An Ancient Austin

Austin Princess, Hackness 1963

Our Austin Princess, Hackness 1963

These photos include my father’s second car, which was an Austin Princess. By the standards of the day for British cars, this was a huge vehicle. This type of car was typically used for weddings, funerals and state occasions, but my father had a penchant for large cars, so, when he saw an opportunity to buy a used Princess, he jumped at the chance. These vehicles featured custom bodywork by Vanden Plas on a separate chassis, so they were very heavy. As I mentioned in a previous post, my father served in the Royal Air Force during World War II, where he learned to drive AEC Matador trucks, so the Princess probably didn’t seem especially big to him!

Perhaps the most famous Princess was one owned by John Lennon, although that had hearse bodywork. My father was no fan of the Beatles, so I’m not sure what he thought about that.

Both these views show my mother, my younger brother and me messing around near Hackness, Yorkshire, during the Autumns of 1963 and 1964.

Our Austin Princess c.1964

Our Austin Princess c.1964

This was not my father’s first Austin (although it’s the earliest that I remember riding in), since his first car had also been of that marque, and it wasn’t his last, since he subsequently owned a more modestly-sized Austin 1100.

The downsizing was at the request of my mother, who learned to drive c.1969, and didn’t want a large vehicle.

Later, during the 1970s, my father bowed to the inevitable realities and began buying non-British cars, such as Simca, Honda and, finally, a German Opel Kadett (which eventually became my first car).

AEC Matador "May" of S A Bell, Malton, 1977

AEC Matador “May” of S A Bell, Malton, 1976

Above is an AEC Matador, similar to the vehicles on which my father learned to drive. This one, named “May” was used by haulier S A Bell Ltd., and was parked at their Malton depot in 1976.

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