My First Car: Enjoying great break until Morris 1000’s brake failure!

PUBLISHED: 10:38 15 October 2018 | UPDATED: 10:38 15 October 2018

Bob Vousden'’s Morris 1000 with his then girlfriend who is now is wife of 46 years. Picture: Bob Vousden

Bob Vousden'’s Morris 1000 with his then girlfriend who is now is wife of 46 years. Picture: Bob Vousden

Bob Vousden

Bob Vousden had a hairy moment after tackling the hairpin bends on a mountain road when the brakes failed in his well loaded Morris 1000.

Having learned to drive using my dad’s 1956 Daimler Conquest, it was a big change having my first car in 1969 – a 1958 Morris 1000.

My mates were buying Minis but I was concerned about doing maintenance and the ‘Moggy’ 1000 was so simple. My thinking was that it was going to be easier to change clutches and gearboxes on the roadside outside my house without the need for a block and tackle lifting gear.

I paid £70 for it in the May and, in July, was heading off to Italy on holiday. One slight problem concerned me was the oil light came on when the engine was idling and, although the car had passed its MOT a week before the holiday, the helpful mechanic told me the car wouldn’t get to Upminster – let alone Rome!

My neighbour, who used to love diving in and helping us boys with our cars, said not to worry and simply showed me how to adjust the mixture to increase the tickover speed – problem solved – the oil light no longer came on!

What an exciting drive through France and Switzerland into Italy, loaded up with camping gear. No problems at all. In those days we had to have petrol coupons to buy petrol in Italy tax-free as it was so expensive.

After a great two-week holiday we started the return journey, via Monte Carlo, where disaster struck just as we had come down the mountain round, with all the hairpin bends, and my brakes failed. It transpired that, with the car being loaded up, a brake pipe had been rubbing on the chassis and worn through, allowing the fluid to drain out. The car that stopped to help was the gendarmes. We didn’t speak French, they didn’t speak English, and a fairly fraught exchange took place, but they kindly pushed the car to a back street garage that was one step away from a breaker’s yard. After trying various Renault and Citroen parts to no avail, the mechanic got me to blow through the brake pipe while he soldered it and filled the hole in. He then put tape and jubilee clips around the solder and refitted the pipe telling me “Temporary, temporary”. It was almost a year later an irate MOT mechanic asked me what idiot had bodged this repair.

I kept the car for three years and never did any repairs, except servicing, and sold it on for £100 in 1972. Having owned about 50 cars since, the Morris 1000 is the only one I have made money on!

The photo features my girlfriend at the time, who has been my long-suffering wife for 46 years.

Tell people about your first car – email your memories with a picture to or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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