I'm a retired history tutor. I was born and brought up near Halewood in Merseyside and some of my earliest recollections were of transporters carrying Ford Anglias and then Corsairs off to lucky and no doubt rich (compared to us anyway) buyers and my ultimate ambition as an early teenager was to actually own my very own Ford car. By the time I got one a decade or so later it was a second-hand Corsair which cost me just about everything I earned at the time and it spent more time in the garage than on the road. After all, Ford were not to know that a plastic pipe carrying the hydraulics to the clutch, and which ran right near the exhaust manifold, would melt from time to time! It became a regular occurrence for me to put my foot down on the clutch and for nothing whatsoever to happen apart from my car juddering painfully to a halt at the most inopportune moment. I learnt then that the car designers who I used to look upon as gods were human beings after all, and very fallible ones at that. I fell out of love with Ford after that.
I graduated from Ford to Vauxhall; the first new car I ever owned from new was a Vauxhall Victor 2000 which I had for five years. It had a three speed column change gearbox which sometimes selected the correct gear and sometimes didn't, and a handbrake which released itself with the slightest touch, several times when I didn't want it to. Regularly I locked myself out of it but that was no problem since it was so easy to open it with a bit of bent wire push between the rubber seals on the door and hooked onto the door release which had a very convenient knob on the end for the bit of wire to catch on! I never had it stolen – if I could get in so easily I'm sure a professional thief could have done it within seconds – but perhaps the reason was the thin line of rust which appeared under the paint on the front wings. I checked them out and found a ledge under the rust line which looked as though it was almost designed to collect wet mud. Needless to say there was no attempt to rustproof the metal under there. Mindful of planned obsolescence I fell out with Vauxhall too.
My next car was a Datsun Sunny. A lovely car at first but after 35,000 miles the engine was smoking badly and again rot was setting in. A Rover 820 followed and the problems I had with it would fill a book.
Finally I discovered the Rover 75, built by Rover under BMW control. I got a second hand one, two years old, and was so happy with it I bought a new one a couple of years later for a very attractive price, just as Rover was going broke. I was worried about the spares and warranty situation at first; but it's still sat on my drive with 120,000 miles on the clock and although, like me, it's starting to show it's age it still runs like a dream.
The moral of this tale is: we all look back nostalgically to the cars of the past; some of them were wonderfully fast and powerful with real character. Cars nowadays may not look as exciting as the early Bugattis, Bentleys, Isottas; but did they have aircon, electric windows, power steering, cruise contol, satnav, and all the other essentials of modern motoring? There is a golden age of motoring and it is right now; we've never had it so good.
Anyway my name is Andrew Slater and you can contact me by email if you fance a chat. No I have never owned an Alfa Romeo but that doesn't stop me being fascinated by their history!