She (she must have been a lady) was a Standard Eight – canvas-topped, registration FXX 620. I would dearly like to know if there are any still in existence.
She originated, I have no doubt, by courtesy of my family flour mill in Norwich and the date must have been around 1946 or so.
Together we covered many miles. She was welded across the top, as the doors were so heavy and she tended to move slightly fore and aft. So duly strengthened, she carried me to and from Ipswich as an apprentice, in all kinds of weather, and to many destinations, for many years.
In the wet, a few good old jam jars, suitably held with string, were hung where the canvas leaked! It was the duty of one’s passenger to keep them empty.
I also remember driving through Norwich when the throttle cable had ‘retired’, with a string from the carburettor out through the ventilation louvres of the bonnet and into the driver’s window. With a little parental assistance financially, it was only restored when the clutch also gave up, and I was admonished for starting on the GPO hill traffic lights by simply switching off and starting off in first gear, restarting, and double de-clutching whenever another gear was engaged.
And I well remember sliding down the hill in Allen Road, Ipswich, on ice, eventually passing a policeman sideways. Politely stepping sideways, he saluted me – or I believe it was a salute – and I continued on my way to work.
Starting was invariably by ‘crank’ and, once going, an electric pull starter for the rest of the day.
The wipers expired when accelerating, as the vacuum receded; the indicators were on arms – the nearside always operated well, but the driver’s side always reactivated suitably by a thump on the inside of the driver’s door and the headlights were dipped with a foot switch, but dimmed as the six-volt battery and car slowed down.
She was affectionately referred to as Old Smokey by a girlfriend, Audrey, who I subsequently married some 55 years ago.
Unfortunately my younger brothers used her while I was serving my king and country as a National Serviceman, and one of them – I have yet to discover which – knocked a lamp standard down in Jessop Road while I was away in a far country, and I never saw her again when I returned. But, as I said, I would be pleased to hear if there are any old ones like her in existence.
So ends the saga of a magnificent first car. I also penned a song which was enthusiastically sung, whenever suitable, by her driver and many times by one of my lady companions!
We roam the roads together.
In every kind of weather.
When our driving days are over,
I’ll be driving my new Rover,
Instead of Old Smokey,
Pal o’ mine,
How’s that for memory a long time ago. I forget the tune – country and western I seem to think.
And, tongue in cheek, I have sent another picture of what was my very first car!
John Woodrow, Lower Street, Horning.
To share your own first car memories, send them with a photo to Sadie.Jennings@archant.co.uk.