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Dulcie a drinker and smoker... until Morris Minor overhauled

Michael Horne’s first car was a 1951 Morris Minor christened Dulcie. Picture: Michael Horne

Michael Horne’s first car was a 1951 Morris Minor christened Dulcie. Picture: Michael Horne

Michael Horne supplied

Dulcie was a bit of a drinker and smoker when Michael Horne met her. But he soon sorted the 1951 Morris Minor’s thirst for oil.

My first car was a green, four-door 1951 Morris Minor which I purchased in October 1962 and we christened her Dulcie as the registration was DCH 642.

This model, as you can see in the photograph, had the headlights now raised into the wings – previously they were integral with the grille panel but still had the split windscreen. She was powered by a 917cc, side-valve unit derived from the Series E Morris Eight which was first produced in 1934.

Unfortunately, the engine had no water pump and had a gravity dependent cooling system and therefore no heater.

When I bought the car, in exchange for a Capri Scooter, the engine used a pint of oil per 25 miles, leaving such a great cloud of blue smoke when I put my foot down you could not see the cars behind.

I had the engine overhauled at a cost of £25 – a lot of money in those days as I was earning only £25 a week but at least I was saving money on oil.

Before we got married in August 1963, I worked in Derby and my fiancée, Judith, lived in Bradford so I used to travel the 160-mile round trip at the weekends to see her.

For those who remember, the winter of 1962-63 was one of the most severe, with temperatures down to minus 15 Celsius during January and not going above freezing even during the day.

With no heater, I used to wear a duffle coat, mittens and boots. And I had a cloth soaked in anti-freeze to clear the inside of the windscreen – thank goodness I wasn’t on the scooter!

As seen in the photograph, I was a member of the AA but Dulcie never once let me down, even in that cold weather, and in August 1963 we travelled to Robin Hood’s Bay in Yorkshire for our honeymoon.

I part-exchanged Dulcie in 1964 for a 1961, white, two-door Morris Minor 1000. It had a heater but still had the semaphore trafficators which, with it being a two-door version, were set low down and used to get broken off.

Happy motoring days.

Tell us about your first car – email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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