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Two sides story as Toyota Corolla was bit of a wreck

Alan Hall got a Chevrolet Camaro after his Corolla caught fire. Picture: Alan Hall

Alan Hall got a Chevrolet Camaro after his Corolla caught fire. Picture: Alan Hall

Alan Hall

When Alan Hall bought his first car on stormy night it coloured his judgment and also left him feeling blue!

Alan Hall send his parents a picture of him against the good side of his Toyota Corolla: Alan Hall Alan Hall send his parents a picture of him against the good side of his Toyota Corolla: Alan Hall

It was October 1978 when, as a student at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, America, I bought my first car.

A friend took me out one stormy night to see a 1972 Toyota Corolla that was for sale.

The car was my favourite colour blue so, basically, I just kicked the tyres and handed over $600 which was a lot of money back then.

Next morning there was a loud knock at my apartment door. It was my landlady. “Did you buy a new car?” she asked.

“Yep,” I answered glibly.

“Boy, did it get banged up last night,” she said with a face like a wet weekend.

I went outside to see what had happened to my very first car. The car hadn’t been hit during the night. I’d actually bought half a car as the left side of the vehicle was all buckled.

I stuck with it though and sprayed up the bad side.

To reassure my parents that I was ‘doing okay’, I sent them a photograph of me and my new car. Mind you, they never knew that the other side of the car was a total wreck.

There were dramas.

The car ran well but in cold weather the speedo would suddenly shift over to 100mph – even though it was doing only 30mph.

One hot summer’s day I recall going into a discount store to get some engine oil. I left the Toyota in the parking lot. When I returned it was on fire. Petrol had leaked out of the carburettor on to the hot engine.

After that I traded it in for a swanky five-litre Chevrolet Camaro which was sold to me by a car salesman named Troy McClure. The Chevy Camaro was much better in every way. It had a jet-fast take-off and was whisper quiet.

I drove it down to Florida and then right up to Niagara Falls and the Great Lakes in Canada – not in the same day!

In the end I had to sell the Camaro when I returned to England to take up a research post at Cambridge University in 1980.

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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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