remember hiring one for a small move in central London: it was so narrow I could get between the concrete posts put in to block up a rat-run, so I could avoid the intended long alternative.

    2. Hi Sean:
      Yes – there is a Citroen GS. These were also furious rusters in 80s Ireland. I got my Corollas and Violets/120Ys mixed up. Care to date the image. It’s 1976-1983. I suppose deduction could narrow it to an even smaller band.

  2. Richard, the yellow car is I think a F series Vauxhall Victor, produced from 1957 to 1961

  3. Good morning Richard. Thanks for a wonderfully nostalgic trip through my childhood memories of 1960’s Ireland. The postcard of the two children collecting turf was a staple for many years on the racks in every newsagent.

    The yellow car in the Donegal photograph is an F-Series Vauxhall Victor. The four cars opposite the entrance to the Athlone hotel are a BMC 1100, Ford Zephyr, Ford Zodiac* and Ford Corsair. The two green cars are a Riley 1.5 and Morris Minor.

    *The Zodiac had a similar body to the Zephyr, but was distinguished by a six, rather than four-light side window arrangement . (Yes, I know, I really should get out more…)

    1. It really isn’t a Riley 1.5, but the Wolseley, with its illuminated badge in the rad shell.
      And a Mark I, with external bonnet hinges.
      The Riley was the fastest four-door you could buy, with dangerously under-prepared suspension.

    2. What would Riley be today if they still existed? There was talk of Riley being exhumed under BMW stewardship. I never saw the point. They didn’t know what to do with Rover.

  4. Richard, franchises sure are a real pain. Selfridges has been like this for years. If you want a shirt in a certain style you have to traipse round, what, 10 “departments” to look for it. Luckily I have a keen man up Finchley Road who does the hard work of buying in quality stuff (no exposed labels), so all the shirts are together — you know, like a shop used to be. But I do have to save up to go there and he doesn’t always have the full range of sizes.

    More on the Hinde’s cars later.

    1. I have tried shirts from Harvie & Hudson and also (less pricey) Hawes & Curtis. The department store I go to in Aarhus is semi-franchised. It’s a compromise.

  5. Also, the yellow car on Grafton Street behind the Renault 4 is a Toyota Corolla (E20 generation). In the later photo of the same scene , the yellow car is actually a Datsun 120Y Sunny (B310 Generation) followed I think, by its bigger brother, a 140J Violet.

    1. Hi Vic, you’re right, of course. The Riley had a more prominent fluted grille. A neighbour of my parents had one and, to my naive childish eyes, it appeared faintly exotic. He replaced it with a Renault Dauphine Gordini, which was really exotic in 1960’s Ireland! I agree about the colours too: I doubt that the Zephyr came in that luminous orange colour as standard!

  6. Stayed 1976 in a friend’s holiday hovel near the Dingle peninsular. It was weatherproof, but as was common, no heating or running water — stream nearby. [I forget the sewage arrangements, which is just as well.] Next door a friendly neighbour let us look around his farm buildings — inside one of which lay a Facel Vega slowly capsizing. Too big a project for me then, but I often wondered….

  7. Actually a reply to Daniel:
    I liked the 1.5 a lot, and had several (well, they did rust horribly). Hard to balance the twin SUs before special kit was available, but on song it was great. There was a big gap between 2nd, which spun the wheels, and could break the flimsy A-series halfshaft, and what was then called an “overdrive 3rd”, which was good for over 70mph. Top gear was so high it couldn’t defeat the air resistance above about 85mph, but downhill with a good wind you’d get 100!

    The basically MGA engine was highly tunable, and many suspension mods were on sale too. I think they’re still raced in a Classic Car series, with all their wood, leather and carpets stripped out.

    1. To Richard:
      There’s no room for Riley nowadays. BMW should sell it to those funny little Japanese makers of the likes of Newt that you featured recently.
      The pre-war Nine was still popular into the 1950s, as an easy project with its light fabric body in Monaco form. Wonderful engines and a crash gearbox – the days when we all learned to double-declutch.

      On that Citroen GS: I’d have said that, but it looks so much more modern than any of the other machines I hesitated.

