21 thoughts on “My First Car – Austin A30

  1. I was born in 1939 in Billingham. My family emigrated to Canada in 1954. I remember my father having a Hillman (don’t know the year it was made) but I remember in the late 40’s going to Farndale in Yorkshire to see the daffodils in bloom. After that we had an Austin and I think can remember the licence plate AWU 578. Happy memories of bygone years.

    Derek Randall

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  2. I had a mk2 Escort, 2 door with round headlights, which I wrote off on the hump back bridge on Bishopton Road West. Shame because they’re worth good money now…

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  3. 1954 split windscreen Morris Minor. My Dad handed over the keys in 1967. Passed my test in the same vehicle 1964. I scrapped the Morris in 1969. We lived in Barker Road from 1936-1960.

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  4. My brother was in the merchant navy and was home only once a year. From age 17 he always bought a car when on vacation and asked me to look after it when he went back to sea. A burden I gladly undertook.
    His first, a minivan ended it’s days at the zebra crossing on Durham Road next to Newtown School when with me driving, it was squashed between a ‘blindly driven’ Mk III Ford Zephyr from behind and my friend Colin’s Morris Minor in front.

    His second, a Wolseley 15/50 received tender care with an engine transplant from a Riley 1.5 and hand-made replacement cills pop-riveted over the rusty originals… last seen in Church Street on the back of a lorry on the way to the scrapyard.

    MY first car was bought for £50. A Wolseley 6/90 fitted with an engine from an Austin Healey 3000. It was enormous, over-powered and under-braked.
    I took it to Durham when a student there, using it to take fellow students to teaching practice schools in Houghton-Le Spring at speeds close to the ‘ton’ each way. I once received a warning from the police for driving with 10 passengers going back home to ‘digs’ in Brancepeth but was allowed to continue as long as I never did it again. What understanding police in 1960s.

    I later made 2 court appearances on the same day for ‘driving with a car in a dangerous condition’. I had been stopped by a police car for having a loose wing, drove off and was stopped a mile further on by a different policeman in another police-car for the same offence. I explained that I had already been stopped, but he said ‘THAT stop was for driving it further down the road, THIS stop if for driving it past me!’
    Some police didn’t think much of their local students’ modes of transport.

    That car effectively ended it’s days when at road works on the ‘new and not quite finished’ A1 near Picktree, Chester-le-street. I tried to pass a slow car entering the ‘chicane’ just as he moved into the outer lane…. I had the power to pass, but not the brakes to stop and ended up swerving left going across the stone blocks that marked the edge of the track provided, passing the slow car on the left, destroying both my left wheels, but still managing the chicane ahead of the other car.

    It was never the same after that and when I could not get replacement parts for the right-hand gear change, It too was towed, without brakes and using a ‘borrowed’ Army Land Rover as tow vehicle and an alternative form of brakes to the local scrap yard near Willington, Durham.

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  5. My first was a Ford Anglia 100E with a 3 speed gearbox it cost the princely sum of £20 then the same to insure it on 1967. We toured around Yorkshire in it eventually changed it for a Morris Minor 1000. Both were very rusty but fairly reliable.

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  6. Mine was a Sunburnt Orange Mini 1275GT, (TGR 565R, funny how the reg numbers stick in your memory). Bought it second hand in the late 80’s but it didn’t really click that I’d bought the sporty model, cost £350 to buy & another £350 to insure 3rd Party Fire & Theft! but it was great fun. I was a group of 4 apprentices and 3 of us had 1275 GT’s, lunchtime was like being in “The Italian Job”. Should’ve kept it, have you seen how much they are worth today! doh!

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  7. My first was a Ford 105E Van. Ideal for students living in London. This was in 1964. I then bought a Mini van in 1970 as an experiment to compare the two vans.

    Both were rust buckets as was typical at the time , but the Minivan was the worst in terms of reliability and quality.

    In my retirement both have afforded some fun in writing about their failings. These are somewhere in the “Fred Starr Recollects” series published in Materials World magazine. The first on the Mini is called “Driving Me Crazy”

    The 105 E Van suffered valve burning on the poppet valves. As this was a high temperature corrosion issue, which used to be my professional interest, in retirement I have written several papers on the development of valves in petrol engines. If you put Fred Starr Poppet Valves Part 2 into Goggle you can get it free.

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    • Like you Fred my first vehicle was a Ford Thames van which had a brick holding up the seat, holes in the rear wheel wells to ensure the driver got a wash and the ultimate seat belts! Like you again I next acquired a Mini Van excellent except for two flaws, firstly the sub frame rotted away and secondly if you went through a bubble because the ignition wash on the floor trying to start it afterwards was nigh on impossible! In those days I was intrepid, my cousin and I taking the valves and pistons out his Anglia and and reserving them, changing the clutch etc. The only thing was, as my uncle picked out, that he didn’t empty the oil from the engine before lifting it out on an “A” frame. Oh joyous days, now I put fuel in and if it doesn’t work it’s someone else’s job!

