Scottish Memory Lane - First Motor Cars
Model T Ford
Even if we later drive in a big, plush executive type auto, we all recall with pleasure that first vehicle that we called our own. It may have been a small, second-hand jalopy which broke down too often at the wrong moment - but it will still arouse fond memories. Roads were a lot quieter 50 years ago and that made a difference too.
It's hoped that readers will send in their own stories and memories of their own first automobiles. All contributions should be sent to Scottie@RampantScotland.com.
Recently added stories below have placed beside their title.
Many years ago, in 1963, I had a very strange dream, regarding a strange living room that I had never seen before, a balcony with the access door in the same room, and a new car parked on a large concrete platform that led out to the street. Even stranger was the fact that I had exactly the same dream over a period of three weeks, and when I told my wife about it, she looked at me and remarked, with a somewhat sceptic look, "when will we ever be able to buy a car? I agreed with her, and I soon forgot about this strange dream.
We were living at 84 Seres road, Clarkston at this time, and I was teaching at Eastwood Senior Secondary school (pictured here), my old school where I had received my Higher Leaving Certificate, before training as a teacher. We were so close to the school that we could see into the playground from our kitchen window. and I used to tell people that I could get to the staffroom I used in one minute! I also used to claim that, at 4pm I could leave the school and be in the clubhouse of Cathcart Castle golf course by 4.15, play 9 holes of golf and be home in time for dinner at 6pm ! Life went on, but I found that my skill as a teacher was being ignored, despite the fact that parents were always telling me that their children enjoyed my classes very much, to the point that I felt that I would like to get away.
This led to the fact that in 1966, I decided to go to Canada after seeing an advert in a Scottish newspaper, asking for British teachers to go to Canada. The end result was an interview with the Director of Education from Brandon, Manitoba, that took place in Edinburgh, and I was offered a job at a salary that was more than I was being paid in Scotland. Graphic shows Brandon Manitoba Fire Hall, via Wikimedia Commons.
Thus it was that after a great deal of effort in making a large crate to take some of the things we wanted to take with us, we finally set sail from from the river Clyde after boarding the C.P. Empress of England near the end of July. To cut a long story short, we finally found ourselves in Brandon, and after some looking around, decided to rent a unit in the Hillside Town Houses. These were two storeyed row houses, with a small fenced in back yard, with a garage under the living room, a laundry room on the opposite side of the entrance hall, and kitchen/dining room and three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs.
We soon discovered that, in Canada, a car was not a luxury, but a real necessity, so I soon found myself taking driving lessons, and finally buying a second hand car, a Ford Fairlane, I think, with the gear change lever attached to the steering column (graphic © "Jeremy" via Wikimedia Commons). Apart from paying more than I needed to for it, there came a time when the gear lever actually broke off, and I had to drive it to the Ford dealership to see what they could do for it. While there, I noticed a new, bright blue Ford Falcon in the showroom. The end result of this episode of our life in Canada, was that I borrowed the money from the local Teachers Association, and bought the car.
Thus it was, one bright Summer's day, I found myself sitting in the living room of our town house, looking out of the long row of windows on the balcony side of the room, and realised that I had never been out on the balcony. I got up, walked over to the door, opened it and stepped out on to the balcony, looked down at the entry way to the garage and the bright blue car parked there, and suddenly, it seemed, my mind exploded with an old memory. There it was, exactly as it had been in that old dream, the unknown living room, the balcony, and the bright blue car sitting on the wide concrete entrance way to the garage!! I called to Audrey, and reminded her of the dream of years before, and we both were completely astonished. Picture of the Ford Falcon is via Wikimedia Commons.
Finally, I must say that I have also had years ago, a dream of winning the Canadian lottery prize, the amount being 56 million dollars. That one, I very much doubt will ever come to pass!! (But you never know...)
David Picken, Manitoba, Canada
Three Wheels, Two Seats, One Engine, Half a Brain!
Ronald Fraser, now living in Australia, sent in a longer than usual story of his escapades with a Messerschmitt KR200 three-wheeler motor car to be included in this section. An outline has been added here but the full light-hearted account has been put on a separate page entitled "a car with three wheels, two seats and one engine".
After one motor cycle accident too many, Ronald Fraser decided to buy a motor car. But being a poorly paid corporal in the Royal Air Force he could only afford a three-wheeler Messerschmitt KR200. Despite its small size and the wheels of passing trucks towering above him, and just two seats (one behind the other) the car gave sterling service. As a loadmaster on large RAF Beverley transports he loaded the car inside the aircraft and so was able to drive from an air display at Leuchars in Fife to visit his home town 30 miles away. The spectators at the show the next day were most surprised when this diminutive "extra cockpit" drove out to the Beverley and disappeared behind the clam-shell doors and flew off! Ronald even participated in a car rally which nearly ended in disaster as the car was nearly swept away to the North Sea while attempting to cross a swollen river. As a result of an overseas posting, Ronald eventually had to sell the Messerschmitt. But having retired and now living on the Capricorn Coast of Australia he sometimes hankers after having another 'Smitt' but reckons that colliding with a large kangaroo might not be a good idea!
Ronald Fraser, Queensland, Australia
My first motor car was not a Model T Ford but another car from the Ford stable - a Ford Anglia 105E. That number is important because Ford UK launched a car named "Anglia" soon after Britain declared war on Germany in early September 1939. That one was a typical box-shaped 930's style vehicle. My Anglia was first introduced in 1959 with a backward-slanted rear window which was supposed to remain clear of the rain and had muted tailfins, much toned-down from its American counterparts (see example in the Museum of Transport in Glasgow). It had two doors and a 997cc engine which meant that its 0-60-mph was a leisurely 30 seconds! On the other hand, fuel consumption was around 39mpg. Just over one million Anglias were made before production ended in 1968.
I passed my driving test just days before going to the USA on an exchange posting for six months so when I picked up my second-hand Anglia from the showroom soon after my return to Scotland I hadn't been driving for well over six months, so I was somewhat "rusty". My legs were shaking as I drove the car home through Glasgow one Saturday afternoon (we worked on Saturday mornings in those days). My gear changes left much to be desired and I drove to a quiet country road so my kangaroo starts wouldn't upset any other drivers!
Once I had learned how to drive again, I enjoyed having the freedom of the road particularly as in those days there was not a lot of other traffic, especially when I toured a bit in the Highlands and came across the single track roads with passing places that were still prevalent in those days! That's my Anglia on the left, registration URG683 on a passing place on a single track road far from Glasgow.
I was no garage mechanic (I worked in a bank) but for some reason tried to save money on maintenance costs by doing my own servicing. I can recall crawling under the car to "grease the points" and I would replace the sparking plugs and even changed the oil. I only did that once as I didn't have any easy way of getting rid of the old oil from the engine!
Of course, it was almost essential to be a member of the Automobile Association or similar service as cars were more likely to break down in those days and roadside assistance either to get it moving again or to provide a tow to somewhere to get more major faults fixed was essential.
On one occasion I was asked by the bank's personnel manager to drive to Stranraer (nearly 90 miles from Glasgow) as relief branch manager - because he knew I had a car and could get there in time to take over because I had a car to get me there!
Of course, my Anglia didn't have any "ICE", in other words "In-Car Entertainment", not even a basic radio. It would be many years before I had a car that had a radio and a cassette player far less a CD player or a connection for an iPod. But I still have a soft spot for my Ford Anglia.
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