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Minor Misadventures - 17 year olds and classic cars....

Radar

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Minor Misadventures - 17 year olds and classic cars....
« on: November 04, 2019, 08:25:20 PM »
Minor Misadventures:

Sometimes you just have to feel sorry for a car, or in this case a van, namely Stan a bright yellow  1967 Morris Minor van. Whilst it  was born in the 60's my Moggie was really in design and engineering terms a child of the 1940's and 1950's,  it was already regarded as a classic car by the time it fell into my icy grip in 1982. The poor old thing had initially been sold to the GPO and had to endure several years of abuse at the hands of a multitude of Post Office drivers before being sold into a peaceful retirement in sleepy rural Northumberland. Here it was 'treated' to a coat of bright yellow paint applied by hand (this was a surprisingly common practice back then) and put to gentle work transporting a friend of mine to from her job as a nurse.

But when she 'upgraded' to the Moggy Traveller the van became available just before my 17th birthday it seemed an opportune moment for me to buy it and have my first proper vehicle. I was going through a bit of hippy vibe at the time...'Grandad' shirts, old waistcoats, manky combat jackets and going to Jethro Tull concerts...the Moggy seemed the seemed ideal transport for an apprentice drop-out, but it was over 200 miles from where I lived in sunny Birmingham....and I didn't have a driver's licence...details, details....


Stan the Van...1982...Birmingham

So this was how my adventures with the Moggy began. I talked an old mate into travelling north with me on the train and I drove it home on L plates avoiding motorways where I could and letting my friend drive where we couldn't. Before we took the big trek south I practised in and around the lanes around Alnwick, Warkworth and Amble... the little van cheerfully lapping it up, that distinct warbling exhaust note peculiar to Moggy as it battled valiantly over the moors to Rothbury. After a couple days of such fun it was time to head back to Brum and the Moggie trundled down the A1 etc without drama, at steady 50-60mph. It's hard to be precise as, typically of British cars of the period, the speedo needle swung erratically back and forth and any speed reading could only be regarded as an estimate at best! 

It made it home without drama and I drove whenever I could persuade anybody with a licence to come out with me. In those days even if a person had only just passed their test they could accompany a learner driver, so as soon as any my 17 year old mates passed they could come out with me!

Here are the top memories of an eventful few months with 'Stan the van', my poor old Moggie...

1. Breaking down whilst illegally trying it out while still 16 and having to push it a mile back to my sister's home (this was in Northumberland)

2. Driving into the porch at my parents home whilst trying to avoid my moped on the drive and shattering the glass...that went down well

3. Trying to impress my Dad by trying to reverse up the driveway at speed, slamming the brakes on to come to a halt as close to the garage doors as I dare...bet you can't guess what happened? Yep I drove into the garage doors whilst my Dad sat in stunned silence in the passenger seat. What was I thinking? The mind of a 17 year old lad is a peculiar place...well mine was (and many would say still is)

4. Somehow squeezing in not one but TWO motorbikes (a Yamaha RD200 and a Suzuki GT185 for the record) to transport for a mate

5. Being trusted to transport all of  the buffet food for a child's christening....all delivered intact, that was a nerve wracking few miles

6. Drifting around a bend with the tail hanging out with a wagon coming the other way with his lights blazing and horn blaring with my 17 year (qualified driver) passenger looking suitably horror struck

7. Here is the biggie...whilst out on a break from college lectures (remembers when there were colleges and not every tin pot Technical College hadn't been turned into University?)…with another young qualified driver in the passenger seat and another friend in the load bay along with all my tools, two spare wheels and all our college gear. I was driving far too fast downhill and around a bend by old secondary school I was amazed to lose the back end again...initially I corrected it, then it went the other way, then the front suspension collapsed....and then the van promptly rolled over...twice. The next second or two seemed to take an eternity as the view through the windscreen went...earth, sky, earth, sky and finally earth. After all the banging and crashing as it rolled it was now eerily silent. Kev, the lad in the load bay had been 'tumble dried' with all the kit in the back and wound on the road. Remarkably not a mark on him. Garry, the 'qualified' member of the crew was dangling from the seat belt and I was still clinging to the steering wheel. Did I think that I could recover the situation??? Somehow we all escaped basically unharmed. I had to dash to a phone box (remember them) and mobilised my brother in his Marina van and my sister in her Mini Clubman to turn out as a rescue party! They rocked up and we even managed to get the van back on its wheels and limp it home with my brother driving and my sister in the Clubman guarding the back as all the rear lights were broken (none of the vans glass had shattered though which is odd). The right hand front wheel was wobbling about like an errant shopping trolley. We got it home and covered it over. Two weeks later I passed my driving test....
 
Well some time later the Moggie was sold for a paltry sum and the new owner even drove it away! It was replaced with a Mk2 Ford Cortina 1500 Super. Many years later I was the British Motor Museum at Gaydon and sitting proudly amongst the collection was a Morris Minor van, with a registration only a few digits away from my old example. I allowed myself a smile and I was pleased at least that one survived to live out a peaceful retirement!
« Last Edit: November 12, 2019, 08:52:56 PM by Radar »



Re: Minor Misadventures - 17 year olds and classic cars....
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2019, 04:22:42 PM »
Wow, impressive history. Can't believe you managed to get 2 bikes in the back, they're not that big inside are they?

Also, rolling it, managing to get it back the right way up again, then driving it home was quite an achievement!

Radar

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Re: Minor Misadventures - 17 year olds and classic cars....
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2019, 08:29:11 PM »
Wow, impressive history. Can't believe you managed to get 2 bikes in the back, they're not that big inside are they?

Also, rolling it, managing to get it back the right way up again, then driving it home was quite an achievement!

Looking back on it, I have no idea how we did that, either the two bikes or driving it home after the accident!