Eagle Comic "British Car of 1953"


I obviously didn’t grow up with Eagle Comics. I was constructed in the spring of 1981, twelve years after Eagle was absorbed into its former rival, Lion. However, as with many things that my father enjoyed years before I did, other examples being Pink Floyd, the Punk movement and activities that occur behind closed doors and between consenting adults, the appeal of Eagle is certainly not lost on me.

Why on Earth do I bring this up now? Well, one of the most enduringly popular memories that people have of this particular Boys publication is the centre spreads that graced most issues. Fabulously detailed cutaway drawings by Leslie Ashwell Wood that kids with inquiring minds would spend ages poring over and drinking in the details. I thought I’d share it with you because a) I love it, and b), today’s kids don’t know what they’re missing.

The same image in super-enbiggenable format.
The same image in super-enbiggenable format. Click to see those Salient Features

“Of no named make, this car has all the salient features of present day practice which have captured the world’s markets”

An earlier Eagle had featured the Vauxhall Velox presented in a similar way, under the heading of “British cars for Export”. In 1953 Britain was shouting “Export or die!” at itself, and spent England spent a good deal of the time convincing itself that it’s products were world-beaters. Well, to be fair, some of them were, but there is some evidence that the Americans were producing some pretty respectable machinery by that period.


Eagle must have either been in denial or isolation if they believed that the car they had composited together was anywhere near the cutting edge if you looked at things from a global perspective. And you can’t help but admire the brazen xenophobia hinted at by dissing the undignified “mouth organ” shape of American car grilles. Egads!

This was the generic 1950’s British Car By Numbers. There’s a bit of Humber or Riley, some Standard and Rover, maybe a little Armstrong-Siddeley about it. This is what kids were being presented with in England as being the blueprint for how a car should be. Of course, elsewhere in the world the future was happening right at the same time.

The Corvette was trickling into production, in glass fibre reinforced plastic, for goodness sake. Mercedes-Benz (of Germany!) had built a car called the 300SL with fuel injection and doors which opened like the wings of a gull! And Italy, not long after being on its knees for so long during six years of unpleasantness, was echoing to the sound of highly-tuned multi-cylinder engines.

Yes, Buckinghamshire had Aston Martin to be proud of, and there were loads of proud fellows nationwide who would tinker with old Singers and Austins in various sheds and garages in an effort to make them faster or better looking, but that was about it for sheer excitement. For the car-loving British kid of 1953, starch would feature prominently on the menu for a good few years yet.

(Disclaimer: All images photographed by me from Eagle Comic, copyright property of Colin Frewin and Associates Ltd)

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