Dads' cars through the decades | Virgin Media
Dads' cars through the decades

Dads' cars through the decades

15/10/2015

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Back in the day, we rightly idolized our fathers and boasted about them in playground squabbles. As well as having the Toughest Dad, it was also important to have the Dad with the Coolest Car. But as children and sports cars are largely incompatible, the only thing to be done was to lie furiously about your old man’s wheels! Here are some cars your dads probably had, and some that your dads probably didn’t have. 

BMW 2002 Turbo (’66 – ’76) 

The car you wished Dad had: BMW 2002 Turbo ('66-'76)

The car you wished Dad had: BMW 2002 Turbo ('66-'76)

Look at that handsome piece of perfect engineering… The Turbo was the first forced-induction car sold in Britain. It offered an astounding 170bhp and a front spoiler with ‘Turbo’ written in mirror writing to warn drivers what was approaching in their rear view mirror.

Cool rating: 7/10

Performance: 8/10

Room for your mates: 6/10

NSU RO80 (’67 – ’77) 

The car Dad really had: NSU RO80 ('67-'77)

The car Dad really had: NSU RO80 ('67-'77)

Seriously, would you tell your classmates you’d been dropped off in something with a ‘Wankel’ engine? The rotary power-plant was both the RO80’s USP and its downfall.

Allied to an ahead-of-its-time semi-auto gearbox, it was uncannily smooth but it also guzzled petrol at an astonishing rate.

Cool rating: 6/10

Performance: 5/10

Room for your mates: 8/10

Jensen Interceptor (’66 – ’76) 

The car you wished Dad had: Jensen Interceptor ('66-'76)

The car you wished Dad had: Jensen Interceptor ('66-'76)

Has any car ever had a cooler name? If your dad had one of these he was probably leading a double-life as a secret agent. A complicated mix of British build, Italian styling and American brawn, the Interceptor was a full-on four-seater luxury coupé with a huge 6.2-litre V8.

Cool rating: 10/10

Performance: 9/10

Room for your mates: 9/10

Vanden Plas Princess 4-Litre R (’64 – ’68) 

The car Dad really had: Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R ('64-'68)

The car Dad really had: Vanden Plas Princess 4-litre R ('64-'68)

The owner of one of these could, and indeed invariably would, tell you that it was powered by a Rolls-Royce engine. He probably wouldn’t mention it was a military surplus mill however, preferring to point out the wood and leather interior, complete with picnic tables.

Cool rating: 1/10

Performance: 3/10

Room for your mates: 10/10

 Lotus Cortina Mk2 (’66 – ’70) 

The car you wished Dad had: Lotus Cortina Mk2 ('66-'70)

The car you wished Dad had: Lotus Cortina Mk2 ('66-'70)

Those lucky enough to have had a dad who owned a Lotus Cortina Mk2 all those decades ago could be excused for pining for it now, such is its legendary status. This handsome machine would have been even better, if not for the ‘unusual’ green side-stripe. Maybe it made it go faster?

Cool rating: 8/10

Performance: 7/10

Room for your mates: 6/10

Vauxhall Viva HB (’66 – ’70) 

The car Dad really had: Vauxhall Viva HB ('66-'70)

The car Dad really had: Vauxhall Viva HB ('66-'70)

The Ford/Vauxhall battle for middle England’s driveways began with two cars, and Ford won with its Cortina. Not that the Vauxhall Viva was a bad car of course, it simply couldn’t match the Cortina’s panache or competition record, plus it suffered from a nasty case of tin-worm.

Cool rating: 5/10

Performance: 6/10

Room for your mates: 5/10

Triumph Dolomite Sprint (’73 – ’80) 

The car you wished Dad had: Triumph Dolomite Sprint ('73-'80)

The car you wished Dad had: Triumph Dolomite Sprint ('73-'80)

Before BMW and Audi began fighting it out for the sports saloon crown, Triumph was the sport car of choice. Fitted with the world’s first production multi-valve engine and also the first British car to come with alloy wheels, the Dolly also came with lowered suspension, front spoiler and twin exhausts. As Tim Westwood would say, it was totally pimpin’.

Cool rating: 7/10

Performance: 7/10

Room for your mates: 7/10

Morris Marina (’71 – ’80) 

The car Dad really had: Morris Marina ('71-'80)

The car Dad really had: Morris Marina ('71-'80)

Success is clearly no indicator of talent. Just witness the baffling popularity of the Marina. Despite being ugly, badly made, unreliable and with handling that was much like a skip on wheels, it was one of the country’s best-selling cars. Just a handful now survive, making it officially Britain’s most scrapped car.

Cool rating: 0/10

Performance: 1/10

Room for your mates: 7/10

VW Golf Mk1 (’74 – ’84) 

The car you wished Dad had: VW Golf Mk1 ('74-'84)

The car you wished Dad had: VW Golf Mk1 ('74-'84)

It’s hard to understand how incredible the VW Golf must have seemed in the mid-70s when it came to Britain. Front-wheel drive, superbly built and sharply styled by Guigiaro, this Golf couldn’t have been further from the car it replaced, the Beetle.

Cool rating: 6/10

Performance: 6/10

Room for your mates: 8/10

Austin Allegro (’73 – ’83) 

The car Dad really had: Austin Allegro ('73-'83)

The car Dad really had: Austin Allegro ('73-'83)

The Allegro’s nickname was ‘the flying pig’, which should tell you all you need to know! Famously more aerodynamic in reverse, and equipped with a square steering wheel, it usually came in beige, brown or sludge green.

