Vroom, Brummm and Whee!
...transport through the years. Starting with the feet, up to the current mid life crisis toys, every stage in between. All the wonderful, terrible, wheels I have owned. Suzuki GT125, Ford Cortina (couldn't afford a Capri), Mini on bricks in the garden. It's all in the junkyard now, or so you'd hope.
This was the dying days of British Leyland and everyone or their parents had one of these cars; Ford Cortina, Capri, Escort or Granada. Morris Marina, Austin Allegro, Vauxhall Viva, Hillman Avenger, or Mini. A few Volkswagens around and the Datsuns were starting to make an appearance. MG's, Triumph Spitfires and TR7's were your choice of sports cars. Everything else was only available in Corgi, Matchbox or Dinky. Since teenagers drove the cast-off's of our parents, all the above ended up being our wheels, plus lots of accumulated rust. These cars were heaps, kept going by Sunday mornings lying under them on the drive bolting in yet another bit of scrap yard. When we weren't adding more spot lights to the front...Adding a pair of spotlights could double the value of some of these crates.
I have to say I knew my car in those days, every rattle and idiosyncrasy. Nobody could afford to take them to the garage except for the dreaded MOT. You spent a lot of time fiddling with them to keep them running, if you went out for a long drive with your mates chances are at least one of the convoy would break down, over heat or have a bit fall off.
Paul and I burn up the neighbourhood
Earliest transport? Well, my feet I suppose. I’m sure they got me into trouble lots but all I can remember is accidents. The Birdcage, is a small cemetery/park in Clifton, Bristol. It had those big granite sarcophagus type things that look like they have an occupant or two. I tried to keep up with my cousins in their game of jumping from grave to grave. But I didn't make one long leap and did a smashing job on my left eye, still giving me problems to this day. The moral of this story? Don't annoy dead people.
The first damn good hiding I remember concerned feet too - or at least Wellies. I had ridden my tricycle to a park and some bigger kids had pulled a Wellie off and thrown it around - but wait, more tragedy coming. I couldn't win the game of piggy in the middle to get it back so I did the reasonable thing and cried home to Mum. Using the logic of 5 year olds I took the other Wellie off and rested it on the back footrest of the tricycle. I arrived home to tell my story of woe in my soggy socks - did I mention it was raining? Instead of motherly sympathy I got a lot of screaming and the dreaded "Wait til your father gets home". Father did indeed get home, drag me back to the park to find no Wellie or big kids around. So in punishment for the loss of a valuable Wellie I was lashed with the dog's lead and sent to bed. Ah, you just can't get emotional scaring like that these days...
I seem to remember another smacking for going off on a walk to explore deepest Keynsham with the son of the guy that collected the Insurance (When collecting at our door he always greeted Dad with "Right, big Al" to which Dad's response was "Right, big Ed", which they still thought was hilarious even after the 39,756th time) money. This sticks in my mind because it was the first time I'd seen a condom. It was lying in the gutter and I asked the "slightly" bigger kid what it was. His answer? "It's what they put your tonsils in when they take them out, or your appendix", sounded very authoritative. You'll be glad to know we looked but didn't touch.
I remember a 'scooter', two wheels at the back of a four-inch wide oblong base, with a steerable single wheel at the front. Almost nothing like the fancy low friction bearing things kids have now. Powered by scooting, of course. I remember the main fun came from getting up some speed on the slight hill we lived on and rapidly swerving the steering so one of the back wheels left the ground and it became entertainingly uncontrollable and I promptly fell over.. The bloke next door drove a lorry that he was always leaving parked outside to the disgust of the neighbors. He stopped one hot day with a wheel on the pavement so the buses could get by, it sank into the hot tarmac. That deep crater in the pavement stayed there and attracted my scooter plus every other new hill descending transport me and my fellow kids had. That up and down lurch was a minor thrill on an otherwise featureless strip for skaters, scooters, go-carters and riders for years.
