My first car – a Triumph Mayflower

In this message to the OVF editor, Barry Edge recalls the purchase of his first secondhand car…

Barry Edge writes…

Hello Rob,

It seems only yesterday when, as Curator of your very successful Vale Vaults, a lady came over, gave you photograph and asked the question… ‘Do you know who this is?’

Who’d have thought that such a delightful moment in time would bring together two people from Bentilee long ago. Yes, thanks to OVF and the Vale Vaults Carol Parton nee Jones and yours truly now share our past and present via email. By the way, Carol is the only girl I took to see a football match at Vale Park.

Carol’s son, Neil Parton, is a massive ‘Vale fan and but for the fact he was on holiday in Egypt at the time would most definitely have visited the Vale Vaults Exhibition,

Anyway, I thought one of my memories shared with Carol would make a pre season light read for OVF readers.

My First Car

By December 1960 I was talking about buying a second hand car and my eldest brother Thomas suggested we go ‘window shopping’ car yards. I had savings of around £100 – not enough for a new car, but more than enough for a decent second hand one (these days they’re called pre-owned – haha).

For the first few weeks it was a dream to drive and to show-off to my mates. Then one day in late February 1961 it all started to go badly wrong…

As you all know the trick about buying other than a new car requires a general knowledge and understanding to keeping it roadworthy without having to spend on costly garage repairs. I’ll get back to this later.

Now, it goes without saying that other than driving, topping up with petrol, oil and water – plus keeping it clean – my skills, knowledge and experience in general car maintenance was zero, absolutely zilch. But my brother was quick to reassure me that together we would be ‘quids in, no sweat’. At least he did know how to keep a car ticking over.

With money to spend it was out and about in search of my 1st ‘wheels’.

After driving around Perth and suburbs without success we decided to call it a day and try again some other time, but just as we were heading towards our North Perth home we spotted a ‘4 Sale’ sign on a Triumph Mayflower. We stopped to give it the once over – well Thomas gave it the once over – and before you could say ‘Bob’s your uncle’ a deal was done for £80.

My ‘pre-owned’ 1953 Triumph Mayflower used a version of the pre-war Standard 10 with a side valve engine, aluminium cylinder head and a single Solex carburettor, and its 3-speed gearbox was a column shift. There was independent suspension at the front using coil springs and telescopic dampers and a solid axle with semi-elliptic leaf springs at the rear. Lockheed hydraulic brakes were the standard fit. Also my Mayflower body was a single skin (except the 2 doors) – unlike most other cars with multiple body sections. It was light blue and fitted with leather upholstery.

For the first few weeks it was a dream to drive and to show-off to my mates. Then one day in late February 1961 it all started to go badly wrong.

The main issues were the aluminium cylinder head and cooling system not being suited for Australian weather conditions hence the reason why so few were sold ‘Downunder which, surprise, surprise, was not mentioned by the seller when we did the ‘cash and carry’ deal.

So there I was, out and about late February 1961 with the summer temperature in the high 30s Celsius when I spotted steam coming from the coil (radiator) area. In the few seconds it took to pull over into the emergency lane it was hissing and spitting water everywhere. After what seemed an eternity I opened the bonnet and saw the cylinder head twisted and spewing out a mixture of oil and water. I contacted my eldest brother and together we towed my pride and joy to a garage just up the road from where we lived and left it to be repaired ‘as soon as possible, please’.

A week later the repairs were done, but it cost me just over £20. Ouch!

During 1961 the same thing happened again – not once, but twice – with the repair costs chewing into my savings big time. By Christmas 1961 I decided to sell it to recoup as much back as possible and to start saving again for my next car.

What’s that? How much did I get back? Sadly, it was less than £20.

In early 1962 I bought a bicycle to get around and saved every penny I could and earmarked my savings account ‘New Car’. It took the best part of 2 years plus the help of mum and dad to realise my new car dream when, in 1964, I became the proud owner of a Hillman Mark IV. Now there was posh.

See you later…

Barry Edge
Western Australia
June 9, 2018

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