Vintage 1919-1927

The Vintage years span a period of great interest. The motor car had reached reasonable standards of quality by 1905 and, by the start of the Great War it had begun to acquire a more reasonable appearance too. The ‘carriage look’ had been overtaken by remorseless development. It was also beginning to become an accepted part of life even though it was still limited to a relatively small number of well-heeled people. The Great War changed nearly everyone’s attitude to motorised transport. By 1919 many people now had practical experience of mechanical things; motor vehicles had proved their usefulness and reliability in a hostile environment; the equine promoters realised the motor car was a better form of transport. In short, the hostility towards the motor car was gone. Meanwhile the War changed the direction of flow of ideas across the Atlantic. Before the War the flow was westwards. After 1919 the flow of ideas from America increased. The first post-war models reflected the simplification of body shapes as they developed in the United States. After the War there was a shortage of cars and plenty of money available to spend on them. In the UK the number of manufacturers and overall capacity increased to meet this demand. Unfortunately the point at which capacity met the initial demand happened as the world descended into the recession. Many of the new manufacturers were swallowed up by the recession. By the early ‘30’s conditions had improved, but by now customers were eager for motor cars with smaller engines that could deliver the performance of the vehicles 10 year before. In the UK this was partly because the government had introduced an £1 per h.p. tax on vehicles in 1921 (determined by a formula evolved by the RAC). The weight of cars began to increase greatly as customers sought more luxury and this was aggravated by the change from the open to the closed style of body. The technique of pressing body panels in steel had been developed in the US and this led to the ascendancy of the ‘saloon’ or ‘sedan’ type of car body so that by 1926 the open ‘tourer’ had become a rarity. With the development of the balloon tyre it was possible to raise vehicles higher from the ground and in doing so reduce or remove the ‘top heavy’ look they had had with the beaded-edge. So, from 1926 onwards the standard of appearance of motor cars began to improve greatly.

The prints measure 47.5 cm wide x 34.5 cm high (18 ½ ″ x 13 ½ ″). Minor variation in size is possible based on the actual guillotine cut made by the printer over 50 years ago. Shown here are photographs which have been carefully corrected to remove most distortion. Published in 1961 by © Hugh Evelyn Limited, London; drawn by George A. Oliver.

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