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Sixties City Transport
Sixties City Transport

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Sixties City Transport

Sixties Transport

There were only 8,000 cars in the whole of Britain at the start of the 20th century. By the end of the century the car population had soared to 21 million. The main 'boom' in car ownership happened during the 1950s and 1960s. Car ownership in London quadrupled between 1950 and 1970 due to the rise in the standard of living and the reduction in car prices brought about by improved mass manufacture techniques. By the mid-1960s there were 1.5 million cars registered in London alone. The growth in car ownership also brought increasing traffic congestion but, in the 1960s, Central London's traffic problem was only considered to be significant during the morning and evening 'rush hours'.

For those in London with no motorised transport there was always the ubiquitous red bus. The most famous of these, the double-decker Routemaster, was designed for London Transport in 1959 by Douglas Scott ( who also designed telephone booths in 1963 ) and was destined to become one of the icons of Sixties London. For paying passengers there were also the 'black cab' taxis and the London trolleybuses, the last of which ran on May 8th 1962. The first minicabs were launched in the capital by a company called Carline in Wimbledon on 6th March 1961.

The London Underground system has, of course, been there forever but in 1962 London's first new tube line since before the War was authorised. It took five years to build the Victoria Line (between Walthamstow and Victoria). If you wanted to travel free you could get yourself a space-age folding bicycle - the Moulton. It was originally designed in 1958 by Alex Moulton but Raleigh, the major cycle manufacturer of the period, were not interested. Moulton continued to produce the machine and it became almost a fashion accessory in the built-up city areas by the mid-Sixties until Raleigh realised their error and took the company over in 1967. Raleigh also produced a moped - the Raleigh 'Wisp' - a bicycle with an engine of sorts.
Punch Magazine

Sixties City Transport    Cars and the British Car Industry 
Sixties City Transport
The importance of personal transport increased dramatically during the Sixties, particularly the car. The industry saw a lot of post-war streamlining and many of the independent companies of the 40s, 50s and early 60s had been swallowed up by conglomerate groups by the end of the decade. The biggest major manufacturers of the decade, in Britain, were B.M.C. - The British Motor Corporation (Austin-Healey, Austin, Morris, Riley, MG, Wolseley, Vanden Plas), Rootes Group (Hillman, Humber, Singer, Sunbeam), Jaguar, Standard-Triumph, Ford, Rover / Land Rover, Vauxhall, Rolls-Royce / Bentley, Daimler and Aston Martin.

Smaller independents such as Lotus and Jensen managed to survive as did most (but not all) of the producers of 'specialist' cars such as TVR, Reliant, Marcos, Ginetta, Gilbern, Morgan and Bond.

One of the 'iconic' vehicle types, first appearing in the Fifties but its image inextricably linked with the Sixties was the 'bubble car' whose popularity in Britain first arose as a result of the mid-Fifties fuel crisis and the increasing demand for cheap personal motorised transport. Lighter frames and smaller engines meant far greater fuel economy than the post-war 'gas-guzzlers, albeit more limited in carrying capacity. The bulk of these were three-wheelers, which meant that they only attracted the same road taxes and licensing requirements as motorcycles.

A large proportion were of German manufacture, notably by former military aircraft manufacturers Heinkel and Messerschmitt and BMW produced the most popular Italian-designed Isetta under licence, using the engine from one of their own motor bikes. BMW built 135,567 Isettas in Munich before production ceased in 1962. Isetta of Britain produced about 30,000 cars. An unusual feature of most bubble cars was the front entry door, a clever space-saving design unless you happened to park facing a wall in a model that had no reverse gear!

In Britain, right-hand drive versions of the Heinkel bubble car were built under licence by the Trojan company and Isettas were also manufactured under licence being made as a three-wheeler, instead of the original two narrow rear wheels, to qualify it for motorcycle status. Britain also had its own home-grown lightweight products such as the Peel Trident, made in the Isle of Man.

