1956 Austin Healey

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Between 1952 and 1972 Austin and Donald Healey Motors produced a series of sports cars, which have become highly collectible. After Donald Healey’s death in 1988 The Times observed: ‘The big Healey’s brutally firm ride, heavy steering and engine so close it would roast a driver’s feet never detracted from the superb, timeless styling and classic proportions.’ Don’t make ’em like that anymore.

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Ford Cortina

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My sister’s boyfriend had one of these, only his was a mustard colour. I used to enjoy sliding into the back seat, cruising the back streets of Johnsonville – Abba belting out SOS from the cassette player on the parcel shelf. Slightly on the too loud side, speakers rattling. Sis was partial to a bit of Abba back then but who cared, this was a Mark 1 Cortina and we were cruisin’. The Boyfriend was probably wondering why the little brother was always in tow, but that never really occurred to me. Sis and the Boyfriend up front, me in the back with Abba having my own party, maybe it wasn’t such a big deal. To be honest, Johnsonville wasn’t that glam – twice around the block was enough before the lure of the bright lights drew us to ‘The Mall’ – this is where it really happened in Johnsonville on Friday night, I can tell you.

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Triumph Vitesse 1600

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Back in the 1920s there was a guy called Adolph Rickenbacker who realised nobody was making electric guitars. In fact, he realised nobody had even invented one. Along came another guy, George Beauchamp, who had a patent for an electric guitar but didn’t know what an electric guitar was yet. So between them, they invented one. It had a very long neck and small round body and they said ‘Hey, it’s a fry pan’. Fry pan was already taken so George said ‘What shall we call it then, Rickenbacker?’ and Adolph said ‘OK, let’s call it Rickenbacker’. So that was settled and they started making guitars. As is often the way with guitar sales, the ebbs and flows are affected by who is playing what and when. One afternoon, while test driving a new bright red Vitesse, a young fella called John spotted one in a shop window. John immediately rang Ed Sullivan and said ‘Hey Ed, I can get you a Rickenbacker on your show, what do you reckon?’. So John, with some of his mates, went to America for the now legendary ‘1964 Rickenbacker appearance’ on the Ed Sullivan show. Not long after, John’s mates George and Paul joined the Rickenbacker club. Then John noticed everyone had Rickenbacker’s except poor ol’ Ringo, who only had drums – so John gave Ringo one he didn’t want and that’s how the four lads from Liverpool became The Rickles. What?

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Morris Minor Traveller

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When my wife was a design student some years ago, her car of choice was a Morry. Common to students at the time, insurance was beyond her budget once the weekly pub expenses were covered (she has always had an admirable sense of priority). She also has a strong sense of social responsibility and having no insurance was something of a burden. With this in mind, she developed a strategy to keep her, and her fellow motorists, safe on the road. Every panel on her Morry was painted a different colour. Rough as guts its was. My wife (who was always ‘very creative’, according to her mum) regarded it as a work of art, others regarded it an old banger. Whether a work of art or old banger, it made other drivers nervous. Change lanes on the motorway, no problem, everyone stayed clear. Park at the supermarket, no problem, everyone stayed clear. Shoot an orange light, no problem, everyone stayed clear. Worked a treat it did, never so much as a scratch.

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