In 1969 a relative of my mother's died and left a small bequest. Mum decided to spend that on buying a cheap car for us to learn to drive in. A Clipper Blue 4door Morris Minor (sometimes called "Bluestreak") took up space in the driveway at Millhouses Lane at the same time as an Almond Green Austin 1800 ('Landcrab').
Sister Biddi and myself promptly began driving lessons and after about 4months I took and passed my only driving test in November 1969. Biddi soon followed also passing first time. Elder brother Crispin also had lessons in Bluestreak and after passing my test I accompanied him on some pretty hair-raising practices. On one occassion a hill start proved very tricky and the Morris Minor lurched into the side of a Ford Cortina mk1. The off duty Policeman squealed like a stuck pig, and all about a tiny mark on his door; The Morris Minor had only a little scratch.
In January 1970 little brother Nial had his 17th birthday on January 17th and on March 17th he passed his test first time. On April 17th whilst attempting to descend a steep hill near Hathersage rather too rapidly he cooked the brakes on the Morris Minor and was left having to choose between a tree and a bus shelter to stop the car. "I chose the tree because there were people stood in the bus shelter". Morris Minors are not a match for stout trees, and though he did drive the car home, it never turned a wheel again.
Later that year my mother's father ("Gampsy" died) and we took on his 1960 VW Beetle. 6volt electrics, 30bhp 1200cc engine; this was no rocket, but it certainly felt a lot classier than the Minor, and had a mere 29,000 miles on the clock from new. In the strict sense I never "owned" this car, but the 50,000miles that it covered over the next 5years were mainly mine. See below pictures of the Beetle outside our house in Sheffield, and lower down the much stickered engine cover of the same car.
The VW made the move down to Cornwall in summer 1971, and by this time the green Austin 1800 had given way briefly to an Austin Maxi (very much a mistake for both Austin and for us), and then to a White Triumph 2000 MkI; Mum liked comfortable cars - especially if they were also FAST ! The Beetle carried on its faithful service but was beginning to wear out. Troubles with the gearbox were "righted" by a friendly guy who installed a cheap reconditioned gearbox, but that seized after just 4months and the Beetle's days were numbered.
The family Triumph 2000 had given way to an Austin 1300 GT. A kind of 4door Mini Cooper. But British Leyland never did find out how to build cars properly, and our new car quickly showed us what it was made of, or more correctly what it was NOT made of. After two years it went. In its place we returned to the VW stable and bought a brand new VW Golf in bright yellow. Heads turned in 1975 when we drove this car around, and it was a complete revelation after the Austin. Our Golf was only 1100cc, but it was very lively and much more sure footed than the Austin. One memorable drive was back from Bristol at 70mph all the way on a November night with a force Ten gale blowing. VW knew how to build cars, or they nearly did. After 5years the Golf was wrecked by rust - in spite of wax treatment - and the engine was sick following bad dealer servicing. It went.
A tiny Peugeot 104 replaced the Golf. What a little roller skate that was and the 950cc engine may not have been the fastest on the planet but it was willing. Or at least it was willing SOME of the time. It leaked oil from day one, and refused to start unless the atmosphere was as dry as the sahara desert at noon on midsummers day! I admired that Peugeot, even though it was quite tiresome; it pretended NOTHING so everything it did was extra, was a surprise. I was sad when after trading it in we found the next owner quickly wrote it off - deserved better !
By this time my Beetle was auctioned and I don't think we ever had two VWs at the same time. An Austin Mini Pickup was acquired and gave fun service for a few months until I became aware of just what a wreck I had bought. Another "friend" (one really should beware of friends - especially when cars are involved) persuaded me into buying a Triumph 1300TC. Leather seats, wood trim, twin carbs, oh and a dodgey engine fraudulently put together by said "friend". Their (friend AND car) days were numbered, but considerably shortened when it turned itself upside down on the approach to Carharrack. Some daft sod mended it, though the roof could be seen to slope from one side to the other; it blew its bloody engine (again !!!) the ungrateful thing but no longer owt to do with me.
I then bought a wreck of a Mini which I twice hand painted. The 1100cc Mini eventually got a worked over head, big valves, twin carbs and went like lightening - though it wouldn't stop. I first painted Blue and White in the colours of the SOGGI POTTI RALLY TEAM because I was navigator to Steve Parkin who had the twin car - a real Austin Cooper (see photos). Later on I repainted it as a "storm at sunset" (grey and red) with reflective lettering on all sides. The car was doomed though because the bodywork had no solid metal in it and one day the MOT inspector refused it a pass.
Needing something cheap but solid and reliable my brother-in-law found me a 1969 Snowberry White Morris Minor Traveller in about 1978. See pictures below outside the house in Millhouses Lane when I revisited Sheffield in 1983. Owned that car until October 1984 when I sold it to sister Biddi in Crawley, and she returned it to Cornwall a few years later. I did over 50,000 miles in my Morris Minor, travelled from Cornwall to Lowestoft, Yorkshire, Kent and showed it at various Morris Minor Rallies. It was a very comfortable car to drive on a long journey, and could cope with cruising at 70mph on Motorways.
In about 1983 the Peugeot 104 was traded in for a 2year old Vauxhall Astra 1300. Mum set her heart on having an Astra and we tracked one down. This was a very spritely car, with capable handling, and generally speaking provided faithful service with a fair amount of patching during the last 5years. That car kept Mum on the road until about 1999 when it failed its MOT and my 80year mother decided that she had driven long enough.
From 1984 until 1989 I was car less, and having returned to work in Cornwall I bought a 1979 VW Golf 1500 from a work colleague. Did 50,000 miles in that car (mileometer had 140,000miles plus), mostly at high speed because it was very surefooted and accelerated well. Burned up many an XR3 and the then current Escorts and Cortina couldn't follow me round the bends in their rear wheel drive crates. But the rust bug got it, and in December 1994 the Golf was demolished by a crane in a York scrap yard. This was the last car that I owned.
June 2002: Changed jobs, needed a car to get to work, bought
|Rally Cars||Albums||Red Pages|
|key text: This is the
page introducing Simons love of cars from the website
RedSimon which is a series
of photo albums of Simon GP Geoghegan.
The names of Pinin, Farina, and Pininfarina are also considered
There are also notes on Pininfarina
as well as the car maker
and links tothat car maker