My First Car: Big push on road trip to remember
- Credit: supplied
Ken Lake was glad his mates' help respraying his Ford Consul and pushing it on their road trip reward.
My first car – registration 118 ENN – was a 1957 Mark 2 Ford Consul with a dubious recorded mileage.
I remember trading in my motorbike, a 500cc Royal Enfield, and handing over a small amount of cash to complete the purchase.
The car, like my trade-in motorbike, was well worn and came in a sickly red colour. So the first job was to rub it down and get it resprayed in light blue. The rub-down and respray was accomplished with the help of friends, on the promise of a road trip.
The new look to the Consul was completed with an additional radio aerial. Two were very fashionable in those days. It was never connected as the car didn't have a radio, so it was purely cosmetic.
The promised road trip was to Land's End. We got as far as Brighton on a busy Saturday afternoon and, as soon as I took my foot off the accelerator, the engine stalled. And the only way to start it again was for my mates to jump out and push the car to bump-start it. Then they had to jump back in before I roared off.
This really amused the crowds of shoppers and pedestrians. We pushed the car into a side street, dismantled the carburettor and replaced a loose jet. At that time, and with a car like that one, I carried enough tools and spares to complete a major overhaul.
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I remember one incident somewhere on a minor road in Devon. We came to a steep hill, the likes of which we had never seen in Norfolk. It was just too steep for the Consul's first gear of the three-speed gearbox and there wasn't enough room to turn the car round and try it in reverse. So the three mates had to jump out again and push. We only just made it to the top.
After that, the car took us and our camping gear as far as Land's End, and brought us almost all of the way back home again. As I turned into the top of my street in Fakenham there was a horrible grinding noise coming from the gearbox and it stopped working. The problem turned out to be the lay-shaft bearings, which I subsequently replaced. And then the car was on the road again.
Those were the days when you would spend all night repairing a car to get you to work the next morning. I kept that car for a couple of years and learned a lot about automobile engineering from the constant repairs.
Then I traded the Consul in for a different old banger, but that's another story.
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