If you ask a classic car enthusiast what started their passion for cars, some will say it was through reading their mates older brothers car magazines, others may say it all started when they dipped their toes into modifying their first car aged 17 with Cherry Bombs and alloys, but many will credit their dad’s for kickstarting their crazy obsession for all things automotive.
This is where my journey began too. The childhood memories of being packed up into the back of dad’s Ford Model Y with camping equipment tucked around me for protection, a car that I would go on to drive in later life. We would head off for weekends at the NSRA Fun Run at Billing Aquadrome and then later to the Knebworth Park for the Hot Rod Supernationals; I was slowly being indoctrinated into cars and the hot rod scene.
At home, there would always be a car being built in the garage and I would be there to help. I recall dad telling me that I was quite useful when it came to rebuilding a 350 Chevy as my little hands could get into the intricate parts of the engine. Something else would be laid up on bricks on the driveway awaiting restoration, or dismantling; this is when I had my first experience of fiber glassing and learnt that you do not want to get it in your eyes!
Nowadays, we go everywhere together in our cars and have some great days out at shows and weekends away at events. In fact, it is a privilege to be able to share my passion for cars with my dad. So, thank you dad, and happy Father’s Day.
In our June e-newsletter, we asked to hear your stories of how your dad influenced your passion for cars and we are delighted to be able to share these three wonderful memoirs with you.
My earliest memory of Dad’s car was a Triumph Herald convertible in which I sat in a primitive child seat at the back! I remember the excitement when this was traded in for a Triumph Vitesse in 1966, basically same chassis but twin headlights and a straight six. Next was a Bond Equipe, a fibre glass bodied version of the Vitesse, pretty racy in its day.
The Triumph loyalty continued with a Mk 1 2000 on which I burnt my finger sticking it in the cigarette lighter, then a Mk 2 in 1970’s brown and then the theme changed to an early Audi which was to be the first of many.
By the time I was ready to learn to drive we had an Alfasud – what a treat to learn in, that lovely flat Boxer and an engine type I still have in my 1980’s Porsche. Before I knew it, I was a Dad, my daughter learnt to drive in a Clio. Before you know it again, my granddaughter will be learning… but an electric car may not match an Alfasud!
My dad had a mustard colour 1300GT which was his first ‘performance’ car and was considered a fairly sporty car at the time (c13sec 0-60!). So, when the Triumph Dolomite Sprint was introduced, he was straight onto this new 16v head technology. It would have been in 1973 and the car was a Primrose Yellow. This was later followed in 1975 by a green Sprint.
I remember sitting in the passenger seat and my dad firing us up a hill with no apparent effort as though the hill wasn’t there. It’s a feeling that has stayed with me for circa 40 years as it was the first time I had experienced the power of a modern powerful car. What we now know is that many family hatchbacks can perform the 0-60 in less than the 8.5 of the Sprint.
The cars attracted a lot of attention from everyone as they were really something quite special at the time. I did get to drive one of the cars when I borrowed it to run an errand for my dad, and in that single trip I nearly overcooked it on a roundabout and just missed a tractor pulling out of a field. It’s funny how small things stay with you for life but the Sprints that my father had are very memorable for many reasons. A truly great but technically flawed car but let’s forget about the handling, the chocolate engine, the build quality and the probability of dissolving if left in the rain. Wonderful!!
Like most enthusiasts I guess my passion for cars came from my father, and in my case before I was born. Dad was taught to drive during WW2 in Burma, by Mountbatten’s driver in a Humber Staff car, and vowed he would own a Humber one day – little did he know what that thought would spark! And so, it was in 1966 Dad collected my Mum, Sister and I from Sunday school in a 1961 Humber Hawk. Black with a red interior an ex- De-Havelland Airport chauffeur driven car, such was the impression that car made on his son, it sparked to date a 55-year obsession with Humbers!
Dad traded in the Black Hawk for a 1966 Humber Imperial Maroon with a beige leather interior. That Humber was the family car through my formative years. Dad taught me to drive in a 1959 Wolseley 1500 purchased from the next door neighbour for £100, as soon as I passed my test of course I wanted a Humber. First a 1967 Humber Hawk with a rusty floor, then following a couple of Club events, at the age of 21, I bare metal resprayed another 1967 Humber Hawk which went onto win National concours prizes for best in class and Master Class.
Eventually the Hawk was sold for the deposit on my first property, and I acquired a rare 1960 Super Snipe Estate which I kept for 30 years.
We are delighted to be featuring David’s 1966 Sunbeam Alpine in an upcoming feature, do keep an eye out for it.
ClassicLine would like to thank Stephen Godber, David Gibney and David Clark for their contribution to this feature.
If your dad drove and interesting car, or influenced your passion for classic cars, then we’d love to hear from you.