FROM the arrival of flashing indicators and the launch of the iconic Mini, to Suez crisis petrol rationing and today’s highly efficient, low-carbon technologies, the Queen has witnessed many changes over the past 60 years of UK automotive history.
In celebration of the Diamond Jubilee, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has highlighted some of the key automotive events of her long reign.
1 January 1954: Flashing indicators became legal on Britain‘s cars. These were either amber all-round or white at the front and red at the rear.
1 June 1954: Standard introduced Britain‘s first diesel engine, a version of the Vanguard, derived from that used in the Ferguson tractor.
December 1956: Petrol rationing was introduced, the result of the crisis that closed the Suez Canal to oil tankers. It remained in force until May 1957.
10 July 1958: Britain‘s first parking meters were installed in London‘s Grosvenor Square. Charges were 6d (2.5p) for half an hour and a shilling (5p) for one hour.
December 1958: Thefirst stretch of motorway inBritain was opened, the 8.2-mile Preston bypass, now part of the M6.
August 1959: A ‘triumph of front-wheel-drive packaging’, BMC’s Mini Minor was launched for under £500.
1961: Jaguar launched the E-Type which Enzo Ferrari called ‘the most beautiful car in the world’.
1 June 1964: Production began at Vauxhall’s new factory at Ellesmere Port on Merseyside.
1 January 1967: Blanket 70mph speed limit was introduced on Britain‘s roads.
9 October 1967: Breathalyser tests were introduced.
1 January 1974: A 50mph speed limit was introduced on Britain‘sroads to conserve fuel.
May 1974: The world’s first catalysts to control vehicle pollution were produced.
6 February 1977: A Rolls-Royce Phantom VI was presented by the SMMT to the Queen for her Silver Jubilee.
July 1984: Groundbreaking ceremony took place on the Nissan facility in Sunderland, now the UK’s largest car manufacturing plant.
19 February 1986: British Leyland built the five millionth original Mini.
8 October 1992: Honda’sSwindon factory began production.
December 1992: The Toyota factory at Burnaston, Derbyshire, began car production and its Prius brought hybrid technology to the mainstream.
1 October 1995: Petrol was no longer sold in imperial gallons but metric litres.
1998: VW purchased Bentley in Crewe and Rolls-Royce joined the BMW stable.
27 May 2002: Bentley Motors presented the Queen with a new official State limousine on behalf of the UK motor industry.
17 February 2003: The London Congestion Charge was introduced.
December 2011: Diesel cars took a record 50.6% of the UK new car market and alternatively-fuelled vehicles sold a record 25,456 units.