I had learned to drive in the Army while doing my National Service. I passed my test and was eager to buy a car as soon as I finished my enrolment.
I was living at Lenwade with my parents at that time, my father being the local stationmaster. I bought the car in 1957 from ‘Chummy Quantrill’, a chap who worked at the local village garage which was owned by Mr Rowlands.
I paid the princely sum of £30 for the Austin. I especially wanted the car to enable me to visit my girlfriend, Doreen Dix. She lived at West Rudham some 25 miles from Lenwade. The Austin made many a journey backwards and forwards between the two villages and I am happy to say it resulted in us getting married, which we still are today having just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary.
During those courting days we would often take a trip out with one of my brothers, Michael, and his wife Mary or perhaps my sister Doreen and her husband Tommy.
One night in particular comes to mind when we were out with Michael and Mary. The night was extremely foggy and coming down the hill into Lenwade we headed for the pub car park only to find the brakes were not working and we went straight through the car park into the pub garden. Luckily no one was hurt!
The Austin could also be temperamental on occasions. Many a time I would jump out at traffic lights and spin the starting handle before the lights changed to green. My father took great delight in being transported in the Austin to and from our allotment. Most of the produce was given away to the neighbours!
The Austin provided me with pretty reliable transport for about four years before the ‘tin worm’ finally overcame her. At this time my then wife had moved into my parents’ home and between us we clubbed together to buy a shiny black Morris 1000.
However the story does not end there, or the life of the Austin.
We kept pigs at the bottom of our garden and we needed a vehicle to transport the straw to the animals. Hey presto, I removed the roof of the Austin and created a pick-up truck. This gave the car a new lease of life transporting the straw.
I am 73 now and if I only knew then what a lovely collectable car the little Austin 7 would be, surely I would have never destroyed her in such a manner!
I only wish today I still owned her and could take my grandchildren out for a ride. I have had many cars since then but I have never forgotten my first Austin, which still holds a very special place in my heart.
Peter Bransby, Mille Lane, Seething.
If you’d like to share your own first car story, send your photos and memories to Sadie.Jennings@archant.co.uk.