There were also some roller skates. These were all metal, including the wheels, and had buckles and laces to attach them to your shoes. They were adjusted for foot size using the wing nut in the middle that joined the front and back halves. I remember they took an enormous amount of energy to keep moving forward on, those steel wheels were very stiff, and there was always a trail of sparks as you ripped up the concrete and tarmac. Loads of kids had these kind of skates and one popular use was to take them off your feet, put last years Beano annual over one of them and sit on this unstable assembly as it rolled down the hill. The ramps at the local shops were good for this. As I got older the skates ended up being screwed to a board with the wheels in front steerable. Not a skateboard, more like a go-cart with very small wheels. You could wrench the steering hard so the wheels ended up sideways to the travel, that got you to a squealing stop with an impressive trail of sparks. When I later got to try real roller skates I was so amazed by how smooth and coasting they were.
At some stage a bicycle turned up. There were stabilizers (training wheels) attached to the back wheel and blocks on the pedals that were otherwise too low for me to reach. Getting rid off them was of course my first challenge. Once they were off though I could get much further afield. There was some wasteground next to the local shops, where Stockwood Library now is, that was outlined on two sides with a six foot wall and two bar fences on the other two. One of the fences near the corner was buried under a mound of dumped soil and that formed the entrance. It was a convenient dumping ground for all sorts of household crap and you could always find something fun like a magnet from a TV in there. Grooved around the perimeter were the ruts from every cyclist that liked tearing round it's little muddy hillocks. My bike had unusually wide tires, ideal for the squishy mud. Bicycle BMX? Pah, that's just giving a marketing name to something kids have been doing for years.
Another bike upgrade came along. I don't remember ever being asked what I wanted, I think got whatever came along at the right time. I had always thought it was a blue 'Moulten' bike, but time wasting on the internet has informed me it was actually a Raleigh cheap knock-off called the Twenty or maybe RSW. Not a traditional frame, two small white wheels joined by a single thick round tube, straight handlebars, epicyclic three gear selected by a lever on handlebar, gears housed in enclosed cylinder round rear axle. They were trying to piggy back the success of the original designed by Alex Moulton, the same guy associated with the Mini Cooper. Anyway, I never really liked it. It didn't look like my mates' bikes and it was hard to keep up with them on it. But I was stuck with it until I could grow out of it. This I did my best to do.
Finally, a normal bike came along in the shape of my cousin Paul's old white Raleigh something with 27" wheels and 10 gears. I remember being really excited about getting that one Christmas and going straight out and riding round on that. It gained a little corner of garage next to Dad's Chrysler and became my main transport up until my late teens. I had no concept of bicycle maintenance beyond putting a cardboard loop round the hubs to keep them shiny. When one day I put a spurt on past the shops to catch up with someone, the rear gear Derailleur just fell apart in a mess of springs and nuts. I never got all the pieces back and ended up shortening the chain so it became a one-gear bicycle, stuck in third. Though this would help keep my weight down it never became enough of an issue to try to fix. The bike deteriorated further, and the handlebars were so loose on the steering column they would point in all directions as you cycled, because of this I gave up locking the bike up, I assumed the painful death any thief would get from trying to use it was protection enough. I was wrong, it was nicked from the back of my girlfriends garage. I hope the handlebars got them. It was more likely some enthusiast who could bear the negligence no more and rescued it to a life of spanners and repair. Since I'm an engineer it's hard to remember why I never fixed it up now. If it wasn't for Norman Egerton kindly lending me his I would have been stuffed until the big day when I went motorized.
As the teen years advanced the bicycle wasn't cutting it anymore. At 16 my friends started to have mopeds and by 17, real motorbikes.
