King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Wednesday, June 10

Life in the fast lane

My father would be the first to admit we had a variety of cars. As a child of the 70s, we didn't half have some crap over the years, but he'll still insist the cars were better then today's offerings. My first real memory of any car was a Triumph 2000, which all I remember of it was that it would get steamed up really easily and BLS and me playing noughts and crosses on the freshly steamed up windows. My father would carry an old leather glove as a demister, and the smell of the wet leather is something still prominent in my mind today.
He eventually moved on to what is now my Volvo 440 stage, in that he had a favourite car. The Renault (pronounced Ren-o) 16 was a hideously ugly French piece of crap that my father seemed to find alluring. He had several models, the last of which had belonged to royalty and had to be collected from Windsor castle grounds itself. At the same time, being an average family we'd gotten a second car, the sporty MGB. It was a convertible one, with the vinyl roof, and this had lead to it's downfall. The car was in serious danger of actually having a panel without rust on it. The whole car was falling apart, and I remember going for a drive around the country lanes south of Croydon and looking at the road underneath. The car was moved on to the best possible place for it, a scrapyard where the owners presumably got enough metal not rusted to cover the area of a small postage stamp.
My father had a bright idea. He'd had a mini's backseat fitted into one of the Renault's boots, so me and BLS could travel in the boot (the forebearer to a people carrier). This bode well until my father realised that the travelling backwards did nothing for BLS's car sickness. I think our first trip in that position to North Wales was probably a personal record for blowing chunks for poor Susan. My father then decided that another way to do it was to get a large estate that he could put the seat in and we could still face forwards.
He got himself a Simca, another car from the land of the cheese eating surrender monkeys (what was it with you and french cars Dad?). This made the Renaults look positively glowing in the dimly lit French showrooms, as the Simca was so poorly made it was in danger of dwarfing Trabant as the worst car in the world ever. He'd splurged and got the estate version, complete with wind down rear window (what was that about?) and transferred the mini's seat into the boot. The night before my first trip ever abroad, the car caught fire (small mercies) and laid in the end of our cul-de-sac awaiting a replacement engine. My father then got himself another Simca, the 2 litre bored out version that was the first car I'd ever known to accelerate leaving time displacement. He realised we were perfectly happy in this car, even without MOT etc, and he drove it into the ground before selling it to some mug at work for more then he'd paid for it originally.
It was at this point his work had paid off, and he got offered a company car. I remember spending a Saturday morning visiting different car dealerships, where I was impressed with the Nissan Laurel because it had electric mirrors. He, however, was impressed with a Toyota Cressida. On the M4 on a day out to Windsor or somewhere, I experienced my first 100mph. This car met a sticky end a couple of years later when my mother drove into a car pulling out from a junction, whilst transporting a blind piano tuner to our house to tune BLS's piano (I kid you not). He moved on to the 'Fox.' The Fox was an obscure reference to Fox's Glacier Mints, because the car was 'glacier white,' and was a thug of a car. A 1.6 Astra GTE, there is no other term for this car other then "fucking nutter." He was clocked a few weeks after taking delivery, on the newly opened M25, doing 135mph. Before he could lose his license, he moved to Sweden. My era of cars as a child came to an abrupt end.
Makes you wonder where I get it from now though, doesn't it?