When Standard meant the yardstick

Back in the 1950s the Standard 8 small car was a budget priced offering, with a stylish body. It was what people bought if a new FJ Holden was out of their price range.

To keep the costs down the car was designed with door windows that slid open and shut and no boot lid opening. Yep, that’s right, no boot.

To access the boot the Eight had a fold down back seat.

Vic Lewis bought his Standard 8 fully restored.

“I just love the sliding windows and the folding back seat. My grandchildren think it is such a cute car and always want to go for rides in it,” Vic said.

“They have christened it the ‘Gnomeo’ after the character in the animated movie Gnomeo and Juliet.”

Vic Lewis Standard 8 1

Despite being popular when new, less than 10 driveable Standard 8s are now left in Australia.

To preserve it and yet drive it regularly, Vic decided to remove the original 1.0-litre capacity motor and put it into storage. He’s replaced it with 1.2-litre unit from a Triumph Herald.

“These original motors have some extremely rare parts, and because I like to drive my cars, I decided that for regular use the Herald motor was a wise substitute. It is a simple job to switch motors when I want to,” he said.

The scarcity of the little Standards has a lot to do with what happened to them as second hand cars.

Once the first owner had moved them on, they generally became the second car “for the missus” as Australian families grew more affluent and before the arrival of cheaper small Japanese cars.

The third and fourth owners tended to be young guys buying their first car.

We all know what a thrashing the small motors would have experienced in the hands of exuberant youth and, combined with the inevitable rust, its you can guess where the next stop was: the tip.

standard eight 1The Standard company was formed in 1903 in the UK.

In 1945 Standard bought the Triumph company and began to use the name on some of its cars. From then on all Triumphs shared components with Standards.

The name Standard was gradually phased out in favour of Triumph during the 1950s.

By then the word ‘standard’ had come to mean ‘ordinary’ or ‘base’, a far cry from the assurance of quality, and the standard by which others are measured — which the company originally intended.

The last Standard badged vehicle in England was produced in May 1963 .In Australia the final example of the marque was built by Australian Motor Industries in 1964.

Leyland bought Triumph/Standard in 1963, and was later itself absorbed into the Bermuda Triangle of car companies which became British Leyland.

David Burrell is the editor of

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