Mark "Chins" Chandler had a succession of beat up mopeds, starting with one of those ones like a kids bike with a 22cc engine, looks like it should have a shopping trolley on the front. It had a top speed of about 25mph on a good day, downhill. The exhaust manifold was totally rusted and was always coming away. It fell off on Park Street on our way to some lecture that got us out of school for the afternoon, an excuse to go drinking in the Coronation Taps. Chins tried to put it back on but it was, not surprisingly to the rest of us, hot and resulted in burned fingers. His solution was to use the plastic bag he had with him as an oven glove. Also not surprisingly this resulted in burned fingers plus molten plastic to pick off the scabs later. Finally he gave up and using the logic of panic, decided the safest thing to do with a moped with no exhaust pipe was to ride it up the rest of the way on the pavement. An un-silenced 22cc engine sounds pretty loud, everyone rushed out of the shops to see what mad biker was tearing up the pavement, they got quite a shock when they saw Chins on his motorized shopping trolley. After that came a Gillera 50cc which was pretty nippy and a Suzuki TS125 trail bike, though for some reason the final machine was a Honda C90.
His 125's notable feature was it had no kick start, Chins always had to bump start it by running along with it until the engine turned over enough to burst to life. He became an expert on finding hills to park on. On one of our long walks in the countryside we had found a stash of old car batteries in a field. These were the expired ones that with the help of an old coil from a car were used to electrify a farmer's cattle fence. He obviously didn't fancy lugging the heavy cells back when they died so left them in a pile, probably meaning to come back with a tractor one day. We knew the scrap value of a dead car battery, 50p! In the days of a 68p gallon of petrol that was a significant treasure. So back we came to get them. We parked the four bikes from the battery liberation team in a nearby lane, on a hill for Chin's sake, then headed off on foot to get them. With a bungee cord we could get two on a bikes passenger seat. Just as we were strapping up, a farmer starts running up the lane towards us, shouting the traditional "Oi, you thieving bastards…" greeting. We didn't want to debate the finders keepers philosophy with him so we all roared off in a cloud of two stroke. All except Chins who was faced with the dilemma of starting his bike, with attached car batteries, by letting it roll downhill toward the enraged farmer and kicking it into gear before reaching terminal proximity, or trying to get up enough speed pushing it uphill. He chose the downhill option, much to the surprise of the farmer who was amazed to see this miscreant silently bearing down on him, and even more amazed with the backfire bang as it slammed into gear going past him. He was standing stunned and still as Chins did a hasty powered U turn and zoomed past him again. We spent our four quid proceeds on beer and exaggerated the danger we'd been in.
I think Nick was first with a real motorbike with his zippy red Suzuki TS100. Kev had a horrible Suzuki A100 that looked like a moped and would only run on 4 star petrol. I was still without and trying to work out how I could afford one. I had not yet started working at Asda, so money came just from my parents. The local bike shop that specialized in ripping off teenagers who couldn't read a credit agreement, Grays, had cheap but ugly Czechoslovakian Cz 125 motorbikes and that was what I was looking at for my transport answer.
My parents took pity on me and bought me a bike for my 17th birthday, on condition I start having driving lessons too. They bought me a Suzuki TS125 twin, which I have to say was truly beautiful. As a normal teenager I was probably never properly grateful, and after every argument when this was inevitably brought up I swore I'd never let them buy me anything again. Except for food and a few other essentials. My leather jacket, which I only gave up when we moved to America, came from my girlfriends catalog which I payed off over the months ahead. A cheap black polycarbonate Centurion crash helmet, covered in Radio 1 stickers, was my cranial protection. My girlfriend got the cool sparkly blue one. For boots I used the industrial ones from my job at Trist-Draper testing brake pads, gauntlets came from a friend of Dads for a few quid.
I learned to drive the bike by going over to the car park at the back of the shops with Kev, Chins and Nick. By the end of the afternoon I could get up to third gear and was pronounced roadworthy. We went out that night driving round Bristol. The next night was Wednesday so that meant the youth club, St Peters MAYC. I was enjoying the attention my bike was getting, for a joke Kev Locke challenged me to a race, with him on his bicycle. Oh dear…I had been having problems so far releasing the clutch, the 125 was very fast running but had no power, you had to keep the revs up. Quite a few times I had stalled it when pulling away. To make sure I wasn't burned off by Kev on his bicycle, I revved up until it was screaming then let go of the clutch. My first and last wheelie, the bike immediately reared up on it's back wheel, pivoted at a right angle as I put my foot down to steady it, and that sent the front wheel crashing through the wired glass window of the club bathroom. In the process of trying to drag the front wheel back out again, my rear light was shattered into thousands of pieces. Oh shit. You can imagine what an arsehole I felt. Kev felt quite sorry for me. I picked up every one of those shattered bits of tail light and glued them together, the Araldite mosaic version was what I drove around with for years.
