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Homepage. This page: A selection of short motoring stories about motoring in Britain many years ago.

More true stories about car and lorry driving.

An interesting collection of memories about driving can be found in the motoring memories section at oldclassiccar already. These tend to be longer stories, but from time to time I receive shorter accounts of what it was like to drive cars, lorries and other vehicles in days gone by. These shorter personal accounts will therefore be added to this page, as and when they come along. Longer stories will go on their own page as before.

Mick's first car, and other recollections.

Fordson 5cwt van
"Hi there, recently dicovered your excellent site which kindled many nostalgic memories. My first car was a 1952 Fordson 5cwt van with a Martin Walter rear window conversion. Purchased in 1962 for 12 pounds 10s (GBP 12.50) it came in pieces but when re-assembled served us well. When the engine got quite tired, I bought another s/h lump for 2 pounds 10s and changed them over, easier than messing about with a side valver. Ever reamered out king pin bushes!!!?

However, my memories go back a lot further, to pre-war days infact, when my parents ran a couple of taxis. One of these was an Austin 6 and the other a Buick McLaughlin. The Buick was requisitioned at the outbreak of hostilities, had the body chopped and a wooden 'Pickie' body built on. It then spent the remainder of the war painted battleship grey with AFS (Auxiliary Fire Service) in big white letters on the front doors.

Always had a keen interest in older vehicles, showed Moggies for a number of years but age and arthritus catches up and no longer able to lay on my back under a motor or even bend my back under a bonnet. Gone are the days when I've got up at 5 am to change a head gasket to make an 8am start at a classic car rally. However, having driven commercials when I was younger, that's where my real interest lies. It was hard work in the fifties and sixties. Often didn't have heaters or even indicators. Great fun in the winter!! Just a couple that come to mind that I've had the dubious pleasure of driving: AEC Mustang, Mercury, Mammoth Major, Leyland Hippo, Beaver etc etc etc. Good luck and regards Mick..........Keep on Truckin'."

Driving a Foden lorry.

Teifion contacted me in 2008 with a couple of short recollections that he has, of driving old British lorries in the days before tachographs....

"Parked up in the west end cafe in Gloucester as normal. But what happens the following morning was not so normal. I went to pull away with my old Foden, with a 150 Gardner, and I shot out on to the road and no trailer. Somebody had pulled the pin and tied it back with rope, so there I was with a legless trailer and the reddest face in Gloucestershire.

It was a cold November morning and fog that you could cut with a knife, the windscreen thick with ice, my head stuck out the window. 10 miles per hour and hope for the best on the A38 ring road. There was a big bump and I was thrown out of the seat with my foot flat to the boards. We mounted a roundabout like a bucking bronco, nothing else to do now but carry on ploughing through and hope nobody had seen me, but with the fog so bad I had a good chance of getting away with it. I came back that way at the end of the week and there was the evidence, straight across the centre flowers and all! That's what you call flowers, fog and centre reservations."

Stan and his Austin FX3 Taxi cab.

Stan, who now lives in Florida, has sent over a number of items of interest over the last few years, including this recollection of driving an FX3 in the 1950s:

Austin FX3 taxi
"I started driving a London Taxi in Sept. 1957. The perfomance of the Austin FX3 diesel cab was pitiful. 0 to 60mph in two weeks, if you were lucky, but some how every "Jack-the-Lad" wanted to race you off from the lights. The FX3 diesel with its million mile clutch was almost impossible to stall and with two years of cab driving behind me, I could gauge the exact moment when the lights would change.

Some 'charlie' pulled up alongside me in a brand new 1959 Sunbeam Rapier (I always loved that car). He gave me the 'LOOK' and gunned his motor. I gave my cab the lurch ... what usually happened was the Charlie would lurch forward, realize that the lights had not changed and stomp on his brakes. That is when the lights would change and I would be Off whilst he was still on his brakes. That did not happen with this Charlie. He flew off without looking (boy was he fast). The double decker that he T-boned was very late crossing the junction. I did not want to be involved so I chugged off."

Jay's family album.

Jay got in touch recently, sending some scans of photos in the family album with a motoring theme to them, headed by a CA she once owned, and a snap of it appearing in the background of a well-known 70s cop series - The Sweeney. Other pics show Jay as a youngster, and a few include her mother posing alongside various vehicles, including a Triumph Herald estate, and a Mk2 Jaguar.

Various old cars
"Here's one of my dear old Bedford, KCR 515 E, known as KC (or The Reck if she was misbehaving!), owned by me 1974-1977. Oh, the stories I could tell about her! ... The Mini (taken in 1964) was taking me (aged 10) and my parents on a 2 week camping holiday from Berks. to Scotland. Have you ever been up Hardknot Pass in the Lake District? 1 in 3 gradient, cliff face up one side, sheer drop on the other, barely room for cars to pass. She kept slipping out of 1st, and I had to sit on the passenger floor, braced against the gear stick, to hold her in gear, with mum semi-hysterical in the back seat! I thought it was great fun! By the time mum sold the Minx, you could watch the road going by under the passenger floor! Both good motors, although I expect you've got tons of Mini pix. I left it on as it was next to the Minx one on the album page. The bottom left one (1100) was taken 1969, the others, 1970; the Jag was my uncle's, not ours, but that's me in the driving seat, just posing! Don't know if they're any good for you to use." Thanks a lot for sending them over!!!

