Sunshine and Showers

Sunshine and Showers

max temp: 7°C

min temp: -0°C

Search

My First Car: Renault 4 van had loads of appeal and surprise stowaway!

A Renault 4 van similar to one Sylvie Wheatley used to carry stock to market stall and all her kit to university. Picture: Gzzz / commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20452227

A Renault 4 van similar to one Sylvie Wheatley used to carry stock to market stall and all her kit to university. Picture: Gzzz / commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20452227

Gzzz / commons.wikimedia

After a summer travelling around in a Renault 4L camionnette, running market stalls in France, it transported Sylvie Wheatley to university where she experienced a scary moment with a sleepy ‘stowaway’.

In the summer of 1986, with two new shiny documents in my pocket – namely a French baccalauréat academic qualification and a driving licence – I took on a job that came with a company car.

What follows, however, is not a story of fresh-smelling leather and glamorous drives with the roof down. It is a story of early-morning rushes to seaside resorts, in a navy blue, battered, old Renault 4L camionnette, complete with rattling doors, windows that would slide open only when they felt like it and an L-shape gear stick wonderfully placed on the dashboard. Crammed behind the driver’s seat were bags of clothes, trestle tables and all the gear needed to run a market stall.

I criss-crossed Normandy for two months, covering hundreds of miles without the 747cc engine even spluttering once.

When September, and time to go to university arrived, my boss – who happened to be my brother-in-law – was so pleased with the revenue I had brought in that he offered me the use of the beast for the winter.

So off I went to my new student life, with pots and pans, books and duvets, instead of jeans for sale in the back of the van.

Fast-forward a few weeks. I have made friends at university and everyone thinks my car is ridiculous, albeit jolly handy when they have extra luggage to transport...

One freezing morning, having struggled to clear the windscreen – the tiny wipers just about used to cope with drizzle – I am finally driving out of the campus car park when, suddenly, this dark figure rises from the back of the car and appears in my rear-view mirror. The only reason I didn’t crash into anything is because there was nothing to crash into. The fright the silly boy gave me!

Turned out he was a friend – still too drunk to locate his room, let alone his keys – who had found my car unlocked and taken a nap in the back. And there he was, trying to get out of the back door, just to get away from my screaming at him!

He’s still a great friend, and now he drives a people-carrier!

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

After suffering from a heart attack ten years ago, Davide Gasparin recalls being struck by a terrible fear that the same thing might happen again.

Train services between Ipswich and Cambridge will be delayed for up to 40 minutes due to a trespassing incident.

While most people tend to think of online offers when they think of Black Friday deals, some independent stores in Ipswich are also getting in on the act this year too.

Contemporary ballet director Holly Noble is premiering a new take on the Snow White legend at DanceEast this weekend. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to her about the contemporary concerns reflected in the timeless story

A college in Suffolk has said it believes the popularity in crime dramas on TV has helped boost take up in science subjects, after demand for places has quadrupled.

A customer at an Ipswich McDonald’s restaurant has described seeing a 16-year-old boy “writhing” on the ground in the car park after an alleged stabbing.

Marks & Spencer has been criticised for a “grotesque” and “vomit-inducing” Christmas window display advertising women’s “fancy little knickers” alongside men’s suits.

A pub in Suffolk is hosting a party for four-legged friends to celebrate winning a national award.

Get your hands on a Christmas tree from the same company which have suppled 10 Downing Street in previous years.

Police have arrested a man on suspicion of an immigration offence in Ipswich.

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