I had several major accidents on this bike, I was always alone, no other vehicle in sight. Worst one was going up Talbot Hill. It was wet, there was a trail of concrete on the road but mainly I think it was my teenage stupidity. Whatever, next thing I knew was sliding up hill and waiting for the bike to stop. The forks were twisted and I suspect the frame too because even though I got the forks fixed it was never quite straight. It had obviously been in an earlier accident because the filler padding the big dent in the tank popped out again.
This was the reason for it's first colour change, when I refilled in the the tank dent with more gunk I re-sprayed it Silver because I couldn't afford the genuine Suzuki Blue paint. All the genuine Suzuki parts cost a bloody fortune and you had to deal with the miserable bloody idiot at Pope's Bicycle and Suzuki parts place in Bedmiinster. God, I spent a lot of time there...
My first bike suffered a lot. I sold it to Bristol 6 Scooters of Cotham for cash in the hand. About 60 quid I think. I had to wait for a rainy day to do it. The tank was back to blue but I had never managed to feather the new fake Suzuki blue paint into the original over the dent. I sprayed water over the tank with a plant mister so the droplets concealed most of the mismatching. I used to see my old bike in the car park at Brunell Tech college when I was there, Cotham 6 had stuck a big sticker over the damage for their version of camouflaging the dodgy spray job.
I started having driving lessons at 17 with this total idiot who somebody had recommended. All I remember was he had a moustache and was a smartarse. I tried and failed my driving test and decided to buy another bigger bike instead. Though I took out a bank loan (600 quid) and paid back this one myself, my Dad still had to act as guarantor and made a big deal of this. The bike was Suzuki GT380 triple which I loved. It's big brother was the GT 550 which was identical apart from the obvious and the fact it had an electric start. My 380 was kickstart only, I've noticed fate has done it's best to keep my muscles toned over the years but I keep managing to flab out anyway...
I was riding this in all weather as my main transport when first working at British Aerospace. The center exhaust pipe was cranked at an angle and this being a two stroke it would fill with oil. This gave it a distinct gurgling noise when it was running. I don't believe I ever dropped this one, not properly anyway. I do remember coming out of the pub one night (I am more responsible now...) jumping on it to roar away and falling over because the steering lock was still on. Nothing too serious though.
Mini on Bricks
Yes, I was an suburban stereotype. After passing my driving test (new driving instructor, Monarch Driving School) mum let me drive her Volkswagen beetle until I seized the engine one night in Clifton. The search was on for a car of my own. Since we were cheap a good place to look was the twice weekly car auctions. Actually, this was quite a fun night out, Arthur Dailies everywhere. Cars were would splutter out and experts would size them up and bid accordingly. Unless you were my mum in which case you just went mental and bid on anything that took your fancy.
So, one night we came away with a Mini. It cost us 35 quid, Dad chipped in and bought me a Haynes manual for it to take the total cost to 40. Dad drove it home with no brakes and spent a fair number of weekends trying to get it into MOT shape. The floor was completely rusted out and it was beyond our engineering abilities to fix up. Dad eventually sold it to a guy that saw it on our lawn and restored mini's as a hobby, for 5 quid I think.
Ford Cortina Mk III 1300 FHT 683K
Before the Cortina came...the Sharp Car Cassette Player...before the Car Stereo Cassette player came the Duette Stereo cassette recorder, today it would be called a ghetto blaster but that would be too grand a title...let me explain. I knew I would not be able to afford anything else much once I blew all my money on a car. I was hoping for a Capri...so I decided to buy a Car Stereo Cassette player and speakers from my girlfriends catalog before I got the car. So I did, until the car arrived it lived in my bedroom running off of a transformer. She had a cunning plan too, to order a nice Stereo boombox from the catalog and record all our records on to cassette ready for the car, then return it to the catalog company before the 14 days were up and get a refund. Great plan but in a moment of sweetness she decided to give me the cassette player for Christmas instead, she was paying that off for months and I still feel quite touched.
