My Dad Had One of Those!
July 25, 2010

Yesterday we caught up with old friends from way back. They had come across for the annual Triumph TR International event being held in Malvern at the Three Counties Showground.

It got me thinking about a Top Gear publication I’d come across in book shops, ‘My Dad Had One of Those.’ I seem to remember thumbing through it and thinking, actually my Dad didn’t have any of those and neither did I!    

Before I go any further, perhaps I should explain that I am in no way shape or form a motor head. I’m not even a Top Gear regular but if there’s nothing better to do I’ll watch it.

I have, though, always been drawn to the aesthetic aspect of cars. As a kid I had a collection of Dinky models second to none (sadly all thrown out in the dim and distant past) and would dash around my home town with the I Spy Book of Cars ticking off those I had seen.

These, of course, were the days when we had a car industry and different models each had their own distinctive shape and character.

I admit my interest really comes to an end at that very superficial level. What happens underneath the bonnet has always been a bit of a mystery to me and I’ve never had the slightest desire to grovel around in an inspection pit and get covered from head to toe in engine oil.

Anyway here for the benefit of my kids, who of course won’t have the slightest interest, are those cars your Dad (& Mum) have known and loved (or not) over the years:  

Having passed my driving test as a 17-year-old, in December ’70 (spookily, I found out later it was on the birthday of my yet to be met, wife) I was lucky enough to have my own car from the outset although I was still in the lower sixth form at the time.

I had previously taken a break from school (after disappointing O level results) and worked in a bank for a year. During that time I earned enough to buy a second-hand 1960s Triumph Herald.

It was duo-tone in green and white with a walnut laminated dashboard and white rubber bumpers. It served me well, all the way through to my final year in higher education, taking me backwards and forwards from Nottingham to Birmingham. I loved it.

Chris is keen for me to point out that she also passed her test first time, shortly after her 17th birthday, having learned to drive in a grey, split screen Morris Minor passed on to her from her Mum.   

My second car was a VW Beetle (in ivory as I recall, not common white), with its air-cooled engine at the rear and luggage space up front. It had a 6 volt battery which caused a few problems from time to time, and night driving was as if by candle light!  

However, it was reliable enough to take us on our first European motoring holiday together, down through Belgium, Holland and Germany in 1975.

Next up, was a harvest gold Mini (K reg.) which was the car we went away from our wedding in, in 1978.    

Early married life saw us upgrade to a Ford Cortina (Mk3). It was red with a rakish white flash – very Life on Mars! I remember we bought it from a dealer called Clifford Duck in Hall Green, Birmingham. We must have been quackers!

I never really took to the Cortina and it wasn’t long before we traded  up for an S reg. Ford Fiesta in light blue. This was our first hatch back and we will always remember it as the car in which we drove to Istanbul and back, over 3000 miles in total. It was 1981 and, looking back, a very adventurous thing to do at that time.

In 1982 we splashed out for our first brand new car, another Fiesta, in chocolate-brown with a blue stripe which sounds awful now. That was the second of three Fiestas – we must have liked them!

Following Fiesta number three, in a nice shade of beige, we went Japanese for the first time with a Nissan Micra (in red).

Shortly after that we became a two car family. Having relocated from Brum to rural Upton and Chris being at home with two pre school children she needed her own car. With a helping hand from my Mum & Dad we were able to get her a second-hand Mini in dark brown.

Eventually Chris took on the Micra which she ran for many years before changing to a new X reg. (2000) Renault Clio Grande (blue) which was passed on to Nicci in 2007, as her first car. It’s seen better days but is still giving good service on her daily commute between Oxford and Waddesdon.

Chris replaced it with a new black Peugeot 107 which she loves and intends to stick with for some time yet (I hope!)

Meanwhile since the late ‘80s I’ve been through: a Vauxhall Cavalier Concept (white), a Vauxhall Astra Estate (green) – I was never really happy with either of those – two Suzuki Vitaras, a JLK (jade) and  a Grand Vitara (blue) – both of which I loved but they drank petrol, a Citroen Xsara Picasso (grey) and currently a Peugeot 207 SW (green).

The Picasso was lost in rather dramatic style, written off after being submerged under the muddy waters of the Avon, while parked up in Tewkesbury during the floods of three years ago!

I hadn’t realised our back catalogue was quite so extensive, between us a surprising eighteen cars in total over a 40 year period (unless I’ve missed one out somewhere!)