France manufactured large numbers of microvehicles as well, called 'voiturettes', but these were not actively marketed abroad. The Messerschmitt KR175 and KR200 models and the FMR (Fahrzeug- und Maschinenbau GmbH, Regensburg) Tg500 'Tiger' (only about 320 of these were made) sported aircraft cockpit-style bubble canopies, giving rise to the generic name 'bubble car', fully stylised by the later Isettas' streamlined 'bubble-like' appearance.
Messerschmitt KR200
1959 Messerschmitt KR200

Trojan Heinkel
1959 Trojan 'Heinkel'
Peel P50
Peel P50
Isetta 300
1962 Isetta 300

Trojan 601 Heinkel
1965 Trojan 601 DeLuxe 'Heinkel'
Peel Trident
1965 Peel Trident
Heinkel 150 Kabine
1956 Heinkel 150 Kabine
Shorts Nobel 200
1960 Shorts Nobel 200
FMR Tg500
1961 FMR Tg500

Alec Issigonis and the MiniRiley ElfJaguar E-Type

The most famous car of the Sixties was, without doubt, the Mini. Designed by Alec Issigonis, it was first seen on 26th August 1959 and was originally named the Austin Seven or the Morris Mini Minor depending on whether it was built at Longbridge or Cowley. Alec Issigonis became chief engineer and technical director at BMC in 1961, was awarded the CBE in 1964 and knighted in 1969. His brief was to produce a metal box with four wheels, no more than 10 feet long, to carry four adults in comfort along with their luggage. The factory foreman, Albert Green, assembled the first Mini - registration number 621 AOK - in just seven hours, in early 1959, at the Longbridge factory in Birmingham!

20,000 cars were produced in the first year and well over a million by the end of 1963. In all, more than 5.3 million of the 'original' have been built and it has been crowned the greatest European car of the 20th century by 132 motoring journalists from 32 countries, according to voting results announced on 19th December 1999, coming second only to the Model 'T' Ford in the global awards.
The other 'cult' car among the youth of the Sixties was the most popular car ever manufactured - the Volkswagen 'Beetle'. It was originally designed in the early Thirties by Ferdinand Porsche for the German motorcycle manufacturers NSU and Zundapp. The first prototypes were produced by Mercedes Benz in 1937.

Because of the fuel shortage caused by the 1956 Suez crisis, the tendency had been towards smaller, more economical vehicles rather than the mighty gas-guzzlers of the Forties and Fifties. The slowing in sales of the large car market was one of the factors which resulted in Jaguar cars taking over the Daimler Motor Company on 19th June 1960. An even smaller means of transport, the bubble car, was popular for a time from the late Fifties onwards and is now seen as a cult icon of the early Sixties.

The Mini really took over from where these, mainly German, vehicles left off. Made by BMC. they cost around £500 and were very cheap to run, bringing the possibility of four-wheeled vehicle ownership to many for whom it had previously been financially beyond.
The Mini re-wrote the rules about car design, being a front wheel drive car with a transverse-mounted engine and the four 10" wheels having independent suspension. Capable of 50 mpg it had a top speed of around 70mph.

It was extremely basic but its selling factor was price. Other manufacturers provided look-alikes such as the Wolseley Hornet, the Riley Elf and, of course, the Rootes manufactured Hillman Imp, but the Mini remained the most popular. Its price stayed remarkably stable throughout the Sixties, starting at £495 19s 0d in 1960 and still costing only £595 10s 0d in 1969. Not including the small, specialist companies, there were 38 'major' British car manufacturers in 1961!

British manufacturers enjoyed considerable sporting success in the Sixties, both in rallying and sports car racing. Mini Coopers finished 1-2-3 in the 1963 Monte Carlo Rally but were all disqualified for having illegal light-dipping systems - so much for cutting edge technology! Lord Nuffield, the creator of Morris cars, died on the 22nd August 1963 aged 84.

The ultimate early Sixties four-wheeled success symbol was probably the sleek, sexy, elongated E-type Jaguar whose shape epitomised the modern streamlined designs of the new decade. The prototype, 9600 HP, had reached a maximum average speed of 150.4 m.p.h. over two runs during tests by driver Peter Riviere on a stretch of Belgian motorway between Antwerp and Herental.
This particular hand-built car had no wing mirrors, badge plates or bumper overriders and was fitted with perspex windows in the rear and tailgate to reduce weight. It also had a larger than standard roll bar to prevent it leaning too much when cornering at high speed. The test was carried out in Belgium because even though no speed limit had yet been introduced on Britain's only stretch of motorway between Rugby and London it was thought that there would be too much traffic around for safety.