So after a lot of traveling out to see whatever Capri I could afford in that nights newspaper, we gave up after we always missed the good ones and accepted the offer from my cousin Howard to buy a Ford Cortina he had taken as a trade in. There you are, my first proper car, 400 quid I think from selling the bike. Within days it had the stick on gold go faster stripe, furry dice and our names on the sunstrip. Just like every other kiddie car on an estate in Bristol, you just had to. Within a few months it would have spotlights too. The seats were vinyl and ripped to hell so of course seat covers were essential. For years I would haunt scrap yards picking up bits and pieces from slightly better off Cortinas to take back and bolt on.
It wouldn't be long before I had my first accident, coming out of the pub at lunchtime (I really am more responsible now...) I side swiped a Skoda which took out my front right wing. It was really my fault but the insurance settled 50/50 which was fine from my point of view. You could buy Cortina body panels quite easily and they were bolt on. So of course I drove round with a brown primer colored wing for quite a long time, again pretty normal around Bristol estates. I think Howard again sorted me out and arranged for me to get it re-sprayed through one of his mates.
Parking down Ironmould Lane lane one night (if you are local you will know...) I managed to put a hole in the Petrol tank. I fixed it with a small fiberglass patch. It eventually leaked through there so I did a larger fiberglass patch. It seeped it's way through that too so one day I fiberglassed the entire bottom of the tank from the seems on down. Yep, that got it.
Coming home from work at Aerospace I was waiting for my turn to come at the bottleneck that was Filton roundabout. I accelerated off into my slot, grabbed the gear stick to slam it into second and...the gear stick came right off in my hand. One of those comedy moments if you are not on Filton roundabout at rush hour. I had to drive the whole trip home in 1st gear, I was very popular with my fellow rush hour types that night. Another trip to the scrap yard.
This car was battered and beat but still got passed on to my girlfriend when she passed her test. I can't remember now what happened to it but it was still going strong until the bitter end.
Austin Princess 1800HL UNY 451S
This was my car for a long, long time, a Leyland Princess. Widely regarded as a POS by everyone else, it's in lots of Worst Cars Lists, I actually loved it and had very few problems. I chose it because of the wedge shape that everyone else seems to dislike, it was sort of a poor mans Rover SD1 but then again the Rover was nothing special either. Whatever, savings, a bingo win and another loan gave me 1300 quid to spend. This car came from a little dealer in Newport. Cars seemed a little bit cheaper on the slightly depressed side of the Severn bridge and these cars weren't that popular to begin with. So it's a testament to my lack of skill at negotiating that I still didn't get much of a deal on it.
It had Hydragas suspension which made every stop require a sea sickness pill. As noted, everyone else hated them but they were big and comfortable so for those of us still living at home and spending a lot of time in our cars, it just worked perfectly. It was also not the kind of car teenage kids drove, so I never got stopped by the police unlike my friends in their Escorts and Capris. Of course nobody ever stole it for a joy ride either...My speakers sounded great in the roomy interior. I bought a spanner early on especially for the front joint nuts, it's huge, I kept it by the door in my first house as an offensive weapon. I don't remember any major problems with it except the hydragas needing a recharge every now and them. In fact, the suspension was so effective that when I had a flat coming home from Ashley Down, I had no idea until the completely chewed up tyre overtook me down the hill after finally wobbling off the wheel completely. I came to a complete stop without even damaging the rims.
