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A boy and his toys
3:01pm Wednesday 31st October 2007 in Classic News
From an early age I developed a real love affair with cars - from the wall poster of the Lamborghini Countach through to my treasured Scalextric and Hot Wheels sets - encouraged bizarrely by my nan who would buy me Corgi cars on a regular basis.
The impending arrival of a new "ride" in the household got me thinking about the "interesting" historical relationship my family has had with the automobile over the years.
When I was growing up, my parents had a selection of cars that frankly could only have been purchased from a troupe of travelling clowns. More surprising was the fact that my Dad was obsessively proud about his cars so quite why he possessed these things which would not be out of place in a Roadrunner cartoon was beyond me.
There was a green Hillman Hunter with a chassis so twisted that you could go around corners without turning the steering wheel. Another belter was an Austin 1800 which had to have once been a tank in the Army and took four people to open one door. This metallic Vanessa Felz once lost all its power steering fluid causing it to take on the steering capability of a skip!
Then there was an Austin Princess that looked like a cross between a door wedge and hunk of Swiss cheese (and had just as many holes). I also musn't forget the Ford Zodiac, purchased at an auction with 3 red doors, one white one and a bonnett that my dad attacked with an aerosol paint can!
However, the utter classic of the 1970's was a burnt orange Lada with a brown vinyl roof that took us on a trip to Blackpool. For those of you tender in years, the Lada was shaped like a Lego brick and built by Russians who had access to way too much vodka and no technology past 1955!
It was during a torrential rainstorm on the M6 that my Dad realised that there wasn't a single seal on the car - the giveaway being the 3" pool of water in the footwells!
My mum, who passed her test on the fifth attempt, also believed that the human body disintegrated at speeds of over 45 mph - it once took us 4 months to get to Cornwall from the Midlands and even now when she comes to visit, my Dad has to set up base camp in Oxford!
She had two cars - a coral pink & grey Ford Prefect that did 0 to 60 in.well to be honest it still hasn't reached it yet and a blue Vauxhall Viva that had three gears and couldn't be driven in anything other than bone dry conditions - my Mum never left the house from October to March!
I actually passed my test first time but it was obvious that Dad's imprint on me was stronger than I thought. Having learned in a Nissan Micra you'd think I would have chosen a similar car but NOOO! I got a Ford Sierra Sapphire - the thing was white, reminiscent of a whale shark, handled like a concrete block and was so ugly that even Brad Pitt couldn't have pulled in it.
Other highlights were an Escort with spoiler that looked like a bent toothpick, two Cavaliers, both of which were "medical rep" red and had the rear view capabilities of the eye of a needle and a Rover that bounced over roundabouts (that's a whole other story).
But even having had my new car, I know I will never match the one cool car my Dad had - an almond Rover 2000 TC that looked like it should have been on The Sweeney. Mind you he did want to put a vinyl roof on it