Peter (father) and Paul’s (son) cars are pretty normal.
The Vauxhall 12-4 and the Chevy Fleetmaster were both essentially Toyota Corollas when they were produced in 1937 and 1947 respectively. As Peter described it – “These are the cars that mobilized an entire generation.”
Peter got these cars after Paul expressed an interest in mechanics. His own father restored cars back in his day, but never really shared his work. So, when Paul started liking cars, Peter figured it would be a good opportunity to avoid his father’s mistake and make cars a father-son activity.
Five cars later, they obtained the Vauxhall 12-4. The Vauxhall is already an impressive car on paper. Designed in 1937, the 12-4 had an independent front suspension, overhead valves, an automatic choke, a synchronized manual transmission, and was the first unibodied car out of Britain.
But even more impressive, it cost £189. In today’s freedom bucks, £189 comes out to a little over $11,000. For reference, $11,000 cannot buy any new car sold in the United States today. It was truly a car that got people on the road.
Soon after finishing the 12-4, Paul wanted a car of his own. In following with their trend of buying common cars, the two focused in on the Chevy Fleetmaster. And 6 months of searching later Paul found one.
While the Fleetmaster wasn’t a technological marvel like the Vauxhall, it came with nearly all the modern conveniences seen in cars today. Air conditioning, radio, and a vacuum assisted column mounted shifter were all standard. Add to that a bulletproof straight 6 and what were effectively all terrain tires, and the purpose of the car is pretty clear.
And that’s what I think is so amazing about Peter and Paul’s choice in cars. Rather than go for the Cadillacs or Hudsons of their time, they went for the normal cars. And the reason why is tied up in what makes Peter and Paul enjoy classic cars.
For them, rather than riding in luxury, they would rather ride in the times. What I mean is that these cars are more than pretty objects to drive around. To Peter and Paul, these cars are time capsules that capture a society.
In the case of Peter, his attraction to the Vauxhall is the combination of technological advancements and affordability. In his eyes, the Vauxhall was emblematic of industrial England reaching their mechanical stride. When Peter gets into the car, he imagines the grey soot of London and pictures an entire country gearing up for yet another massive war. Yet, despite grim outlook there are these massive technological leaps that are helping people get to their feet. These are the advancements that helped cement Britain’s innovative qualities that would keep them going till the 80s.
For Paul’s Fleetmaster, he enjoys the fact that this is for all intents and purposes a modern car. It has all the features and comforts of a modern car, but was built back in 1947. So essentially this was the family hauler, dragging kids and all across miles and miles of farmland and desert. And to keep wife and kids happy, Chevy added more space, air conditioning, and a radio to keep everyone entertained.
Who Will Save the Normal Cars?
Their motivation for restoring these cars brings up an interesting question. Who will save the normal cars? There are only 25 Vauxhalls of this type left in the world. Fleetmasters are similarly reducing in number as well.
Considering the automobile’s near universal quality, the cars that normal people drive say tons about the economic, political and societal situations at the time. What will happen to those stories when they’ve all rusted away?
You can see more photos at the Native Customs Facebook page.