My First Car: Car sharing and all that jazz!

The 1933 Hudson straight eight Peter Webb bought for £30 with two fellow apprentices.

The 1933 Hudson straight eight Peter Webb bought for £30 with two fellow apprentices. - Credit: supplied

Peter Webb tells how he and two friends ended up with jazz great George Melly and 10 others jammed into their big American Hudson saloon.

I was unable to purchase, or run, a car while working as an apprentice mechanical engineer with the old Pye company in 1957.

However, together with two fellow apprentices, we pooled our resources and purchased an American 1933 Hudson straight eight saloon for £30.

It had a three-speed gearbox, wet clutch, six-volt power, 'suicide' back doors which opened rearwards and a spacious cabin with four plush leather coil spring seats.

The long-stroke engine had plenty of torque at low revs so it never struggled on hills – not that Cambridgeshire presents any challenges!

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It never let us down but we did have to reline the wet clutch, which necessitated a purchase from a local chemist of 108 bottle stopper corks, and later replace a head gasket which, to our pleasant surprise, was quickly obtained for us by a local merchant.

The vehicle was imported into England in right-hand drive and we understood its early life was as a taxi in Bournemouth.

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The 1950s saw the revival of traditional jazz. Our local dance hall – The Rex in Cambridge – regularly played host to the top bands including Ken Colyer, Humphrey Lyttelton, Chris Barber and Mick Mulligan whose singer at that time was the late George Melly.

One one occasion during George's visit, the interval saw what seemed to be everybody in the bar queue so we decided it would be quicker to go to a town bar. Our comment was overheard by several others in the queue, including George, who then joined 10 of us jammed into the car to go into town.

Not surprisingly, there are issues with joint ownership (not financial in our case) but social and going to a dance in the event (rare) of one of us getting a date. Ownership of a car certainly expanded the scope of our young lives.

We eventually sold it at the end of our apprenticeships and went our separate ways in life but have remained in touch.

Everyone has memories of their first car and we want to hear about your original set of wheels. Email your story with a picture of the car to or post it to Andy Russell, motoring editor, Archant, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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