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  8. 1960 Austin Healey Sprite Mk 1 (usually referred to as the “Frogeye”). Reg 700 JPT. In effect an A35 with soft top and 2 seats! Great fun. Bought it for £325 in 1963 and sold it 3 years later for £250.

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  9. Oh the joy of the freedom of the road, my first car “err” truck was a 1936 Leyland six wheeler with Brake Clutch. I had landed in the Middle east at 18 finally got to Shandur to join 662 Armoured Troop workshop with 4th RTR. The ASM greeted me with “not another Vm they are coming out of my ears, what else can you do” I am infantry trained and done a sniper course, We Have plenty of those as 6th Airborne and 42 Commando were also at the base. Why do they not send me drivers we are short, well I did drive my Dad’s truck’s from an early age? His face lit up report to MT now.
    The Sergeant there said what did you drive and without stopping can you drive that pointing to the Leyland, get in and start it up he climbed in and I took him round the camp and back, he gave me a licence and I was driving the ration truck to Fayid an hour later.
    I loved old creeping J as we called her she was signed out to me and I followed the tanks all over the Desert with ammunition and fuel in jerry cans, never got bogged down and even pulled the CO’s Humber out of soft sand with it.
    Got caught speeding by the MP’s they said i was doing 55 MPH when I passed them and it took five miles to catch me? The Adjutant listening to the evidence said what were you driving, “creeping J Sir” what? that thing will not top 24 MPH come with me, we drove it round he made sure my foot was hard down and 24 MPH finally arrived on the clock. He dismissed the charge and wrote a very nasty letter to the MP”s I think it said they should go to a famous optician. He could not know I had got it flat out to the top of the only bank on the Treaty Road and knocked it out of gear, when I passed them that truck had its ears back and was going like a Greyhound.
    My next truck was a Diamond T with two Dyson trailers, I loaded the tanks myself but that is another story.
    Frank.

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  10. Brings back memories. My wife had the Austin A35 before we married and that was in Grey. I had a Triumph Mayflower, 1952 in Black.

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  11. Vauxhall Victor, 1961 model. Leather bench front seat. I would slide across it if taking a corner fast. It was the deluxe model, giving a bit of “luxury”, white body and red roof, but riddled with rust. This was nearly fifty years ago, when most British cars were very rust prone, and Vauxhall’s especially. I remember the smell of petrol, combined with leather, a smell little known today, but the very essence of independent adventure. Only music was from a little Perdio Challenge transistor radio, on the seat next to me, nothing so sophisticated as a fitted radio in that car, but it did have carpets, unlike a lot of cars in those days, where the steel floorpan was all there was. A bit of old living room carpet, cut to fit was the usual DIY fix for cars without carpets. Only had the car about a year, and part exchanged it for a two year old Vauxhall Viva. Within about six months a rust bubble had appeared on the wing!

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    • David I had a Vauxhall 101, I had gone to Sherwoods on Bridge Road to see what they had, you cannot get a family on a motor bike so it had to go.
      There was nothing I could afford at the time but a White 101 top model red upholstery in immaculate condition took my eye £500 was out of my reach and we could not come to an agreement so sadly I left.
      A week later in the Gazette I saw Sherwoods were advertising £100 off every car in the showroom I was down there post haste and yes my 101 was still there and £100 off I bought it there and then. That car took me all round the Uk and would do Aldershot and back every weekend without a murmur. I had it three years and not a rust bubble on it (saying that it got some loving care in the REME workshop out of hours). I loved that car and still remember it with joy although I have had many brand new cars since. Not all Vauxhalls fell to bits. “Oh” and I still have the Sales form.
      Frank.

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      • I remember the 101’s Frank. Large cars if I remember. There were some good Vauxhalls around in the 1960’s. I used to fancy the Cresta, with it’s American look, and a friend of mine had a green and black Corsair, much faster than my Victor. That Viva I bought was a good car, bright red. When I tried to fit an ariel in the wing, the top of the wing fell in. I took it to Martins garage in Billingham for a new wing. The mechanic said the whole wing was rusted. The car was only about four years old. Apart from the rust the Viva did me well, and was always reliable.

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  12. My first car was a Morris Minor soft top 1956 I had this car from autumn 1964 to early summer 1965, I also rode bikes and lived on Lanehouse Road, Thornaby

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    • Hi Stuart. Do you know me? I am Sandra Dover and I lived at 104 Lanehouse Road. I now live in Rotherham. My mum and dad were Tommy and Sylvia Dover. Regards Sandra Dover

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