View Full Version : What was the oldest car you remember seeing in daily use?

19th Apr 2012, 01:29
Seeing the 'mystery car' thread led me to wonder what the oldest cars in daily use were in particular decades.

The oldest I remember when at school was a 1950s Austin A50 that a French teacher had in the late 1970s. It looked like the one below, except it had large rust holes in the tops of the front wings. These days a 25 year old car is not that rare, but it was then. Later when I started work (early 1980s), there was a 1950s Jowett Jupiter in regular use. Someone bought an Austin 7 in on odd occasions, but that had been restored and doesn't really count as he only drove it on fine days.


I wondered when the last pre-First World War cars were in regular use, and going a step further back, when the last horse drawn carriages and buggies were used other than as a novelty (Amish excepted).

What is the oldest you remember?

19th Apr 2012, 02:06
When I was a kid of 14, (1967) you could get a "learner's driving permit", and as I had a part-time job, I immediately blew my stash on a cool car. In the case a 1952 Mercury 2-door coupe. It was quite the deal. One owner, low mileage, etc. etc. One of the very first production cars with automatic transmissions. V-8 flathead engine. Pic is enclosed although not of my car. Wish I still had it though, it was neat. A real tank.

Anyway, the point of my reply... a kid in the 60's....interested enough in cars to actually buy one. So I was definitely looking at any cars that were to be seen.

The only thing that I can recall having seen that was out of the ordinary or otherwise "old-looking" would have been a Hudson and even that probably wasn't much older than I was.

In Canada, for me, the dividing line for old cars and new cars, would have been "split windshields" i.e. a solid, curved, one-piece windshield as opposed to the older windshields with a post in the middle. And I very rarely saw split windshields. That means, in my youth, I very rarely saw cars that were more than 20 years old.

These days, its really easy to spot 30-40 year old cars on the street, and not necessarily cars that are being lovingly preserved by some aficionado. Some of them are real beaters.

It makes me think that there was a jump in durability sometime back in the 60's (or perhaps the larger numbers being produced led to a greater parts supply - either new or from scrap yards - for the remaining cars).

In any case, interesting post. Thanks for asking the question.

Sh*t...just discovered I can't paste the copy of my small .jpg. :*

19th Apr 2012, 02:23
A friend of mine used to drive a 1950 Buick straight eight. He used it up until the early 1970's. The front end shimmied a bit at 55 mph, but it smoothed right out around 70 mph.

19th Apr 2012, 03:25
60's Kiwiland loads of 20's Essex, Model T still about on the roads. Some one owner immaculate back seat only used by sheep Sundays
My first car


19th Apr 2012, 03:33
My father drove a Citroen 7C coupe. Manufactured in the Slough factory in, I believe 1939, and in daily use until the early '60s. The gear box casing split and it was impossible/too expensive/not cost effective to have it repaired.


Loose rivets
19th Apr 2012, 04:15
Not quite the oldest, but certainly one I spent an obscene amount of time in.


19th Apr 2012, 04:36
I had a high school teacher who, in 1985 was still driving the one and only car she had ever owned, which she bought brand new. A ragtop 1967 Camaro. And it was sweet - red with the black wrap-around stripe on the nose.

She had some real street cred with that one.

19th Apr 2012, 04:53
This lady has had her car for 45 years from new.She has taken good care of that car.Don't mess with her either,she's packin' when she's driving :ok:

She's 91, Her Car's 45 (http://autos.aol.com/article/rachel-veitch-old-car/)

Loose rivets
19th Apr 2012, 06:10
Bloke down the road had a Hudson Terraplane. With Electric Hand.

I clearly remember the tiny gear lever on the column and thinking I could have made it work. I was about 12. The local garage put in an ordinary gearbox. NO WONDER!!!

Page 11 and others shows the little selector.


There were a couple of these huge cars about after the war. One tracked so sideways, I'm sure it was related to a crab.

