Friday 3 December 2010

Do you remember when cars were fun and quirky?

Every now and then I get an attack of nostalgia. I yearn for the way things used to be before the modern world came along and ‘spoilt it’. I’ve already blogged my rose-tinted memories of post-war food and those 1950s holiday-camp holidays and now I’ve come over all nostalgic about cars. It started the other day when I saw a classic car chugging down the road. It was a Ford Popular and it reminded me of Dad’s little car that he had when I was young.

This is me a long, long time ago sitting on the bonnet of Dad’s little car with my sister and mum.

The car looks so small and basic. It’s hard to believe how much they’ve changed. Surely they were better then than now... weren’t they? They were fun and quirky with things like:

•  Indicators that pretended to be little orange arms. They popped up from the side of the car and when they got jammed you had to bash the door to knock them back in again. They were to replace hand signals, I suppose. When I took my test you still had to show you could give hand signals. I had to demonstrate a signal for slowing down, a circular backward movement with the arm held straight out of the window. You’d get your hand chopped off by overtaking cars if you tried that now.
•  Bench seats in the front as well as the back of the car. When the car turned right the passenger would slide into the driver as, of course, there were no seat belts. This was particularly good for courting couples but not so exciting if you were taking your granny out for tea.
•  That big yellow AA badge fixed to the front grill of the car and whenever an AA man drove by on his motor bike he would salute you. I seem to remember that this happened a lot, especially when Dad took us for a Sunday afternoon ride into the country.
•  No wing mirrors but you could buy clip-on ones that were supposed to fit onto the window. They never did and they inevitably fell off if you opened the window... which you had to keep doing to give hand signals.
•  No in-car music, not even a radio. I used to hold my tranny (transistor radio) up to my ear and shuffle it round to try and get some sort of reception every time Dad turned a corner. Listening to your own music in the car was a non-starter. Can you imagine playing vinyl records with a stylus?!
•  The crank handle - talking of non-starters - which was kept under the driver’s seat in case the car wouldn’t start with the key, which in those days was most of the time, especially early in the morning, and there was the choke button which you pulled right out when the car was cold and slowly back in again as the car warmed up. If none of that worked we had to push and then run and catch the car up before Dad chugged off without us.

Oh yes! Those were the days!