A few weeks ago, editor-in chief Steve Cropley told the tale of his first car. Then he set a challenge: tell us about your first car, in exactly 300 words, send to us with some pictures and the best entries will be published online.
Well, the results are all in. We've selected some of the best, which we'll publish over the next few weeks. Here are the latest few for you to enjoy.
Alasdair Duncan - Renault 12
At -35deg C, it’s so cold that everything up your nose freezes. Not the ideal conditions for my left-hand-drive 1975 Renault 12 with an outclassed heater, but I’m 21 years old, teaching English in Finland and driving my own car at last. I don’t know how big the engine is, I don’t know what trim level it is; all I know, and all that matters, is that it belongs to me.
That blue Renault was an extremely patient teacher saddled with an idiot pupil. It taught me that, even on studded tyres, driving too fast and stamping on the brakes would send me and my precious car sliding sideways across the biggest intersection on Helsinki’s main street.
The car carried on valiantly, despite the cardboard I shoved in front of the radiator to generate a fraction more heat for the cabin. Happily, my cardboard efforts warmed the engine so effectively that the head gasket went, whereupon I discovered that cooked coolant really does look like mayonnaise. I still don’t like mayonnaise, but my beloved, stoic Renault continued.
Next I learned that parking on the street allows snow ploughs to push not fluffy white snow into your wheel arches but instead a gritty mix of ice and stone that takes hours to chip out. However, the dispatch of an English Haynes Manual from home allowed me to replace the snapped accelerator cable despite the minor handicap of having no tools.
Finally, travelling any distance required a coffee stop at every petrol station with 20 intervals to thaw out – good training for early adoption of electric motoring.
I sold that old master to an impossibly pretty blonde (this was Finland, after all) for half what I paid. I imagine it was very pleased to see the back of me.
Nick Tiley - Triumph Herald
In those warm, balmy days just after my A-levels, I was mainly hiding out in the school design workshop, and there I discovered that my metalwork teacher’s neighbour was selling her old Triumph Herald saloon.
After a long discussion-cum-argument with my parents, I parted with £200 to buy the 15-year old car. It wasn’t just a car; it was a passport to freedom, a badge of achieving adulthood and a technical breach of school rules disguised as a practical project.
It had a Vitesse bonnet, so it looked cool, and the night-time top speed was provided by the engine, not the four sealed-beam Lucas units. My car was clearly the best, better than my friends’ Minis, Morris Minors, Volkswagen Beetles and even a yellow Triumph Spitfire – because that couldn’t drive up the road with four of my young cousins seeing how high they could bounce on the back seat all at once.