The funny thing is, recently, following my pal having been sold a Honda with a computer controlled manual box, I have been thinking about making a controlled manual box. Just thinking, now I don't have a hobby shop.

The Honda one has a box strapped to the side of the gearbox, and drives like an auto.

Solid Rust Twotter
19th Apr 2012, 06:41
I still drive my 30 year old pickup truck daily when home.

Worrals in the wilds
19th Apr 2012, 06:54
Rock 'n' Roll George was a bit of a local legend. :ok:

He'd cruise around town in his FX Holden from when it was brand new in 1952 until well into the 2000s. Everyone would wave and shout g'day if he came past. He was getting pretty doddery towards the end, and I think he gave up driving eventually. :sad:

As you can see it didn't have proper rego plates, but everyone knew who he was and he never did anything dodgy anyway, so the coppers never worried about it. AFAIK his car and the Governor's fleet were the only cars in Queensland without plates.

Rock 'n' Roll George joins the great gig in the sky (http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/rock-n-roll-george-joins-the-great-gig-in-the-sky-20091130-k0ln.html)

...when the last horse drawn carriages and buggies were used other than as a novelty (Amish excepted).I've been told that one of my bushie cousins still used a sulky to get to the nearest town in the 1940s. There are probably later instances than that.

19th Apr 2012, 08:48
Well .... my own first car was a 1933 MG J2 ohc, but before that my first motorcycle was a 1919 ABC Skootamota.

19th Apr 2012, 09:04
I have owmed a 1972 Lotus Elan +2 for over 20 years , but it has done less than 80,000 miles so its hardly been in daily use

19th Apr 2012, 09:19
Not quite the oldest, but certainly one I spent an obscene amount of time in.

As opposed to my first car (as per Mechta's picture above) in which I spent an amount of obscene time.

(Currently running 35 year old car, ex-wife took the 47 year old one)

19th Apr 2012, 09:47
Remember turning up in my 1937 Austin Seven on my visit to the airmen's mess as orderly officer sometime in 1967. I received an ironic cheer and a round of applause from the queue waiting to go in.

In 1967 a 1937 car looked like something out of a motor museum, whilst nowadays a 1982 car would hardly draw a second glance.

Same thing with aircraft I suppose.

As you can see it didn't have proper rego plates

Thanks Worrals, added that one to my list of Australian diminutives (eg'rellies'. "veggies", "this avo" etc) :ok:

19th Apr 2012, 10:38
The local Alfa Romeo Dealer until he retired in the 1980's and his untimely death shortly thereafter was a waxed moustachioed gent called George Strathdee Jr.
He used to commute to work using a 1922 Bentley in all weathers.


Bentley 3 Litre Sports Tourer For Sale by Auction (1922)
In our next sale on 13th june 2011, in Paris. English V5 Châssis n° 35 engine n° 32 The car that we are offering is rich with history. Built in 1922, chassis no. 35 was one of the first 3 Litres to be built, and was sold to a certain Mr H. Baldwin of Reigate, Surrey, in the form of a four-seater coupé by Wilton Carriage Co. The copy of the original invoice shows that this Bentley was delivered new as a short chassis Speed Model. In 1925, records show that the brake pads were changed and the brake pedal lever arm extended to improve braking power. At the start of the 1960s the coachwork was replaced with a more contemporary body, attributed to Harrison, making it a very good-looking four-seater tourer with two windscreens – folding at the front and removable at the rear. It then became the property of a respected member of the Bentley Drivers Club, George Strathdee. Between 1990 and 1993, it underwent restoration that involved a complete rebuild of the engine (new pistons and rings, re-ground crankshaft, overhauled magnetos and dynamo) and the rear axle (with an axle ratio of 3.53). The bodywork was taken off, repaired and repainted, and the interior fittings restored. Light and elegant, this rare Bentley 3-litre retains its original instruments in working order, even the wind-up clock positioned on the handsome wooden dashboard. It is also fitted with the correct carburettor for the very first models, the 5-jet Smith that Bentley himself declared more efficient than the twin S U model in favour at the time. The car still carries the period front axle, without front brakes, which was only used until 1924. Complete with its maintenance instructions and a file of invoices from 1995 – 2000, it is presented in very good working condition. We have had the pleasure of testing it, and it runs really well. Several hundred Bentley 3 Litres were built between 1922 and 1929, and this is one of the oldest surviving examples. It will give its future owner the pleasure of driving a car that started an extraordinary saga, peppered with success and full of panache. Estimate: € 160.000 – 220.000

