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My First Car: Standard fare but Minx served me well

PUBLISHED: 13:42 02 February 2018 | UPDATED: 13:42 02 February 2018

Clive Dyball'’s  Hillman Minx had two-tone paint. Picture: Clive Dyball

Clive Dyball'’s Hillman Minx had two-tone paint. Picture: Clive Dyball

Clive Dyball

Not one but two first cars – a 1959 Hillman Minx Series III and a 1953-54 Standard 8 – owned by Clive Dyball and his wife, Margaret.

Clive Dyball'’s first car was a 1959 Hillman Minx which he bought in 1964. Picture: Clive Dyball Clive Dyball'’s first car was a 1959 Hillman Minx which he bought in 1964. Picture: Clive Dyball

My wife, Margaret, bought her first car in August 1965 for £55. It was a second-hand, blue Standard 8 sedan.

She didn’t really know much about the car itself so we got in touch with the Standard Owners Club which proved to be very helpful.

Apparently it was manufactured in 1953-54, had a 803cc OHV engine, four-speed gearbox – with synchromesh on the top three ratios – and reverse, sliding windows, a single windscreen wiper and no external boot lid. Access to the boot was by folding down the rear seat, which had the backrest divided in two.

At the wheel - Clive Dyball's 1959 Hillman Minx. Picture: Clive Dyball At the wheel - Clive Dyball's 1959 Hillman Minx. Picture: Clive Dyball

Her first trip, soon after acquiring it, was taking part in a car treasure hunt starting and finishing at The Green Dragon pub in London Colney and organised by Barclay’s Bank, which she worked for at the time, ending up with a prize of a car rug.

The first major drive was to Norfolk for a holiday. It rained all the way, and all the time she was there.

At one stage she had to call the RAC to fix a fault, but she can’t remember now what the fault was, and vowed never to return to East Anglia again. She didn’t keep the car for long after that and, in February 1967, traded it in for £35 and bought a 1959 Ford Anglia 105E.

Smart tartan seat covers in the Hillman Minx. Picture: Clive Dyball Smart tartan seat covers in the Hillman Minx. Picture: Clive Dyball

My first car was a 1959 Hillman Minx Series III sedan in excellent condition, bought in March 1964 for £355. The previous owner, who I had known for some considerable time while working at de Havillands in Hatfield, had owned it since new. It was charcoal grey and powder blue, had 24,092 miles on the clock, a 1,494cc engine, a column change with four speeds and a reverse gear and a front bench seat.

The first time I drove it was with the previous owner around Hatfield to see if I liked the car. The next time, a couple of days later, we both drove over to Harpenden where he was collecting a second-hand Singer Gazelle. We both drove back in the rain and dark to Hatfield in our own cars with him following.

Unfortunately between Wheathampstead and Hatfield, on the way back, I got a puncture but, with him being close at hand, the full-size wheel was soon changed.

Margaret Dyballs 1953-54 Standard 8 pictured in 1965, the year she bought it. Picture: Clive Dyball Margaret Dyballs 1953-54 Standard 8 pictured in 1965, the year she bought it. Picture: Clive Dyball

The car served me very well for a number of years, driving most weekends during the cycle racing season from February to October, to various parts of the UK with three other occupants – all of us belonging to the Verulam Cycling Club of St Albans – and our racing bikes on the roof rack.

Eventually it became harder to get it through the MOT and, in March 1971 with 102,497 miles on the clock, I traded it in for a second-hand 1966 Singer Vogue sedan.

Tell us about your first car – email your memories with a picture of the car to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

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