I found an old set of negatives – the old black & white 120 size – in the most unlikely place, almost under my nose in my sitting room. How they got there I don’t know. I held them up to the light and I almost jumped with joy. Lo and behold there was the only negative, the original, the only picture ever taken of my first car. The print of this I can vaguely remember floating around in years gone by. That I would ever find the negative was as unlikely as anything.The picture must have been taken by me in 1958 with my father’s folding bellows type Agfa camera.
So here it is my first car. It cost just £10 in 1958. In those days there were many pre-war cars and if you were earning just over £2 a week that’s about all you could afford. Post war cars were beyond the budget of us lads. I wish I still had that car. With restoration it would be worth thousands now. There are a few stories to tell about the fun we had in that car.
One day we went shooting at Bisley, I believe Barry, John Minty and his girlfriend Pauline were in the car. On the way back the half shaft broke leaving us stranded by the side of the road. By chance Pauline’s father came by and gave us a tow. Going down a hill he was going too fast and the tow rope got wrapped around one of the front wheels. I couldn’t steer and disaster was looming. I sounded the klaxon horn frantically and as we went up the hill he slowed down and stopped. It was a very scary moment.
I “repaired” the broken half shaft by acquiring a rear axle from a breakers yard in Slough. That was not quite right. I should have acquired the prop shaft as well because the gears matched and bedded down together. I didn’t do that, I attached the existing prop shaft to the replacement rear axle. The gears were strangers to each other and the result was a terrible whining noise. That noise had to be endured from then on.
The other whining noise I had to endure was from my mother because my car was parked on the front drive at Burfield Road. She was a snob and thought my ancient pre- war Austin 7 was not in character for the area. Actually she was right to a certain extent but what was I supposed to do. If they had contributed an extra £10 or so I could have bought a better car.
When the other one passed his test 10 years later my father gave him his mini van as a first vehicle worth hundreds not tens of pounds. All I got from them was grief which at the time went over my head, I ignored it as I had no choice but it was par for the course after all.
There’s one thing for sure, I can always remember the registration number of that car but none of the many others.