"Bugattiman" and his SS Jaguar.

"I thought you may be interested in my experience of old cars. My first car was a 1948 SS Jaguar 1 1/2 litre SE saloon. Bought in 1960. After some time I discovered that it needed replacement king pins. I had never done anything very much before in the way of mechanics. I got some info on how to do this job, and did manage to get it done, but I didn't reamer them in very well and the steering was a nightmare.

When it came to sell it a chap came along to buy it for his wife. When I explained about the steering he said no worries "the wife rides a Ariel four square and a Vincent Black Shadow so I think she will be well equipped to handle this"

So what can you say to that, he gave me the money and was as happy as larry."

Roy and his GPO Morris Vans.

"I have been looking at your very interesting classic cars site and it brought back quite a few memories. The photo that stood out for me was the 1945 ex GPO Telephones Z van.

I joined PO Telephones in 1952 as a apprentice or Y2YC as they were called, and remember being driven in the Z, and also driving the Z after my apprenticship had finished. If I remember the battery cut off switch was somewhere under the seat and the actual starter was a foot operated switch on the floor. Not a lot of guts in the engine (at least not in the one I drove,) but it did its job. Not a lot of room in the back either, especially for the amount of tools and stores that we had to carry.

But on the whole what I would call it a "friendly little van" to drive.

The next van i had was a Morris Minor with rubber wings, and I wonder if these are still about?"

Geoff's father in his diminutive Austin 7 Ruby.

"A long time ago my father was out driving in his Austin Ruby, and the lane he was on got narrower and narrower, and then there was grass up the middle etc. Eventualy they came to a pair of bollards and a bridge.

The Austin would just pass between the bollards, so they drove over the bridge and through another pair of bollards at the other end. In the hedge was a notice saying :-

PLEASE DISMOUNT FROM YOUR BICYCLE BEFORE CROSSING THIS FOOT BRIDGE !!!!"

Brenda and her Frisky 3 wheeler.

"Our first car was a Frisky three wheeler. I have fond memories of this car, easy to drive and cheap to run. Mine was powered by a two stroke Anzani twin and capable of 65 mph. It used to cause amazement to wagon drivers to see it pop up alongside them on the dual carriageway, and we had many a laugh parking it - if the space was tight we reversed in, and then lifted the front over. Lovely site, glad I found it. Keep up the good work and show me more of the cars we used to drive. thankyou, Brenda."

Paul's DIY-modified 1932 Morris Minor.

"I have had an interest in cars ever since I was a small boy when I kept a note-book with names of makes and models; now I have 700+ vintage and classic cars as the screensavers on my computer. My father was the one who had stories of motoring in the early days but you might care to hear about my most memorable and hazardous journey when I was a student at a teachers' college in Buckinghamshire.

I had bought a 1932 Morris Minor from a bomb-site in Birmingham (see photo) and with the aid of a tin-opener, some sheet metal and an old MG hood had 'modified' it into something a little more dashing. But before doing so I had taken two Welsh students at the start of the Christmas holidays from college in Chalfont-St.Giles to Birmingham to catch a train for Cardiff. On the evening in question it had started to snow and by the time we were on our way the snow was coming thick and fast. The single vacuum-operated wiper had no chance of coping so the only solution was to drive with the windscreen fully open. How we reached Birmingham without an accident remains a mystery, but by the time we pulled into my home driveway the rear passenger was completely invisible, having been covered with a mountain of snow. The front passenger and I had fared a little better having stopped to shake the snow off from time to time. It had been an 80-mile journey I had no wish to repeat, but all credit to the little Morris which went all the way without a hitch."
1932 Morris Minor

Richard, and his Austin A90 Atlantic.

"My very first car (unlikely as it seems; petrol was less than 2 bob a gallon then!) was a beautiful A90 Atlantic reg. LOF 294. I bought it in 1959 from a senior draughtsman who was employed at the Austin Motor Company in Longbridge, Birmingham, and who lived near me in the Kings Heath area of the city.

The car was very sophisticated for its day. Mine did not have electric windows, but it had a large lever that would wind them up and down in one manoeuvre. It was equipped with a radio (Smiths T51) as a standard item and, of course, the rear window which could be lowered for ventilation. It was a brilliant car for impressing the girls!!! My only gripe was the column change which required regular manual straightening of the rods; and its rather mushy road-holding - leaf springs at the rear and crossply tyres: though the independent front end was, I believe, unusual in production cars of the time. All in all a terrific motor car of which there are sadly very few roadworthy examples around today, and those, in my opinion, are very much under valued."
If you have any interesting stories to tell about motoring in yesteryear, whether on 2 or 4 wheels, commercially or simply as a private motorist, it'd be great to be able to feature them in this section of the site! Click here to return to the motoring memories main page.

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