Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s

| 28 Jul 2020
Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s

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Hayling Island in Hampshire, like so many traditional British seaside resorts, has inspired some fantastic Modernist architecture.

Behind the roller-shutter doors of one of its Art Deco-style garages, however, you’ll find a shrine not to the 1930s but to the jives, rock and roll, and particularly the automotive excesses of two decades later.

Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s
Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s

“It’s all about evoking the memories of my childhood,” explains owner John Deverell as he leans against the wing of a rare 1958 Zodiac Farnham Estate – one of six 1956-’58 ‘Highline’ Fords on his fleet including the earliest-known MkII Zephyr Convertible built by Carbodies, car number 13.

“My dad didn’t own a car, but my uncle had Zephyrs, Crestas and Vanguards, and they always appealed to me.

“When I was growing up I carried a Spotter’s Guide everywhere and would fill it in with where I’d seen a particular car and its registration number.”

Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s

If you’ve visited the Goodwood Revival, there’s a good chance you’ll have seen his super-early ‘flat-back’ MkII saloon in the Earls Court display – there’s also a couple of 1954 MkI Consul and Zephyr convertibles (the latter with a triple-carb Aquaplane head), plus a pair of MkIII estates.

But former C&SC chap Deverell is far from just a Blue Oval man.

“There are 11 cars on-site in total,” he smiles after a bit of mental maths. “I’ve got a black 1956 Jaguar 2.4 that was first owned by [former Prime Minister] Sir David Lloyd George’s grandson, a’51 Standard Vanguard Phase I ‘Beetleback ’, a Wolseley 6/99 and a 1958 Vauxhall PA Cresta with the three-piece rear window –plus I’ve just sold my ’58 Victor Estate, one of the earliest known.”

Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s

There’s even one of the American cars that inspired the Stateside design revolution on this side of the Atlantic, a vast ’59 Cadillac Coupe de Ville.

As if to make those classics feel at home, the whole garage has been themed around their era, from the wallpaper via original gas-station signs to period (and very expensive) Atomic curtains.

“The house itself was built in the Modernist style in 1933 for a London doctor who wanted a seaside home,” says Deverell.

Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s

“We’ve restored it to original spec inside with Betty Joel furniture, but I built the garage myself and the décor is all 1950s.

“For me it’s about the look of the era. There are skylights in the style of Duple coaches and I found a reproduction Cadillac service sign, plus a clock from America that was first produced in the late ’50s.

“I buy some of it on eBay, but I also go to vintage fairs – though you pay a premium there because people know exactly what they are selling.”

Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s
Classic & Sports Car – Also in my garage: a fascination for the ’50s

Various records from the likes of Tommy Steele line the walls, and there are rather more in Deverell’s much-loved 1956 Rock-Ola Teardrop jukebox, which holds 120 45s.

In fact, music has been a theme of his passion, though he has now pared back his collection of significant guitars.

“I used to have some fantastic ones,” he says, going misty-eyed. “I had a’54 Telecaster and Stratocaster, and a ’56 Gibson Les Paul ‘Black Beauty’. I’ve still got my Gibson 335, though.”

Even relaxation time has now taken on a ’50s twist for Deverell: “I’ve got a couple of 1958 KB televisions from the most expensive cabins on Cunard’s cruise liners.

“Most of the shows I watch are on Talking Pictures TV – ’50s films are pretty rubbish, but the cars are great. I live for that era.”

Images: Tony Baker


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