Wednesday, August 24

When petrol was 6/8d a gallon

This 1960 Ford Popular took me around Hertfordshire lanes at 17, on a trip to Glen Trool in the west of Scotland with Ian Golds to celebrate leaving school and later all the way to St Andrews University and back and back again. With just three forward gears, a key that you could remove from the ignition when it was still on and windscreen wipers that went slower when you went uphill and often packed with teenagers, there was never a dull moment! I called it Trundle and bought and sold it for £30.

Next came The Cardinal (named by Vincent), a 1957 Wolseley 1500 with leather seats and real wood on the dashboard. I bought it in Dundee for £40 when the Ford had expired and was going to cost more than that to repair. This was the car in which Tony Bragg and I made the trip home in March and took the treacherous A68 across Carter Bar in a blizzard, a detailed account of the journey is written on the inner sleeve of a Beach Boys Greatest Hits LP. It started with a button on the dash.

There were a couple more that I haven't found any photos of yet and then the wonderful Hengist, a 1962 Rover 100 with rear doors that opened the wrong way, a big bench seat across the front and an electric fuel pump that often got stuck, usually in Edinburgh traffic. A sharp thwack with a hammer or large screwdriver, however, got it ticking again soon enough! The Rover cost £100 and I sold it for the same price, being without a car for a few months before and after getting married in 1973, when a train to Edinburgh from Kirkcaldy where we lived was a rather more sensible way of commuting.

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