When I was a kid we had a black Ford Prefect.
This was something quite special as most homes didn’t have a car. They were generally considered to be an expensive luxury and people relied on buses, bikes or their own two feet.
There were two things I remembered that car for – holidays and Sunday Drives. A drive on Sunday was nearly always part of the week’s routine, in Summer anyway. We would discuss where we wanted to go (though actually I had little say in the matter). We would head off and end up somewhere and have a picnic at some lake or river. I loved those Sunday drives.
Being an engineer my father loved tinkering with the car. The two jobs he seemed fascinated with were adjusting his tappets and greasing his nipples. Sometimes I would be allowed to go around the car with the grease gun. The nipples were mostly on the suspension and my job was to place the gun firmly on a nipple and then press the plunger. That would force grease through into the joints to prevent wear.
Cars in those days were pretty elementary. Ventilation was achieved by winding a large butterfly-nut on the dashboard which moved the whole windscreen out on hinges. There were no flashing indicator lights. You warned other drivers of your intentions by using hand signals or in the case of our car by flicking a little switch on the steering column which flicked out little orange semaphore flags on the sige of the car. Those flags were always getting replaced as some smart bastard on the pavement would snap them off as we passed, just for the laugh.
Another regular job was starting the car by cranking. If the battery was low in charge my mother would sit behind the wheel while my father would retrieve the crank handle from the boot, insert it through the hole in the front bumper and then crank like mad until the engine started.
My father had had a tow bar fitted to the car, so several summers we would hire a caravan and head West. One summer we were holidaying in Donegal when a lorry ran into the front of the car. It was badly damaged but my father carefully drove back to the caravan, removed the wing and the front bumper and sat, battering the pieces of steel with a rock until they were back in shape. Cars in those days were strictly DIY!
They don’t make ’em like that any more.