Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Old cars

by Carola

I've never been particularly interested in cars--I've been happily driving used Toyota sub-compacts for 25 years--but it's fun choosing vehicles for my major characters.

In the Daisy Dalrymple series, when Daisy first met DCI Alec Fletcher of Scotland Yard, in 1923, he was driving a yellow Austin Seven, a car familiarly known as an Austin Chummy. It was his own, not a police vehicle.

I've just found a video of a slightly later version--driving in the snow, as Alec was in DEATH AT WENTWATER COURT.

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNTqx9yBgM


The trouble is, it's a small car and Alec's sergeant, DS Tom Tring, is a large man. Though Tom never attempted to fit behind the steering wheel, you can see in the following video the effect on the springs of his simply climbing into the car:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqVjcSQjeBE (don't bother to watch the whole thing)

A notable sports car that makes an appearance in DAMSEL IN DISTRESS is the duck's-back Alvis belonging to one of Daisy's friends.


In the course of the series, Daisy learns to drive, and between ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH and GONE WEST, she buys a small car of her own. What I chose for her is a sky-blue Gwynne Eight.

 

Meanwhile, Daisy and Alec having married in TO DAVY JONES BELOW, the family has grown as toddler twins have joined Daisy's stepdaughter, Belinda. Alec decides he needs a larger car, and with his inheritance from his great-uncle he can afford one. What he buys is an Austin Twelve, royal blue, with room for the whole family--and room in the front passenger seat for Tom Tring.

 
Image created by Simon GP Geoghegan


Here (in the interests of chronology, though nothing to do with my books), I'm going to insert the car my mother had in the 1950s, a 1934 Morris:


I can't swear this is exactly the same model, but it was very like this.


My second series, the Cornish Mysteries, is set in the late 1960s. My protagonist, Eleanor Trewynn, a widow in her early 60s, needs a car to drive around Cornwall collecting donated goods for the charity shop on the ground floor of her cottage. For her I chose a Morris Minor, another small car. There's plenty of room for her and her Westie, Teazle, but she has great difficulty fitting in some of the larger donations.

1958 model
 For some reason, the Morris Minor is affectionately known as a Moggy. Eleanor's car is older than this one and pea-green, punningly nicknamed the Incorruptible.

I think my brother once had one of these, but his passion is the Morris Minor "Woodie."


The car I learned to drive in was just like this!

This is what parked next to me today:


A Triumph Spitfire--I'm thinking that Nick might decide to buy one in the next Cornish Mystery.


2 comments:

Susan said...

Lovely old cars! They had real style - unlike today, when everything looks like jellybeans with wheels. Thank you for the pictures!

Jean Henry Mead said...

I love these old cars. My dad had one similar to the one you learned to drive, with "Woodie" sides.I agree with Susan. Some recent models resemble boxes on wheels.