My First Car: the ups and downs with a Hillman Minx

My First Car Roger Robinson

My First Car Roger Robinson - Credit: Archant

In 1957 I acquired a rather tatty 1933 Hillman Minx, writes Roger Robinson. The body had a black top half and a horribly bright red bottom half with black wings and running boards. The tyres had very little tread and, upon investigation, the engine block was cracked.

I was an apprentice with Marconi and had a friend who was an apprentice with Langs plant yard and another who was with Vauxhall Motors. Between us we had reasonable mechanical knowhow, so we decided to replace the engine with one bought in a breaker’s yard in Edgware.

To do this we had to tow the car to our workshop, and our route took us past the police station. At this point one of the wheels decided to detach itself from its mounting and fell off. The police duly arrived and suspected us of stealing the car (ridiculous really when you saw the state of it). Nevertheless, after a reprimand we eventually arrived at the workshop and fitted the engine.

After a few weeks we took the Minx out on the road, which was quite exciting as we had dodgy brakes and worn steering. The petrol consumption was rather disappointing too as we could only achieve 10mpg. This led to us running out of fuel on numerous occasions, usually at night when the garages were closed so we either thumbed a lift or walked.

The Minx was a common sight abandoned on the verge of the Watford bypass between the Busy Bee transport café, where we usually went for pie and chips after a dance, and the Aldenham bus garage.

On one occasion upon returning home I found my father could no longer bear the colour of my car and had an impulse to paint it maroon with black wings, which I must say was a great improvement.

I kept the Hillman for about two years before selling it for £2 to a petrol pump attendant at a local garage. Not long after he wrote it off by going over the top of a roundabout and ripping off the back axle.

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My second car was a four-door 1936 Morris 8 which was like driving a Rolls Royce after the Minx.

I am pictured with a Standard 9, which is near identical to one which was owned by my mum.

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