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Jan and Bob's DodgeVeg-o-Matics
In memory of our cars... some good, some not so good!
Ford Escort 1100 (built 1970)
My first car, and at 17 I was really desperate to get mobile, so this one seemed to fit the bill, but did I get a banger... too right! Cost me £250 quid if I remember right and was probably £200 more than it was worth. Nice colour though, Desert Grey... Shit Grey if you ask me!
What do I remember of this one, well I passed my driving test in it, so that's a positive memory, but starting it was such a sod, loads and loads of times it needed pushing to get started, 9 times out of 10 times it wouldn't start.
On the photo above, the scenario is probably something like as follows: I'll have gone rushing up to Urswick Common and been hoping to lark around in a sudden fall of snow and stopped the car for a few moments for the photo, but, soon after it'll have probably refused to start.... maybe that's an exaggeration, but I'll bet it did broke down on the way home!!!
Probably just about the worst car I ever had ...
Rover 2000 (built 1968)
Hot on the heels of the Escort came the green Rover, which was a little better than the Escort, quite shiny & built like a tank, but a rust bucket nevertheless. This is the only photo we have of it; I think I'd just had to change the front brake discs, which for me was a major job as I'm no car mechanic, that's for sure. I must have been so chuffed to get it over with that I thought it deserved a photo.
It wasn't too bad a car, this one, or at least it usually started, so that's a big improvement! I suppose a slight quirk with it was it had big holes in the front sills and both wheel arches, so every time it rained the front foot wells got filled with deep pools of water, maybe an inch deep on a long journey. Whoever the lucky front passenger was had to sit with their feet in the air for most of the journey! Mind you, in its defence, when the rain stopped it all ran back out again, eventually!
Scariest moment was one time when at about 60 mph the bonnet catch failed and the wind got under the bonnet, flipped it open and it wrapped itself around the windscreen!
The Black Beetle (built 1967)
My all time favourite!
The Rover had had to be scrapped so over the next few months I managed to save some cash, with the chosen aim of buying a Beetle; but when the time came, it wasn't just any old beetle that I managed to get... it was 'The Black Beetle' . So advertised in the local paper, and one that I'd seen driving round town... I knew I had to have it!
The Black Beetle looked great: she'd been re-sprayed gloss black had loads of extras added, wide wheels, chrome and was very, very shiny. Very nice to look at! Had loads of fun in her, we had this car for about 5 years, and did well over 50,000 miles, the clock was 30,000 miles into its second revolution when traded in. But during this time I'd also bought another Beetle...
The Grey Beetle (1969)
This isn't it, but it looked very much like the one above. I bought it from a scrap yard for £100 without an MOT coz I thought I could build myself a Beach Buggy and needed a body pan to base it on. So for a little while I had 2 Beetles parked up, but the thing was when my Mam saw it she wanted it for herself, all it needed was a new exhaust and some brake shoes... after that it worked great and passed the MOT, with no problems!
So much for making a Beach Buggy, that idea came and went in just a matter of weeks, and Mam got a cheap car. Just as well though as it was a stupid idea, I might have managed to dismantle it but I bet I couldn't have rebuilt it again!!
So the Grey Beetle stayed with mam for a few years and I carried on with the Black Beetle but eventually it too started falling to bits... time for a part exchange.
Jaguar XJ6 (1973)
With the Beatle now falling to bits, we (me and Jan now being an item) needed another car, but we didn't have much cash. We did though come across a Jag going very very cheap! £350 with six months MOT remaining. So for just £200 plus the Black Beetle as a trade in, a few days later we drove off with a 4.2L Jaguar.
That's a pretty good photo above and, Yes, it did look that shiny and wasn't too rusty either; plush too with electric windows, a walnut dashboard, and leather seating.
What it didn't have was a key to start it or a quarter window in the drivers side, apparently it had been broken into (through the window) and had all the key housing smashed off, so it could be 'hot wired'. When we bought it we were presented, instead of keys, with a small chisel (4" long) to start it with; just push the chisel in the hole and turn... there you go, easy!
It did though cost us a bomb in petrol to run, probably only did 15/20 miles to the gallon!! Just driving across town took a hit on the petrol tank. We also couldn't really afford to maintain it, and certainly knew we couldn't afford to get it through it's next MOT in six months! We couldn't even afford the cost of a new tyre, so any repairs would have been an impossibility; when we got it we knew we'd only have 6 months of fun 'til the pending MOT, and before which we'd need to find a rapid replacement.
Austin Allegro 1300
Haven't got an actual picture of our next car, an Austin Allegro, but the car in the photo above is very similar.
We bought it cheap as usual, and, if I remember right, it was just days before the Jags MOT was going to run out. Not much to say about this one: it was cheap, old, and rusty, and managed to limp through one MOT test, I don't think we expected it to get through another one. I think we had it for about a year by which time we decided to get rid of it...
Rover Photo to add
The next car we had was a Rover 3500 (photo needed) and, as was usual for us, it was completely unreliable.
The main quirk was that it would sometimes refuse to go no faster than 35 miles an hour, and this was not just for a minute or two, but literally for hours and hours; I guess it was caused by petrol starvation somehow, but we never got round to having it fixed, and just got used to taking a long time to arrive anywhere, and if the power went going up-hill your speed dropped off to 5mph 'til you got to the top.
We had the Rover for about a year, probably 'til it next needed an MOT test, which as usual we couldn't afford to have done, so after the Rover we started saving up for a VW Caravanette, which by now we'd decided we'd need for festivals...
But before the VW we got this...
This one was just too cheap to refuse... a good friend offered us this for £80, bargain!
Quite liked having the Dyane, and even though she was so cheap, she never broke down once while we had her. A quirky little car this one, top speed of 60MPH - that's down hill with a fair wind! Noisy as anything and a gear stick poking out of the dashboard that looked like an umbrella handle.
However, with a roll back roof this was the only convertible we've ever, great fun to do and so easy, just unclip the roof and roll it back like a sardine can... 30 seconds later... voila! A top of the range, convertible car that cost us £80!
But was it noisy!!!... we only ever went out of town once, to Manchester and back, took us about 3 hours each way, stayed on the inside lane all the way, overtaken by everybody else and arrived shattered - not a car for long journeys!
Incomplete, more to follow...
Volkswagen Caravanette 2000 (1979)
Had some fun times in the VW Camper, did quite a few festivals and had plenty of fun with it, had the campr for about 3 years altogether, including one full year without any form of reverse which is a bit of a problem - especially if you live in a cull-d-sac as we do!
This meant that every day I had to do a three point turn without the luxury of a reverse gear, so turning it was a bit of an art form...
I could do all the forward bits with any problem, but pushing the van backward on top of the hill was a just a sod, especially when done solo (as it usually was) requiring brute force and technique... Camper vans aren't light, but after 12 months I'd got the technique spot on!