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You are in: Norfolk > Local Radio > Features > A four-wheeled love affair

A four-wheeled love affair

Many of us will remember the first car we ever owned and how excting it was driving it. Ahead of the 28th BBC Radio Norfolk Old Car Rally, David Clayton looks back at his first car with fondness, a Morris Minor Traveller.

A Morris Minor Traveller

A Morris Minor Traveller

One of the joys of visiting the annual BBC Radio Norfolk Old Car Rally on the Costessey showground is having a close encounter with a car you might have once owned.

Not necessarily the exact car – although it's been known to happen at previous rallies - but the same model.

Well I've gone one better and driven a split windscreen Morris Minor Traveller – a different colour and a year older than my first car, but nevertheless a real thrill.

Thanks to Jane and Barry Oldridge of Garvestone near Wymondham, I've been given the keys to 'Gladys', their 1955 Series Two Morris Traveller and allowed to drive her around the area.

I've now concluded Morris Minors are superbly suited to Norfolk's country lanes.

It’s all about size, speed and a comfortable old-fashioned-ness, a perfect motoring synergy, if you like.

David Clayton with a Morris Minor Traveller

David Clayton reminisces his first car

The wonderful thing about sitting back in the driving seat of an old Minor is the bonnet points you in the right direction because it's - pointed! In the way car bonnets always used to be.

March of technology

Then there’s the feel of the car. Such has been the march of technology that all the real driving experience has been engineered out.

An old Morris Traveller tells you what it's doing and how it's feeling through the pedals, gear lever and seats - they're not annoying vibrations.

Nor are the rattles and creaks from the shooting-brake style wooden body. It rather feels like the car is talking to you and helping you understand what the wheels and the engine are up to. 

Do you know what it was that really took me back to my own Morris Traveller days? The smell! Something happens in older cars to create a nostalgic aroma.

Is it the smell of maturing leather or something to do with the varnish on the wooden frame at the back of the Morris? Or is it the fact the engine isn't cocooned from you in the way a modern car insulates the driver from the noisy stuff.

Those enginey type fumes just waft into the car and 'eau de traveller' is a lovely smell, although I wouldn't want Mrs Clayton to put it behind her ears!

A lady with personality

Jane and Barry’s Traveller has its own personality, hence the name 'Gladys'.

Speedo and dashboard of Morris Minor Traveller

A clothes peg was handy for the choke

In the glove compartment behind the obligatory yellow duster are some clothes pegs – vital for the fine adjustment of the choke button.

The indicator isn't a convenient stalk on the steering column it’s down on the right and you click the bakelite knob to the left to turn left and you can work out the rest, oh, and it doesn't self-cancel.

According to Jane, 'Gladys' doesn't 'do' pouring rain as one or two leaks appear when the heavens open.

Braking needs a certain anticipation to bring the Morris to a graceful stop, or at least it does compared to a modern motor car and with no power assisted steering you really feel a bend.

So would I want my old car back? Undoubtedly, but not to use everyday.

Barry sums it up beautifully when he says, 'A modern car is fine to get from A to B but in an old car you tend to take the longer route and take it slower just for the enjoyment.'

The BBC Radio Norfolk Old Car Rally is part of the Annual Police Gala Day on the Norfolk Showground on Sunday, 31 August, 2008 from 10am to 5pm.

BBC Radio Norfolk is broadcasting from the event between 9am and 4pm.

The entry list for the BBC Radio Norfolk Old Car Rally is now full.

last updated: 23/08/2008 at 18:54
created: 22/08/2008

You are in: Norfolk > Local Radio > Features > A four-wheeled love affair

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