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 cars featured on this page are not how they appear in the stories themselves, with various body changes included lights, grilles or other alterations needed so as not to infringe on the companies that own these products. Images here reflect how the cars appeared in the original webcomic.
1978 British Leyland Princess 2200
The first car to feature in Maddie on the Island Hue, the Leyland Princess is certainly not the first car you’d expect to see in anyone’s comic series.
Owned by titular character Maddie Grey and her family, this particular example is a 1978 Leyland Princess 2200, the top-of-the-range (comparatively) version of British Leyland’s family saloon. The Princess was notable for being fitted with Hydragas suspension, which gave a much more comfortable ride over regular coil springs. The styling too was somewhat futuristic for a humble family saloon car, but neither of these endearing features helped detract from the many quality flaws British Leyland were eager to bestow upon it.
The reason why I chose to put such a strange (and mostly hated) car into my story was because I do have a soft spot for Leyland products. The Maestro, the Montego, the Rover 800 and even the Princess I do quite like. The Princess comes out on top however for the fact that it was technically advanced, and the styling (from the front at least) does look fantastic. I also felt that for people like Maddie’s family, who are extremely rich but don’t flaunt it, a simple family car would suit their means more than something ostentatious like a luxury saloon.
2. 1983 Toyota Land Cruiser (J60)
Owned by Siobhan Pattinson and her mother, the Toyota Land Cruiser I chose because one, I wanted some diversity among the motors that inhabit the island, and two, because it’s a very good SUV.
In the 1980’s, Toyotas weren’t really sold here in the UK, thanks largely to EU Import taxes on Japanese products. But, some Toyota 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.
3. 1981 Range Rover Vogue SE
Most unreliable car in the history of the world? I wouldn’t call it that, but Andy’s pride and joy is in fact the mighty Range Rover, often considered the world’s first SUV.
The Range Rover may have suffered greatly at the hands of British Leyland, but it was still among the most desirable cars money could buy, either for its unstoppable, off-road ruggedness, or because the top-end Vogue models were lathered in luxury you’d more often than not find on a Rolls Royce, and for half the price!
The reason I anointed Andy with such a fantastic car is largely because I felt it would suit his personality, being able to climb every mountain and ford every stream, but doing it in such a classy way, much like the man himself. It was also something of a common practice in British Leyland to keep workers sweet by lending them Range Rovers as company cars, perhaps not the luxury Vogue SE model but, then again, when your dad’s leader of the local Trade Union, you definitely want to keep sweet with him!
4. 1971 Morris Marina
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.
However, this particular car, an early one with the split-grille, belongs to none other than Ebony Larsson and her family.
Why would a small family car like this be under the ownership of gruff farmers like the Larssons? Probably because it was cheap.
Indeed that’s the excuse many people who bought British Leyland products use when people question whether or not they’ve completely lost their minds. But, 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. 1979 Rover SD1
Another British Leyland product (you can see a pattern emerging here), this particular Rover SD1 is just a background car rather than a motor one of the characters happens to own, but I felt its presence would help with immersion and to set the time period.
The Rover SD1 was a fantastic executive saloon. Styled to look like the legendary Ferrari Daytona, the idea of mixing the spaciousness and practicality of a regular car with the aesthetic beauty of an Italian stallion was unheard of. But Rover, just about, perfected it, with the SD1 going on to be the company’s only ever winner of the European Car of the Year award in 1977. While rust gremlins, poor reliability, build quality problems and other issues endemic to British Leyland products of the time have seen the SD1’s numbers reduced to only a few hundred, it’s still a living legend of British automotive genius.
6. 1981 Triumph Acclaim
Only ever seen in a flashback, this Triumph Acclaim belonged to Andy’s dad, and it was in which that he drove off into the snow and abandoned the lost teen on the frozen wastes of Hue.
The Triumph Acclaim is again one of those endearing little cars, being the first product of the joint British Leyland – Honda venture that for the first time brought reliability to the ravaged car manufacturer.
The reason such a car appears here is because, at the time, it was quite popular, and I felt there was something of an irony to Andy’s dad, a Trade Union leader hellbent on upholding the rights of the British workforce, driving a car that is technically not British.
7. 1976 Rolls Royce Camargue
Another car that’s often a contender for the worst car ever made list, the Rolls Royce Camargue has very much disappeared into obscurity, thanks largely to its outlandish styling and its incredibly steep price-tag. So how did one end up here?
