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Car & Classic’s Coronation best: new in 1953, classic in 2023

posted on 10/05/2023
Car & Classic’s Coronation best: new in 1953, classic in 2023

Several motorcars, newly launched at the last Coronation in 1953, now populate the leading online classic and specialist vehicle site, Car & Classic, as King Charles III’s Coronation’s sought-after classic British favourites.

Just under 600,000 vehicles were manufactured in 1953, of which over half were destined for export. Those figures more than doubled over the last seventy years, alongside enormous strides taken in engineering, manufacturing and marketing and making the car industry one of the most important and thriving sectors in any economy. Yet the popularity of what was new, exciting and desirable in 1953 does not abate in 2023.

“At the time of King Charles III’s Coronation, Car & Classic’s online platform hosts famous brands and models which have lost none of the charm and sparkle but keep stimulating the attention of punters, not just in the UK but across Europe and beyond,” says Car & Classic’s Editor Dale Vinten.

The post-war, mass-market-produced Morris Minor Series II emerged from the newly formed British Motor Corporation and its Austin-derived overhead valve A-series engine was a welcome improvement over the previous pre-war side-valve unit. This late Series II 1954 Morris Minor saloon would have been only a year old when Elizabeth II ascended to the throne. It is still going strong and sold for £5k in August 2022.

The first owner of this 1954 Triumph TR2 must have thought that the top model of the Standard Motor Company range was a bargain at £800 (the cheapest sportscar to exceed 100mph in the early ‘50s, according to The Motor magazine); it is up for sale by auction with Car & Classic, with bids to £16k five days before the auction ends.

Fit for a king: this 346 1954 Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire was the first of the marque’s range when it was launched in 1952 - and still looks regal now: it sold two months ago for £9k; the company produced luxury cars from the ‘30s, and in fact one was used by the Prince of Wales (who then went on to become King Edward VIII) during his 1930 Uganda tour. 

The 1952 Earls Court Motor Show, which would have been the window display for all the new models driven at the time of the last Coronation, hosted several stars coveted by the post-war petrolheads, but few of them had as much success as the brand new Healey 100 sportscar, whose production started seventy years ago. This 1953 Austin Healey 100/4 is an original right-hand-drive example from the launch year, and was sold for £40k at the end of 2022.   

The newly proclaimed Queen owned a few Land Rovers, particularly useful on the Balmoral Estate as well as, say, Australian farms: in 1953, whilst the Queen had her own shipped to Scotland, this Land Rover Series 1 was one of more than 340,000 British-made vehicles exported that year, and was used as a farm vehicle for the next 64 years. It was brought back to the UK in 2017 and sold last month for £20,250.

No Coronation classic car list would be complete without at least one Aston Martin: a firm favourite brand of the current King who drives his DB6 “fuelled by white wine and cheese”, the marque launched its DB2 in 1950 and the DB2/4 in 1953.

Car & Classic’s international reach is well documented, as this 1953 Aston Martin DB2, currently based in France, shows. Registered when Charles III was almost five years old, it is currently being bid to the tune of £50k with five days to go until the end of the auction.

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