Wings and dings in Bond Minicar

Ahaa! The Bond Minicar — now that's another story. I was 21, my wife Marion 20 and I had just had a near-miss on a Triumph Tiger 100 motorbike. The feeling was to get something a bit safer, also slower, for my daily journey to work at Norwich. I had not passed my car test at the time.

So WNG 84 came into our lives. It was red with a beige interior and hood and had a push-button start (my brother-in-law had a lever that he pulled on the inside of his car to start it). The unbreakable Villiers engine powered this brute 40 miles daily, five days a week, for the three years I had it.

I averaged 4,000 miles per wing during the 40,000 (approx) miles I covered. This was due to a combination of bad driving on my part and an almost total lack of brakes. I remember in horror as a police Wolsley braked in front of me going down Exchange Street in Norwich and me piling into the back of it – two wings and a bonnet there. On another occasion, getting a bit of a roll on as I headed home one Saturday lunchtime, I slid into the bank and flipped it over on its side in the snow (getting the picture?) – front and glassfibre rear wing.

Snow was not good with a Bond Minicar. One day, going to work, with the snow getting deeper by the minute, I ground to a halt because the front wheel was in deep, unbroken snow. However, some roadmen who were trying to keep the queue moving got on each corner of the Bond and lifted it up and put it on the verge, waved the rest of the cars through and then lifted it back on the road again, and away I went – they did things like that in those days.

Not having a reverse gear was not too much of a problem as the Bond couldn't turn in its own length. In convertible mode the side windows lifted out and the rear panel zipped down, or the roof folded right down. Great stuff.

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One thing it did absolutely 'eat' were sprockets and chains. In our back garden we kept a few rabbits to sell at market to help out with the housekeeping, but that was soon swallowed up in sprockets and chains. We had about 50 rabbits at one time and we used to say they kept us in sprockets and chains.

The Villiers was often having a rebore (remember them?) and we had a tarpaulin lean-to garage, where I nipped the rings into the piston grooves, Marion would lower the cylinder down slowly, plane the head to raise the compression ratio to make it a bit nippier, polish all its bits, and back on the road for work on Monday morning.

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I had a paraffin car sump heater on the floor of the Bond to warm it up a bit before I went to work, as it was extremely cold in winter, and I had a balaclava-type hat to keep me warm.

Then there was customising. Can you believe I cut down a Humber Super Snipe front bumper and fitted it on the front of the Bond, complete with over-riders to complete the look. Yes, portholes on the sides and a hand swivelling light at the top of the screen – Marion was a trifle concerned when the electricity money tin was a bit short.

We loved our Bond Minicar and used to head down to the beach at Cromer, daughter Kit in a carry-cot across the back seat. When she was older, she would stand between the rear seats and look through the screen (no seat-belts –‑ horror). Even our greyhound would tell Marion when I turned the corner nearby when coming home – she knew the sound.

I wonder if it is still going. We did see it once at a car show in Norwich and it looked just great. Nostalgia is a wonderful thing. I hope we have made you smile.

Mike and Marion Rutland, Holt Road, Briston.

We want to share your memories of your first car. Send memories and pictures of your first car to 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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