Designed in the early 1970’s through a joint-venture between Italian styling house Pininfarina and Rolls Royce, the Camargue was meant to be the company’s big hit seller for 1972, replacing the two-door version of the Silver Shadow. However, the company’s bankruptcy, combined with a multitude of production errors, meant that upon the car’s release in 1975, it was reviled, both for its boxy looks and its incredibly high price, it being the most expensive car in the world at the time.
Well, believe it or not, the Rolls Royce Camargue is in fact my favourite Rolls Royce model of all time. Why exactly? There’s just something about it that draws me to it. Yes, it’s boxy, but it’s not ugly. It does have a real charm to it, something that may seem a little hard to explain, but when you look into its big round eyes, you can’t look away. Apart from that, it performs just as well as the Silver Shadow of which it was based, but its rarity and lashings of luxury make it comparatively unique, with only 531 of these cars built.
As such, my affection for this wonderful car meant that it had to find a place in my story, and who else but Andy to provide it. Also, it’s a car that’s often associated with love, seeing as most couples take their first drive as husband and wife in the back of a Rolls Royce. As a way of bringing Maddie and Andy closer together, it was, to my mind, the perfect choice!
8. 1985 Rolls Royce Corniche
And speaking of love and Rolls Royces, another one appears earlier in the series during Ebony’s dream of her and Siobhan getting married.
The Rolls Royce Corniche is a beautiful little car, and perhaps one of the greatest convertible 2-door saloons money can buy, with oodles of luxury, plenty of performance and generally being a good egg all around. As you can imagine, the car is often employed on wedding duties, and as such this little cameo appearance for the Corniche seems natural.
On a side note, you’ll see that the grille, badge and hood ornament for my versions of these cars are different to those found on regular Rolls Royce products. This once again goes back to the copyright issues I faced when producing this comic. I did in fact email Rolls Royce during mid-2016 requesting permission to use the Grille, Badge and the Spirit of Ecstasy that adorns the front of nearly every one of their machines. However, Rolls Royce denied me the use of either one of these parts of their image, but were extremely polite in how they treated me. I was half expecting to get either no reply, or some condescending remark, but instead they were very forthcoming and showed me respect, which I respect as well. Needless to say, they informed me that they often get requests to use the Rolls Royce brand by animation studios or artists, but the company has an obligation to protect its identity and keep it in-house, which I understand entirely, especially when your brand is the most luxurious and sought-after motoring marque in the business!
9. 1985 Rolls Royce Silver Spur Touring Limousine
Another brief appearance in the second series Maddie in America was that of the Rolls Royce Silver Spur Touring Limousine.
The Silver Spur Touring Limousine was the first Rolls Royce product to be officially sold as a stretched limo. Previous limousines followed a more traditional concept of just having an expanded passenger compartment in the rear while not seeming particularly ‘stretched.’ The Silver Spur, hoping to appeal more to the US Market, was made available as a stretched limo variant in a similar fashion to that of the Cadillac DeVille. Previous Rolls Royce models were only sold as Long Wheelbase (LWB) versions, which only increased the rear legroom by about 5 to 10 inches, with stretched limo variants of these being after-market conversions, usually distinguishable by rubbish stitching and obvious differences in the material used to make the body.
10. 1974 GMC Jimmy
Another brief cameo, this time with something American. The GMC Jimmy was among the world’s first SUV’s, being based off of the Chevrolet Blazer.
In this particular instance, Andy is giving the car a once-over for its MOT, which Maddie also assists with, resulting in the two forming a stronger bond throughout the day on the road towards their eventual affection for one another.
11. 1980 Chevrolet Caprice taxicab
Just a short appearance from this legend of the New York City streets. The Chevrolet Caprice was the car of choice in the 1980’s to form the background of the Big Apple’s taxicab fleet, working all the way through from the late 1970’s to the late 1990’s. However, after a long day shopping, Maddie, Andy, Siobhan and Ebony are quick to put this car’s boot-space to the test!
12. 1971 Buick Centurion Convertible
When cruising down the west coast of the United States, it only seems fair you should use a suitable American car, preferably one you can drop the roof of.
Of all those big American cruisers, the Buick Centurion I cite as my favourite, largely because it truly is a mix of style and practicality. Unlike its contemporaries, which were 25ft long and took and ice-age to turn, the dimensions of the Centurion aren’t that far off European equivalents such as the Mercedes-Benz 280SL. This, combined with a perfect flame red paintscheme, makes it my ideal choice for driving up and down California State Highway 1.
Indeed, it may seem strange that a rental firm would have a 14 year old car on its books when, by this point, you’d think they’d have replaced it with something contemporary, but I know for a fact that there are, in some places, rental agencies that specialise in classic motors.
Is the Buick Centurion a classic? I’ll let you decide…
…but the answer’s yes.