‘Eccles’ entered my life in 1955 when I was just 16 years old, and a great fan of The Goon Show. He had to be a ‘he’ because no woman could be put together in the way he was.
Costing me £25, Eccles was a combination of parts, mainly 1929 Morris Minor with ‘8’ wings and radiator grille and a homemade ‘shooting brake’ body.
Obviously I could not drive him on the road until I was 17 and had passed my test so the first year of ownership was spent stripping down the engine and putting it together again. This became boring after a while but it impressed a car enthusiast neighbour sufficiently for him to give me the Lucas ‘King of the Road’ spot lamp which can be seen adorning the front of Eccles.
There are two occasions during the time I owned and drove Eccles which stick in my mind.
The first was driving home from a dance on a particularly foggy Saturday night. Someone in a faster car than mine – this included most of the car-owning population! -suddenly arrived on my tail with his headlights on main beam. Being blinded by this stupidity, I lost all sense of direction and mounted the pavement, hitting a brick wall.
Both the car and the wall survived, being made of stronger materials than they are these days, but my pride was sorely damaged.
On the second memorable occasion some friends and I had gone to a country park which had an open-air swimming pool. I had reversed over an upturned notice-board while parking Eccles but gave it no great thought at the time. A nail must have pierced the rear tyre and, as a consequence, when we were driving home we finished up sliding into a ditch in order to miss a vehicle that came at us in the centre of the road across a hump-back bridge.
We all agreed that Eccles had been great fun but thought the cost of having him righted and put back on the road would be beyond his worth so decided to part company. However some fit and large farmworkers were passing and together they set Eccles back on the road, so he lived to fight another day.
I have no idea what happened to Eccles when he left my care but I do recall that I got £20 for him so all that fun and learning cost me £5 plus the usual on-the-road costs – happy days!
Tony Gray, St Mary’s Road, Cromer.
If you’d like to share your own first car story, send your photos and memories to Sadie.Jennings@archant.co.uk.