“I have called this ‘A Life in Cars’ and is about the cars that have been in my life and a few adventures I have had with them.” – Shirley Riley
The first car I can remember, apart from the butcher’s van, was my dad’s A35. My then fiancé, who was 2 years older than me and an apprentice motor mechanic had already passed his test, so we had the use of my dad’s A35. My dad later had this Ford Anglia Deluxe.
The first car we owned between us was a 1949 MG TC. I was about 18 and still single and my then fiancé (later my husband, Dennis) was taking me to work one day when the door fell off in the middle of Colne Road, Burnley. It was so embarrassing that I said if he picked me up in ‘that thing’ again the wedding was off. He did heed me and sold the car for £20. We had only paid £14 for it in the first place so we thought we were rich with the £6 we made.
The next car we owned was a Jowett Javelin. This was a lovely car, having been owned by a vicar from Cumbria. Nobody wanted this car and it had been hanging around Skippers Motor’s showroom for months. I was assured it was a great car even though the doors (suicide doors as they were called) opened the opposite way and we bought it from my month’s salary for £50. We had it for a few years and when I was pregnant and the size of a small house the ‘suicide’ doors came in very handy. By now I had decided to learn to drive and so with my very brave dad, who used to take me out regularly in his Ford Anglia, and the school of motoring Austin 1100, in which I finally passed my test at the third attempt, I was at last on the road. I had a turquoise Mini Countryman estate to take the kids to school etc. and it was a lovely little car, until one night I lent it to Derek, our young apprentice to take his girlfriend out and he managed to wrap it round a lamp post, so that was the end of that one.
The next car we had was a Ford Zodiac. I hated that car. I thought it was ugly as it had a frontbench seat and column change, with three gears but I could only ever find two and I never quite mastered it. That didn’t stay long and was soon replaced with a Hillman Imp. This car did sterling duty ferrying and us to and from Marlow in Buckinghamshire, as my Mum and Dad were living down there. We replaced it a few years later with a Humber Hawk. Now, that car I did like. It was very luxurious and the kids loved it as it had two drop down walnut tables in the back. I remember once when we had set off from my Mum’s house about 7am in the morning and were just passing Padiham Town Hall at 10.30am and I rang my dad to tell him we had got home OK and all I got was ‘put that young B……. on the phone’ and he got a right dressing down from my dad for driving so fast with two small kids in the back.
The Humber was next replaced with the first of our many Jaguars. This car had belonged to one of our customers and unfortunately the old chap had to give up driving. I had never seen such a beautiful, clean and polished engine before until I joined the Morris Club. It was a 1967 Daimler automatic similar to an Inspector Morse car and I really loved it, but really I had no choice as it was the only car we had apart from the Landrover that the garage used and no way was I driving that dirty thing. We had quite a few Jaguars over the next few years, but two stand out in my mind. One was a 5.3 Jaguar XJS. Why my ex had bought it in the first place I do not know as it was totally impractical for a family and you could practically see the fuel gauge moving as it only did about 18 miles to the gallon. We sold it on to the chap who was building our house at the time and bought a 2.8 Jaguar (which my ex said was underpowered and was replaced fairly quickly with a Mercedes SL). One of the other Jaguars we had was a beautiful long wheel based one, which barely fitted into the garage. I was backing it out of the garage one day, and as I drove off I could hear this rattling at the back and somehow I had managed to hook the exhaust under the fancy plastic chain link fence (Yes, they were very popular in the 80s) that we had at the front of our garden and I was being followed down the road by about 25 foot of plastic chain link fencing. Needless to say I never got to drive it again, but
Bad hair day or what!
I wasn’t bothered as I had acquired a really nice brown Automatic Mini Clubman Estate, which was more of a better size for me. We also had three Triumph Stags none of which I was allowed to drive (I wonder why?) After the Mini I progressed to a Mk 11 Ford Escort and then a Triumph Acclaim. That was a very unlucky car. It got smashed twice, once on an empty car park as I was waiting to pick Sarah up from work when some idiot drove onto the car park and started doing wheelies and skidded into me, and then again when an old chap shot out of his garage and hit me as I was stopped at the traffic lights. I finally had a really bad accident in it at a T junction and it was lucky it was such a well-built car as I would not be here today. The car was written off and I suffered a few broken bones and bruises but nothing serious. I was very reluctant to get back on the road, but as I was now divorced and living on my own with no money and struggling to get to work, having four buses to catch, my dad bought me a red Mini Mayfair automatic and I had it for years as it was a lovely little car. I only finally traded it in when I was ferrying my mother to the hospital etc. and she was having trouble getting in and out of the little Mini. I swopped it for another Ford Escort and again I had this car for quite a few years. I still had it when I met John in 1992 and that New Year’s Eve I was driving home when a young chap came straight down Padiham Road and hit me on the roundabout. I panicked and ended up in the middle of the roundabout on the grass verge. I had not had a drink but, John who had a few, thought it was funny but he wasn’t laughing later when the police were called and I got carted off home in the dog van with two huge German Shepherds and he had to walk home.. After that my life seemed to calm down and I bought a Ford Fiesta which I had for 14 years with no problems at all then came the Morris Minors………..