My First Car: Life with Ford Anglia an uphill struggle even before rusting wings!

Graham Day working on his Ford Anglia with the rusting wings. Picture: Graham Day

Graham Day working on his Ford Anglia with the rusting wings. Picture: Graham Day

Graham Day

Graham Day

My first car was a grey Ford Anglia – registration CDX 770c, an Ipswich registration.

At one time, the former Churchmans/John Player tobacco factory – next to the football ground in Portman Road, Ipswich, had a fleet of these cars for sales representatives. Photographs taken in the mid 1960s show a large fleet of Ford Anglias in the car park adjacent to the factory.

I had passed my driving test in 1969. It was some time before I had saved up sufficient money to buy a car but, as luck would have it, my sister was selling their car as they were upgrading to a Ford Cortina. As I knew its post Churchmans pedigree, I bought it for £230 and parked it outside my parents’ house in Old Stoke initially. I was not mechanically-minded but my good friend, Kevin, was a mechanic at the Ford dealership in Ipswich and carried out any repairs and pre-MOT inspections on it.

It was not long before I was able to rent a lock-up garage at a block of apartments in Belstead Avenue, Ipswich, arranged through estate agent Gerald Benjamin, in King Street. This suited me better as the car was off the road and the lock-up was available if work needed to be done – it almost inevitably was!

I started driving with friends on evenings out to get used to the car before I went out on my own around Ipswich. My parents never owned a car and, for the first year or so, Sundays were taken up with excursions into the Suffolk countryside, complete with picnic.

I was working at East Suffolk County Council dealing with property searches for home-buyers. As I was having to get used to seeing Suffolk every day on large-scale Ordnance Survey Maps, I decided I wanted to see what Suffolk was like on the ground so there were memorable trips to Eye, Wingfield, Saxtead Mill, Framlingham and Orford.

The car began to be used for longer and longer trips and, in 1974, began to go on touring holidays. The car scaled the heights of the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District on a trip to see my friend at Lancaster University and travelled to the Cotswolds, Kent, Hampshire and throughout East Anglia.

The car had some idiosyncrasies – principal was the need to double declutch as there was no synchromesh on the gearbox. On a trip to Prinknash Abbey, Gloucestershire, in 1977 I had to go up an extremely steep hill but was scared of trying to do a hill start so drove the car as hard as possible and, when I needed to change from second to first gear, crashed the gears and was relieved to reach the summit safely.

The car survived many MOT inspections but the main problem was rusting wings and, by 1978, was looking in a sorry state. I find this posed photograph of me working on the car strange as I had almost failed a car maintenance course at the Ipswich Civic College. In all probability I was using ‘damp start’ or something similar to remove moisture and start the engine – even I could do that! The rust on the wings is well in evidence.

As I was getting married in August 1978, a new car was low on the list of priorities. The car eventually terminally failed its MOT and I sold it for £35. It was tremendously sad as it had been owned by family members for about 12 years.

I purchased a second Ford Anglia, in excellent condition, from an elderly gent who had just used it to go to his bowls club in Ipswich. The number plate was 417 JON and became a desirable personal plate – as a consequence I received far more money for the car when I sold it!

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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