Although my first vehicle was a 1955 Morris Minor van, which I owned for 16 months, the first car that my then girlfriend – now my wife of 38 years – and I owned was a yellow 1961 997cc Ford Anglia Deluxe 105E, with the registration number 3508 VF, making it our first car.
The car was bought in January 1967, about two weeks after meeting my wife-to-be, Lynda. She was not very keen on the van, so was pleased when, one Friday evening, the crown wheel and pinion gave up.
At the time I was living at Edgefield and working at the Ford main dealership in Fakenham as an apprentice agricultural engineer. The day after the van’s demise I had to get a lift into work, and found that the car had just been traded in. It was offered to me in an ‘as seen’ condition for £210 and the deal was done.
There were 40,000 miles on the clock and, over the next six years, I did another 90,000 miles – the highest mileage I have ever done in any car.
Working in the trade allowed me, often with the help and advice of colleagues at the garage, to do most of the repairs and servicing myself. At one stage a 1,200cc engine from a Cortina was bought and installed, but unfortunately this engine was not very good, the main problem being a reluctance to start on cold mornings. After a year, the original was rescued from father’s shed, reconditioned and refitted.
On returning Lynda home to Drayton one Sunday evening, just as I was passing the Marsham Arms public house, a car pulled out from its yard, striking the side of our car and forcing us into a ditch on the opposite side of the road. After I called the police, the driver of the other car eventually agreed to pay for the damage, which amounted to some £30. While these repairs were being done, I decided to invest some extra cash into the job, so two new front wings were fitted and a complete respray was done. As we had never been keen on the yellow colour, we changed it to that shown in the photograph.
It never did take long to wear a set of cross-ply tyres out, so a new set of Michelin ZX radial tyres were fitted, which dramatically improved the roadholding and tripled the mileage from a set of tyres.
We went to a different holiday destination every year – one of the furthest was Dartmouth in Devon. This journey took 10 hours as there were not the motorways and bypasses then that there are now. Another destination was Morecambe in Lancashire, with day-trips from there to the Lake District and Scotland. At the time, the M6 was being built, and parts of it were open and in other places there were diversions back on to existing roads. On these trips she never once let us down.
After six years, in January 1973, the MOT was due and corrosion was found on some box section beside the gearbox, so a Mark II Cortina was bought.
This was not the end for 3508 VF, as it was then sold for spares or repairs for £25 to a then young Mr Wright, also from Fakenham, whose father undertook the necessary repairs plus another respray, this time in white, and it then became his first car.
I last saw the car a year later loaded on a trailer in Sculthorpe Eastgate at Fakenham. It looked as if it had been prepared for banger or stock car racing.
We still own a Ford, albeit a bit bigger now – a Ford Ranger double-cab pick-up.
John and Lynda Bush, The Drift, Fakenham.
If you’d like to share your memories of your first car, send them with a photo or two to Sadie.Jennings@archant.co.uk.