Wednesday, January 02, 2008

My first car!

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1957 Hillman Husky
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I was only a kid. Seventeen I think. I’d passed my driving test – it had only taken me 5 attempts. And now I was ready to hit the road and impress the young ladies! One problem though – no wheels!
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A scout through the local paper soon made me realise that I wasn’t going to get myself a car which actually worked! On my wages from a paper round all I could afford would be an old banger and a few spare parts! Not deterred, I set about finding a suitable project. And find one I did!

It was on a friend’s parents farm yard, sitting on a pile of earth. It was a dirty blue colour with a touch of orange which later turned out to be rust. There were plants growing underneath with green shoots poking through the radiator, and when I opened the bonnet, three mice scampered from the engine bay.

I handed over my life savings of twenty pounds and flushed with pride as accepted the keys to my first car – a 1957 Hillman Husky Estate!

With the help of a tractor, we towed the Husky to some firm ground where I set about establishing the magnitude of the task I was about to undertake.

Remarkably the tyres had survived. The glass was all intact, and apart from gnawed fabric, the interior was in pretty good order. In fact, the more I looked over it, the more impressed I became with my purchase.

Over the following few weeks I became an expert in carburettors, radiator hoses, silencers and lamp bulbs. I learned about paint renovation and bodywork patching. I even installed an HMV valve radio! I changed the oil, topped up the brake fluid and stuck a chequered stripe across the body from bonnet to boot! I had it tested, I taxed it and with a little financial help, I insured it.
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Suddenly I was king of the road. I cruised the streets with an elbow posed nonchalantly on the window ledge. I hooted at girls, revved the engine at the lights, and wound up the HMV to full volume! Just look at me!

One day some girls started waving back! Great I thought! I’ve scored! I slammed on my brakes and reversed only to find myself in a thick fog of acrid black smoke. Seems they were trying to warn me that I was on fire!

And so my first car was no more!
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Happy memories!



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29 comments:

  1. Ahhh, Keith, I was sitting here reading this, and I thought, wow, some things never change!
    Then the ending, ouch!
    How devestating that must have been!

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  2. Ouch!!! poor poor husky :)

    happy memories!!!happy 2008

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  3. Sorry to hear about your misfortune with the first car.

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  4. I laugh, but I don't understand why I feel sad reading this. I feel for the 17 year old that you were, how hard it must have been for you then. I never had a car until I was 26, that's when I also learned to drive. My first car was given by the company I worked before in the pharmaceutical indusrty back home in the Philippines. And now, it's been a year that I'm back as a commuter since I moved here in Chicago. My work is just 3 minutes walk from my apartment so car is not really a necessity for now. I'm giving myself another year.

    It's amusing that you could laugh to to the memories now. The way you wrote it makes the experience really funny, but I just can't avoid thinking about that 17 years boy that you were.

    I wish you well.

    ~ Jeques

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  5. Hey Keith, you're in fine company. My first car caught fire on me also. It was under the hood, the gas line leaked down on to the manifold. I was on a gravel road and a couple old farmers came with their shovels and chucked dirt up on it after opening the hood. It scared me so bad that I forgot how to open the seatbelt and I was trapped. My dear old Ford Falcon convertible. I learned how to strip an engine down to its basic parts, all the while leaving the block in the car. That car is still on the road occasionally. It is part of an auto museum now, in PEI.

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  6. I'm sorry your first car experience wasn't such a good one. All that hard work you put into it, getting it onto the road and then... fire. Wow! Hope your new year is going well. Have a nice day.

    I finally got to read all of your story The Stranger It was great. I hope you can get a publisher to look at that sometime.

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  7. Thank goodness you got our alive. I think remembering our first cars though are fun memories. Have a great day boyo.

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  8. lol! I didn't see that ending coming! Love your style of storytelling!

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  9. So did the girls rescue you?

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  10. Thankyou all for your comments and messages of sympathy!

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  11. Jeques

    After that experience I also became a company car owner, and I've only had brand new cars ever since!

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  12. Gimme

    Your first car was clearly far more grand than mine despite it's early problems! My turtles have asked when you are coming back! You must have really given them a meal to remember!