It was first seen by the public at the Geneva Motor Show on 16th March 1961 and came in hard-top or open-top versions at a price of around £2100, with a 3.8 litre six cylinder 'S' type engine which developed 265 bhp allowing it to go from 0 to 100 in about 16 seconds. The last coloured E-type was a sable brown 1975 V12 5.3 litre convertible commissioned by Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons. Only 50 more were made after that, all of them in black.
Of course, if you owned a car, you had to drive it somewhere........   Trafalgar Square - mid-60s    A20 traffic jam - late 60s    

Some other 'classic' cars of the Sixties included, but were by no means limited to:

1960 -
Aston Martin DB4 GT
, Chevrolet Corvair, Peugeot 404, Saab 96, Mazda R360, Opel Rekord, Mitsubishi 500, Nissan Cedric,
          Plymouth Valiant, Pontiac Tempest

- Original-style Ford Capri and Consul Classic, Morris Oxford series 6, Austin A60 Cambridge, Hillman Super Minx,
          Austin Westminster A110, Wolseley 6/110, MG Midget
, Volvo P1800, BMW 3200, Bristol 407, Lagonda Rapide, Lancia Flavia,
          Reliant Sabre, Renault 4, Riley Elf, Triumph TR4, Simca 1000

1962 - Aston Martin DB4 Vantage, Ford Zodiac III, Mark 1 Cortina, MG 'B', Opel Kadett, Triumph Spitfire, Morris 1100, Ford Zephyr Mark III,
          Lotus Elan, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Bentley S3, Jensen CV8, Maserati Sebring, Matra Djet, Peel P50, Triumph Vitesse

1963 - Ford Anglia, Hillman Imp, Porsche 911, Vauxhall Viva, AC Cobra 289, TVR Griffith, P6 2000, Austin 1100, Aston Martin DB5,
          Bristol 408, Chevrolet Corvette C2 Z06, Dodge 440, Lamborghini 350GT, Lancia Fulvia, Maserati Mistral, Opel Rekord Series A,
          Trabant 601, Triumph 2000, Humber 'Audax' Sceptre,

1964 - Ford Mustang, Austin 1800, Mini Moke, Bedford Beagle, Chevrolet Chevelle, Fiat 850, Ferrari 275, Ford Corsair, Moskvitch 408,
          Nissan Silvia, NSU Spider, Porsche 911, Plymouth Barracuda, Pontiac GTO, Reliant Rebel, Sunbeam Tiger, Triumph Fury

1965 - Reliant Scimitar Coupe, Vauxhall FC Victor, Ford Zephyr Executive, Wolseley 1100, Aston Martin DB6, MGB GT, Alfa Romeo GTA,
          Audi F103, Bristol 409, Ford GT40, Ford Transit, Maserati Mexico, Mercedes-Benz W108, Mini Marcos, Mitsubishi Colt 800,
          NSU 110, Peel Trident, Peugeot 204, Porsche 912, Rambler Marlin, Renault 16, Riley Kestrel, Shelby Mustang, Triumph 1300,
          Triumph TR4A, Wartburg 353, Hino 1300

1966 - MGC GT, Mark II Mini, Jensen FF and Interceptor, Ford Cortina Mark II, Lotus Europa, Lamborghini Miura and Ferrari Dino 308
          (both designed by Giuseppe 'Nuccio' Bertone), Hillman Hunter, Alfa Romeo Spider, Volvo 144, Audi 80, DAF 44, Daimler Sovereign,
          Ferrari 365, Fiat 124 Sport Spider, Jaguar 420, Jaguar XJ13, Maserati Ghibli, Nissan Sunny, Rootes Arrow, Subaru 1000,
          Toyota Corolla, Triumph GT6

1967 - DeTomaso Mangusta, NSU Ro80, Sunbeam Rapier, Alfa Romeo Montreal, AMC Rebel, Aston Martin DBS, Chevrolet Camaro,
          DAF 33 and 55, Fiat 125, TVR Tuscan and Vixen, Isuzu Florian, Lancia 140, Matra 530, Mercury Cougar, Moskvitch 412,
          Pontiac Firebird, Reliant TW9, Saab 99, Simca 1100, Toyota 2000GT, Triumph TR250, Honda N360

