Abandoned: British-Canadian Oddity Far From Home
Rare Canadian market Standard Vanguard rots in a Georgia forest
I recently visited the eclectic junkyard-turned-roadside-attraction Old Car City USA in White, Georgia. This has been my custom for 3 yeas now as it combines relaxing hiking with the thrill of exploring an overgrown car graveyard. You can find my review here. Upon reviving this series, we've already seen this shoddily modded '38 Imperial. Now, we're exploring a topic vastly more difficult to research.
Today we have a mystery on our hands. How and why did a fairly obscure early example of Canadian market car from a dead British car brand end up as a derelict hulk 800 miles south of the Canadian border? Yes, this is an early 'Phase 1' example of the Standard company's Vanguard, the first new design in postwar Britain.
1948 Standard Vanguard Brochure
To really understand why this car shouldn't be where it is, we need to understand the ambitious export oriented Vanguard Phase 1. The styling was heavily influenced by postwar American designs, particularly in the rear, but the car was never sold here. Our neighbors to the north, being more Brit friendly, did get the chance to buy Vanguards new, but they're very uncommon today, particularly the early ones. The Phase 1 lasted from 1947 to 1953 but there is very little information available online about the export versions. There are about two different writings that have been reposted all over the internet plus this Hemmings ad.
According to the occasionally accurate Wikipedia, 174,799 Phase 1s were made. It's safe to say not a ton of those ended up in Canada. We're looking at a properly rare car here.
Like most cars from the late 1940s, these cars rusted with great enthusiasm. Given it's not that far gone even at age 70, I suspect it didn't spend long enduring harsh Canadian winters. Assuming it came to rural White, Georgia from the nearest major Canadian city, Toronto, that's 750 miles as the crow flies in the late 40s early 50s. Interstate 75 wouldn't be constructed until 1957 so you're easily looking at a 1,000 mile journey by car.
Imagine making that journey before the advent of the modern interstate system in a small 68 bhp car with a 3 on the tree. This car is noticeably narrower than contemporaneous American cars and that can't help high speed stability.
So, what do you think of this obscure Canadian market Brit? It's fantastically unlikely for one to still survive in recognizable shape, even as a derelict hulk, much less this far from home. Even today I'd be lucky to spot one Canadian license plate a year here in richly diverse city of Atlanta. Back in the early 50s it was still a somewhat disreputable industrial city built around the railroad. There wouldn't be much there to attract a Canadian that didn't exist in the much closer cities of Chicago, Detroit, or New York City.