OUR old car spotters were unanimous about the car with the distinctive bonnet outside Darlington County Court in Coniscliffe Road on August 3, 1964. YLV 459 is a Vauxhall Victor F Series Mark 1, launched in early 1957.

“They were very up-to-date, very much an American car in miniature,” says John Biggs in Etherley Grange. “I remember one of the staff at King James Grammar School in Bishop Auckland buying one of the first ones and it was bright yellow – wow!.”

Everyone mentioned the Victor’s propensity to corrode.

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“It was Which? magazine’s ‘best buy’, based on price and equipment but, sadly, it would be rusting within a year and would resemble a colander within three,” says Peter Daniels in Bishop Auckland.

Which makes Dave Bond’s specimen such a survivor.

“Mine is from 1958,” he says. “It belonged from new to two elderly sisters in Sunderland. They would only go out in it on dry days to the coast at Seaburn with their deckchairs and picnics and then toddle back home.

“The front bumpers are an American, wraparound, styling with rounded bullet shapes on the corners, and the centre of the bonnet is raised. For the Mark 2, they smoothed out the bonnet and the bumpers so it wasn’t such an in-your-face look.”

After the sisters faded away, Dave’s Victor languished in a lock-up for many years until, on its first day, it was set upon by vandals, who smashed the windscreen, pulled off the bumpers and ripped out the backseat.

Almost worthless, it was on the back of a wagon on its way to the scrapyard when a dealer bought it for £40, a little more than its scrap value. But in its crippled state, it was too much of a job, and so it gathered dust for many more years until, at the start of the century, Dave, of Spennymoor, paid £800 for it.

“I found it looking all forlorn,” he says. “All the brakes and steering had seized up, but the bodyshell was sound. It took me six years to get it up and running because it had been so badly vandalised – it has been a nightmare carry-on getting the bumpers and the backseat because they are so rare, but I have managed.”

Now his two-tone peppermint green and white Victor can be seen at classic car shows.

Back to our picture, Andrew Raine had a go at identifying the cars behind the Victor: “A Ford Consul MK 1, a Standard Vanguard Phase 3, an Austin A30 or A35 van, I'm not sure of the next one, maybe a BMC 1100, and the last is a Ford Cortina Mk 1.”

He thought the boy at the front of the queue was sitting in a Hillman Minx Series 1 although some spotters wondered if it could be a Singer.

With thanks to them all, including John Oates of Durham, Peter Campbell, John Lambard and David Knowles.

TO commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, we are serialising the diary of Sgt Charles Eagles, who landed with the 9th Durham Light Infantry on May 6, 1944, and then fought his way inland until, on July 22, his war was ended by a mine.

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He has already experienced the bloody drama of the Battle of Lingevres, in which he managed to take 100 Germans prisoner without having a weapon, and now he is pushing inland into more danger…

After the war, Sgt Eagles founded well-known photographic shops in Durham and Sunderland. He wrote his diary in 2004 when he returned for the first time to the D-Day beaches.

He died earlier this year, aged 94.