campervan, classic cars, History, Uncategorized, VW, vw camper

Cars and the Fossil Record

As most palaeontologists will tell you, we don’t have a complete fossil record of the natural world. There appears to be gaps in the full spectrum of plants and animals that are thought to of existed . This could explain more about evolution and diversity of the natural world. These gaps would help to link all elements of the living world together, but without the fossilized evidence this is just an educated guess. Some people use this to bolster their claims of the existence of an overarching deity, a sentient being with a master plan of the direction of life itself. Others can perceive that in order for a plant or animal to become fossilised, they must die within the perfect conditions for fossilisation to take place. This means that a plant or animal that spent most of it’s life in exposed, dry or upland conditions would not have the same probability of getting covered in the protecting sedimentary debris of those in marshy or coastal areas. Therefore we are not fully aware of the biodiversity of periods of time such as the Jurassic age, we only know what elements of this looked like.

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What has this got to do with classic cars?……

Over the years I have attended many classic car shows. Wondering around I marvel at the gleaming automotive exhibits on show. 65% of the cars on display are usually  sports cars or luxury cruisers.  If you were to take this as a cross section of Britain’s automotive history you could easily conclude  that 1960’s and 70’s Britain was full of men in cravats and sporting jackets driving e type Jaguars and MG’s. You could think that very few people drove Austin A35’s and Morris 1100’s. But from memory and photographs I know this not to be true.

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In this typical 1970’s car park picture there are at least seven mini’s but also cars that are very rare now such as an austin farina of which there are only 68 on the UK roads. Three hillman avengers (of which there are 36 still on the road) and a number of austin 1100’s (of which there are now 346 on the road [the 1100 was one of the best selling cars of the 60’s in the UK]), the Triumph GT6 (876 left on the roads) and Jaguar 240/340 (1427 left) are clearly in the minority.

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Above is another photo of an English car park in 1974. It is peppered in the obligatory mini’s, escort’s and 1100’s with hardly any car that could be classed as sporting or exotic.

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1970’s shrewsbury

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Shrewsbury in 2017. Will any of these cars exist in 43 year time?

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This is what you typically see at classic car meets now.  This is nice, but it does rather misrepresent the era. Sometimes, without the protective embrace of a dry garage and the foresight of their owners, the once commonly  mundane can become the rarest and most interesting. .

The same ‘rose tinted’ views could be said for most cultural aspects of 60’s and 70’s .Britain. When talking to people who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s they will tell you that crime levels were nonexistent, the summers were warm and long and everyone was happy. We know this is not really the case. The Beatles, Stones and Kinks did not solely dominate the charts in the 60’s….  Frank  Ifield and Rolf Harris had hits too!  I believe that we have been very fortunate to have lived through a period of relative economic and civil stability over the last 30 years and therefore we have become disenfranchised from the real issues that are important in this world such as equality and peace. Society now feels hard done by because as humans we have a tendency to only remember the good things from our past. Therefore we need the Austin 1100 and Moskvich 412 to keep the automotive fossil records alive and to remind us how life really was. It’s ok that everyone is not driving a Porsche or an Aston Martin now. The mundane is as much part of normal life now as it was in the 60’s, only with aircon and electric windows!

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