Mike's Cars, A look at some of my favourites
I have owned many cars during my life and this recounts a few of the major ones.
The first car to make a really big impact was an American Ford Customline. No idea what year it was built but I owned it, with my brother, in 1957. Big, the steering on the wrong side, fast and a throaty roar when you let it go.
I was courting a woman friend and would frequently take her home at 2 or 3 in the morning. I lived in Birmingham and there was a stretch of road from North End to the huge Austin works. It was dual carriageway and the car could do a ton without even trying, and I would probably not see another car at that time of the morning!
We traded in the Ford, my brother for a smaller Ford Zephyr with leopard-skin seat covers and I took over a Humber Snipe. The Humber was a good car, classy - until my dog ate through the back of the passenger seat!
I married in 1960 in Montreal and for our Honeymoon my new father-in-law lent me his second car - an Oldsmobile! What a car! It had white-wheel tyres, bench seats, and this was before seat belts were installed. It was in perfect running condition as the owner was a car nut. His day-to-day car was a 1.5 Riley, with a super-charger he installed and fine-tuned. A few years later I bought the Olds for $1,000. In 1960 I drove to Niagara Falls for our honeymoon, always conscious of the white-wheel tyres in case they got scuffed; that would have created a major bit of aggro with Fred, my new dad-in-law.
Also in Canada I bought an A40 Farina, new, and drove it across the US a couple of times. I really enjoyed the car, small as it was compared to American cars. The only major problem I had was while crossing the US I skidded on an ice patch and bent a front wheel spindle. I stopped at a small gas station and the owner refused to work on the car. He knew nothing about English cars, had hardly ever seen one, however, he allowed me to use a bay and any of the tools I wanted. Never charged me a cent. What great American hospitality!
I knew how to fix cars, like head gaskets etc but a spindle; this was way beyond my ken! Several guys calling into the station offered advice but were wary of touching the car, saying it was something that needed to be done by a dealer. I contacted the nearest dealer who was a couple of hundred miles further on and arranged to call in and get it replaced. In the meantime a customer calling in for gas did help me by getting a pipe and bending the spindle straight. It was only out a little but enough to make it dangerous to drive. Once fixed we drove to the dealer and had it changed.
I lived in Vancouver for a few years and during one stretch I worked in a car rental and car-parking place. Me and another guy would work from 4pm to midnight, mostly parking cars. I must have driven every make you can think of and became quite expert at parking fast and efficiently. The job suited me for the year I worked there as I was living 35 miles out of town, renting a small bungalow but with lots of land. We had a couple of horses and two Alsatian dogs so it was a perfect combination of job and daytime pleasure!
The next car I loved to drive was a Toyota, station-wagon. It was a 7-seater and superb to drive. The radio was foot-controlled and was the bees-knees of radios! The gear change was on the wheel but I cannot remember if it was automatic or gear-shift. This was c. 1972. I paid £1,000 from a friend of mine who ran several bookie shops and sold cars as well. I sold it a year later for £1,400 - and it was a bargain at that price.
I bought several cars during the next decade, 4.2 Jag, a new Toyota but it was not until the early 1980s that I bought a new Honda CRX. I lived and worked in London so it was a near perfect car for the city - easy to park and zoom between lanes, yet fast on the motorway. I was single at the time and had a house in Dorset, so weekends were a long drive and a fast car was ideal for me. I would drive back on Monday at about 4am into London; the road quiet and this was a great car for my needs.
I traded it a couple of years later for another new CRX. It got written off in a car accident some years later. Since then nothing much in the way of exciting cars. I would have liked a Honda 2000 sports car but my finances are not what they used to be.
And that is that! For now at least, but not forever!
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