  8. I don’t believe anyone mentioned the Triumph TR 2 or 3 in the eighth picture down, an easy spot for me as a previous owner of an A series. Having just recently viewed an archival British PATHE film showing the TR production line in full swing this is rekindling old desires.

  9. Lovely article. I bought a copy of Boring Postcards (Phaidon) a while back and find it strangely fascinating. It’s interesting to look back at scenes which were once seen as new and exciting and which now wouldn’t be given a second glance, let alone be photographed.


    Your article reminded me of this postcard which I remember being on sale in a local post office. This town centre has been pedestrianised, too. I think it’s a shame, as it makes it less accessible.


    1. I have Boring Postcards as well. They show postwar Europe and brand new infrastructure. Few are truly boring – a boring postcard shows six or seven things in a mosaic. Classical cards are boring: the unpopulated scene of a church or castle. Banality becomes interesting as the form of banality changes.

  10. Lovely old postcards. I wish I had some from the 1960s from Nova Scotia, where my family decamped from Portsmouth in 1959. The rural areas are much the same now as then – increased population has decamped to other parts of Canada and to Halifax, the capital, which has changed out of almost all recognition, beginning about 1970. When we got here, I’d never heard of non-flush toilets or seen long dirt roads (gravel being optional most of the time), which quickly changed during the 1960s. The general standard of living was, however, much higher than Portsmouth, even out in the boondocks where we were. The food was the reason, so much better and inexpensive, purchase tax about 15%. It was a pleasant time for a young car spotter, what with all those befinned and older Detroit-mobiles plus a good spattering of European makes.

    I think the Shannon Airport photo is labelled far too early at 1955. It’s at least 1960, because there’s a reverse rear window Anglia, which my Mum had bought after trying a Beetle and a Dauphine over weekends. Dad had a ’59 Consul. We were clinging to Britain, you might say.

    The other giveaway is the Pan Am 707 parked on the tarmac.

    The cars are easy to identify except for one:
    Up against the yellow building are un-ident, 1960 Anglia, previous Ford Anglia/Prefect, late ’50s Beetle with big rear window, old Anglia/Prefect, and Austin A99 which arrived on the market in 1959.

    On the left from top towards camera, 1960 Hillman Minx, Ford Zodiac Mk2, Landy, two Mk2 Ford Consuls, old Mercedes and yet another Consul/Zephyr.

    The security apparatus had of course not yet arrived at airports, so it was relaxed, as this scene shows. Nostalgia. Nice photo.

    1. I’m going to have to pull you up on your plane-spotting there Bill. The Pan American airliner is in fact a Douglas DC8, the Boeing 707’s major long-haul rival at the time. They were rather similar looking at a glance, but a one-time aviation nerd like myself wouldn’t be fooled.

      In the foreground is a Vickers Viscount, an aircraft the national carrier flew until around 1973. It’s sporting it’s mid-period livery – later versions were repainted with a white upper fuselage and a green stripe at window level. The Viscount became somewhat notorious in Ireland owing the loss of the St. Phelim off Tuskar Rock in the Irish Sea under mysterious circumstances in 1968.

      From 1965, Aer Lingus started replacing the propeller-driven Viscounts with BAC 1-11 short haul jet airliners and with Boeing 737’s from 1969.

      Shannon was a great place to see unusual civil aircraft when I was a young lad. It used to be possible to drive out behind the main runway and watch the aircraft take off from close quarters. I once saw Concorde take off from there. The noise was deafening, but it was quite the experience…

  11. The Benz at shannon airport most probably isn’t a W120/121 four cylinder. These had potato-shaped indicators close to the A-post.
    The car in the picture has oblong indicators over the front lights, which would make it either a W105 (expensive six cylinder 220, nor rear quarter lights) or W180 (even more expensive six cylinder 220S, rear quarter lights).

    The six cylinders have longer front than the W120 to accommodate the bigger engine and the W180 also has more room in the back.
    This car must have cost an awful lot of money in Ireland at that time.

    1. Presumably the 220S has been provided for an American big shot off the PanAm plane.

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