Mine was a basic model 1800, the cheapest, so I was always haunting the Scrap yard trying to find things from better models to bolt on. There was a bank of six switches, half of them empty, that I filled with switches from the HLS models to control the flashing LED pretend burglar alarm. In the 80's I put a couple of nasty add on electric window winders in, I even had to make special adapters to work in the princess. You removed the normal winder handles and the electric device went over the stubs. The torque required to turn the handles was so high it made the whole interior lining if the door twist round under the strain. Stupid idea, I sold them for 5 quid to another wannabe for their Escort. It sometimes sported an electric aerial but they never lasted very long before the mechanism broke down. Any time I put an ordinary aerial in it wouldn't be long before it was snapped off by some git and I was driving with a coat hanger antenna again. Ordinary aerials came with a little key thing to get the recessed end out to put them up, if you didn't put your aerial down when you parked , it would be gone.
I did a lot of trips to Cornwall in it, commuted everywhere and it was a feature in my life right up until I got my first company car, lord knows how many miles it had on it. I sold it eventually for 150 quid to a guy who just needed something to run for three months until he emigrated to Australia.
Honda C90 JEU 59N
To fulfill my dream of being an engineer (yeah, I know) I went back to school to get the minimum qualification by British Aerospace standards, a HND. This was a three year full time course at Bristol Poly where I would be living on a grant and some minimal educational assistance from BAe. Economies would have to be made, I couldn't afford to run the Princess as my commute. So I bought a Honda C90 for 40 quid, identical to the one Chins had used up above.
Riding it scared the crap out of me. The step through design felt unstable and the automatic slip clutch had no acceleration, roundabouts were a near death experience every time. I hated it and decided to invest my next grant cheque in something better.
Suzuki TS250 ER T
I bought this for 250 quid (pound a cc, that's how I remember) from a bloke allegedly in the army who only used it when he was on leave. Whatever, nice bike, I kept it long past the HND days. It had a hard life. It would sometimes be un-MOT'd and uninsured for months then I would get the hankering for two wheels again and rebuild and restore it.
Did lots of driving down lanes, following streams and messing about on waste ground. I surprised one "courting couple" as my mum would say emerging from a country lane they probably thought was a dead end (looked like Boss & Secretary to me...). First bike I had just for the fun of it instead of dependence.
I took it with me to Wokingham when I worked down there as a restoration project. It lived in the garage totally outclassed next to John's Ducati. It gave me something to do in the evenings though and eventually had just about everything fixed, including re-spraying and some frame welding done when I took it to London on Dan's trailer. It looked really nice, I probably spent four times as much on it as it was worth.
When we decided to come to America it was the last thing I sold, to my ex boss actually. I was in the process of leaving the building on my last day when a friend warned me my boss just called. He had broken down 40 miles from home on it, completely seized. If you read this Stuart I was pretty upset by that too; I spent a bloody fortune on that bike and the last thing that I did was take it to some idiot with a new business somebody in CPB recommended for a service. Either they hadn't put any oil in it or they had left the drain plug loose. Morons.
Chrysler 180 Automatic
Dad had a Chrysler 180, I swear I never saw anyone else with one, it was burnt orange (goldish silver) and I actually quite liked it. I took a job in Wokingham with the expectation of getting a company car. It took a lot longer than I expected, I wasn't exactly wowwing them apparently. The Princess was clearly going to need some major money spending on it soon and I sold it on before that happened. So Dad gave me his old Chrysler to commute from Bristol to Wokingham with.
The car was falling apart by then, it needed new tyres, exhaust and was drinking oil like crazy. Someone actually complained to my manager about my driving the noisy, smelly heap in and parking it next to everyone else's nice shiny Ford Sierras. Honestly I thought a little embarrassment might persuade them to cough up my company car and eventually they did.
After getting my nice newish Sierra, the Chrysler was abandoned on the road outside my house until the tax expired. I called a scrap yard who would buy it from me under their 10 quid minimum deal if I could get it to them instead of requiring a tow truck. I drive it all the way on three flat tyres jammed in first gear. When I arrived in a squeal of rims and cloud of black smoke they could barely stop laughing long enough to give me the tenner..
This was my first company car and the first car I'd ever driven not at least 5 years old. The rule was that if you were new to the team, your first company car would come from "The Pool", something someone else had left behind. Whatever, fine with me.
