You might have noticed (well if you’re a parent, you definitely would have) that it was World Book Day last week. To those without kids, World Book Day looks like a lot of fun and a great way to inspire the imagination of young people. In reality it’s a race against time searching the internet for the right costume to put on your little angel before they have the kind of diva strop last seen in Mariah Carey’s dressing room the day her personal assistant failed to de-shell 2,000 pistachio nuts into a vase….. in the shape of Mariah Carey. (Ok, this didn’t really happen, but you get the idea).
Some parents get it really, really wrong. Like the mum who sent her son to school dressed as Christian Grey, complete with eye mask and cable ties, or the boy who rocked up as Hannibal lector and pushed to school by his friends on a wheel cart and sporting a muzzle. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
My favourite book when I was a kid you ask? Funny Bones? A dark, dark, house and all that. No. The Tiger Who Came to Tea? The story of a tiger who takes a family hostage before ransacking their home and eating all of their food and, god forbid, drinking daddy’s beer, before simply walking off, never to be seen again? No. It was of course The Spotter’s Guide to Cars of Europe, Japan and Australia. I started early.
So I thought I would use this blog to take a look back at this amazing book, published in 1980, and re-introduce you to some of the cars that your friends’ dads used to drive and that are now regular sightings at classic car shows up and down the country.
To an impressionable eight year old, the cars were wondrous, every one of them. No one in my family drove you see, so each and every car contained within the pages of this magical book were a thing of majestic beauty, whether it was a Porsche 928 or a Ford Cortina.
Kings of the Road in 1980 (well to me anyway)
First introduced in 1974, the Scirocco always sounded sexy to me, like a precious artefact that was coveted by Indiana Jones. This version also reminded me of the DeLorean out of Back to the Future but without the gull-wing doors. Volkswagen has revived the name of course, with the third generation Scirocco introduced in 2008. Today’s model looks very very different.
If you squint your eyes hard enough this looks a bit like the Ford Gran Torino out of Starsky and Hutch, minus the white stripe. Well that’s what I used to think when I was eight. Having since seen it in the flesh, I, of course, stand corrected. It still looks amazing to me though.
Now this one is a little more down to earth in terms of its celebrity status, being the car that Terry drove his pork-pie-hat-wearing gaffer Arthur Daley around in in 80s ITV staple Minder. Many a dodgy deal was bashed out in the back of that Capri, often involving Dennis Waterman’s character having to get double hard and knock over multiple jars of warm bitter.
The car that featured in one of the most iconic James Bond scenes ever. I would often fantasise about pressing a button and turning this car into a submarine, then firing a rocket at an unsuspecting Russian helicopter pilot hovering the sea above, before drifting off for some underwater naughtiness with my female co-driver double agent.
Ahhhhh……. alone at last…
…….Ahem. Sorry about that. I’ll get back to the blog.
To help get me started on my car spotting adventure, the book also included a table to write down my ‘spots’ (we didn’t have Pokémon back then kids). As you can see I didn’t get very far. I’ll let you decide which one I may have been fibbing about, bearing in mind that I was brought up in the West End of Newcastle.
So yeah, I love my little book and can’t wait to pass it on to my son. Poor thing.