Kitted out for action

I bought my first car while on leave from National Service in 1960.It had just been built from Austin Seven parts by a local enthusiast at about the time the new Austin Mini was launched and he had to have one.

I bought my first car while on leave from National Service in 1960.

It had just been built from Austin Seven parts by a local enthusiast at about the time the new Austin Mini was launched and he had to have one.

He was asking �120 but was desperate to raise cash and accepted �80 and I had my first car.

The body was aluminium on a wooden frame and was painted in orange emulsion which surprisingly was very durable. The name painted on the bonnet was Orinjeboks.


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It had hydraulic brakes and twin SU carburettors. The wheels on the Austin Seven were held on with brass or bronze nuts which had the tendency to come loose fairly often so needed to be tightened on a regular basis. Oil pressure was 2lb cold and non-existent when hot and, to aid performance, a water pump had been fitted along with a roller blind in front of the radiator to get optimum engine temperature.

Top speed was only about 60mph at best, but cornering flat-out was easy as the car was so low. Sustained bouts of full throttle caused the crankshaft to whip itself into a frenzy as there was only a bearing at each end so it was necessary to lift the right foot from time to time to stabilise the crankshaft. Later engines had three bearings but I believe were less reliable.

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Seating for the driver was OK but the passenger needed to adopt the foetal position and my driving test examiner was very pleased to pass me quickly and assume a normal stance.

I was stopped fairly often in north London and the West End by the local constabulary - not to book me but to have a look at the car. On one occasion before I had a full licence and no qualified passenger, the car got me off with just a wink and a nod from the copper.

I sold the car eventually to a friend. He forgot to lift his right foot at full throttle and snapped the crankshaft. I don't think Orinjeboks was ever repaired but, if it did survive, I would buy it back tomorrow.

Gordon Young, Pottergate Street, Aslacton.

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 or Andy Russell, EDP Features, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE. Please include your address and telephone number so photographs can be returned.

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