13 April 2014

Steve's Escort

This in from Steve at Stiffspeed , one of YrHmblHst's favourite tumblr sites. And yes sir, we have all been there...   :)

"My first car. Hmm. Tricky one that as I bought one before I got my license. At 17, all eagerness and best intentions take priority over sensibility and peer advice (we've all been there, you know the story).
 Anyway it was around 1985 and my uncle was all for it as he needed use of a car but couldn't afford one so by me getting one to 'hot up' in readiness for my license worked for both of us.  I wondered at the time why he was so intent on an auto but later found out he passed his test in an auto so wasn't allowed to drive stick shift. (In the UK, pretty much everyone takes the test in a manual and that covers you for both. It's pretty stringent and takes around half an hour) We spotted one in the local ads that fitted the bill. It was an early '70's Mk1 Ford Escort auto. We went to view it. It was brown. And not a nice brown either. With a blood red bonnet (hood). And it was slow. Extremely slow. But it was cheap. My wages at the time were around £25 per week and the car was £250. It was pretty much the only thing I could afford and the colour didn't matter too much as I was an apprentice paint sprayer for a local dealership.
 On one of the journeys out, the hood flew up and bent back nearly smashing the windscreen (now we knew why it had a different hood on!) This happened a couple of times so the next port of call was to get some hood pins to hold it down. Holding the bonnet steady whilst my uncle drilled the holes, the drill bit snapped throwing him off course and straight into my index finger, splitting the nail clean in half. A trip to casualty to have to nail removed being the next course of action once the pins were in. At least the hood stayed down on the way there for a change.
 A guy round the corner had a Ford Capri with 'big' fat wheels on the back. They were just banded steelies but gave the car such an aggressive stance I had to have some. I managed to buy them off him as he was sick off the poor handling they gave. That didn't matter to me. My car didn't go fast enough to 'handle' I jacked the back of the car up, took the skinnies off and put the big meats on. I lowered the car back down. The tyres stuck out quite a few inches and the tyres just sat on them. Right on them. Oh well, back to the stock skinnies.
 One day, the car wouldn't start so my uncle borrowed a friends Austin till we fixed the Ford. A day or so later and it was running again so he asked if I would follow him across town to take the Austin back. I still hadn't passed my test by then but being young and full of confidence (not to mention stupid) I said yes. We'd not even got half way there when up pops a Police car in my rear view. I didn't panic. He followed for a while and all was well till we came to a roundabout. Now the flashers hadn't been working properly for a while and they stayed on (instead of flashing) I didn't want to give the cop a reason for pulling me so I was flicking the stalk up and down with one hand whilst trying to turn the wheel with the other (no power steering). My hand slipped off the steering wheel and the car jerked. That was it. The blue lights and two-tones came on. I managed to blag the cop that I had a license but of course once I took the producer into the station, it was all over. I got 8 points on my licence which was the minimum for the offences committed (12 being a ban) and a hefty fine before I'd even passed my test! Luckily, my uncle paid the fine weekly as it was his kinda his fault. It was time to sell the old Escort as it was too tempting to just jump in and go for a ride. My uncle saved up and bought it so it stayed in the family for a short while. 
I eventually passed my test and bought a really tidy, bright red Ford Cortina Mk3 2.0 rolling on Rostyles off a workmate. There's stories to tell about that car too but it wasn't my first car so I'd better wrap it up there."

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