My First Car: Happy memories but sad end to Minx
- Credit: supplied
Pamela Lucas tells of the quirks of her Hillman Minx convertible and running out of petrol in the dark outside Colchester barracks.
'Follow this car for spare Hillman parts'. These were the words stencilled on a piece of hardboard attached to the rear of my first car.
She was a 1948 Hillman Minx convertible, flame red, two-door coupe with a flat-head, four-cylinder, 1.2-litre engine and three-speed column change.
I bought her from a garage in Saffron Walden, in Essex, for £50 in 1963.
The second gear on the column had to be held in place, if not it would slip out of gear, the petrol gauge swung all over the place, from full to empty just turning a corner, it was very draughty with no heater, the starting handle (on cold winter mornings) could be rather rough on the thumbs, as it often kicked back... and it had a driver with a beehive hair-do, stiletto heels and pencil slim skirt.
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The photograph of the three of us – all draughtswomen – was taken in the grounds of Pye Unicam at Cambridge and shows Carol, Kay and myself, on the right.
That summer Carol and I had a week's holiday at Pontins holiday camp at Pakefield, near Lowestoft, where she reached the quarter-finals of Miss Great Britain.
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Returning to Cambridge on Sunday evening – petrol stations then were closed Sundays – we ran out of petrol, somewhere in Colchester, and waited, not knowing where we were. It was dark and there were no mobile phones. Two police officers pulled up in front and inquired why we were parking outside Colchester barracks. Two girls in a car parked, packed with suitcases, out of petrol – unlikely or what?
Eventually the police were able to get through to Carol's father in Milton, Cambridgeshire, who arrived with a can of petrol in the early hours. He was not a happy bunny!
The Hillman was a challenge, but lovely, to drive. Unfortunately it came to an end when I smashed into the back of a pick-up truck. My brakes had failed because new brake shoes had been fitted the day before and the system had not been bled which was the garage's fault. I was fined £10 for inefficient brakes and the other driver was fined for not having road tax or insurance. The police escorted me home as the damage made steering difficult.
I gave the car away as she was too expensive to repair but that's another story.
Tell us about your first car and the adventures and scrapes you had. I doesn't matter how long ago it was, just email your motoring memories with a picture of the car to firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to Andy Russell, motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.