My First Car: From Standard 8 van to Vauxhall Victor estate via grass verge flip

Raymond Rose with the Standard 8 van he bought in 1961. Picture: Raymond Rose

Raymond Rose with the Standard 8 van he bought in 1961. Picture: Raymond Rose

Raymond Rose

Ray Rose’s Standard 8 van was the business for transporting logs for sale but ended up on its roof on a nasty S bend.

Scrapping the van after a crash, he bought a Vauxhall Victor estate in 1964. Picture: Raymond RoseScrapping the van after a crash, he bought a Vauxhall Victor estate in 1964. Picture: Raymond Rose

My first vehicle was not a car but a Standard 8 van – registration 299 CHU.

I bought the van in 1961 when I was 18 years old, and had just passed my driving test, so I needed wheels to get around and it was all I could afford at the time. I bought it from a door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman who was a bit down on his luck. He had not sold much that week and was hard up, so he needed some cash.

The pale blue van had had some side windows and a seat in the back fitted and part of the inner floor had been removed for the passengers’ feet to fit. As it was registered before seatbelts were mandatory, it only had one seatbelt, and that was for the driver, because rear passengers had to get in and out by moving the front passenger seat and a belt would have got in the way.

I used it for many things, of them being selling logs door-to-door out of the back of it with a friend. I removed all of the seats except for the driver’s seat. We than packed the whole of the van with as many logs as we could until there was only enough room for me to just about drive. As we were only driving around a small area that was all that was needed at the time.

The photograph was taken on the day I got the van and before I had spruced it up a bit with some spotlights and a set of two-tone horns on the front bumper.

I drove this van to and from work in Clevedon, in north Somerset, until I had a bad crash on the outskirts. There was a Jet service station on a nasty S bend. I was going into the first bend when the van started to slide and I over-reacted, moved too much, mounted a grass verge and then hit a concrete seat. Hitting the seat flipped the van on to its roof. Luckily, I was not hurt and climbed out of the wreck through the back doors. When the van was put back on its wheels, the body was at an angle of about 45 degrees.

The van was scrapped but I saw it back on the road later so someone must have repaired it and loved it after me.

After the crash, my mother told me a fortune teller had told her someone she knew would have a crash in a blue vehicle.

My next car, bought in 1964, was a bit better as it was a Vauxhall Victor estate – registration 375 AAA. I was able to buy this with the insurance payout from the crash. This car caused me a lot of grief while I owned but I did love it at the time I bought it.

I owned other cars, vans and estate cars throughout my life. I am now 75 years old and my current car is a new Dacia Logan estate.

Tell people about your first set of wheels – 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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