Ford Prefect not hot stuff in cold

With my two years National service in the Royal Signals behind me and a new job in Leeds I felt rich enough to splash out on a car.I had picked up quite a bit of knowledge about cars from my dad who was always tinkering with one or another.

With my two years National service in the Royal Signals behind me and a new job in Leeds I felt rich enough to splash out on a car.

I had picked up quite a bit of knowledge about cars from my dad who was always tinkering with one or another. It was my dad who taught me to drive and, although he had never had to take a driving test, he managed to train me enough to pass mine first time!

He told me that when he went to get a job with a local builder he was asked if he could drive the lorry. He replied that he thought so and climbed aboard, drove it round the yard and so got the job. How different driving was in the 1920s.

The car I bought in 1959 was a Ford Prefect of 1953 vintage. It had leather upholstery, a small vase stuck inside the front windscreen for decorative flowers and cost �290.


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The battery was six volts and was not really man enough to turn the engine on a cold morning so a starting handle was supplied. I don't think the designers ever thought about cold weather because although the front windscreen could be opened to let in fresh air, and there were two small ventilator flaps like little letterboxes near your legs, there was no heater. I bought a heater as a kit. It consisted of a metal plate which bolted on the radiator, a length of flexible tube to carry 'warm' air into the saloon and a fan to help move the air along. More heat was generated in installing the kit than ever it gave me in service.

The car was fitted with semaphore direction indicators but again the inadequacy of the six-volt supply was apparent. A smart blow with a fist on the door column was needed to help the solenoid in the indicator to lift the arm.

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With my pal, Trevor - shown in the picture - a camping tour of Scotland was undertaken and it became apparent that the boot was not really big enough to hold all the kit. In fact, it hardly held anything so most of our gear was stored on the back seat. The clutch did not like to move the car up hills so the passenger had to get out and push.

A new engine was fitted later for �36. The steering was also improved after I had fitted new king pins.

The Prefect was a good motor as a first car but the 1958 Morris Oxford (Series III) which I replaced it with was on a higher plane, but it did cost �445 in 1962.

Bernard Ambrose, Little Melton, Norwich.

We want to share your memories of your first car. Send memories, with a picture of your first car, to andy.russell@archant.co.uk

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