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Memory Lane


My First Car

Rita tells me that I am an awful teacher and I think I must have inherited that  that from my father who attempted unsuccessfully to teach me to drive when I was 18.  I decided to buy a car in my third year at University as I had ridden a motorbike for three years and felt like a change. I bought a “student”  car  by which I mean something that was very cheap and very old. I cannot remember the breed, possibly an Austin ,but it was black had four doors and the shape was somewhat reminiscent of a Model T ford. It had an MOT certificate.  In those days the decision as to whether a vehicle passed the test was more dependent on whom you knew rather than the actual mechanical attributes of the car. The  test was  limited to brakes , lights and steering and  perhaps not remarkably these were in fact the qualities which I soon found were the least successful.  I had a provisional licence but there was always someone who   had not been in the car before, or who enjoyed living dangerously, who wanted a lift and was prepared to sit beside me. That car taught me drive better than any teacher. I learned quickly to plan ahead. OK there was a steering wheel but the extent or timing of any decision of the car to change direction following a turning of the wheel was not an exact science. Similarly the brakes worked after a fashion but one could not rely on the precise time it would take to slow or stop the car. The car had to be parked on a hill so as to ensure that it could be bump-started as the machine steadfastly ignored the starter motor  . Unsurprisingly  I had to get rid of the car and  I took lessons from a driving school. It was a doddle. The car drove in the direction I chose, and stopped when I pressed the brake.  It was so easy I had no trouble in passing the test. 

Perhaps I should mention my second car which was a pale blue Ford Zephyr. Of course not new  but acquired from a friend who had looked after it.   I regretted parting with  it when corrosion meant the bodywork  ceased to keep the outside out and the inside in. It had its points of course such as the pistol grip handbrake which would not hold the car on a steep slope and made  hill starts tricky.   Changing gear became gradually more difficult due to wear of the linkages between the  gear lever (attached to the steering column) and the gear box. Also there were occasional complaints by Rita that her feet were becoming wet as a result of a hole in the wing left by the removal of a radio aerial, but all in all it was an enjoyable car. I still miss the long front bench seat which was very comfortable. Rita and I used the car for our honeymoon  ( where else to but Grassington ) and we travelled very comfortably from London to Yorkshire in it many times. 

Ian Clark