Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Reminiscing - my first car

I'm sure that for most people, the first car they ever owned is one they recall fondly.  Even if it was a bit of a wreck, and not the coolest thing on four wheels, it holds a special place in your heart, reminding you of the sweet taste of freedom, of 
new-found independence and the carefree days of youth.

Recently, each time I go out in the car (modern, silver) I seem to see a reminder of my first car and it has set me off yearning... It's not that I see one car similar to my old one - no, there seems to be a veritable parade of them round here recently.  

I first had a car to call my own in 1986.  I bought it for £200 (if I remember rightly), from my brother.  It was January and I was on my final teaching practice in 
Kingston. I was really glad to have a set of motorised wheels to get me to and fro, from halls of residence in Roehampton, through a frosty Richmond Park early each morning and back home each evening as the deer settled beneath the oaks .

Now whilst most of my contemporaries were running around in 

trendy Austin Metros 
(yes, honest they were!)

Vauxhall Cavaliers

 beaten-up Cortinas

racy-red Minis 

Renault 5s 
(or 4s if you could cope with the gear stick)

 two-tone 2CVs
(oh the joys of the roll-back 'lid')

 I had the pleasure of one of these...

Morris Traveller Estate Car
This photo from John Burke - Flickr

Mine was Light Blue and fondly known as Bellamy (after David Bellamy), due to her contribution to wildlife.  I'm not talking about the college parties she used to ferry people to and from (I am a natural adopter of the role of designated driver, probably due to the fact that the word 'mug' seems to be tattooed on my forehead!) but the fact that she housed a nice collection of mosses in the runners of the back windows and was not averse to providing housing for assorted spiders.  There may even have been mushrooms at one point...

It was Bellamy who carried me and my four friends to Wimbledon at 4.30 am every morning during the 1986 Championship, where we worked as (oh, the glamour!) 
litter-pickers, sweeping and bagging the detritus round Centre and No 1 courts.  Bellamy saw me to the first of my schoolfriend's weddings... my graduation ceremony...

 and to my first 'proper' job...

..where the staff and I looked like this!

Once I was earning proper money, I got her booked in to a specialist garage, where she was to have a full makeover - new timbers, re-spray, the lot.  

But then one rainy day on the way to school near Petersfield, it all went horribly wrong.  All of a sudden, I found myself at a peculiar angle, bumping and scraping my way down the winding country lane, till we came to rest just short of the hedgerow.  

If I'd been in the mood to sing at that moment, the most apt song would have been 'Three Wheels on my Wagon'...

(In case you're too young to have heard this regularly on 'Junior Choice'.)

My trunion had gone.  

Or rather, Bellamy's.

I'm still not really sure what a trunion is, but when it goes, your wheel flips out and the chassis hits the tarmac.  So poor Bellamy did go to the garage.  Her trunion got fixed.  

But when I got her back, it was never the same.  It pains me to say it now, but I didn't trust her anymore to get me safely along the pretty country lanes to work.  And so Bellamy was sold - I think to the garage where she was meant to be going for her renovation.  So at least she probably went on to be cherished by a new owner who had faith in her, trunions and all. 

And now, I keep seeing vintage Morris Minors and Travellers. Stylish green ones, pretty pale blue ones, cool grey ones and deep red ones, with leather upholstery, simple dashboards and skinny steering wheels.  And I wish I'd had a little more faith, or the money to keep Bellamy and get another car for the day to day running around.

I wonder what your first car was?


  1. Love this post and love your first car - they were real beauties! Our first car was a very unexciting brown mini which we called the Incredible Ulc as somewhere in the registration number were the letters ulc. It was always breaking down - a hopeless case indeed.

    I'm off to have a good look round your blog. Love from your newest follower!

  2. brilliant post. As a non driver I didn't have a first car but my brother's first word was
    " Car " ! I remember our Voltswagen Caravanette in the seventies very well....we had to push it up hill !

    A friend had one of those Citreon pram like cars - such fun !

    Jess now has her first car a Renault Clio. Funniy enough yesterday one of the boys named it as Dougal.

  3. My first car was really my hubby's when I married him - a white VW Beetle. The passenger seat slid back and forth on its own. The windscreen wipers didn't work and it had an old piece of rope for a door handle. We've gone up in the world (a bit) since then!

  4. My first car was a loyal Metro which got me around for several years, but my second car was the one I loved, a Morris Minor. My Mr had a Morris pick-up and came across a Morris for £100, I bought it, he did it up. I loved that car and it's quirks, (drivers door flying open when going right at roundabouts, stalling and needing to be started with it's starter handle - you know the sort of thing.)
    I said goodbye to it a couple of years ago as it had sat for several years on the drive in need of some TLC and lots of money, no money and no time meant she sadly had to go.
    I love to think of the adventures we had in her though.

  5. I didn't learn to drive till I was 30 so my first car was a 1994 vauxhall corsa automatic. I bought her right after passing my test in 1998 and drove her till she reached her end last year. I was so sad and sorry to say goodbye as we'd been all over the UK together to visit friends and have holidays- up to the top of Scotland, down to Brighton and as far as Devon. Apparently the frame holding her engine in place was rotten through and according to the garage it was a miracle she hadn't done a Flintstone's on the motorway and dropped her engine into traffic. I was so sad to see her go, when I had to leave her at the scrap yard I kept her heating knob as a keepsake...! Your first car was beautiful. Em x

  6. I have loved reading all your comments about your cars - it really cheered me up on a bit of a rubbish day!

    Alix x