My Dad’s cars (2)

My Dad’s first car was an Austin A40 Devon, in Connaught green, with the registration leters of LXJ 701…..

After the Austin A40 Devon, Fred had a 1959 Ford Anglia, registration number SNR 863, which he bought from a garage in nearby Ashby-de-la-Zouch. It was exactly like this:

When I was around eleven or twelve we used to go and visit a nearby toy shop, “Shellbrook Motors” which used to sell Dinky and Corgi die-cast models of cars and larger vehicles, Airfix and Frog aircraft kits, and Hornby model electric railways. By 2017, they had changed a little and were selling artists’ materials, although they did refuse to pay the signwriter’s bill on this occasion:
There were no Ford Anglia type problems of low level criminality and cheap plastic with Fred’s next car, an English Hillman Minx De Luxe, BLT 141B. This beautiful blue car with the metallic chrome side stripe was “the one” as far as Fred’s motoring career was concerned.
He had taken me to Derby one day, and we visited Peveril Garage, on Friar Gate, near the headquarters of the Derby County Supporters’ Club:

Fred told me not to mention anything whatsoever about the day to my mother, under any circumstances. Without consulting her at all, therefore, he bought the car, priced at £510, which was, in those days, a princely sum. Indeed, the price was such a total royal that, when my mother did eventually find out how much the car had cost, she would have had Fred beheaded if she could have organised it. The car was a rich pale blue, half way between sky blue and navy blue. Here is one today:

In later years, when he had problems with rust on one of the wings, Fred was to opt for a total respray, which allowed him to retain the same colour blue for the body, but to incorporate a black roof which added that extra, unique, little detail. Here it is, with James Bond driving it, back in the days when I was 28. I had always wanted a personalised number plate, and this was the time when I changed my name to “BLT 141B”:

This was also the day that I caught both Francisco Scaramanga and Auric Goldfinger hiding together on a building site:

It was in this car that Fred had what were probably the most outstanding motoring experiences of his life. I can still recall, for example, just how scared he was, and indeed, we all were, when he drove a circuit of the Alpine like road which ran around the Great Orme near Llandudno in North Wales.

Indeed, some thirty years later, I returned to look at this road for myself, to see whether it was quite the challenge that it had seemed in the late 1960s. And, of course, the circuit had been considerably watered down since then. All the sheer drops down to the sea had now been fenced off, and, most significant of all, perhaps, a narrow road which I remember as having been two way, had been limited nowadays to just one way traffic. Gentrified, I think the word is:



Filed under Criminology, History, Humour, my Dad, Nottingham, Personal

10 responses to “My Dad’s cars (2)

  1. Definitely frightening roads. What would an Austin A40 Devon sell for today?

  2. Fascinating memories, John. Although my Dad always had driving jobs, he never owned a car when I was a boy.

    • To be honest, Derrick, I think that but for the in-laws’ kind gesture, my Dad would never have had his own car either.

      I think that financially he probably had enough cash for the upkeep of a modest car, but not enough to buy it in the first place!

  3. GP

    Your father was quite the daredevil, wasn’t he? 😀

    On another topic, I can’t recall if you informed us this myth or not, so I brought it over here…

    • Thanks very much for showing me that story from the Orkney Islands, it was really interesting, not least because it had connections with other famous monsters. The “Kelpie” or “Water Horse” is clearly a distant relative, but the most interesting detail is the rule about having “to avoid contact with the fresh running water”. This has put paid to Count Dracula on at least one occasion, notable in one of the Hammer films of the 1960s.
      A really good story and thanks for taking the trouble to give me the link.

  4. I think roads generally were less safe and cars more prone to rust and failing in those days but that said, they could be fixed by almost anyone and there were less cars about to cause an accident. What lovely memories.

    • Yes, they are lovely memories and thank goodness. most of them contain a laugh or two.
      One other device which has cut down the number of road deaths is the safety belt, invented by Volvo engineers in the late 1960s, and given away free to all the other car manufacturers. Apparently before that, Britain’s roads were claiming 20K-30K victims a year. Even as I type that, I think “Those figures can’t be true”, but the newspaper article definitely quoted them as accurate!

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