Baby, you can drive my car …
… except, no one drove my first car but me – I was very possessive about my first car!
This week we have been looking for a new car. Not NEW as in NEW NEW – just new to us.
Anyway, we swanned off to Totnes to look at and test drive this car. The salesman lifted the bonnet and there was this shiny looking engine squeezed into the space. There was no space around the engine whatsoever and, as I understand it, no home-maintenance can be done to this car without upsetting the all computer controlled, and diagnosed, electronics.
It made me yearn for the simplicity of my very first car – a Morris 1000 Traveller.
This isn’t the photo I was actually looking for, that one has JUST me and my car, without the current boyfriend getting in on the picture – and shows the iconic wood-framed back to the Morris 1,000 Traveller. The wood frame that had to be rubbed down, scraped out and filled if there was any rot, and re-varnished every summer!
The ‘Traveller’ was an estate car – and was great for cramming loads of stuff into the back, often extra friends. This at a time when seat belts in the front had only just become mandatory (that is to have them at all – let alone mandatory to wear them). When the seats were all full, to have a couple of extra lads rattling around in the back was commonplace, after all, not many of us had cars at all and we lived in a village!
Beep beep’m beep beep yeah
Not only did it have woodwork that you had to care for, but it also had a ‘choke’ you had to pull out before you tried to start the engine. If the battery wasn’t too good it had a handle you could insert into the front and crank the engine with. You sometimes had to double de-clutch to get it to change gear. It rattled alarmingly when it went over 60 (which wasn’t often as you could only do that if you went up the motorway – and I didn’t need to go that way very much) And there was so much room around the engine it felt like you could reach every part with no problem.
I have fond memories of that car! It is there in the background of my social life from seventeen to twenty two – it is just as well it couldn’t talk
Beep beep’m beep beep yeah
It scared the life out of me once, when the brakes failed as I came up to a huge busy roundabout near Staines, a nifty bit of double-de-clutching slowed me enough to tuck behind a lorry (rather than going into the side of it) and I completed my journey using the gears and the handbrake until got home safely. It took me to my teacher training college everyday for the first year (while I still lived at home) and saw me right through the following three years of my training and degree. And I still prefer to drive estate versions. Ahh! Memories!
Despite this fondness for my first car I have not been particularly attached to any of my other cars, or interested in makes and models, and I notice that even when cars appear in my novels they are barely described. Even in Some Kind of Synchrony, when the story within the story is told whilst driving back and forth to work, the type of car is never discussed. Interestingly, other novelists, perhaps ones more fixated on cars, often go into fine detail over the vehicles their protagonists drive. I can see the value in that and it is something that I shall think about when I start my next novel.
Do you have fond memories of your first car? What make and model was it?
What do you remember most about cars you have owned? What does the car a character drives, say about them to you?
Join in the conversation – you know I love to hear from you.