Home » Cold Start: One Of The Best Things Seen In a Monterey Car Week Parking Lot

Cold Start: One Of The Best Things Seen In a Monterey Car Week Parking Lot

Cs Thamesvan

I’m going to be working through the massive pile of content I absorbed, sponge-like, during Monterey Car Week, and that includes some things that were not officially part of the goings-on. Like the public parking lots, which in many cases had plenty going on, despite not being part of the aforementioned goings-on. Like this incredible Ford Thames 400E van, an impossibly rare sight in America.

The Thames 400E was a very useful little light commercial van released in 1957, and of the same forward-control design like the Volkswagen Type 2 Transporter or Ford’s later Econoline or Dodge A100 and many more. Built almost unchanged to 1965, the van came in a dizzying variety of body styles, including pickup truck and chassis-cab options.

They’re really appealing little vans, as you can tell from the tomato-red one I saw in that parking lot. Ford had an unusual and really genuinely charming promo film made for the van in 1958 that features zero spoken dialog but lots of music from the Cy Laurie Band, a popular jazz group that was very big in 1950s London.

The film was called Band Wagon, and hey, look, you can watch it right here:

It’s great, right? I’mm impressed with a lot of things shown here: that flip-down step that opens mechanically when the side door is open, that potent Consul engine between the front seats, how well that kitten is dealing with the noise and chaos, and, significantly, seeing that a tire can be punctured with a violin bow shot like an arrow.

Also, what the hell was going on with London’s violent street musicians?


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41 Responses

  1. The violent street musicians are the good guys in this film. They are trying to prevent the deplorable practice of using kittens as trumpet and trombone mutes that was a, thankfully short lived, fad in some of the less respectable jazz clubs at the time.

  2. Dang, that film was seriously fun to watch; the world sure could use more stuff such as that film and the ads Madness did for the Honda City in the 80s. Is there anything comparable being produced for advertising cars today? There’s the Nissan ad campaign with Brie Lawson which includes a pretty cool ad involving a montage of their SUVs from the earliest Nissan Patrol to the present but AFAIK none of those commercials have lethal violin bows or going one step beyond…

  3. There’s a lot to unpack in that video. My favorite was that woman with the kitten. Who is she? A groupie or a girl friend, manager of the band? I like the way she gets out and changes a tire in a skirt while all the guys just stay in the van and keep on playing. Then gets back in and resumes rubbing that kitten.

    That drop-down step is cool. My A100 has a sliding step but it’s only wide as one door. I wonder if the fixed rear step is removable. So many questions. I also like the weaponized musical instruments.

  4. So I met both you and David in a parking lot on Wednesday on Muras Blvd
    And thought out the week sometimes seeing the car’s in the lots was better because they drove them

  5. I love how bouncy the vehicles are in European films of this era. It’s great when you see something like a car chase and the getaway car is just happily bopping along.

    1. Thomas the tank engine is number 1.
      Edward is number 2.
      Henry is number 3
      Gordon is number 4
      And Fauntleroy the Ford van is number 15.

      (Or it’s the load rating in hundredweight)

  6. That van looks sort of tired but resigned, like it doesn’t really want to be up at 4 am to deliver milk, but if it doesn’t, who’s going to?

  7. “Also, what the hell was going on with London’s violent street musicians?”

    Leaded gas? Residual trauma from multiple great wars? If guys in mid-century London who dressed like Edwardian dandies, or rode fancy Vespas could still be behind notorious violence, I’m pretty sure everyone back then was just one mispoured cup of tea away from starting a riot.

  8. So Jason, thanks for your take on what you think is interesting. I will pray for you. But seriously really just wanted to say a big thank you to you, DT, The smart girl, and everyone else who has helped to create a great, interesting, fun website. I know it’s a shit load of effort and work. Did I already say thank you?

    This place is an oasis in a sea of not so great sites, which are like watching the network news. Everyone copies the pr food fed to them and spits out their take on an issue related to cars, travel, etc. You guys don’t appear to cut from the same bolt of cloth. We all probably prefer a little bit of “nuts” in the writers here. The fact that there is no click bait BS knee jerk articles filled with fake outrage at the subject up for discussion also lends a ton of credibility here. So I only can say a huge GRACIAS Amigos , and hope there is some cash flowing into everyone”s pockets. May the Gods of the Internet grant you wisdom and everlasting protection from the douche bags of the world. Now go in peace, and write more shit. NOW please. As soon as I can get the other place to let me delete my account, I am gone. God bless you children. Amen.

  9. My dad would sometimes refer to Transits as Ford Thames vans. Cue eye rolling from six year old me. Thank you for educating me 45 years on what a Thames van actually was. Love that ‘deployable step’ and traumatised about the poor kitten.

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