Fathers First Car

In the early fifties you had to go on a waiting list in order to buy a new car. In 1951 my father got his first car. It was a Ford Prefect. I remember coming home one Thursday from school and seeing it standing on the drive. It was sort of dark ‘yucky’ green and the registration number was NUM 795. Funny, isn’t it? I can only remember two registration numbers and that was one and the other was my own first car. It came with that special smell of new cars. Leather (yes, there wasn’t pvc then) paint and …. newness, I don’t know how else to describe it. If I remember correctly my father was at work when the car was delivered sometime during the day by the main Ford dealers in Leeds.
I was the first passenger as my father took it out for a quick spin which turned out to be to be a surprise visit to my grandmother who lived in a back to back terrace house in Hunslet, an industrial area of Leeds. I didn’t realise at the time that he had only just learned to drive and with no seatbelts in those days … but on the other hand cars didn’t have heaters either. Then again, there were relatively few cars on the roads. Of course my mother was very pleased that we were one up on the neighbours but then very few people had a car then, never mind a new car. It made a huge difference. We went out on outings most weekends. Up to the Yorkshire Dales, across east to the north sea coast. Through Tadcaster up the 1 in 6 long, steep climb of Garrowby Hill onto the Yorkshire Wolds, a hill which which lots of other cars failed to climb and onto Filey, Scarborough and Bridlington. That little Ford made a big difference to our lives as a family but the great trip to the magical south was to be the biggest adventure of all …

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