From the archive: on this day in 1951

From the archive: on this day in 1951

As remains a traditional activity for Autocar, in January 1951 we looked back on the previous 12 months of road testing. 

Whereas today British cars are rarities, back then there were few foreign cars, as the UK and Europe strove to recover from the war – although things were looking up after the end of petrol rationing.

The best car tested in 1950 was the Jaguar XK120, which clocked 0-62mph in 12.0sec – about three times as fast as an everyday car. 

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This car by now must have become insufferably conceited, if it is true that cars have personalities, by all the superlatives that have been lavished on it,” commented HS Linfield. 

The priciest was Bentley’s Mark VI, at £2595 (about £83,360 today), while the most affordable was the £299 (about £9600) Morris Minor.

We sampled plenty of ‘specialist’ cars, but “the popular ‘middle’ size of car also had a good show, with the Standard Vanguard, Vauxhall Velox, Morris Six, Wolseley Six Eighty and the latest Humber Hawk also coming into the list”.

The rise of automatic gearboxes was a hot topic, as this reduction of duties “must appeal to a very high proportion of motorists”. 

We also noted that ride had improved, due to the growing use of independent front suspension, and the trend of more power was continuing – but not necessarily yielding faster acceleration times, because unfortunately “WEIGHTS ARE GOING UP” (yes, all caps). Therefore, a 2.0-litre large saloon then weighed about 1300kg. 

Imagine what poor old Linfield would think of a 2500kg SUV…

Rover wins the Dewar trophy

The Dewar Trophy for the most outstanding technical achievement of 1950 heralded the Jet 1, the first car to employ gas turbine propulsion. “There is widespread satisfaction in motoring circles at this award to Rover, for the company’s long record in automobile engineering has earned it universal respect,” we commented.