By the 1930s, motoring was common among the middle and upper classes, and congestion was already a problem. Then private motoring came near to a grinding halt for the duration of World War II.
Here, from a 1942 edition of Autocar, a businessman pitches his plan for solving the problem of the rush hour post-war. His dream car is similar to the city cars of today, only smaller. In fact, it seems very reminiscent of today’s car of the future.
“Before the war I owned a big American car and a Standard Eight. The idea was that I should use the American car for journeys and when I travelled en famille, and the Standard for my daily trip to town. But it did not work out quite like that,” our man began. “If my wife was going out, which was most days, she would want a car herself, and, as she never really felt at home with the Yank, she always took the Standard, which, of course, left me with the big car for my 20-mile journey to my office and for the run of five miles from the office to the works.”
This car had to be short, narrow and manoeuvrable, the writer says.
“It would be a little single-seater saloon – I can’t remember ever having anyone in the Standard other than soldiers to whom I have given a lift. So I want a single-seater with just enough room to take a small case or parcels behind the driver’s seat. The advantage of the single-seater is, of course, that it would be quite narrow – about 3ft 6in, I should think. The wheelbase, too, would have to be very short and, above all, I must have a steering lock comparable with that of the London taxi.”
To give you an idea of the scale, this is just 4in wider than 1962’s comical Peel P50.
“I want to be able to park it in the smallest space that I can find, and I want to be able to emulate the cyclists and motorcyclists who worm their way in and out of the traffic waiting at traffic blocks until they are up to the lights,” our man continued.