ME DAD'S CARS
They were vans actually in the early days. He wanted vans so he could do a bit of fetching and carrying on the black.
The first one he ever had was a big blue Bedford. I reckon it would have been in the late 50’s. I can’t remember what I had for my breakfast these days but I can recollect from a distance of 60 years its registration – YRB 370. You had to start it with a handle shoved underneath the radiator grille, making sure your thumb was on the outside – it kicked like a donkey if it misfired.
The driver and passenger were separated by a raised metal platform which a third person could sit on; well, at least until your arse started frying. It housed the engine underneath it. He threw a mattress in the back for me and Linda to sleep on while we were driving to Devon on a camping holiday once. It took us about 12 hours in those pre-motorway days and at the speed we went. We were so overladen and the van so underpowered that we had to reverse up some of the hills around Torquay.
His next was a Thames in purple and magnolia. I think that was AAL 110. He had a third after that, MVO 270E
The floor on one of these was rusted through in parts and I remember him telling some of my mates who he gave a lift to once, “Watch where you tread. You might go through”. That would have made for a front page of the Hucknall Dispatch if it had happened on The Ramper. Some time after, to comply with his stringent Health and Safety principles he laid some boards across the holes.
Some of these had a column gear change and you had to double declutch to change down from 3rd to 2nd. If that’s Greek to the modern motorist, so too no doubt would have been the linguistic currency of the motor maintenance D-I-Y er, such a points and timing and top dead centre.
Another recollection I have was of a job he pressed me into. I’d been off school with a cold but he told my mam, “If he can mope about here he can help me”. Helping him consisted of shovelling and bagging turkey shit at a nearby farm as the rain pissed down. Naturally, all this was loaded into the van for tipping on his veg plot. It stunk for weeks.
His transition off vans was progressive with his next one being a Morris Traveller, which for the unfamiliar, was a Morris Minor with a wooden greenhouse on the back. And it was the car I learned to drive in. Its unique characteristic were its trafficators. A forerunner of indicators these were Morris’s hi-tech solution to waggling your arm out the window to indicate your intentions. They were orange arrows which shot out of the top of the door pillar. They didn’t flash so went largely unseen by other motorists, making for some lively encounters.
His affair with vans ended with a Mark III Cortina. Lovely gearbox.