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My First Car: Motoring magic... and mishaps

16:24 20 November 2015

Kate Berridge with the Ford Cortina Mark II 1600E.

Kate Berridge with the Ford Cortina Mark II 1600E.

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Kate Berridge reminisces about some of fun cars she has owned and a few she would rather forget!

It was 1974 and my very first car was a black A40 which Dad bought from a friend for a fiver!

The clutch wasn’t brilliant but it was the car in which I gained my first – kangaroo-style – experience of driving.

I was able to upgrade my vehicle when I met my future hubby and had the pleasure of driving his shiny Ford Cortina Mark II1600E – me hitting the gatepost a few times really tested our relationship.

In my second year at Teacher Training College at Keswick Hall, now UEA, good old Dad dipped in his pocket and bought me a small cream Fiat. I can’t remember which model it was but I do remember it needed a lot of oil... all the time. In fact, it used more oil than petrol! I’m sure there are still ancient oil stains around Norwich where I’ve driven in the past.

By 1980 I had left college, married and started work. We were a bit hard up and were the ‘not so proud’ owners of a number of old bangers. A shiny red but rusty Marina, a brown Daf and a pale blue Moskovitch, the latter being more of a tin can disguised as a car.

The Daf decided to conk out on the railway crossing in Tennyson Road in King’s Lynn one morning on my way to work. Good job it was glass fibre and as light as a wheelbarrow as I, and a few passers-by, needed to get it moved pretty quickly before the 8.05 to King’s Cross in London came thundering past. On reflection, the best place for it might have been underneath a train.

After a few more years with boring hatchbacks and no sign of a baby, we cheered ourselves up with a beautiful, sleek purple Lotus Europa which was great fun to pose in. Cream leather seats, and an almost horizontal driving position, I seem to remember something finally going wrong with the gearbox on it. By ‘wrong’ I have a vague recollection that it actually fell out.

Too expensive to repair and with a baby on the way, we said our sad farewells to the Lotus and bought a Ford Sierra which a friendly garage owner was tarting up as a Cosworth lookalike with rear spoiler and pearlised paint job. It was more family friendly but still great fun.

This was followed by a red BMW, a Volkswagen Polo with a rollp-back sunroof and, my all-time favourite, a silver Volkswagen Beetle convertible.

I wish we had more photos of all of them but it was pre iPhone and Snapchat days and then some were just too embarrassing to take pictures of. This is not an exhaustive list, there were more – too many to mention.

Anyway, off to have a cruise around in my retirement present to me – a nice shiny new Honda Civic.

Tell us about your first car – bright spots, breakdowns, delights and disasters. Email your first car memories, with a picture if you have one, to motoring@archant.co.uk

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