My First Car: Ford Classic proved great gig for drummer Len Crawley

Len Crawley with his first car – a 1961 Ford Classic. Picture: supplied

Len Crawley with his first car a 1961 Ford Classic. Picture: supplied - 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.

Len Crawley’s second car car was a Standard 10 which he sprayed orange with a matt black bonnet. Pic

Len Crawleys second car car was a Standard 10 which he sprayed orange with a matt black bonnet. Picture: supplied - Credit: Len Crawley supplied

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.

You may also want to watch:

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.

Most Read

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.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter