Childhood cars with cool running boards and giant stickers of Magic Roundabout characters

I’ve never been into cars. I drive them - that’s it.

Thursday, 5th May 2022, 1:19 pm

What happens under the bonnet holds about as much interest as learning trigonometry did at school.

I’ve never changed a spark plug or drained the oil, and if my car has a cylinder gasket overhead thingummybob then I’ve no idea where it is. Down a bit from the windscreen washer bottle is probably as vague as any guess would get.

Pulling together an album of photos of cars from 40 years ago for a feature did spark memories of those clapped out old machines I used to own and which, miracle upon miracles, managed never to leave me stranded on a motorway verge on a cold dark night.

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My first car was an Austin Vanden Plas Princess. Yup, sounds cool.

Think walnut dashboard, leather interior, and fluid suspension which kept leaking so everyone had to sit on one side of the car to keep it balanced going across the Forth Road Bridge.

I bought it from a couple who were friends with my dad.

Austin Rover - a much sought after car in the 1980s

They even had a name for it - Harry or Jeremy, or something completely pointless - and begged me to make good care of it. I reversed out their driveway over a garden gnome. I can still picture the look of horror on the old fella’s face…

I loved driving my old Toyota Corolla. It felt sturdy and, unlike the company car I then got, the wind didn’t whistle through the windows on a breezy day.

In between was a Hillman Avenger which soaked up the miles between Edinburgh and my workplace in south Ayrshire, even surviving a skid over a bridge and into a field of coos. Forty quid to get towed out, too.

Maybe my antipathy towards cars is the fact that some of the motors we had when growing up were, to be honest, naff.

From that list, I shall exempt my dad’s old Austin Standard - possibly an A4 - from the late 1960s which came complete with running boards down the side, which were ultra cool. And indicators which popped out between the doors.

Alas, things went downhill.

I have vague memories of travels in an old Ford Poplar, and then, when we stayed in Lenzie, l getting picked up from school in a black Ford Zephyr which had bench seats. The back doors were welded shut - maybe it was a stock car in a previous life - so we had to jump in and out in the style of the Dukes of Hazzard.

Then there was the Fiat126 - a car so small that if you got stuck anywhere you could pick it up and turn it round.

But nothing will top the still unexplained 1970s car we had in Dunfermline which my mum covered with giant transfers of the characters from the Magic Roundabout.

We had Dylan on the bonnet, Zebedee and Florence on the door, Emintrude on the boot, and Brian on the roof.

Thankfully the eight track cartridge machine didn’t have the soundtrack from the show otherwise we’d have attracted even more attention as we buzzed around the town.