Momentous day today as number one son passed his driving test! Having passed the theory test some weeks ago he managed to pass the practical test with just a few minors.
He’s already on his second car, having sold his first days before taking the test and replacing it with something much more boy-racer like. Now road legal, thanks to his driving instructor at Superpass, I wonder how he will take to driving solo…
I remember way back in 1986 when I took my driving test. I also passed first time, but back then there was just one test which involved both driving and answering questions on the highway code.
I can only hope that number one son’s early driving experiences are better than mine, as one of my earliest driving memories once qualified was borrowing my parents Vauxhall Chevette one evening to go on a cinema date with a girl from Gloucester. Inexperienced driver + unfamiliar city roads + pre-date nerves = turning right at a set of traffic lights into the path of an oncoming Transit van and getting hit squarely on the passenger side of the car.
Naturally (!) I carried on to my destination, had the date and then returned home to Bristol, trying my best to sound casual the following morning when informing my parents that I’d had a “slight” bump. Turns out the car’s sub-frame had been damaged and it was declared an insurance write-off. The fledgling relationship with the girl from Gloucester didn’t fare any better either!
The first car that I owned was a 1971 green Ford Escort Mk I that I bought for approximately £200 in 1987. It turned out to not be in the best condition as when it rained water collected in the passenger footwell through a hole in the front wing and it wasn’t too long before the brakes went. In the time I had it though I managed to not only make completely ineffective repairs to the water leak, but also install a sports steering wheel and electric radio aerial.
I can vividly recall driving from Bristol to Bath via Keynsham listening to A-ha’s “Scoundrel Days” album on cassette. Not entirely sure why but it may have had something to do my fascination with a girl who lived out that way. I’m pretty sure I slept in it, reclining in the driver’s seat, at a motorway service station one night – but haven’t got a clue why!
Car number two was better. A white 3 door Opel Manta B 1.6 hatchback, I can’t remember the year, with red upholstery and dashboard. It also had very cool doors that had no frame around the windows so when the windows were wound down and the door was open it felt even more like a sports car and allowed me to indulge in my Sonny Crockett (“Miami Vice”) fantasies. OK it wasn’t a Ferrari Testarossa, but still…
Next up was a 1982 brown 5 door Vauxhall Cavalier Mk II 1.8 CDi hatchback. This one had luxuries like front spotlights, headlamp wipers, electric mirrors etc. and felt like a real step up to (what was to me) a luxury car.
Having the Cavalier enabled many more hours driving round the roads of Bristol, the country roads and lanes surrounding the city and up and down the motorways – particularly at night – and included numerous trips to Gordano service station on the M5 for hot chocolate (phew, rock ‘n’ roll eh?!!). Night driving is something that I still enjoy, though responsibilities and the cost of fuel do restrict this somewhat. The Cavalier also saw me up and down to the Birmingham N.E.C. and other venues for numerous concerts before the advent of a significant other etc. saw its departure for pastures new.
Those were the cars that got me through my early driving days – many miles covered and enjoyed every one of them!Next up was a green Ford Capri Mk III 2.0S…