| MOTORING HISTORY
As Dad had been unable to drive,
because of his sight, since the first world war, he
| I also joined the RAC in July 1951 and have been
a member ever since.
Listed elsewhere, are all the cars I have owned or driven, although, after the war,
while in business we owned a garage and a haulage company, so I handled numerous
other vehicles. During my national service with the RAF, I was with a squad, attached
to a salvage unit, and as the only other driver with the sergeant, I was detailed to drive
the Bedford truck, used for moving equipment and personnel. On another occasion,
we had to move a Beaufighter aircraft, which had crashed on the runway and
damaged one of the wheel struts. As the aircraft could not move, I had to drive the
Coles crane, and lift the wing up to the horizontal on the damaged side. With a tractor
pulling the aircraft, and me holding up the wing, we traveled slowly around the
perimeter track and into the workshops.
| I borrowed Laurence’s BSA Scout, and took
a couple roller-skating at Forest Gate. |
The car had wooden floorboards and between the cracks I could see the road
underneath. I also saw that a wire had become detached and was sparking on the
metalwork Laurie did not maintain the car very well. When a puncture occurred, I
found the spare tyre, flat (without the necessary inner-tube) Happy Days.
| A little bit of BSA history -At the time when
William and Mary came to the English throne, the majority of weapons were
imported from Holland. To end foreign reliance, in 1689, the government
placed orders with five gunsmiths in Birmingham to supply 200 muskets a
month at 17 shillings (85p) each. This developed into a contract that lasted
150 years. The gunsmiths now 14 in number, formed an association called
"Birmingham Small Arms Trade" which was made into the BSA company in 1861.
In 1879 they started making cycles. About this time, their trademark of
three rifles was adopted. In 1909 the first motorcycle was made, followed
in 1907 by the first motorcar, being shown at the Olympia show in 1908 (150
cars sold) On the 2nd. September 1910, BSA bought the Daimler Company. In
1931, BSA acquired Lanchester. In 1933 the motorcycle branch, produced three-wheelers
and other light front-wheel drive cars.
Dad’s first car, the Vauxhall, had Bendix brakes, (drum brakes), which
would not hold the car on a steep hill, but it was very comfortable with leather
upholstery. I drove Mum and Dad everywhere (shopping, holidays, etc.) and in return I
could use the car, to take Irene out, only sometimes there was an overlap of times,
’nuff said. This was followed by a pair of Morris 10hp cars, the 1937 had wire
wheels, and the 1938 pressed wheels and was one of the last small pre-war cars to be
fitted with a separate chassis and body. All manufacture of civilian vehicles ceased in
1939, and throughout the war, with car makers going over to service vehicles or
switching to war work. Most councils were buying up any old private cars for £30
each and using them for ambulances, fire tenders etc. As Dad was running a car
during the war, it had to conform to blackout regulations. To cut out headlamp glare,
metal discs with louvers cut in them were fitted in place of the headlamp glass. This
directed the beam down to a few yards in front of the car. Along the entire sides and
across the bumpers, had to be painted with a broad band of white paint, so that the car
would show up in the dark for pedestrians. The police and air-raid wardens could stop
you at any time to check your car. It must be remembered, that all street lighting had
gone, no light could be seen from buildings, so the nights could be very dark. It is
surprising, how much people relied on artificial light to see, at night. We looked
forward to the moonlight and summer nights.
| The Buick, FUV650 had a straight 8cylinder engine
with a massive long bonnet, and a
full bench seat in the front to take three people, with a further three in the back. The
only problem was the 6volt electrical system, not very powerful, and let us down one
night, while returning from London.
We had a few mishaps with the Bradford van. We would sometimes use this to go out
in the evenings, if I had just polished the Buick and it was raining! All dressed in our
finery, we have had to use the old trick with the nylon tights to serve as a fan belt, to
get us home.
| The Humber Hawk JXX 591 was the first car I converted
from left to right hand
drive. Not many people realized, that due to the export market, most British cars were
made as left hand cars, with a smaller amount made for the home market. So the
apertures and fixings, for foot pedals, steering, accelerator, etc, for both drives, are
already built into the car.
The Jaguar Mk7 was a wonderful car, it went on forever. I covered 230,000 miles
with the original engine, (good for those days) It was re-sprayed twice, and updated to
Mk8. When I swapped up the car, Roy took it over, and it carried on.
| The Austin Healey 100/4 was bought as scrap. It
belonged to a USA air force officer,
and was, of course left hand drive.
He crashed it on a bend near Sudbury airfield. I bought it from a dealer, who got it
from the insurance company, so it had been cleared for disposal from the American
base. The front off-side wing and corner of the chassis were damaged, including
wheel, door and bumper. I spent many weeks at the works, repairing the chassis,
replacing the wing and door, and converting to right-hand drive. I then gave it a
complete re-spray. After it was finished, I took it for a test run, and the only mishap,
was the accelerator pedal fell off, the welding had not been finished. I adjusted the
slow running jet in the carburetor, to a fast tick-over and limped home.
| The Austin Healey 100/6 was fitted with a ‘tweaked
up’ 6 cylinder Austin truck
engine, and had been converted to Dunlop Disc brakes all round. It was the practice,
in those days, to have drum brakes at the rear, as the handbrake, which worked on the
rears only, was part of the ‘emergency stop’ vehicle test, and the discs were not good
enough to pass.
| The Jaguar Mk2 was purchased with the cherished
number 1 EXL as an original
registration (these numbers were not cherished in those days) It had belonged to an
official of the Castrol Oil Co. hence the XL of oil fame. When I disposed of the car, I
had to produce both cars and log books at the appointed place, for inspection of
engine and chassis numbers. The transfer fee was £5. Having kept the number, and
used it on all my later cars, the fee is now £80.
