Setting the Standard

My first car was a 1939 Standard Flying Twelve black four-door saloon and I paid �275 - quite a lot of money in those days, for it was June 1953.It was in quite good condition and comfortable but I've forgotten what the mileage was and also its full registration number although it began with GUM, which was a Birmingham number in those days.

My first car was a 1939 Standard Flying Twelve black four-door saloon and I paid �275 - quite a lot of money in those days, for it was June 1953.

It was in quite good condition and comfortable but I've forgotten what the mileage was and also its full registration number although it began with GUM, which was a Birmingham number in those days. I think the engine was about 1,500cc and side-valve.

It was not very fast, which was just as well as the brakes were a Bendix system with a tapered bar which forced the brake shoes apart, through a set of rods, as you pressed the pedal. The car slowed down eventually but sometimes it was a rather longer wait than one had hoped!

The chassis, suspension and universal joints on the prop shaft etc needed greasing, via 28 nipples, every 500 miles. The ignition keyhole was in the centre of the lighting switch and once I managed to switch the engine off when driving with thick gloves - no heater of course - when trying to operate the lighting switch and couldn't understand why the car was slowing down.


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One fascinating feature was a rocker switch for the horn, one side labelled 'loud' and the other 'soft' - from inside the car there was no discernable difference. A very necessary piece of kit was the starting handle which was often used in cold weather.

Both my brother-in-law and I passed our driving tests in it, first time, tutored by my father who had held a driving licence from 1928 - before tests were introduced.

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At that time there was a very long wait of several months for driving tests. I was then in the Merchant Navy, so never had a leave long enough to qualify in time. It was a problem recognised by the authorities and the matter had even been raised in the House of Commons. I applied for a test on the first day of a three-week leave period, explained the situation and was granted a cancellation date after about 10 days. The test took place in Hendon, north-west London, and the examiner chose a very wide street for the obligatory 'three-point-turn' test. I could almost have done a U-turn.

I sold the Standard eventually and bought a 1939 Morris Series E Tourer, which was rather more fun. I have just bought my 26th car.

AD Wake, Charles Avenue, Watton.

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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