If you know me personally (in fact, even if you don’t) you’ll know I absolutely adore cars from all eras. While I don’t love every single one of them, there are those which I feel are good enough to deserve a place in my various comic series.
So, without further ado, here’s a summary of the various automotive gems I’ve redrawn and placed into my comic series, either playing an important role in the plot, or just as background vehicles. Each one has a little description as to what it is, as well as the reason why such a car made it into the story.
For copyright reasons, many of the vehicles demonstrated on this page have minor differences between those which appear in the series and their real-life counterparts. As such, the vehicles within this series may not be factually accurate in all aspects.
1. 1983 Toyota Land Cruiser (J60)
Making a return from its appearance in the Maddie Series, Siobhan Pattinson’s pride and joy is still the magnificent Toyota Land Cruiser, the strong and sturdy piece of Japanese motoring that nearly destroyed Land Rover in the rugged SUV market.
In the early-1980’s, Toyota’s weren’t really sold here in the UK thanks largely to EU Import taxes on Japanese products, but some Land Cruisers did make it to Britain early on and, when you consider the reliability of these things compared to the indigenous competition, you can see why someone like Siobhan would go for it. At the time you had the choice of either the humdrum Land Rover Defender, which was as basic as a corrugated iron shed, and the Range Rover, which, even for the base models, was hideously expensive, so a Toyota would seem like the most logical solution.
2. 1980 Talbot Sunbeam
An obscure car but one of the best, this boxy Talbot Sunbeam was put to use by Adria Mackenzie as part of her driving school. Its appearance in the series may be brief, but it’s role in helping Ebony learn to drive is somewhat vital in the grand scheme of things.
The choice of the Talbot Sunbeam came to me for two reasons; the first being it was a commonly used family car back in the day and made for an ideal learner’s vehicle, and secondly; this car truly is an unsung hero of that era for motorcars. Indeed many owners will tell you that the regular cars were unreliable and rusted faster than a junkyard dog; then again all cars did back then. However, the best of the breed, the Lotus Sunbeam, was one of the few bright sparks in this rather dull period in motoring history, one of the most capable race cars and one of the founding fathers of the hot hatchback.
Today these cars are near enough extinct due to the aforementioned rust issues, but they do obtain quite a cult following. I personally adore the Talbot Sunbeam for the fact that, while basic, it was very innovative; a strong and timeless design which truly cemented the concept of small, practical but incredibly fast motorcars.
3. 1984 Austin Maestro
Another classic British motor from the 1980’s, this time in the form of British Leyland’s Austin Maestro, one of the company’s best selling cars in spite of its woeful build quality. In the series, it once again inhabits a brief role as the car Ebony uses to pass her Driving Test, a role that many Maestros had the honour to fulfil back in the day.
The Austin Maestro formed one of three new motors built in the early 1980’s to help address the seemingly insurmountable reliability issues plaguing nationalised car builder British Leyland. Released to fill the market between the Austin Metro city-car and the Austin Montego family saloon, the Maestro was the family hatchback for the 1980’s, taking a British design and combining it with technology graciously provided by Honda.
The car was surprisingly well equipped for the time, and even included the now novel feature of a talking dashboard, similar to the likes of contemporary Chryslers and Fords in the USA.
However, while Honda mechanics should have helped resolve the car’s performance issues, the ever-present malcontent workforce were always on hand to build cars of such wretched quality that these things would literally fall apart in no time flat. Combine that with the car’s penchant for rust and you’ve got a match made in hell!
4. 1971 Morris Marina
Making its return from Maddie on the Island Hue, the Larsson Family’s 1971 Morris Marina is an unlikely candidate for a car in a comic series; especially given its reputation.
Often considered the worst car Britain has ever produced (second only to the Allegro), the Morris Marina was still a popular family car, despite the fact that it was riddled with faults and smothered in build-quality issues.
Throughout its production life, the Marina’s only excuse for sales was the fact that it was incredibly cheap to run. However, what bills you saved on fuel you found paying on maintenance and rustproofing, the car being built to such horrendous conditions and rotting to dust before you’d even got it home from the showroom. At the same time the Marina could be a functional little car, on the off-chance you happened to buy one that wasn’t built on a strike day.
Buying cars from British Leyland was like playing Lucky Dip; with every chance you’d either walk away with a £20 note or be bitten by a lethally venomous insect that happened to be lurking inside. It was also something of a staple for 1970’s Britain, being a common sight on the roads of the UK, so it’s not like it was something of a questionable rarity like a Peel P50 or a Noble M12.
5. 1974 Triumph Lynx
Only seen in flashback, this Triumph Lynx was the merry motor of the Pattinson family when they first moved to the Isle of Hue.
The Triumph Lynx, while a real car, was sadly not a production model, being instead a concept for a fastback derivative of the Triumph TR7 sports car. The Lynx was meant to form part of a slew of TR7 variants, including the convertible Broadside and the internally modified TR7 Sprint. Each of these cars were predicated on the success of the original TR7 itself.
Sadly though, when the TR7 entered sales in 1974 it was lambasted by customers and critics alike for its woeful build quality, tepid performance, shoddy handling and ugly styling. Having lost a fortune in developing the TR7 and with the car only selling on the domestic market, subsequent developments, including the Lynx, were curtailed; with the single concept car being retired to the life of a museum piece.
However, the TR7 Lynx, I feel, was the car that could’ve saved the TR7 line if it had been developed and released concurrently with the regular sports car. It’s a crisp design akin to the likes of the Alfa Romeo GTV6, with a useful hatchback which would’ve made it both relevant and practical; especially considering the rise of sporty hatchbacks during the mid-70’s.
Unfortunately, the TR7 Lynx never got a chance to prove itself, but that doesn’t mean in this hypothetical world of mine that they didn’t make it beyond the concept stage. 🙂
6. 1982 Lancia Gamma Coupé FL 2500
The sporty ride of Jake Keefe, this Lancia Gamma only makes a brief appearance within the context of the story as he uses it to chauffeur Siobhan to John Wilson’s Christmas party, passing by some beautiful New York scenery along the way.
I’ve always had a love for the undeniably flawed Lancia Gamma Coupe, a car that is absolutely beautiful and a true late-70’s Italian coupe, but is as useful as a guitar without strings. The unreliable nature of these machines is something of an absolute tragedy, so much so I’m surprised Jake didn’t show up at Siobhan’s house either in a breakdown truck or on the bus!
Still, the scene of the two of them driving over the Throngs Neck bridge as they get to know one another was one of my earlier thoughts when it came to writing the story. A nice moment of character building set against the background of the distant Manhattan skyline, akin to when Ebony and Siobhan were on the sleeper train to London.