MY FIRST CAR
My first car was an ivory coloured Fiat 500. The doors open the old way from the front. They were much easier to get into than the safer, backwards opening doors. The car was three years old when my sister gave it to me in 1966. One of the first trips I made on passing my driving test in the summer was a tour of the South West of Ireland. The roads were much emptier in England in those days, but the roads Ireland were emptier still. It was a fine country to get used to driving, and you still got to drive on the left! The worst part of the journey was the ferry crossing over there, from Fishguard to Cork. We struck a choppy night and I was seasick for the whole voyage.
My car had a sad end. It had begun its life on Guernsey where my sister was living. By a quirk of the law it was treated as a new car when imported into this country, and therefore did not need an MOT until it was six years old. This loophole in the law has long since been closed, I am sure. Anyway, the salty sea air of Guernsey had done its worst, and the whole car was riddled with rust. I had to say goodbye to my trusty Fiat.
My sister had christened it Plus-que-belle (or PQB for short) in 1964 on a trip to France. I had it for a couple of terms at Oxford, not that we were supposed to own cars, but I was living out in Salisbury Crescent with Penelope Jepson, and no body knew. On travelling back home at Christmas I virtually had to rewire the high tension leads on the way, so perhaps I wasn’t too sad to see her go.