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  13. Michelle

    Thanks for reading The Stranger. I'd love to look into publishing some of my work but I don't know where to start

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  14. Pauline

    They didn't exactly rescue me! Laugh at me would be more like it!

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  15. Looks like that car had a big back seat. Heh heh heh.

    Too bad it went up in smoke. My first car was a 1981 Chevy Citation. It ended up totaled at the hands of some slippery leaves, my inexperience as a driver and a tree.

    :(

    -J

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  16. Kind of a shocker there - I was getting ready for a long love affair, that is, with your car. My first was a 75 Plymouth Valiant with a slant six engine that would have run forever but I bought it used in 79, and five years of New Hampshire driving later, the body was mostly bondo and I had to give up on her. It would never really be the same for me again...

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  17. Third party, Fire & Theft, I hope?

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  18. Morgy and Paul

    Our first cars should be preserved for ever if only to stop us taking our current ones for granted!

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  19. Ah! Officer Dickiebo wants to check my documents! Once a copper always a copper!!!!

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  20. :) grin :) I should be saying condolences...but I couldnt help the smile, all that hard work down the drain, may be not huh? sure created some great memories for you and taught you lots about cars...so here's to happy memories. :)

    Thanks Keith for also stopping by, I found this new site recently called friday fiction under Write Stuff, you should check it out. I think you will enjoy their prompts. Esp. with your stopry telling talents.

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  21. oops, here's their link

    http://www.take2max.com/writing/2008/01/04/fiction-friday-36/

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  22. Couldnt help laughing yet felt sad.You wrote this so well.So much effort must have gone into making it what it was/had-been.We learn--we move on.

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  23. I feel horrible for not feeling horrible! I think it is a marvelous tale. There is a certain right of passage endowed in the story. It also connects and binds you to so many of us as well. My first car that I paid for was a 1953 Kharmen Ghia Convertible. And it was really convertible. The only part left of the rag top (which was basically rags) only covered the people in the front seat. The floor on the passengers side was almost non existant it was so full of rust caverns not holes. If you went through a puddle (which in Louisiana is a way of life) the passenger would get soaked. You could also pull the steering wheel almost completely out. That was fun with first timers in the car.. Wooops... No steering wheel. We finally pulled the passenger seat out... laid half a wooden door on the floor and plopped the seat back in. Now the passenger would only flip backwards if you took off to fast but remained dry while doing so. Volkswagens being Volkswagens the brakes finally gave out... But my best friend Lynette and I had one great summer tooling around the Gulf Coast up and down the beaches in Schultzie... The day we sailed right through a red light with no brakes we figured it was time to let Schultzie go on to the next life. We moved the engine into a 1961 VW Bug and drove that all through school the next year. But I will say... your car and your giving it one last zip around town was a happy story to me. Of youth and hopes and not being deterred by silly things like finances... at least you insured yours!

    I loved the story... as I love all of your tales.

    Renee

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  24. My first car was a Ford Fairlane which had probably been a taxi in Chicago. It hardly made it beyond 100 miles before it went up in smoke...
    Later in life, I bought a 55 T-Bird and had it restored. What fun - guys waved at me! The first piece of early retirement was financed by that car but none of the guys. LOL Full circle?

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  25. UL

    Thanks for introducing me to FF. I also took your advise and went to SS as well, though whether I'll manage to write on them as well as WI I dont know! ( I can hear people saying 'what's he talking about?')

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  26. PS - at the time I was devestated! One of the reasons I was so proud of my car was because the company that produced it - Hillman- was started by my Great-great-great Grandfather in 1890. Mine was ot such a good advert for the family firm!

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  27. Renee - great to see you back and thanks for your story. It really made me smile.I always lusted after a Kharmen Ghia convertible when I was young although yours was probably not the best example of the marque!

    And Tumblewords - I'll never forget that aweful smell of burning and I doubt you will too!

    There is an amazing collection of first car memories amongst these comments! I may just cobble them together into a post of their own!

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  28. I think you should... I will be checking....

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