When I brought it back to Bristol for the first weekend, I took it out for a drive around in the country, as you do. Barrelling down some wide open straight road, with visibility going off for miles, I completely failed to spot all the traffic in front of me was stopped due to some road works. I think I was fiddling with the radio or more likely just bloody day dreaming. Anyway, I panic slammed the brakes and the car went into a long graceful ballet slide towards the last car in the line. I could see two kids in the rear window trying to get their dad's attention as the cretin in a Sierra drifted towards impact with them. It was totally slow motion action replay stuff, with the kids mouths open wide as I amazingly stopped about an inch from their bumper. A couple of seconds later the cloud of burnt rubber caught up with me and at least dimmed my view of the eyes glaring back at me. Still had to wait a good 5 minutes though as a red faced wanker before the bloody lights changed and I could escape.
Vauxhall Cavalier UFD ???
First company car I got to choose. Same one everyone chose, finding it in the car park at Bracknell was a nightmare. Four of us shared a house, each morning all four of us would get up and drive the 2 miles from Wokingham to Bracknell in each of our company cars, to the same office, where we would all park. Talk about doing our bit for the environment...
I had stopped commuting each day from Bristol but still went back there at the weekends. The sun roof in the Cavalier was handy for transporting skirting board and stuff essential in the Bristol house renovation.
No real problems with this car, or stories about it. I did scare the poop out of Nigel who came with me to pick it up. He drove the Sierra back when we picked up my shiny new one. He was following close behind me when I decided I should try out the fancy new ABS this car was supposed to have...not a smart move in the opinion of the non-ABS Sierra driver fishtailing behind me.
Everyone with a company car lived in fear of Vera Baker, the administrator of the fleet. I don't know if she was naturally bitter or it was because she had to deal with ungrateful spotty customer reps who took these cars for granted when she didn't get one. Whatever, you had to be very nice to Vera or she could lose your paperwork when it came time to choose another car, or worse, you would get a Sierra.
When I left Bracknell and returned to work in Bristol to get to know my wife, I took a job with no company car. Ah, big sigh...but I was entitled to an interest free loan to get me over the shock. So I bought one of the ex-company cars who's two year lease was up, a nice Mazda 323F that belonged to a friend. The other engineers disparagingly referred to it as a Hairdressers Car but what do they know, they are engineers.
I only had the car a year before we moved to America but it must have been a good deal, I sold it for the same as I bought it.
Jeep Wrangler 3GYZ126
When we arrived in America we thought we should buy an American car. After a bit of hunting around, this one was just right. Silly, impractical, a soft top finally and 4 wheel drive for all that skiing we were going to start doing.
We did the rush to the hospital in this the night my first was born. It proved a pain for being parents with small children eventually and we were both very sad to see it go. Maybe now the kids are growing up we could get another but I suspect it's just minivans and sensible cars for us from here on out...
I should have said something about Howard lending me his Kawasaki KH250 triple for while, it was certainly a lot of fun to ride while mine was off the road for some reason. And of course there are all the latter day minivans etc to account for but these or the main ones...
Last year I blew my Endowment surrender money on a midlife crisis toy, my lovely Suzuki GSX 600F Katana, continuing my long standing theme of loving machines other people despise. I don't get out much on it, but I stroke it every time I pass it in the garage. My wife is fine with me having it, as long as my life insurance is paid up, but she is only giving me three days on life support before flipping the switch.
Not really sure which Christmas, guessing 1970
Chins with Honda c90
Suzuki brochure for TS100 and TS125
Suzuki A100 POS
Suzuki GT125 Twin
Suzuki GT380 Triple, loads of Suzuki brochures here
Camping with Nick, Torquay 1979, Nicks rare Yamaha DT400
Cortina Mk III in traditional urban estate version, not visible are the furry dice and spotlights.
Leyland Princess 1800 HL, everyone hated them except me
Would you believe there is a Princess lovers site? Me Neither.
Spent enough rebuilding this bike for the MOT every year to buy a fleet of them...
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