1952 Year In Review

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Bentley R Type Continental
Just when everyone thought Bentley no longer made sports cars, along came the "R-Type Continental".
Those that thought the Bentley marque had passed before the war were more than a little suprised when the R-Type Continental was announced in 1952. Since the merger with Rolls Royce, Bentleys had been anything but sporting in nature, but there was no questioning the sporting nature of the Continental. Featuring rakish body lines usually crafted by H.J. Mulliner, the R-Type was good for a top speed of 120mph (193kmh) in both elegance and comfort. Between 1952 and 1955, 208 of these cars were produced, at first with 4.25 litre overhead inlet/side exhaust valves, later with 4566cc units, and finally from 1954, with 4887cc engines.

Tradgedy in Boronia

On the 1st June 1952 a railway train struck a passenger bus at an open crossing at Boronia, Victoria, and killed nine people. Prior to 1952 there had been eight previous accidents at this crossing, the death toll to June being 28 plus 50 injured. The Coroner, in his finding, said that the Railways Commissioners "... had not discharged their duty to make the crossing safe", a comment which shocked not only the Railway Commissioners and the Government, but the entire community.

The Government in reply said that to eliminate open crossings throughout the State would cost between 80 million and 100 million pounds. In the same statement the Government spokesman said, in reply to questions, that 169 people had been killed and 482 injured at railway crossing accidents in Victoria alone between 1941 and 1952. This was probably the first time that the value of human lives had been so neatly assessed by an Australian State Government in terms of dollars. It was also, probably, the first time that any Australian Government had frankly admitted the impossibility of making railway crossings safe. On the law of averages, as time moved on, the government was admitting that more deaths would occur at level crossings. "It cannot be helped", the Government said, in effect. We haven't the money. Things still have not changed for Victorians.

Britain's National Road Safety Week

On Saturday, August 2nd, 1952 as the first wave of holiday traffic fanned out along the roads of Britain to seaside and country, local authorities launched a concentrated attack on road accidents. Banners and posters on the outskirts of large towns announced National Road Safety Week. This was the first attempt on a nation-wide scale, to combat the danger of road accidents during the height of the holiday season. Some success was achieved in the cutting of accidents, but a close study had also been made of bad driving. It was observed that far too many drivers were stopping their vehicles in such dangerous places as bends in roads and on the brow of a hill. A large number of vehicles had their rear windows obstructed by luggage so that the interior mirror was of no use. (This was an offence).

Overdriving Of New British Cars

British motor manufacturers had been worried for some time prior to 1952 about the overdriving of new export vehicles between their factories and the docks. Many cases of excessive speed by such cars had been reported to them and wherever specific details were given, prompt measures were taken. The difficulty was that such cars were not driven by factory employees but by the representatives of firms specialising in such delivery duties for the motor industry. The Austin Motor Company had always taken the strongest action possible when such reports reached them concerning the overdriving of Austins.

Partly to dispel this mistaken notion and partly for the restraining effect upon delivery drivers, Austins decided to dispatch their A/40 Somersets with a special notice prominently displayed on the back saying: "If this car exceeds 30 m.p.h. please report details. - Austin Motor Co." This notice was printed in two-colour Day-glow ink on a black background and was designed to be noticeable to drivers both by day and after dark. Austin claimed that, if the experiment proved as successful as its originators expected, the scheme would be extended to cover all Austin models leaving the Longbridge works.

British Cars Price Drop

It was announced in 1952 that Sunbeam-Talbot had been released from the B.M.T.A. Covenant Scheme, and was one of the cheapest so far released, selling at £1347, including tax. Jowett Cars announced a reduction of £233 in the price of the Jupiter Convertible and of £46 in the Javelin Saloon. But it was not all good news on the British motoring front. That year a combination of strikes and "work" to rule" practices in British Car factories was starting to take a toll. Most affected in 1952 was the huge Austin Plant at Birmingham. Resolutions were passed in each department approving the shop stewards' ban on all overtime, after employees' representatives had met the management to discuss dismissal notices given to about 709 men who were made redundant.

Golden Jubilee

The Society of Motor Traders and Manufacturers celebrated their Golden Jubilee at the Hotel Cecil, Strand, London, in 1952. Since its foundation in 1902 the British Motor Industry had expanded from what was considered an up-start movement with no future to Britain's greatest export revenue earner - what a shame things would change so much for the worse. The above mentioned labour strikes were the harbringer of doom that, at the time, probably few realised.

Military Contact for Willys

For 1952 a new larger streamlined Jeep went into full-scale production in military guise for the U.S. Ordnance Corps. The total back-log of unfilled orders for 1952 was valued at 275,000,000 dollars of which 248,000,000 dollars was for civilian jeeps and cars. Speaking of military vehicles, World War II experience has been designed into a new armoured truck for carrying a squad of twelve men into combat in company with land units. A contract was issued to tbe International Harvester Co. for production of the vehicle which provided overall protection to its occupants against small arms fire and shrapnel. It was armed with a .50 calibre machine gun and is powered by a six cylinder Continental engine.

Formula One Championship:

Alberto Ascari (Italy) / Ferrari

NRL Grand Final:

VFL/AFL Grand Final:

Melbourne Cup:

Dalray (W. Williamson)

Wimbledon Women:

Maureen Connolly d. L. Brough (7-5 6-3)

Wimbledon Men:

Frank Sedgman d. J. Drobny (4-6 6-2 6-3 6-2)

The Movies:

  • Singin' in the Rain
  • High Noon
  • The Greatest Show on Earth
  • Moulin Rouge

Academy Awards:

  • Best Picture - The Greatest Show on Earth
  • Best Actor - Gary Cooper (High Noon)
  • Best Actress - Shirley Booth (Come Back, Little Sheba)


  • John Dewey (influential thinker & psychologist)
  • Hattie McDaniel (actress who portrayed Mammy in Gone With the Wind)
  • Maria Montessori (Italian educator & physician)
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