Rolling back the years

Mum said I could name every car we saw by the age of five and I’m still boring my wife with car facts and memories more than 50 years on.

Dad had a Ford Anglia for work and it proved to be a reliable workhorse. As a hardworking sales rep with a territory stretching from just south of Birmingham, west to Bristol and down in to the south west, he racked up 25,000 miles a year in his.

Just like another Facebook follower,

“My dad’s first company car was an Anglia estate which was blue. It was great when he came home in it.”

“He then progressed to a Cortina Estate.”

Other Anglias were adored and cherished too as one Spring Chicken notes,

My first car was a Ford Anglia. It was light blue and it was a fantastic family car, we loved it

Then a change of company – this time selling fish paste to supermarkets – got Dad an Austin Cambridge.

Something of a status symbol amongst the Ford Anglias and Consuls of his contemporaries.

Fords seemed to have something of a ‘tinny’ image in the 60s and this must have spurred the ‘Dagenham Dustbins’ monika – pretty unfairly I think.

Ours was pale blue and very rusty

notes a not so cheerful Ford Anglia memory.

Navigating to a slightly more glamorous track was the advent of Simon Templar, a spy thriller TV series during the 60s. Played by Roger Moore, this suave good guy battled the baddies in a super sexy Volvo P1800.

“I honestly don’t know whether I preferred him or his beautiful car!”

one female Spring Chicken mused.

As a boy, a new or at least new to our family car, was the highlight of my year.

In the late 60s Dad bought a Ford Corsair 2000GT, not the 2000E with the vinyl roof and the wood capped door tops. With the V4 engine from the then new and revolutionary Ford Transit van, a bigger Weber carburetor, rev counter, and centre console with glove compartment I had top bragging rights in the playground.

Seem to remember Mum scraping the left side against the brick gatepost as we rushed to school. Fords looked after our family well. Ours had its plugs and points adjusted, oil and filter changed and tappets set at the same garage known to another Spring Chicken as she notes,

It also reminds me of my first employer’s husband who always had Anglias, his family had the Ford dealership in Worthing

Of course it would be very remiss not to mention the greatest motoring icon of the 60s, a little car with a huge impact – the revolutionary Austin Mini. Beloved and owned by the famous and not so famous. Famous included Paul McCartney, Steve McQueen and none other than Enzo Ferrari – obviously not content with just his own super, sleek and speedy marque.

Naturally, the Spring Chicken Community has many fond car memories of rear engine Hillman Imps, Triumph Vitesses, Jaguars, Rovers, Cortinas, Morris Oxfords and many others including a not so fond memory of a Triumph Stag as our Spring Chicken friend remembers.

I finally got a date with a girl I’d fancied for ages. But the car broke down about four miles after picking her up. She found a ‘phone box and got her dad to come and collect her. So that was the end of that!

Our family toyed with a Vauxhall VX490, the souped up version of the Victor, fondly remembered, but watching them rust wasn’t such fun. Consequently there’s not many still left but in 1968 Ford launched the car the family man had been dreaming of – the Ford Capri. A fastback coupe, ‘the car you always

promised yourself’ said Ford.

Sure enough, after persuading mum it was a vital investment, we soon had a Ford Capri 2000GT in Daytona Yellow. With bucket seats, sports wheels and a matt black bonnet Dad was virtually Jackie Stewart. A little bit squashed in the back for my sister and me and downright crammed when we had to take her friend with us. I remember a holiday when we towed my parent’s friend’s caravan, a Sprite Major, all the way down to the south of France.

Driving on the continent was not like today. When we crossed the channel in the 60s and 70s it was motoring mecca for me. Renaults, Peugeots and Citroens that I had never or rarely seen assaulted my car hungry gaze. The Citroen DS with its fluid suspension and streamlined styling seemed to be the cars that ruled the French autoroutes. Think we came close to owning one but, in those days, foreign cars could be expensive and trickier to maintain Dad said.

And now I hear myself repeating him, “How the average family car has changed, they all look the same now.” And sadly, only last year Peugeot Citroen bought the Vauxhall brand. Sacré bleu!

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  • None of those cars were much good. Rust being a major problem. They needed servicing a lot more. Mostly very basic. Of course, nobody knew any different. Cars back then were what they were. I’ve worked on, driven and MOT’d all the cars featured in this article and many more besides so I have knowledge of them all.

  • My first car was a 2nd hand Morris 1800. Wide and low-slung it was known, mostly affectionately, as the ‘Land Crab’. It had leather seats and silky-smooth ‘hydrolastic’ suspension – though when this leaked, it left the car horribly lop-sided (though still just about driveable)

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