In spring cleaning some of our paper records I came across the invoices of my first motor cars.
Unlike today when teenagers get a motor car, I was in my early twenties before I could afford a car, and then it was a basic car. In June 1965 I bought a second-hand Ford Popular 103E for £30. The invoice doesn’t mention the year of manufacture or the mileage. The registration number was KRN 271.
Known at the time as a Ford Pop, it was basic motoring. Here’s the description of the car from Wikipedia.
The car was very basic. It was powered by a Ford Sidevalve 1172 cc, 30 bhp four-cylinder engine. It had a single vacuum-powered wiper, no heater, vinyl trim, and very little chrome; even the bumpers were painted. It had semaphore indicators, pull-wire starter, manual choke. No water pump, engine cooling by thermosyphon.
A car tested in 1954 recorded a top speed of 60.3 mph (97.0 km/h), accelerated from 0-50 mph (80 km/h) in 24.1 seconds, and had a fuel consumption of 36.4 miles per gallon.
I enjoyed using my car in the summer 1965, although the phrase I used to describe it was that “it couldn’t pull the skin of a rice pudding”. There is one experience with the car that’s burned into my memory.
In early autumn of 1965 I was on month-long non-residential training course at a college in Solihull, while at the time was living in southern Shropshire. It was an awkward railway journey with two changes, though, on reflection it wasn’t that bad. I lived near a station and the college was near a station.
I’d got quite fond of my Ford Pop, and so thought it was worth doing the journey by car. The route, pre-motorway, was through the centre of Birmingham, and the very centre at that, through the traffic island at the Bull Ring Centre, pretty much the same sort of traffic intensity as Hyde Park Corner in London. Lots of roads leading into the island and lots of traffic.
And so it was, on a busy Monday morning I merged into the traffic on the island, only to hear an awful graunching sound from the car. I took the car out of gear. No change, the graunching noise continued. Leaving the island the road went down hill, and so offered the opportunity to switch the engine off, while still running downhill. Still no change to the graunching noise.
Nothing for it but to seek the help of a garage. Not too far on I pulled into Bristol Street Motors, a big garage. Asking a mechanic to check out the fault, came back the reply.
It’s the rear differential that’s gone, and no, son, we can’t repair it, as we wouldn’t know where to start looking for the parts.
I left the car with them, saying I’d be back to see them later in the week, and then caught a bus to the college. At the end of the week I went back to the garage, and ended up buying a second-hand green, 1963 Austin Mini,. The registration was 621 KOK, how odd that it was so similar to the 621 AOK in the British Motor Museum About the Mini, well, that’s another story.