But my favourite from back then was a dear old couple I regularly saw tootling around town - always the wife driving and the old man as passenger, I'd guess they were in their late '70's or early '80s. She looked like a slimmer, mild mannered version of the hat-wearing Granny from the Giles cartoons. They ran a snorting, popping late '59s Daimler Dart. It sounded and looked incongruously fantastic. I hope I end up like that.

19th Apr 2012, 11:11
In 1967 a 1937 car looked like something out of a motor museum, whilst nowadays a 1982 car would hardly draw a second glance.
Very true, near forty year old cars are a relatively common sight, often well looked after too.

Where I grew up our neighbour had a predilection for obscure old cars. Back in the seventies and early eigthies he drove and old Wolseley 1500, I think. It was positively archaic looking at the time.

19th Apr 2012, 11:32
Very true, near forty year old cars are a relatively common sight, often well looked after too.

Maybe its MOT tests that have kept a selection of 1970s and 80s cars going? When MOT tests were first introduced, I'm told they pretty well cleared any old bangers off the roads, so anything that wasn't worth the money of repairing to MOT requirements probably disappeared quickly. Now they have to be kept roadworthy every year, so provided rust is kept at bay, the amount of work to keep a simple old car going is minimal. Online auction sites help with availability of previously hard to find parts, at often, ridiculously cheap prices.

Other factors which may have helped get rid of the oldest cars were lack of oil and air filters in the original design, as well as lack of creature comforts such as heaters and effective wipers.

Wehave a 1991 Peugeot 205 diesel which we bought last year with 31000 miles on it (yes, really). The body is excellent, and its now done 25% of its total miles in the last 12 months (under 5% of its life). Dead simple to work on and parts available everywhere. Mrs Mechta is complaining because she went to one of her employer's factories in a relatively deprived part of the country, yet still had the oldest car in the car park!

19th Apr 2012, 11:56
In Auckland NZ back in the '60s there were two old ladies who used to drive around, one driving, one in the back. Can't remember what they drove, but I'm sure it was pre-war. Someone else may remember.

19th Apr 2012, 12:05
Hydo that could have been an Austin 7 to a Bentley
Kiwi is/was full of eccentrics with many having "motors from the old country"
I remember trying to prise an Aston Martin DB2 off an old fella in AK

Lon More
19th Apr 2012, 12:23
a 1972 Lotus Elan +2 for over 20 years , but it has done less than 80,000 miles so its hardly been in daily use
Been changing the water pump again?

Lotus Elan - the original collector's piece; drive down the road then go back and collect all the pieces. But I miss it.


1963 S2

The local quack can often be seen in his early 1960s Volvo 544

19th Apr 2012, 13:07
when the last horse drawn carriages and buggies were used other than as a novelty (Amish excepted).

Our milk was delivered by horse drawn cart in Box Hill (Vic) in the 70's. The horses belonging to the dairy used to live in a paddock on the corner of Doncaster Rd and Tram Rd.

Ancient Observer
19th Apr 2012, 13:21
I've looked carefully at that picture, and whilst I hate to be the bearer of bad news, your innovative approach to access to the water pump will not actually reduce the time taken to repair the problem.

Anyway, the problem is seldom the water pump, it's that nasty ceramic bit that Mr Chapman stuck in as a bodge.

19th Apr 2012, 13:28
My neighbour has very nice 1967 Bentley T- series that he drives almost every day. It's a 4 door saloon with no rust as it came originally from France and then California.

