Cars I have known, my first car and car troubles
What you don't want to happen!
Cars I have known, my first car and car troubles
The History of Cars in my family.(1954- 1963)
By way of background, when I grew up my dad did not have a car. (In fact nor did my Mom). My grandparent’s did not have cars and very few of my immediate family had cars. This was in the 50’s when I was about seven and cars were pretty much a rarity. We travelled by Tram and train. At that time my mom’s favorite records (yes vinyl!) were “The Ballad of Davy Crockett" ("Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier"). "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets as well as various songs by Pat Boone, Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Buddy Holly. Not to mention “Butterfly” by Guy Mitchell. I was going to
Primary school at that time and I used to walk to school. My Dad used to walk to work. Two car families did not exist in fact one car families did not exist in fact in our circle there were no car families. Most houses did not have garage or best had a single garage, which served as workroom cum storeroom.
M y Dad then decided that walking was the pits and bought a bicycle. This then gave way to a Motorcycle (a Puch 250cc). This lasted until he and my mom came off the “murdercycle”. Both were scratched, battered and bruised. Dad was now determined to by a car as this was “much safer” than a motor cycle.
His love of motorcycles must have influenced his choice as he bought a water cooled Lloyd from the Borgward family of motor cars.
He later bought a Volkswagen beetle, a Renault and finally an Opel Sedan from the period !957 thru 1963. These were always used cars.
The Lloyd was a great car trouble free and went on the smell of an oil rag.
The Volkswagen was involved in an accident as he took it out of the showroom; a car collided with him as he was emerging from the dealership onto the street. The Renault was an aberration. Not only was it a French car in the line of (normally) German cars owned by my Dad. It also broke down repeatedly, overheating and getting “stuck” on the road every time we did a long trip.
The Road trip
I should explain here that every time Dad bought a new car, we would put it through it’s paces by by visiting My Uncle Aunt and cousins who were always resident on some mine in the Free State (Allanridge) or the Western Transvaal (Stilfontein, Orkney or Klerksdorp). So the trip was always arranged after taking delivery of the vehicle in question. I am not sure if the trip was to test the vehicle or to get the admiring ooh’s and aah’s from my Uncle and cousins?
The first new car
In 1963 I was in Matric (graduation year for my American friends). My Dad bought his first new car. It was an Opel Kadette Station Wagon (another German Car). It was an ivory colour (a sort of off white). It was also the year the Beatles released “Please please me” and "Ask Me Why”. Patsy Cline dies in an air crash. The James Bond movie Dr No is released. Pope John XXIII dies. Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space. Kim Philby escapes to Russia. Christine Keeler scandal erupts. The great train robbery takes place. John F Kennedy is assassinated. Songs I remember include, Skeeter Davis “The end of the world”, “Walk like a man”, Rhythm Of The Rain by the Cascades, I Will Follow Him, by Little Peggy March and “forty days” (the universal army song).
The next new Car 1965.
Dad decide that he needed a newer car, Consumerism had begun it’s rise and “everyone” bought a new car every two years. Dad decided to buy an Opel Record L (for luxury). I was in the Air force doing national service. My dad bought the car directly from the Factory in Port Elizabeth and my Mom, brother and Dad flew to PE to take delivery of the car. This was a great adventure for them. The obligatory road trip was a given, as they had to bring the car home to Johannesburg. They also decided to go home via Durban as I was stationed at 5 Squadron in Durban at the time and we met and stayed in the grand brand new “4 Seasons hotel” for a few days. I had managed to finagle some leave at that time too. We had a great time. But all the while dad had this funny quirky smile. I thought it was just because of his new car.
My first car
I assumed that Dad had traded the Kadette in on the new car but unbeknown to me he had not. He had arranged garaging for the car at home.
After my stint in Durban, I had to return to Pretoria for the last weeks of my military training. On my first weekend back in Pretoria, I returned home for a weekend and when I returned home, Dad said we should all go for a drive. We drove down the road to a lock up garage. I wondered what was going on. He opened the garage and there to my surprise stood the Kadette. He handed me the keys and said:
“Now you don’t have to hitch hike (thumb a ride) back and forth to your camp in Pretoria!”
I really loved my Dad so much and at that moment I thought my heart would burst in my chest. My Dad had waited a long time for his first car. I got mine soon after I had turned 18 and was legally allowed to drive!
The songs in my heart and when I drove that car ,were, Satisfaction by the Stones, Help me Ronda, Unchained melody, Tambourine Man, Ferry cross the Mersey, What's New Pussycat?, Tom Jones, Eve Of Destruction, Barry McGuire, Hang on Sloopy , McCoys Ticket To Ride, The Beatles.
By the way, apart from a collapsed left front suspension (caused by my grand prix style of driving), that car hardly gave me any troubles!