|Homepage.||This page: More motoring memoirs - by Barrie Penhaligan|
by a visitor to Old Classic Car.
Sliding behind the steering wheel, l gently closed the car door. Sitting there in the quiet car showroom on a warm summers afternoon, my mind went back over the many years to my very first car.
It was a Standard 8 of the early 1940s, jet black in colour with black leather seats. Oh! how l used to spend hours of my time polishing the body- work with Shoe Polish, (I couldn’t afford ‘proper’ polish!) until you could see your reflection in it, even the ‘L’ plates got a special dusting, just waiting for the day that they could get discarded to the dust-bin.
My nearest neighbour, who was teaching me to drive, used to repeatedly tell me “Check your Petrol, your Water and your Tyre Pressures every day" and so it came as a tremendous shock to me when, out in the wilds of the Derbyshire Peak District National Park one Sunday afternoon, there was this enormous Bang and the car slid slowly to the side of the road, leaving bits of smoking metal on the road behind me.
Why…oh!... why hadn’t someone told me to check the Oil !
I could have sat there and cried. Here was my absolute pride and joy without life left in her….what could l do? A local garage eventually came out and towed her in and we were left to suffer the humiliation of walking the twelve miles home vowing as l did that, whatever car l had from that day onwards, would have its oil checked each and every day!
Some three weeks and £10. 12s. 6d worse off l collected my car with a second-hand engine in it, but it never, quite felt the same ever again.
Following my years in the R.A.F l had a succession of cars until one day l purchased a Ford Anglia with a ‘forward- facing’ rear window (105E l believe it was called). At this point in time l was taking a keen interest in ‘Rallying’ and, thus, it wasn’t very long before the Ford was kitted out with a plethora of spot-lamps/ fog-lamps, fire extinguisher etc. All went very well and l had some success in this car until, one evening, in a typical ‘pea-soup’ fog, l started to drive home and putting all the lamps on, l soon discovered that the ‘Fog’ was as thick in the car as it was outsideit! Yes! You will have probably guessed it. Pulling over to the side of the road l found that my ‘fog’ in my car was, in fact, smoke! All the wiring under the dashboard was smouldering away quite merrily. Luckily of course l had the extinguisher, but the later estimated cost of a full rewire to the whole system was just about on par with the total value of the car…….so that had to go.
My next car was a 3.8 Jaguar and what a brute that was. You only had to breathe on the pedal and off it went like greased lightening! I had very many wins to my credit in this car plus quite a few ‘seconds/ thirds’. Finance however kept raising it’s ugly head, what with Insurance, petrol at roughly 15 mpg and regular, expensive trips to the local tyre depot l was left with no choice but to trade it in for a ‘Mini’.
This car was excellent for my chosen sport, but not very good for ‘courting in’ so away that went.
A ‘Simca Ellyse’ next resided in the garage and, although only being a 1300cc engine, it was a real ‘flyer’. As standard she accelerated away like a rocket…..held onto corners as if she was painted on the road….and was a damned good car! Several seasons racing were had out of her before l had to consider ‘Marriage’!!
Now…Rallying and Marriage make for VERY bad bed partners and thus one had to go and, as my Fiancee refused to, the ‘Simca’ had to be replaced with a Hillman Imp (one of the first ‘hatchback’ cars l had to own in order to accommodate a baby buggy./ wheelchair.
I remember very clearly the salesman’s face as he came to fill in the Hire Purchase Agreement Form. Seeing as this sale took place on a Sunday evening (before 7 days a week trading) he asked me if l had any objection to him back- dating it to the previous day (Saturday) as it would not only be ‘Legal’ but it would help his commission! “No” l replied, as l had to take the Simca home to remove all the spot-lights etc; etc; so it was agreed that l would collect the Imp on the following day (Monday).
Imagine my horror when l drove off the forecourt and the whole of the front-end collapsed and l had to call back in to ask the garage to tow me in. The salesman’s face was a picture! If it hadn’t been for the fact that l had in my pocket a copy of the Agreement that showed the previous days date on it, l would have been the owner of a pile of scrap. As it was, when l called in the following day to collect the Imp, the salesman just glowered and threw the keys at me.
Since that day l have had a succession of mundane cars, nothing much to remember them by and now, in the prime of my life, l am looking for possibly the last car l will ever buy.
But what an array there is to choose from…. There is ‘4 wheel this’…’Turbo’ that…GTI’s…SRl’s…Hard tops… Soft tops…the list is endless !!
Here, however, l sit quietly cosseted in my all time favourite car. Back to the wool carpeted floor, the beautiful grained burr walnut dashboard / door inserts, the ‘smell’ of the deep blue leather seats, asking myself “Where in all the world could you get such a marvellously engineered motor car, finished to such a high standard and still the best value for money…bar non” The simple answer is……Nowhere !
My eyes look down to the steering wheel boss and, as l finally decide that , YES this IS the car for me, l am certain that the ‘Eye’ of the Jaguar motif, winked at me in agreement !
(Thanks to Barrie who sent this in for inclusion on my old car site - cheers!!! - RJ)
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