It’s 1961 and Ford makes a rare misstep, misreading the market.
Jaguar has set the scene with its big cat and Rootes built some of their best ever cars.
Without doubt, 1961 was one of the most prolific years, maybe the most prolific — for totally new cars.
Hillman Super Minx/Singer Vogue
The Hillman Super Minx and Singer Vogue twins are more examples of overlooked classics.
They are simple, robust and well-built family cars which sold at slightly higher prices to comparable products from Vauxhall, Ford and BMC — but retained a loyal customer base because of those exact qualities.
Exhibiting its badge engineering prowess, Rootes unveiled the Vogue four months ahead of the Super Minx.
It was everything the Minx was, with better fittings, woodgrain inlays and four headlights.
Planned to replace the smaller Minx and Gazelle, which dated back to 1956, the Super Minx and Vogue were upsized during development.
Whether this was by intent or just happened, has never really been answered.
Anyway, the outcome gave Rootes two mid-sized models to offer families who were venturing out onto the UK’s new multi-lane high speed motorways and needed pace and space.
Jaguar Mark Ten
The Mark X is one of Jaguar’s most overlooked models and one of my favourites.
Its unitary construction allowed for a lower profile than its predecessors.
The shape predicted future generations of Jaguar.
Fully independent rear suspension combined with E-Type running gear and four-wheel disc brakes resulted in good handling for such a big car.
And big it was, with dimensions similar to a 1961 Chevrolet Impala.
The interior was swathed in rich leather hides and lacquered timber.
Folding picnic tables front and rear allowed the gentry to nibble canapes and sip sherry while being whisked to the country estate for the weekend.
Few good examples of the Mark 10 survive these days.
The independent rear suspension has been a favourite of hot rodders.