1968 - Jaguar XJ6, Ford Escort and Corsair, Reliant Scimitar GTE, Morgan Plus 8, AMC Javelin, Audi 100, Volvo 164, Colliday Chariot,
          Bristol 410, Daimler DS420, Volkswagen Type 4, Datsun 510, Ferrari Daytona, Ford Falcon, Ford Torino, Lamborghini Islero,
          LMX Sirex, Maserati Indy, Nissan Laurel, Opel GT, Peugeot 504, Renault 6 and 12, Sisu KB-46, Steyr 90 series, Toyota Hilux,
          Triumph TR5, Humber 'Arrow' Sceptre

1969 - Austin Maxi, New Style Ford Capri, Aston Martin DBS, Datsun 240Z, Autobianchi A112, Bedford CF, Bristol 411, Chrysler Valiant,
          Dacia 1300, Dodge Challenger, Porsche 914, Honda 1300, Mitsubishi Galant, Morris Nomad, Nissan S30 and Skyline GT-R,
          Fiat 130, Peugeot 304, Probe 16, Skoda 100, Subaru R-2, Triumph TR6, Volkswagen K70

Aston Martin DB4GT 1962      Lotus Elan

Aston Martin DB4 GT
Lotus Elan

Hillman Imp      Colliday Chariot

Hillman Imp
Colliday Chariot

Ford Anglia      Maserati Mistral

Ford Anglia
Maserati Mistral

Top 10 Best-Selling Cars of 1969:
1: Austin 1100/1300 2: Ford Cortina 3: Ford Escort 4: Vauxhall Viva 5: Austin Mini
6: Hillman Minx 7: Ford Capri 8: Austin 1800 9: Vauxhall Victor 10: Triumph Herald

Sixties City Transport
During the Sixties, car production in the U.K. saw rapid growth but this was completely overshadowed by the massive increases in European production levels:

United Kingdom
1.19 million 1.72 million (+45%)
1.13 million 2.17 million (+92%)
1.50 million 3.31 million (+121%)
0.471 million 1.48 million (+214%)
0.096 million 0.243 million (+153%)


 From a vehicle ownership base of about 9.5 million in 1960, the British market had increased to about 15 million cars by the end of the Sixties. Manufacturing cost problems, not helped by the multitude of strike actions during the decade, caused many of the manufacturers to merge, or disappear. For instance: in September 1966 7,000 workers were laid off by BMC. who announced plans for 11,000 redundancies.

The resulting strike closed all BMC. factories until November 11th when the redundancies became effective. This was just one of the actions taken by the busy trade unions during the decade - the full list is almost unbelievable. In fact, during the period September to November 1966 100,000 car workers were either idle or on short time working! The main movements between manufacturers culminated in a merger between the Leyland Motor Corporation and British Motor Holdings to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation on 17th January 1968.

Sixties City Transport

Sixties City                     Sixties City                     Sixties City                     Sixties City                     Sixties City                     Sixties City                     Sixties City                     Sixties City                     Sixties City                     Sixties City

Road Tax (Road Fund licence, Vehicle Tax)

The Road Fund licence, as it was then called, was a British Government fund designated to pay for the building and maintenance of the United Kingdom road network. Its income came originally from vehicle excise duty until that ceased to be used for roads in 1936, upkeep being provided by government grants. It was created by the Roads Act 1920 and Finance Act 1920, and was wound up in the Miscellaneous Financial Provisions Act of 1955. Between 1920 and 1936 the vehicle licence (tax disc) was officially known as the 'Road Fund Licence'. 1960 was the last year the quarterly tax disc was issued and from January 1961 the minimum period of road tax went from 3 months to 4 months.
1961 saw several major changes. To make forgery more difficult, a new design consisting of various circular vignettes and bands of solid colour, plus a half-tone background was launched. Monthly taxation was introduced to eliminate the bottleneck of the December 31st expiry. From January onwards in 1961, a 12-month vehicle tax could be bought at any time, with the tax disc showing January, February, March etc. of the following year as the expiry date. The quarterly disc disappeared as a separate design, with '4 mths' written on the tax disc as appropriate. The 'Farmer's Disc' survived these changes but was hand-stamped with a black 'F' on the left of the Tax Disc. Due to the design, it was known as the 'Guinness Disc' where Guinness bottle labels were used to avoid payment of tax. This was stopped in 1963 by an additional expiry date which was printed in a light tint on the lower half of the disc. There were no further changes until 1978. During this period the colour changed with the year in the sequence blue, brown, green and red, with the expiry date being duplicated in the toned area from 1963 onwards.

