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Please also see my Hoovers wanted page if you have an old Hoover Cleaner or other Hoover appliance you wish to dispose of - I might want it!
I have now collected vintage Hoover vacuum cleaners for nearly ten years. The way that the designs change to reflect the period in which they were sold fascinates me, as does the way that no matter how vintage the Hoover might be, it is highly likely that it is still in good working condition. Many of my machines are given regular workouts performing everyday cleaning tasks, and the do so with the efficiency they had when they were built. There are only a handful of old Hoover vacuum cleaner collectors in the UK, but many congregate at the Hooverland Yahoo Group which is an invaluable resource for those interested in collecting vacuum cleaners.
At the start of the 1930s, Hoover had been selling their vacuum cleaners in the UK for over a decade, but their spectacular factory in London had not yet been opened, and machines were still being shipped over from their Canadian plant. The machines themselves looked little different to examples dating from the time of the Great War, but many detail improvements in design had been carried out, most notably the introduction of the beater bar in 1927, which made the Hoover Cleaner probably the most efficient upright cleaner on the market for several decades. It Beats as it Sweeps as it Cleans was the slogan for many years, and as this decade progressed, Hoover became more conscious of several factors that manufacturers could use to help spur on sales.
The first of the British-built Hoover cleaners to emrerge from the new plant at Perivale was the Model 750 of 1932 (although mine predates the opening of the factory, and was built in Canada), which represents a top-of-the-range model from the turn of the 1930s, with a very functional design and limited ornamentation, while the budget Model 450 of a couple of years later has one significant change - the addition of a dirtfinder lamp, to illuminate dark corners, and also apparently to facilitate vacuuming in the dark, as many machines were run from light sockets during this period - many homes were wired for electric light only, and lacked plug sockets. The Model 825 from 1935 features many detail changes in design from the 750, and uses several styling cues from the automotive industry, while the Junior 375 represents an increasingly diverse approach to different international markets. It was a small machine more suited to European homes, and was never sold on Hoover's home market of the USA. The Model 262 of 1939 represents the increasing importance of the role of the industrial designer - in Hoover's case Henry Dreyfuss - and its teardrop-like form contrasts wildly with the rudrementary styling of its forebearers. This design was followed in 1940 by a design not launched in the UK until 1949, as the Model 612, a far more substantial looking machine.
In 1950, the Junior 375 was replaced by the Junior 119. The styling of this was still a little archaic compared with the full-size Hoover, but in 1955 it was replaced by the Junior 1224 - the same basic machine, with its appearance transformed by the application of much brighter colours, reflecting the increasing gaeity in the design of post-war products. This can also be seen in the Deluxe 652 of 1959, later known as the Hoover Senior. The dull browns and navy blues of the early 1950s were discarded in favour of pastel pink plastics and aluminium trim, the most implicit use of the imagery of the American car yet seen. The previous year, the Junior 1334 had been launched, and it, from certain angles, resembled nothing less than the Volkswagen Beetle (Probably the first proper "world car") from many angles.
Both of these models were updated every few years, usually by changing the colour of the machine and effecting detail changes, and both the 652 and 1334 type of machine were reskinned to make them look more modern, but without changing the mechanics of the machine - the Junior 1346 of 1967 and its attendant derivatives are an example of this. But throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the product range was increasingly widened. Many Non-vacuum cleaner Hoover appliances were launched, as were different designs of Hoover cleaner. One of the best-known is the Hoover Constellation, a machine that owed more to Sci-Fi fantasy in design terms than any other vacuum cleaner at the time. It was a huge success, far more so than the Hooverette 2944B of 1961, a European-style stick vacuum cleaner of similarly futuristic design.
This machine was meant to rival machines made by firms like AEG and Meile, just as the Hoover Cylinder range increasingly sought to take sales from Electrolux, with the ultimate version being the Hoover Conquest 507 from 1970, with its automatic flex rewind, bag full indicator and turbo brush. But not all the new Hoover vacuum cleaners aped the products of other manufacturers. In 1963 Hoover lauched the Dial-A-Matic in the USA, which was sold in the UK as the Hoover Convertible. This machine was the predeccesor of the modern upright vacuum cleaner, with a hard bag chamber, clean fan action and equal efficiency as both an upright and suction cleaner.
This model didn't sell well in the UK, but it did inspire another Europe-only model, the Hoover Starlight U2002 of 1975, which later morphed into the more basic Junior Deluxe by 1977. By this time, a whole new round of Hoover vacuums were about to appear, but this is where the story ends for now, on this website anyway!