19th Apr 2012, 13:51
Used Coach Sales - Coach 945 - +44 (0)1925 210202 (http://www.usedcoachsales.co.uk/coach.ihtml?coach=945)

19th Apr 2012, 13:56
I might have been lucky so far but I have only fitted one water pump . It did take a long time though !

19th Apr 2012, 14:08
Yes, Tinnie, at that time you couldn't buy a new car without overseas currency, so there were a lot of good old cars around.
It was a big, square job a bit like the Nash here (http://dilshil.com/wedding/vintage-wedding/latest-vintage-cars-weddings.shtml). I heard later that they gave up driving around when they hit & killed a young boy.

Capt. Inop
19th Apr 2012, 19:14
Lots of 1930-50 cars around when i grew up.

Oldest car in daily use today in my neck of the woods is Volvo PV 1959 model.

http://imageupload.org/getfile.php?id=218895&a=9990c9a87d47d3258f265225978fcaf9&t=4f90560b&o=A418FDF8AD8C904F02B7189C4CC777FDA550FCFAFE99C7531DB677DA0C 8C6B9FDA18FCE4AD8C&n=pv.jpg&i=1

Lon More
19th Apr 2012, 20:28
Engine out, drop the sump, remove the head before the timing chain. Lotus dealers used to quote about 15 hours to change the pump, which cost about a fiver (Standard Ford 1600cc bit) There was a modified timing chain cover which enabled a capsule water pump to be used , which could be changed in less than an hour (Vegantune, I think). The only problem was it didn't pump enough water. I finally gave up and changed the pulleys and belt for a toothed setup which could run with about 3 inches of slack in it and therefore took all the sideways load off the pump bearing.
The big problem after my modification was that the pedal box was about 3 inches below the dashboard. You can't see it but the front wheel has gone back about a foot. Yes, it hurt!!!

Effluent Man
20th Apr 2012, 06:47
When I was a kid a couple of local builders had identical 1926 Singers that they had bought new.They were eccentrics,both bachelors who wore black stovepipe hats.This was in the 1960's.I run a 1966 Triumph 1300 and a 1973 Saab96.

Lon More
20th Apr 2012, 07:51
After the Elan went I bought a 1963 Rochdale Olympic. The plan was to rebuild it for Historic Racing with the twincam engine from the Elan.
Ecurie Impcuniosso obtained a 1963 Chevy pick up as a tow truck. Unfortunately the FIA refused to accept the car :( as planned and wanted to put it in the same class as various Porsches, Ferraris etc. and it suffered a n electrical fire which weakened the glassfibre monocoque so it had to go. Still got the truck which has been extensively reworked. I used it daily until I broke the gearbox. It's now also in need of a respray as it has been sat outside for a couple of years. Biggest problem was it gets about 10mpg.

20th Apr 2012, 07:57
Fancy a "new" Cortina?

The Courier - Fire up the Cortina! (http://www.thecourier.co.uk/News/Dundee/article/22266/fire-up-the-cortina-frank-s-unique-car-is-a-pristine-piece-of-the-80s.html)

20th Apr 2012, 11:25
Back in 1967 in a town called Morwell in the state of Victoria AU I regularly saw Bugatti Type 46 parked in front of the local bank - I believe it was owned by a rather elderly local farmer.

It would probably be around 1963 In the neighbouring town of Traralgon there was a 1929 Ford Model A Pickup Truck driven by an equally vintage owner. I saw it in an intersection collision with another car (unable to recall make), and the other car was badly damaged and had to be towed away, while the Model A only had minor paint damage.

The other car I remember was a 1948 Packard Straight 8 owned by an Uncle of mine - absolute classic but unfortunately they were popular among hot rodders and a lot were lost to conversion.

20th Apr 2012, 14:08
Was recently driven around the estate in a 1912 Baker Electric, by the 91 year old owner. We had spent the morning steam bending some wooden rims for another car he is restoring.

21st Apr 2012, 13:18
Are there no 2CVs out there running on a daily basis?