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My cars

My Morris Minor 1000

(Picture is not the actual car)

MY first car was a 1960 Morris Minor 1000, a four-door version in grey, similar to the one shown in the picture.

It cost £200 from a dealer in Hampshire and bore the registration number VAM 409. It had four forward gears and new-fangled flashing indicators rather than the clunky little orange arms of slightly earlier models.

I bought the car in October 1966 while still an L-driver and the glorious feeling of having my very own car was indescribable. Previously I had known only two-wheeled transport and the associated intimacy with the elements.

With any one of a handful of qualified driver friends browbeaten or bribed into sitting alongside (or behind) me, I hammered the poor little Morris around the roads and lanes of Hampshire.

It was the car in which I made the clumsy mistakes that learners do and in which I had my only couple of shunts.

The first was a collision with a humpback bridge near Andover in the early days before I realised that, as with motorcycles, it was advisable to slow down for sharp bends in pouring rain. The damage was not great but the lesson was well learnt. The second prang was when a very large greyhound ran out into my path at point-blank range; the poor animal was badly hurt and so was the car.

Another traumatic incident was driving through the narrow lanes of the New Forest, again in torrential rain, with the car packed with pals and rounding a bend, only to find ourselves suddenly bonnet-deep in water where the swollen river had burst its banks; we had not noticed the ‘ford’ sign obscured by storm-lashed tree branches. 

Yet despite the pleasure I derived from having my own car and my independence, the Morris was not ‘cool’ enough for a 1960s teenager and I kept it for barely six months, selling it in April 1967.

When I think back now, after so many years, I can still recall the feel of the Morris, its distinctive ‘trumpet’ exhaust note and the wonderful feeling of liberation when I was first able to remove the L-plates.

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