As you sit in yet another traffic jam cursing your fate, just thank your lucky stars it isn’t the 1980s. There might not have been as many cars on the road, but it was still a miserable time to be a stationary motorist. The climate control systems in those days consisted of a manually-operated window giving two options — broil to death in your mobile greenhouse or choke to death on everyone else’s leaded petrol fumes. The radio was crap, and if your car was upmarket enough for a tape player then odds were high that your favourite C-90 compilation would get chewed up.
Considering that their lot was a pretty rubbish one, the drivers that Chris Dorley-Brown photographed in a Hackney snarl-up one hot morning in 1987 seem for the most part to be taking it all with remarkably good grace. In many ways it was an ideal situation for a spot of people watching, and in this case photographing; the frustration, the boredom — Dorley-Brown even recalls a certain sense of camaraderie that existed in the borough in the days long before East End gentrification as Thatcher’s Britain felt the collective squeeze. The artist’s book is also great for a bit of retro car-spotting fun, with future “classics” including the Capri, the Cortina, the Metro and possibly even an Austin Allegro spluttering at a standstill. Drivers in the 1980s by Chris Dorley-Brown is available from publishers Hoxton Mini Press.