Driving Tests and Licences

Driving tests were suspended between 1939 - 1946 as a result of the war, and a year of licencing of wartime provisional licences without testing followed. The pass rate for the UK driving test was 50% in 1950. Testing was also suspended for a year in 1956 due to the Suez Crisis. The UK driving test fee
doubled to 1 in 1956. Driving examiner training was formalised in 1959, being undertaken at Stanmore Training School. The MOT was introduced as an annual assessment of vehicle roadworthiness in 1960. In 1965 the driving test application form was revised and the sight test was changed to include the reading of number plates with 3.125 inch high characters from a distance of 67 feet. In 1968 the driving test fee increased again from 1 to 1 15 shillings. 1969 brought separate licensing groups for different vehicle classes and stipulated that a provisional licence must be produced at UK driving tests. In the late 1960's you could hold a motorcycle licence at 16 years old, but 'provisional' licence holders were restricted to machines of less than 250cc.

The Highway Code

The first edition was published in 1931. At a cost of 1 old penny it was the only one to carry advertisements (for the AA, The Autocar magazine, The Motorcycle magazine, Castrol Motor Oil, BP, Motor Union Insurance and the RAC) and contained 18 pages of advice. The arrival of motorways in the late 1950s led to the inclusion, in the fifth edition, of a new section on motorway driving. It explained such things as how to use exit slip roads and advising drivers to avoid drowsiness by stretching their legs at the parking or service areas. By the sixth edition in 1968 photographs and 3D illustrations had been included to help make rules clear and the price had risen from 6 old pence to 1/3d (6p). After decimalisation reprinted editions cost just 6 new pence.
up to 150cc
150cc - 250cc
over 250cc
Private Cars
£0 17s 6d (£0.88)
£1 17s 6d (£1.88)
£3 15s 0d (£3.75)
12 10s 0d (£12.50)
£0 17s 6d (£0.88)
£1 17s 6d (£1.88)
£3 15s 0d (£3.75)
12 10s 0d (£12.50)
£1 0s 0d (£1.00)
£2 5s 0d (£2.25)
£4 10s 0d (£4.50)
15 0s 0d (£15.00)
£1 0s 0d (£1.00)
£2 5s 0d (£2.25)
£4 10s 0d (£4.50)
15 0s 0d (£15.00)
£1 0s 0d (£1.00)
£2 5s 0d (£2.25)
£4 10s 0d (£4.50)
15 0s 0d (£15.00)
£2 0s 0d (£2.00)
£4 0s 0d (£4.00)
£8 0s 0d (£8.00)
17 10s 0d (£17.50)
£2 0s 0d (£2.00)
£4 0s 0d (£4.00)
£8 0s 0d (£8.00)
17 10s 0d (£17.50)
£2 0s 0d (£2.00)
£4 0s 0d (£4.00)
£8 0s 0d (£8.00)
17 10s 0d (£17.50)
£2 10s 0d (£2.50)
£5 0s 0d (£5.00)
£10 0s 0d (£10.00)
25 0s 0d (£25.00)
£2 10s 0d (£2.50)
£5 0s 0d (£5.00)
£10 0s 0d (£10.00)
25 0s 0d (£25.00)

The rate shown is not necessarily correct for the entire year as it does not necessarily take into account government budgets during the year, but is correct for at least some portion of that year according to old tax discs I have managed to view. Different charges than those shown were applied to goods vehicles, farm vehicles, various other types of motorised machinery and also vehicles used by disabled people.

UK Driving Licence 1960UK Driving Licence 1960                    UK Driving Licence 1968                    UK Motor tax Discs 1965 1969                    Highway Code 1968Highway Code 1968

Registration Plate Numbers

Sixties City Transport On cars first registered before 1963 (or 1965 in some cases), the plates usually carried the three letters before the numbers (between 1 and 999 e.g. ABC 123), but some were reversed with the numbers preceding the letters. In the group of three letters, the second and third letter (BC) made up the 'area identifier' and indicated where the vehicle was first registered (area identifiers for vehicles registered from 1st September 2001 are different to those used with this system).

