Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 21°C

min temp: 10°C

Search

This Singer hit all right notes for Bill’s memorable early adult life

When Bill Holland bought his new Singer Gazelle in 1964 It opened up a new world for his family. Picture: Bill Holland

When Bill Holland bought his new Singer Gazelle in 1964 It opened up a new world for his family. Picture: Bill Holland

Bill Holland supplied

Bill Holland

I bought a brand new Singer Gazelle in 1964, registration MMC 242C, from the Rootes Garage in Tottenham Hale for £760.

For a 17-year-old boy, who lived on a council estate, to have a brand new car was very unusual. The spec was quite high with lavender grey metallic finish, whitewall tyres, walnut dashboard, lavender interior and that all-important radio! Undersealed, at an extra cost, was something quite new at the time.

I had seen a picture of the Singer Gazelle 1600cc model, with its very distinctive grille, in Autocar magazine eight months earlier and decided I wanted one. I saved and was helped by my father who worked on London docks. My father had never driven so the agreement was that the car was to be mine but I had to drive the family round from time to time which worked out quite well.

I used the car for the daily commute from Stoke Newington to work in the city where, fortunately, there was a parking space.

It widened my horizons – there were family days out and family holidays in Norfolk.

My first big trip with my mates – ‘the three amigos’ – was a bank holiday trip to Paignton, Devon, for a camping weekend. We left at midnight on Thursday and it was a nightmare for I hit my first ‘pea-souper’ fog around Salisbury. It took about two hours longer than expected to arrive but once there I recall enjoying the area, particularly a trip across to Torquay. The journey back was, thankfully, uneventful.

A holiday camp in Dorset next year with another friend was followed by a more memorable weekend trip to Norfolk. We arrived at a Camping and Caravan Club campsite near Beccles after midnight and pitched our tent. Unsurprisingly, being three teenage lads who were not members, we were thrown off site at 7am and hastily repacked the car.

Unperturbed, we set off for a cafe in Beccles and hired a day boat for a couple of days. We cast off from the marina, headed to the Waveney River Centre where we had a beer and lunched on our spam sandwiches. Later in the day we ended up in Great Yarmouth where we moored and headed for the town with our small tent.

After the pub closed we pitched our tent on South Denes Caravan Park. We were awoken by shouting and again turfed off a site early in the morning. We went back to our boat and back to Beccles, picked up the car and drove back to London.

In 1966, while still euphoric with England winning the World Cup, my two friends and I drove to Hopton-on-Sea for a week at Potters Holiday Camp. This holiday was particularly memorable as I met my wife there – she was the camp beauty queen. We are still going strong 51 years later.

The car made her think I was rich though she soon found out otherwise. There followed four years of driving backwards and forwards to Welwyn Garden City until we married in 1970.

After driving away from our wedding reception we parked the car at Luton Airport and left for our £33 each Clarksons honeymoon in Majorca. We arrived back at Luton to a foot of snow and a dead battery. The car was parked tight against a wire fence so I got out the crank, walked a mile and a half round the perimeter of the car park and wound the crankshaft through the fence. Old faithful burst into life and my new wife sat revving it until I got back 15 minutes later.

The car was then with us for the hour-and-half commute to London from Hertfordshire daily for a couple of years and then our move to Lowestoft in 1972.

We had many happy motoring hours in Suffolk and Norfolk until the years began to take their toll. A few MOT failures, and hefty repair bills, followed by a reduction in use saw its decline. My wife was driving home one day and the car ground to a halt. The kind RAC man asked her where the (candid) camera was? He wondered how she had got that far and suggested we scrap it. It had succumbed to the salty sea air at Lowestoft and was towed away in 1976 – 12 years old and suffering from chronic rust.

That car was an important catalyst through all the significant memories in my early adult life – work, friendships, marriage, moving house, bringing home our two newborn babies, visiting distant relatives, holidays, shopping and generally living a wonderful life. One wonders what life may have been without it.

Happy motoring!

Tell us about the adventures you had in 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.

You can save £16 on a walk-on fare to from Ipswich to London if you know your way around the complex ticket system.

The Harwich lifeboat were out on the River Orwell at the weekend dealing with a supposed crash between the Orwell Lady river cruiser and the sailing barge Victor.

Police are treating the stabbing of an 18-year-old man in Felixstowe yesterday as a targeted attack.

A baggage handler that was criticised over delays this summer has been replaced at Stansted Airport.

More than 2,500 new starters have been posing for pictures with their teacher and class mates - make sure you grab a copy of the paper to take a look.

A teenager was stabbed in the street in Felixstowe last night - the latest in a series of violent assaults in the county.

Were you out for a night on the town at Yates in Ipswich on Saturday? Check out our latest nightlife gallery now and see if you feature.

Council workers will swoop on Shotley Beach today to rehearse their response to a series of “potential emergencies” – from chemical spills to flash floods.

Permission is set to be granted for the first work to get under way on a new 2,000-home development – agreement to build the entrance and main roads for the project.

Ipswich Town star Jordan Roberts put in a man of the match performance while having a kick about with pupils from Thomas Wolsey School.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24