Dented pride or Minor mishap?

End of the road for the Morris Minor Traveller.

My first car was a hand-me-down. It was a grey 1959 Morris Minor 1000 Traveller Series Three, registration number PW 1919, which was my parents’ first car bought in 1963 from Morris agents G Baxter & Son of Fakenham for £395 and they became the second owner.

The adverts in the EDP described it as a deluxe model (it did have a heater and one wing mirror), going on ‘mileage 24,233, supplied and serviced by us’. Surprisingly, no prices were given.

In the log book it was described as a private and goods farmers, first registered to Charles Thomas Joice of Testerton Hall, father of Dick Joice of Anglia TV fame.

As soon as I was 17 I started driving lessons using a local Scottish driving instructor named Buchanan who didn’t mince his words if you did something not quite right. However, it did the trick. Supplemented by going out with my mother at t he weekend, I passed the test at the first attempt.

From then it was a case of “can I borrow the car?” which I eventually bought off them in 1970 for £50.

The old semaphore trafficators had already been supplemented on safety grounds with flashing indicators after a near-miss with a scooter not seeing them and trying to overtake when my mother was turning right into the driveway.

Not being mechanically-minded, servicing was left to the family friend and Mann Egerton mechanic and I concentrated my efforts against the scourge of cars at the time – rust. Sills were replaced and asphaltic painting the car’s underside and the joys of using fibreglass and body filler experienced.

Being staunch older members of Sprowston Youth Club, the car was used for numerous leisure activities – weekends away at Norfolk Education Committee’s Larling Old School, camping at Eccles and at Holkham Park when taking part in the International Work Camp, all in 1970, to name but a few.

It was at Holkham I discovered the car didn’t like being parked under trees – the visit was plagued with carburettor starting problems. Apart from that the car gave me mechanically trouble-free motoring.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the car long. Travelling to a family holiday in Scotland in August 1971 on the A17 near Sleaford, with my girlfriend driving and parents following, on overtaking going downhill she began to lose control. My interference with the steering wheel probably didn’t help resulting in completely losing control and rolling the car at speed, ending up with the back end in a ditch.

We were extremely lucky. No fitted seat belts, the car full of suitcases. We managed to scramble out of the rear doors and, apart from cuts and mainly bruises, I can only recall a piece of windscreen glass in a finger. The car was forfeited for the recovery charge and it was a train journey back to Norwich after a visit to the local hospital chauffeured by the local police who had attended the scene.

It’s probably viewed as rather ‘anoraky’ today but from the recently rediscovered Motorists’ Record Book that I kept in the early ’70s, petrol cost 6/7d a gallon in January 1971, becoming 33p with the introduction of decimal money the following month – no excuses used here to hike up prices. The speedo reading was just over 76,000 at the time of the accident and over the seven months of 1971 the car had cost me 2.4 (new) pence per mile and averaged just under 31mpg.

Robert Browne, Wentworth Green, Norwich.

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.

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