If the plate was reversed, e.g. 123 ABC, the second two letters (BC) were still the area identifier. The first letter and numbers, in this example A__ 123, were the individual element that gave the vehicle its unique identity. The numbers were issued in sequence from 1 to 999. The letter (called the serial letter) was issued in sequence, usually when all possible numbers had been used up, so ABC1 would be followed by ABC2, up to ABC999, when the next issue would be BBC1.
Sixties City Transport

Not all possible combinations of these plates were issued - and many have since been sold on as 'personalised' numbers. Reversed plates followed the same format, so 999ABC would be followed by 1BBC then 2BBC etc. The suffix letter started use in 1963 and was used to identify the year of manufacture e.g. ABC 123 A. Therefore: A-1963 B-1964 C-1965 D-1966 E-1967 F-1967 G-1968 H-1969 J-1970

Road Signs

Sixties City Transport

Before the 1930s road signs were usually made of cast iron, which was gradually replaced by cast aluminium during the 1930s. Both these types of sign had raised lettering that made the fairly frequently-required repainting comparatively easy. The reflective 'Scotchlite' material sealed onto sheet aluminium started to appear during the Fifties, making the signs much more visible at night and doing away with the need for repainting.
The major changes to the appearance of UK road signage, to make them more 'international' and better mirror common European practice was brought about in two main stages.

The first was a necessary introduction of a completely different signage for the UK's new motorways, developed by the Anderson Committee in 1957. Although it was an addition to existing signage, it created a number of 'standards' that were developed further by the Worboys Committee of 1963 and which were mainly responsible for the changes to 'ordinary' road signage from 1964 that are still used today. The old signs were a mixture of graphics and text, unlike European signs that depended mainly on symbolism to get their message across. The new signs avoided the use of a separate 'information plate' and included relevant detail within the symbol itself e.g. the red 'warning' triangle now contained a graphic depicting the hazard. Unlike previous 'piecemeal' attempts at signage regulation, the Worboys Committee proposed a complete redesign of the entire system, resulting in a massive resignage project. Mandatory and prohibitive signage was the first to be changed, with warning and directional signage following over the next decade and very few pre-1964 signs survived more than about ten years. A third change was introduced by The Guildford Rules in the mid-1980s that stipulated features such as colour-coding to indicate different categories of road.

Margaret Calvert, along with her colleague Jock Kinneir (neither of whom could drive), designed an entirely new signage system for the UKs roads. Just out of the Chelsea School of Art (where Kinneir had been her tutor), the pair were asked to design signs for the first motorway in the UK. Sleek, modern and intended to enhance European commonality, they were colour-coded, distinctive and easy to read at speed (the 70mph limit not yet being imposed). When the government became concerned about the state of road signs in general, that contained a mixture of words, styles and fonts, the pair were asked to do the same for all national roads. The lettering and sizing were all tested sometimes using airmen at a field in Oxfordshire as test subjects. The signs were put on a car and the airmen sat on a platform, saying when they could read the word on it as it drove towards them.The pair went on to design signs for everything from the NHS to British Rail.
    Calvert and Kinneir Sixties City Transport

Sixties City Motorcycles  Motor Cycles            Sixties City Transport

On two wheels, the Sixties saw the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers coming to the forefront, particularly Honda and Yamaha, with brand new machines and technology, where just a few years previously they had been copying British designs very closely. Although the British motorcycle industry had been in decline since the late Fifties due to a combination of government incompetence and bad management, British machines still ruled the superbike end of the market for much of the decade but were being overtaken by Japanese technology and designs by the end of the Sixties. Motorcycle production of the leading nations in 1969 was:
Vincent had gone into receivership in 1959 so the remaining major British manufacturers of the decade were Matchless / AJS (until 1966), Royal Enfield, Ariel (until 1967), Brough and Velocette but the biggest by far were the BSA / Triumph company and Norton who produced many classic machines such as:

Ariel Golden Arrow 1961

Sixties City Triumph Motorcycles

Bonneville and Trident
and a smaller brother
the Triumph Tiger Cub

1959: The first T120 was developed from the T110 with a separate gearbox and twin carbs

1960/61: New duplex frame introduced

1963: New gearbox and unit construction engine. Frame produced with a single downtube

1964: Competition TT special built for the U.S. market only, with bigger carbs, 11:1 compression and a Lucas ignition system

1966: Smaller fuel tank, 12 volt electrics and fairing lugs fitted for police use

1968: 30mm Amal concentric carbs, new front frame and swinging arm, tls front brake and compression increased to 9:1

1969: Triumph Trident introduced a 3-cylinder machine.