The Humber Army Staff car, was bought as a second runabout. It was fitted with large
9” balloon tyres for use in the desert. The bodywork was shabby, so I took it into the
paint shop and said to the painter, “what paint have you got in the gun?” He said
“black” “OK” I said “give it a blow-over” but didn’t realise it was black crackle paint.
Still, it didn’t look too bad with a wrinkle finish.
| The Range Rover (the blue one) was an early type
(2 door). It was the car that six of
us (3couples) decided to take a trip to southern Italy, with the possibility of living
there permanently. I fitted a steel all-over roof rack, to take all the luggage, so that we
could accommodate six people inside (one to ride ‘shot-gun’ on a small seat in the
back) The journey took two and a half days with overnight stops at Frankfurt and
Trento in northern Italy. The third day was spent traveling the entire length of Italy to
Brindisi in Apulia. Fortunately, there were three drivers, who took 200 mile shifts.
The whole trip covered 4000 miles.
| You don’t buy Aston Martins from your nearest
second-hand dealer, you have to hunt
for them. I found the DB4 in a garage in Woodford, Essex. It was a thrilling
experience driving it home for the first time, not found with many other cars. After
many years, the car needed an overhaul, and I decided to do the work mostly myself. I
took the engine completely out of the car, and stripped it down to the last nut and bolt.
I was in constant touch with the service department at Aston Martin, at Newport
Pagnell, who gave me all the information and spare parts required. On rebuilding the
engine, I had all the pipe-work and fittings chrome plated, and polished the cam-shaft
covers, and finally, re-sprayed the bodywork powder blue.
The Aston Martin AMV8 was found in Hampshire and bought from Innis Ireland, the
ex racing driver, who gave me a personal road test in the car. It was a powerful
machine 5.3 litres, and was a dream to drive. It pains me to think that I sold this car
for £5000. But ‘that’s the way the cookie crumbles’
| I should just mention caravans.
We started caravanning in 1959, buying a Lynton Palma 17ft. Really too large for
touring, but we managed to see quite a lot of the country. We traveled to St. Agnes,
Cornwall, and stayed at a campsite at The Beacon, a beauty spot, where it was
possible to see 20 miles along the coastline, and see the lights of St. Ives at night.
One year we made three trips to Cornwall. Another favourite spot was in the New
Forest, where it was possible to park anywhere in the forest, with a special camping
permit. (except within fenced off enclosures). The second ‘van was a Fairholme, and
the last, a 1970 Bessacar Adriatic, a very nice 2 berth tourer.
In over 30 years of caravanning with the boys, and later just the two of us, we have
spent many hours exploring England, Wales and Southern Scotland. We have parked
at some beautiful sites, which would have been impossible, staying in hotels.
|Singer Sports 9hp||1935||
||Friend’s Car, tried out in 1938 (pre licence)|
|Vauxhall 14hp||1935||CMD88||Father||1939 Drove for Dad when he was blind|
|Morris 10hp||1938||FTW 687|
|Standard 14hp||AHJ 120|
|Standard Flying 20hp||FTW 7||Last car Dad owned|
|Bedford Truck RAF||
||RAF Service 1946 to 1948|
|BSA Scout 9hp||Owned by Laurence (brother)|
|Vauxhall 12 hp||1942||DOT 717||1949||First car purchased|
|Sunbeam 30hp||1930||PG 5391||1952||Part restoration|
|Ford Van 24hp||1950||
||1952||Half owned by Laurence|
|Ford Van 8hp||1953||Taught Roy to drive in this|
|Bradford Van||1954||Second vehicle|
|Dennis Truck 7ton||Owned by Company|
|Dodge Truck 3.1/2 ton||
||Owned by Company|
|Transit truck 3 ton||Owned by Company|
|Humber Hawk||1950||JXX 591||13.12.54||L/H drive conversion|
|Jaguar Mk7||1952||KTM 427||9.9.55|
|Austin Healey 100/4||1951||TNX 631||ex USA L/H drive conversion|
|Austin Healey 100/6||1958||XWD 606||11.4.64|
|Jaguar Mk2 3.4 auto||1962||1 EXL||6.2.65||Purchased with 1 EXL plate|
|Jaguar E Type||1968||Test drove for a friend|
|Humber Staff Car||Second vehicle (crackle black)|
|Land Rover||Early||Second vehicle|
|Sunbeam Talbot 90||
||RFW 551||Second vehicle|
|Lea Francis Estate||
||Ash timber frame bodywork|
|Aston Martin DB4||1964||1 EXL||5.2.69||Was 7727 TW|
|Range Rover (blue)||ONK598L||1978||Second vehicle|
|Aston Martin AMV8||1979||1 EXL||1983||
|Range Rover (buff)||1979||1 EXL||Was MGV 403V|
|BMW 635csi||1979||1 EXL||25.9.86||Was HUM 728T|
|BMW 528||1987||1 EXL||7.10.89||Was D688 BFL|
|BMW 520||1991||1 EXL||24.11.94||Was H675 GLN|
|BMW 523 Auto Touring||1999||1 EXL||10.01.07||Was T690 RVO|
Ronald. H. Rawden 1920-2011