Cool rating: 1/10

Performance: 2/10

Room for your mates: 5/10

Range Rover Mk1 (’70 – ’86) 

The car you wished Dad had: Range Rover Mk1 ('70-'86)

The car you wished Dad had: Range Rover Mk1 ('70-'86)

Can you believe that there was once a time when 4x4s weren’t reviled, but seen as stylish status symbols? It’s true! Land Rover created the luxury SUV market by mistake. And as far as mistakes go, it was quite the influential one. The Range Rover became the first car to cross the American continent from north to south.

Cool rating: 7/10

Performance: 5/10

Room for your mates: 9/10

Matra Rancho (’77 – ’84) 

The car Dad really had: Matra Rancho ('77-'84)

The car Dad really had: Matra Rancho ('77-'84)

The Rancho was based on the less-than-sturdy underpinnings of a Simca 1100 supermini pick-up. It also featured that model’s front-wheel drive chassis, covered in a fibreglass body with styling only the Pope could love. Its replacement was rather more successful however. It became the Renault Espace.

Cool rating: 2/10

Performance: 2/10

Room for your mates: 9/10

Rover SD1 (’76 – ’86) 

The car you wished Dad had: Rover SD1 ('76-'86)

The car you wished Dad had: Rover SD1 ('76-'86)

The first car to come out of Rover’s Specialist Division (hence the name), the SD1 owed a lot of its striking design to the stunning Ferrari Daytona. Launched with the legendary 3.5-litre V8, licensed from Buick, the SD1 was the closest we would ever get to an American muscle car.

Cool rating: 7/10

Performance: 6/10

Room for your mates: 9/10

Alfa Romeo 6 (’79 – ’86) 

The car Dad really had: Alfa Romeo 6 ('79-'86)

The car Dad really had: Alfa Romeo 6 ('79-'86)

The 6 was based on a stretched Alfetta chassis, styled to look like a large Lada and given a V6 engine with half a dozen carburettors that went out of tune every time you started it.

Cool rating: 5/10

Performance: 6/10

Room for your mates: 8/10

Porsche 928 (’77 – ’95) 

The car you wished Dad had: Porsche 928 ('77-'95)

The car you wished Dad had: Porsche 928 ('77-'95)

This was the first of many failed attempts by Porsche to kill off the erstwhile 911. Finally deciding to put the engine in a sensible place, the 928 carried its 4.5-litre V8 in front of the driver with power to the rear wheels. Intended as a GT rather than an all-out sports car like the 911, the new car offered decent rear seats and an automatic gearbox.

Cool rating: 9/10

Performance: 9/10

Room for your mates: 6/10

Volvo 262 (’78 – ’81) 

The car Dad really had: Volvo 262 ('78-'81)

The car Dad really had: Volvo 262 ('78-'81)

The 200 series may have had a reputation for longevity and safety that helped it sell in its millions, but no one bought it for its looks. Attempting to rectify this, Volvo hired Italian master Bertone. The result was a sort of hot-rodded breeze block with a lowered roof and raked windscreen. Truly the most ‘dad’ looking car of them all.

Cool rating: 2/10

Performance: 3/10

Room for your mates: 6/10

Ford Sierra Cosworth (’86 – ’92) 

The car you wished Dad had: Ford Sierra Cosworth ('86-'92)

The car you wished Dad had: Ford Sierra Cosworth ('86-'92)

If you grew up in Essex in the late 80s, this was the only car your dad lusted after. The Cossie featured a then relatively rare turbo-charged engine as well as a spoiler best described as ‘totally awesome’. Before the company added four-wheel drive, this would have made your dad a drifting hero – assuming he didn’t mind the big insurance premiums.

Cool rating: 9/10

Performance: 10/10

Room for your mates: 7/10

Maserati Biturbo 4-door (’83 – ’94) 

The car Dad really had: Maserati Biturbo 4-door ('83-'94)

The car Dad really had: Maserati Biturbo 4-door ('83-'94)

A Maserati bested by a Ford? After all, it had a luxurious leather-lined interior, one of the best badges in the business and a twin-turbocharged V6 under the bonnet. But appearance-wise, it wasn’t a looker. As if the boxy styling wasn’t bad enough, especially in two-tone paint, it also bore an unfortunate resemblance to the Hyundai Stellar. Oh dear!

Cool rating: 4/10

Performance: 7/10

Room for your mates: 7/10

Lancia Delta Integrale (’87 – ’93) 

The car you wished Dad had: Lancia Delta Integrale ('87-'93)

The car you wished Dad had: Lancia Delta Integrale ('87-'93)

No car has won as many World Rally Championships as the Integrale, which was based on a humble hatchback that was European Car of the Year in 1979. Lancia added four-wheel-drive and turbo-charging to build an all-conquering competition car that won the WRC every year from 1987 to 1992.

Cool rating: 9/10

Performance: 10/10

Room for your mates: 6/10

MG Maestro Turbo (’89 – ’91) 

The car Dad really had: MG Maestro Turbo ('89-'91)

The car Dad really had: MG Maestro Turbo ('89-'91)

If your Dad did have one of these it wouldn’t have been long before it was under-steered into a ditch. The death throes of British Leyland produced badge engineering at its worst, and the overpowered and underdeveloped MG Maestro Turbo was a prime example. Still, it was available in some nice colours. So there was that!

Cool rating: 4/10

Performance: 8/10

Room for your mates: 6/10

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