In 1962 the Joe Dudek streamliner with a 670cc T120 engine tuned by Johnson motors set an FIM approved world speed record of 224.57 mph. This was increased to 245.50 mph in 1966 by Bob Leppans Gyronaut X-1 streamliner running two pre-unit 650 engines. Triumph retained the speed record throughout the rest of the decade.
Malcolm Uphill set the first 100 mph lap in the 1969 Isle of Man TT 750 production race on a 650 Bonneville, averaging 99.99 mph for the three lap course. He also did the Manx GP double in 1965 and won the 1969 Thruxton 500 mile endurance race on a Bonneville.

Triumph Bonneville 650

Sixties City BSA Motorcycles

Lightning, Thunderbolt and Rocket
and a smaller brother
BSA Bantam

1962: The names Lightning and Thunderbolt first appear in BSA's American production catalogue

1963: Twin carb A65 Rocket launched in the UK, called Thunderbolt Rocket in the USA.

1964: Twin carb A65L Lightning introduced as competition to the Triumph Bonneville.

A limited edition 'clubman' racing version was made between September 1964 and October 1965 with a close ratio gearbox, dropped handlebars and rearsets.

1965: The Thunderbolt, a single carb version of the Lightning, was introduced as a replacement for the A65 Star tourer.

BSA Lightning            BSA Rocket 3

The 1968 BSA Range Page 1  Page 2

Sixties City Norton Motorcycles

1962: Norton Atlas launched in the U.S.A.

1964: Norton Atlas launched in the U.K. in February

1967: Pre-production Commandos had sloping Atlas engines with an isolastic mounting

1968: First production Commandos appear in April. After the Commando 'Fastback' came the 'R' model which sported the later 'Roadster' tank/seat, but was in most other respects still very much like the Fastback. The Roadster in turn led to variations such as the 'S' and 'SS' models.

1969: The 'S' model is introduced, with high, left-side mounted exhaust pipes.

Norton Atlas and Norton Commando

Norton Atlas
Norton Commando

Initially a nominal 750cc displacement (actually 745 cc) the Commando became an 850cc in 1973

Sixties City Scooters Scooters                     Lambretta and Vespa - Sixties City

Lambretta The motorised Mod alternative to the motorcycle was the Italian-produced scooter which had much smaller wheels and, generally, engines, although race-tuned machines were surprisingly fast. The most popular and famous makes were Lambretta and Vespa, the Italian 'wasp' earning the nickname of 'hair dryer' due to the shape of its distinctive side panels which covered the engine. The machines were a dream to customise, many sporting superbly artistic paint jobs and invariably adorned with an excess of mirrors, lights or other paraphernalia and were as much a fashion accessory or art form as a mode of transport.

Over 40 British scooter makes were made from post World War Two to the time the last scooter was made in Britain in the late 1960s. Vespa is an Italian brand of scooter manufactured by Piaggio. By the mid-1950s, Vespas were being manufactured under licence in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Spain and, in the 1960s, production was also started in India, Brazil and Indonesia. By 1956, one million Vespas had been sold, becoming more than two million by 1960.

By the 1960s the Vespa, originally conceived as a utility vehicle, had come to symbolise freedom and imagination, resulting in sales that reached 4 million by the end of the decade. There have been 138+ different versions of the Vespa since production began and, when Vespa celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996, more than 15 million scooters had been sold worldwide, making it the most successful scooter manufacturer of all time.

IWL SR59 Berlin
Jumbo Doodlebug
Harley Davidson Topper
IWL SR59 Berlin 1960
CENTAUR Fold Up Motor Scooter
1960 Beam 'Jumbo Doodlebug'
Harley-Davidson 'Topper'
Vespa 160 GS
Raleigh RM12 Super 50
Triumph Tina
Lambretta SX200
Vespa 160 GS, 1962
Raleigh RM12 Super 50
Triumph 'Tina'
Lambretta SX200

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