My First Car: Ford Classic proved great gig for drummer Len Crawley
- Credit: Len Crawley supplied
My first car was a 1961 Ford Classic with the 1,340cc engine which I purchased in 1968 after returning from Germany.
The main colour was Caribbean turquoise with a cream roof.
It belonged to a friend who I was in a pop group with in the 1960s. He had returned from Germany a few months earlier but I had decided to stay out there with the group. He eventually wanted to return to Germany to become a record producer so he had to sell the car and gave me first refusal.
I bought it from him for the pricely sum of £240 on hire purchase. After spending many years of travelling to gigs in the back of, or driving, a Commer van, the thought of returning to the the UK and driving to gigs in my own saloon car was a dream come true.
I loved the car, even though it had no power steering, but it did have a few mechanical problems. It had disc brakes, which was a good thing to have, and was very stylish and comfortable for the period it was made.
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It also had an exceptionally big boot which was an important thing for me as I intended to carry on drumming on a semi-professional basis and could load most of my drum kit in the boot.
The Ford Classic was a lovely car to drive but I had one or two problems with it. The steering had wheel wobble above 30mph – I had the wheels balanced several times which did not cure the wheel wobble problem but eventually it was diagnosed as faulty track control arms which I had replaced and that cured the problem.
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Another fault I had with the car was that both the sidelight housings attracted rust and I spent many weekends at the back of my mum and dad's house filling them with glass fibre, rubbing them down and spraying them with endless cans of Dupli-Color. Then somebody asked me if I knew you could buy repacement sidelight housings that screwed or bolted on from inside the wing. If I had known this earlier, it would have saved me lots of work.
I was driving up to London early one weekday morning, at about 2am, to help out a friend who had a market stall. I got as far as Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, when the car suddenly stopped. Luckily, it stopped right opposite a garage on the A1 so we had to push it a few hundred yards to get it to the garage on the opposite side of the road. The next day I phoned the garage which told me that the timing chain had broken. It cost me £35 to get it repaired and the cost of a taxi journey back to Stevenage. It seemed like a fortune at the time.
I eventually had to sell the car as I was asked to go abroad to play with another pop group on American air force bases. I was relucant because it meant travelling in a van again but gave way to temptation and enjoyed the experience of playing again in another country.
The reason I had to sell it was because the car was still on HP and I couldn't guarantee the repayments could be made each month.
My next car, when I returned to the UK, was a grey Standard 10 – a bit of a comedown after my lovely Ford Classic but at least I had my own wheels again.
The Standard 10 served me well for about 18 months during which time my brother and I had great pleasure in respraying it in different colours. The photo shows its final colour with a matt black, 'go-faster' bonnet. The picture was taken in the summer of 1970 at Leysdown on the Isle of Sheppey, in Kent, when I was doing a summer season there.