Up and Out

Some cars are bigger than others but all cars are now bigger than their classic counterparts. And it’s easy to see why – people have got bigger, much bigger. This simple fact was borne out to me recently when I collected an Austin A35 saloon for some film work. In its heyday in the 1950s this humble four door once propelled Britain’s middle classes to and from work as well as seaside and countryside at the weekend. A family of four would have thought nothing of piling in and heading off for the day to Skegness or Brighton. Despite much improved roads you wouldn’t do it now. The car is tiny. I should clarify – it is tiny by comparison. The modern equivalent of the A35 is probably an Astra. The Vauxhall’s footprint is huge compared to the Austin. The story seems to be the same across all car sectors. A few weeks ago I loaded a customer’s Peugeot 308 SW onto a trailer and was shocked to discover it barely fitted. Which means it is actually longer than a Jensen Interceptor. No, honestly. Or compare first and last Jaguar XJs – the big 60s saloon is now dwarfed by its modern day descendant. So how and why did this happen? Modern cars, of course, have to accommodate bulbous crumple zones, airbags and side beams. So they are heavier and bloated compared to classic cars. But that doesn’t explain why they are so much bigger inside. Or why old cars are such a squeeze for modern man (and woman). You may be able to see where this is going but you would be wrong. I am not implying that we’re all fatter, although that may be a factor. Instead we seem to be much bigger, in all directions, than 50s man. Maybe chain smoking Woodbines stunted his growth. The family car driver must have been narrower and shorter, such is the limited space in Minors and A35s and the sports car driver must have been considerably shorter than 6ft 2 in order to get his head comfortably under the roof of a Triumph Stag or Jaguar E Type. While this poses a few issues for companies like Great Escape that hire out classic cars, it does beg a question that social historians in years to come will doubtless ponder. What came first, the bigger people or the bigger cars? I for one, feel we need to know. For more information on our range of cars to suit all body shapes call 01527 893733 or visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk


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