Vintage Motoring: Archie Vicar’s Motoring Week

This may very well be a transcript of an article from 1977 concerning the motoring week of renowned motoring journalist, Archie Vicar.

(The original text is from the Oldham Evening Chronicle, Nov. 30, 1977. The original photos were by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to a copyright dispute, stock images have been used)

1977 Rolls Royce Silver Shadow: source

Just back from Frankfurt where the annual car show takes place. Was delayed en route midway down la Belle France (around Burgundy, of course) so I missed the show by some margin. But – I did speak to some of the exhibitors afterwards, allowing me to take an interesting jaunt around Germany and France in Ford’s excellent new 2.3 litre Cortina V6 Ghia which, to quote the advertisement, offers “smooth performance and refinement in a car that’s built to last“.

Rust is often a problem for cars but Ford’s 17 stage  body protection means Cortina owners have one less thing to worry about! The gearbox was a delight, one which “so often sets the standards others are judged by“.  After several days at the wheel in all kinds of foul weather, the Cortina looked as rust free as when I collected it at Ford’s HQ in Cologne (fine beers!). So, on Monday it was Stuttgart to
1977 Ford Cortina: source

see Mercedes’ new W123 in estate form. Not sure about this one. Boxy? Citroen seem to have had a better stab at the estate-car-from-saloon challenge and it’s much more comfortable too, thanks to its high roof and ample room in the back quarters. Still, Stuttgart’s always good for a meal!  Getting comfy in the Cortina was easy. Super seats!

Tuesday, had to take  plane back to Blighty, courtesy of BA, to spend a day with the Avon tyre people (not sure why) and we had a hoot wearing out a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow and lots of tyres. There are still a good ten years left in the old Shadow – it’s 6.75 litre V8 is among the finest in the world but its handling is still appalling and it wasn’t long before the Roller was garnishing the run-off area and simply could not be extricated.

Thruxton’s local brew is excellent mind and Avon´s tyres probably delayed the inevitable by a good few minutes. Freed of that chore it was back on the plane and back to Baden-Baden. Couldn’t find the car in long-term!

Turned out I’d left in short term (nearer the departure lounge) but I was very glad to see the new Ford Cortina 2.3 V6 Ghia right where I had abandoned it, still shiny and rust-free.

1977 BB Porsche 924: source

Wednesday: somewhere in Stuttgart to see the warmed over BB Porsche 924 which looks a lot better than Porsche’s official car. Still think the 924 is cramped and jittery with a lot of nasty black plastic from stem to stern. Too small, not comfy, too dear. Gracious it’s fast, too fast some say and I can only agree but I can aver it’s a strong body-shell so no long-term harm done to yours truly.

1977 Opel Rekord two-door: source

Thursday, it was over and down a bit to Ruesselsheim and General Motors’ European arm, Opel (surprisingly very like Vauxhalls, unsurprisingly).

They showed their new range of Rekords at Frankfurt, each of them boldly-styled and well-equipped. But Ford’s Granadas had the measure of them, with their sleek styling, smooth bodywork and generous specification. The General isn’t leaving the fight to the Rekord though – they’ve thrown everything at their new flagship, the Senator, which is cut above even the fanciest Granada. Question is, will customers go for what some might see as a dressed-up Rekord rather than what it really is, a first-rate executive express? Only time will tell.

Opel’s top-brass wasted no time in letting me onto their test-track to assess the car but that was a bit too soon after their generously lubricated luncheon (.).  A chance to test the car in more relevant British conditions will arise in due course. No doubt about it, the executive motorist is spoiled for choice (unless one opts for the wallowy and dipsomaniac Peugeot 604!).

1977 Datsun Laurel 2000: source

Friday, over to Datsun, France (quite a jaunt but no trouble for the new Ford Cortina 2.3 V6 Ghia which handled the trip with ease) to get a quick look at their newest Laurel 2000, shown at the same time as the Colt Sapporo coupe (see review next week). Super lunch in Paris, courtesy of Datsun.

Their handsome Laurel looks reliable and safe and has a charming N American sort of look too – important in these increasingly competitive times. Live axle, so it’s a robust car and packed full of tried and tested engineering nous. The 2.0 isn’t a four but a six, which is something to be pleased with and indeed I found pootling around Paris a pleasant affair and who’s to say something like this won’t find some pleased customers when it’s on sale in the new year. Austin, watch out, say I. Wolseley customers may find it a suitable replacement for their now-departed marque.

Author: richard herriott

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

4 thoughts on “Vintage Motoring: Archie Vicar’s Motoring Week”

  1. To have lived the life of an Archie Vicar for a day…

    I do wonder what his favourites among Swabian cuisine were though: Käßspätzle? Schäufele? Rostbraten?

    Regarding his enthusiasm for that generation of Granada, I must say it’s to the benefit of his peace of mind that he probably never learned what was the main inspiration for its shape (Italian! Modernism!).

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