Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Our First Car

First cars are so much more than just a mode of transport.  They are a first taste of independence for a young adult keen to make their own way in the world. They open up the potential for travelling around the country and allow you to experience so many new things.  First cars offer you a place for privacy, a place to be alone or together with a loved one, safe in the comfort of your own little sanctuary. First cars hold so many memories and offer a rite of passage into adulthood.  They tell you so much about the person who chose them, reflecting their hopes, dreams and aspirations.  This is the story of our first car.

Back in 1992, I got together with the man who was to later become my husband.  He was an unconventional guy.  Whilst other earlier boyfriends had tried to impress me by driving me around in a supped up Ford Capri or a shiny Volkswagen Golf GTI, or a pretentious private plated Porsche, my Ian favoured the laid back retro style of a 1956 Morris Oxford.  Speeding around  like a 90's boy racer was not anything he aspired to.  He was way too cool for that!  He loved the nostalgia, the link to the past and the beauty of the workmanship that went into it.

My Unconventional Other half

When he bought the car it was a bag of bits!  It had no floor and was a complete state.  I would have given up before I even started but Ian took it on as a project with the same diligence, dedication and patience that he has applied to everything he has ever cared about.  Ian was the little boy who loved Meccano and building models so the desire to create something from nothing has always been a part of him.  He single handedly rebuilt the Oxford, restoring it to its original state. He sourced spare parts, travelling around the UK to find them.  He even sourced an engine from a man in Wales who had one buried in his garden.  The man said it was too heavy for him to dispose of it so he had covered it in dirt instead.  He even offered Ian a shovel to dig it up and take away!  Thankfully he found another one that did not need excavating. It was a labour of love and one he completed brilliantly.

Morris Oxford
What a State!

car, classic
Building The Engine
Eventually, the Oxford was roadworthy. The dark green paint and the leather bench seats looked amazing when it was finished.  I loved going out in the car although the lack of seat belts felt very odd!  It did mean however that I could shuffle up close to Ian in the driver's seat as there was no gear stick or handbrake in the way.  I always felt like a couple in a 50's American movie cruising along in the Oxford with Ian's arm around my shoulder.  It always reminded me of a gangster's car with its imposing size and tank like strength.  A piece of history restored to its former glory.

classic car
The 1956 Morris Oxford Restored

At this time I lived over twenty five miles away from Ian and he made the journey every day after work to see me.  Given that the car only did 24 miles to the gallon, it wasn't a cost effective method of travel...but it was worth every penny as it has lead us to where we are now!  It proved to me how committed he was to our relationship.

Going out together in the Morris Oxford meant we never rushed.  Life was lived at a leisurely pace and we enjoyed every moment of our time together.  Funny how your choice of vehicle can influence your mindset...or maybe it was my husband's laid back, patient and nurturing attitude that influenced his choice of first car!

As our relationship developed, the Morris Oxford eventually had to give way to a more conventional vehicle.  A car without seat belts is not really safe when babies and their car seats come along!  But the Oxford will always hold a place in our hearts.  Ian always says if we win the lottery he'd love to do it all again, buy an old wreck of a car and lovingly restore it for us to cruise around in.  There is something so majestic about cars from the fifties and something so telling about my husband's devotion to restoring them back to the things of beauty they once were.

Our Morris Oxford was sold to an Irishman in Slough, who I hope looked after it.  New cars have come and gone, but we'll always remember our first Oxford, and the things we got up to in it, with real fondness!

cars, vintage, retro, classic
My Boy Checking Under The Bonnet

This post is for the First Car competition at


  1. How nice that a competition post can spark such a lovely post (:

  2. Lovely lovely post (: Nice how a competition can spark something so good to read!

  3. Oh Wendy, what a beautiful post! As the daughter of a car mechanic who must have had every classic car going under the sun during his working life, I really felt the love for the car in your writing. My mum had an Austin Allegro Vander Plas which I nicknamed Valerie; she was a beautiful, bronze brown with tan leather upholstery and a walnut dashboard. It was stolen by two fourteen year old boys from 'the naughty boys school up the road' and was discovered on the M4 with them trying to do higher than 45 (the fools!). Luckily it was returned to us in the excellent condition in which it was pinched. I was heartbroken when the engine finally died and dad couldn't afford to fix it anymore :-(

    I also love that your daughter reads and comments on your blog.

  4. Thanks for your lovely comment TBAM. Old cars have such soul don't they! I had to laugh at the 'naughty boys', imagining them attempting to thrash the car on the M4! Sounds like Valerie had a good life with you until her engine finally gave up. xxx

  5. What a challenge that car was. Once finished though, driving around with my future wife by my side, right by my side, on the bench seat I was the proudest man alive. Although the safety aspect of no seat belt was a bit worrying I never felt I was putting life a risk. I never traveled fast enough the catch up with anything. And the two people that managed to crash into the back of the car only damaged their own cars. It did break down once on my 25 mile commute of love and an AA man insisted on trying to fix it on the side of the road. Even though he had never seen a side valve engine before, 45 minutes later he conceded that I was probably right and needed towing home.
    That car will always hold a place in my heart as the one that enabled me to form the relationship that lead me to where I am now. Married, happy and in love. XXX

  6. That's the most beautiful comment ever xxx

  7. As you rightly said, Ian can apply himself to anything but what a clever young man to restore the Morris Oxford and I can well understand that particular car will always hold a place in his heart. Who would have thought all of those years ago that you and Ian would be happily married with a lovely

  8. what a lovely post and such a nice first car, Darren also loves to restor things and has built up several moterbikes from boxes of bolts and bits to fully working ikes as a real laour of love, however our first car was no where near as nice as yours although I do have alot funny memories of it - it is funny how the little things really do shape your life x

  9. Worthy winner, I loved this post. Well done you

  10. A fantastic post, lots of lovely sentiment. I also entered this competition and was looking forward to reading the post of the person who won. I am certainly not disappointed! A very worthy winner. Congratulations :) x



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