My first car was a 1956 Standard 10 four-door saloon – not an exciting car for a 20-year-old – bought at the behest of the father of my girlfriend who didn’t want her riding pillion on my motorbike.
I picked up the car one Friday night and headed for home as a car owner, with £100 to fund a weekend away with my girlfriend. I filled it up with petrol at the first station I came to, happily parting with £5.
I stopped at the first set of traffic lights, with a double-decker bus some 10 yards behind me. An Austin A40 drew up beside me, obviously intending to beat me away from the lights, I responded by putting my car into gear and holding the clutch down, pressed the throttle to the floor, and as the lights changed I immediately hit 20mph – unfortunately in reverse! The bus was unmarked, but I had a huge crease in my rear bumper. The driver said he would not report the incident, but I should pay £20 for his silence.
My mood lightened the following morning. I picked up my girlfriend and set off for a weekend away. At lunchtime I pulled into a pub for lunch, misjudged the parking place and hit a parked car and wound up with a crease on the front bumper, with a small amount of damage to the other car. As I got out of the car to view the damage, a man came over and said: “That’s my car you’ve hit mate.”
He said if I didn’t go through insurance, he would accept £30 for the damage. After paying him, we found a table for lunch, but before I could order a meal, a chap appeared at my side and said “You have just hit my car in the car park”, to which I replied “You can’t be the owner, I’ve just paid him £30 outside.” He replied “You’ve been conned, I’m the owner.”
So I parted with yet another £30. I had had the car for less than 24 hours and had parted with £80 of my weekend funding.
I arrived at my aunt’s cottage without further ado. There were three bedrooms in her cottage, with a bedroom either side of hers. She made it very clear to us she didn’t want to see anyone walking past her bedroom.
The following morning we set off for the coast. After half an hour or so I heard a slight whine, which got a lot louder. People were turning to see what vehicle the howl was coming from. I pulled into a small garage and after a short road test the mechanic said “It’s your clutch, mate. It’s burnt out.”
I rang the chap I had bought the car from to be told he would replace the clutch but I had to pay him to collect the car at a charge of £25.
The following day I received a bad blow to my pride when my girlfriend informed me she had found a new boyfriend, to which I replied: “But has he got a car?” She said, with what I thought was a derisory note in her voice, “He has a car and it’s a Ford Consul two-tone bench-seat and column change.”
Poor Standard 10 with damage to front and rear.
Several days later, a new girlfriend and a half-share of a Sunbeam Talbot 90, but that’s another story.
Brian Johnson, Yarmouth Road, Blofield.
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