Sunday, 16 November 2008

Our First Cars

Woke up really early this morning, about 3.30am, well to be accurate the cat woke me up at 3.30am this morning.

I couldn’t get back to sleep so I thought I would write something.

I was sitting watching the very early morning news, and my thoughts began to wander from all the bad things that are happening in the world.

The mind is a strange thing, I began to think about my late wife, and all the fun we had in our cars, but particularly the first one.

It was back in 1968, I had just passed my test and to complete my happiness had met my wife to be. I was a “civil servant” at the time, mainly because of the job security and pension-if only.

In my “spare time” I would build sound and lighting equipment for disk jockeys, and that is how I met “her”, at a disco.

One of the DJs was a close friend and when I told him I was looking for a car, he said that he had one he didn’t use anymore and I could have it for nothing-Sorted I thought.

The “car” was in the middle of a field where he had left it. But we both fell in love with it straight away.

It was a 1961 (I think) 948cc Triumph Herald Convertible-or Cabrio nowadays, it was white with a black hood, and had a problem. The lower Trunion joint had broken.

It sounds a bit like a medical term, I could imagine a doctor saying to his female patient, “Madam I have bad news, I am sorry but your lower Trunion is broken, you will need immediate surgery”.

The lower Trunion for those who don’t know is part of the steering which enables the front wheels to actually turn side to side, and was a well known problem with the Herald, and later the Vitesse, it was a design fault, because the car had such a small turning circle, enormous strain was put on the swivel joint and it would fail.

This wasn’t a problem however, there were plenty of Heralds in the local scrap yards and a suitable Trunion joint was soon obtained and fitted.

So Trunion fixed, and the rest of the car checked over, it even had an MOT and Tax, and I had insured it. The farmer whose field it was in and who was very pleased to see the back of it gave us a jump start and “she” started first time, we drove home with the top down, smiling all the way.

The next thing to do was to give “her” a clean, and after an hour or so “she” was gleaming, chrome bits shiny and a good coat of polish on the bodywork.

Now heralds were a strange breed, they had a steel chassis and the body was bolted on to it. The “bonnet” was the complete front of the body, which would tilt forwards; enabling you to be able to sit on the wheel if anything needed to be “looked at”, and it was also rear wheel drive.

The interior was smart, “leather” seats about eight inches thick, deep carpets and lots of wood-the dash and door cappings. All in all a very “pretty” motor.

It did have drawbacks however, the heater put out as much warmth as a matchstick, during the winter you would have to scrape the ice of the inside of the windscreen as well as outside, and you couldn’t see out of the rear window with the top up because it was made of plastic and was opaque.

There was no power steering-the steering wheel seemed to be about two feet in diameter, no electric windows, and no radio. But we didn’t care; “she” was a beauty.

We used to love going to “distant” places, petrol wasn’t a problem, I seem to recall it was less than eight bob (40p) a gallon, and the old girl had a five gallon tank plus a reserve tank of about one gallon.

Our favourite heading was west, towards Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.

Our most favourite place was Corfe Castle in Dorset, we would drive down open topped and people would wave and smile-seems odd now, even the police men would wave at us, it was that sort of car.

I remember one time when we went from Corfe up the enormous hill to Kingston and from there to the cliffs, where we would sit with a picnic and watch the world go by.

The only snag was that to get to the cliffs you had to go down a very narrow lane that had a “hump” about halfway down. Now you would think that having a steel chassis the car would be rigid-wrong, every bloody time we went over the hump both doors would fly open, leading to screams, and shouts of laughter.

Many wonderful weekends were spend driving and picnicking, swimming and walking as well as shopping, and making friends. The car was like a magnet, to people, and they would gather round when we parked up, just to look and talk.

We had “her” for about three years but finally age took its toll and the inevitable happened, “she” rusted out and it got so bad that the front would dip every time you braked. I will admit that we both had tears when “she” finally went, but it wasn’t all bad, we had brought a Triumph Vitesse convertible, 2 litre straight six with over drive, as a replacement.

This the end of part one of “our cars” I will write part two if any one is interested and even if you’re not I will write it anyway, ‘cause it’s my blog.


1 comment:

CherryPie said...

Nostalgia, you just can't beat it :-)