Sunday, September 05, 2010

Never Had It So Good

It seems that an A35 van from the Automobile Palace was the machine of choice for many a discerning Radnorshire motorist of the late 50s and early 60s. OK so maybe it might have had to be reversed up the steepest hills but, hey, you didn't have to pay purchase tax! What a pity the photographer failed to focus on that all important FO number plate in this grey example.

The FO plate lasted from FO1 released in 1903 up until OFO 303N, which was no doubt issued by Mr Hinksman from the Gwalia in September 1974. I presume ditching local number plates was another of Ted Heath's great ideas.

This post was inspired by Radnorian blogger in exile Gwenddolen who reminisces about her family's green A35 here. Of course former racing driver James Hunt also used a green A35 van as his road car, his philosophy being that a car was only fun to drive at it's limit and the limit of an A35 wasn't too far over the legal speed limit - I guess it was also useful for transporting his budgies.


Anonymous said...

My granddad had a grey A35 van. The thing I remember most about it was the strange indicator switch in the middle of the dashboard.

It took over fifty years for the first 10000 vehicle registrations in Radnorshire, didn't it? Did any other registration district take as long?

radnorian said...

The four number registrations ran out in 1958/1959 ..... I can remember the first AFOs. Of course those were the days when you used to sit by the road and write down car number plates for fun.

I don't know if any other county was as slow as Rads to reach 9999 - it would have to be somewhere with a small population and even Rutland had more people than us.

Anonymous said...

Gwenddolen says 'Our van became very special when it had a rear window put in the back -- again this was done I think by someone in Norton's aka Auto Palace. It transformed life in the back for a seven year old. The best holiday ever was in the van to Llandudno. We broke down though outside the Hotpoint factory, where people were very helpful to my mum and mamgu -- ever after her customer loyalty was unwavering for every appliance going. No other make was able to compete'.

radnorian said...

If I remember correctly the rear "seat" was just a slight depression in the floor of the van which you could fill with a cushion ..... if you were lucky.

It's crazy to think how much the relative prices of cars and houses have changed since those days. My father was offered the chance to buy our rented cottage, he decided to buy a second hand Anglia instead, even though the car cost more.

Anonymous said...

does anyone remember the man who had a 'shop' on wheels and used to deliver to the gwystre gravel road way in the early 1970's.
He used to drive a grey little van with wooden racks for shelves.

geccove said...

Only some of the Scottish regions issued fewer registrations than Radnorshire. Before they were obliged to start using suffix letters in 1964 or 1965 in some case, these were the slowest issuing regions:
Clackmannan to SL 9602 by Jun 64
Selkirk got to LS 9584 by Mar 64
Orkney got to BS 7777 by Jan 65
Peebles got to DS 6396 by Jan 65
Sutherland to NS 5683 by Jun 64
Nairn got to AS 4097 by Jan 65.
Zetland got to PS 4080 by Jan 65
Kinross got to SV 3722 by Jan 64
Bute only got to SJ 2860 by Jan 64!
Most of these marks have been issued in three letter format since 1983 by the DVLA for cars registered between 1931 and 1964 as replacement and re-registration marks but have no bearing on the old regions they were used by.

Des Elmes said...

Radnorshire only reached EFO 543 before adopting the year suffix system in August 1964 - a total of 14,538 registrations in just over 60 years.

Things did pick up, though, as they issued more than half that number over the next nine years - going from AFO 1B to HFO 844L by the end of July 1973, a total of 7,837 registrations.

When 'M' suffixes began, Radnorshire were forced to reset the first letter to N, i.e. NFO 1M etc - this was to prevent potential clashing when the new Local Vehicle Licensing Offices took over responsibility for issuing registrations on 1 October 1974, with the initial first letter from each office being G (e.g. GCJ 1-999N, GFO 1-999N and GVJ 1-999N from Hereford LVLO, which took over Radnorshire's and Herefordshire's responsibilities).