I’m a Baby Boomer who grew up in Adelaide, the relatively small capital city of South Australia.
This month the theme of Times Past is, “Wheels” and what excitement there always was anticipating a “new set of wheels”.
The first family car I remember was a big black one, The Oracle, ie big brother, tells me it was a 1938 Pontiac. I can still remember sitting in the back seat when Dad drove Mum to hospital for my sister’s birth when I was 3 years old. It had what are now referred to as “suicide doors”, I just remember sitting lost in the big bench seat of the cavernous, dark vehicle.
The next one, a Ford Thames estate car, I remember more for the associated angst than anything else. Dad bought it from a cousin who worked for “Dependable Motors” and there seemed to be one problem after another with it. I guess it appeared perfect for a family with five children. The first time I rode in it was when I was picked up from the railway station after a holiday at my auntie’s in Port Pirie. I tried to wangle my way into the front seat but obviously absence hadn’t made the heart grow fonder. I had to sit behind on the bench seat for two and behind that was another bench seat. The only other memory I have of it was sleeping under the stars beside it and Dad spending hours under it after it broke down about 2 hours into a planned long holiday. There is no family photo of the car, not suprisingly!
I don’t ever remember the 1954 Vanguard, Spacemaster breaking down and over the years we went from one side of Australia to the other. It had big bench seats front and back. I can remember shortly after I got my license reversing it out of the driveway and getting it caught in the wire of the gate. The gate was open at the time I just didn’t manage to keep a straight line! Thinking back I have no idea how I managed to drive it at all, the bench seat was set up for Dad and I always felt the car drove me not the other way around. The Vanguard was eventually put out to pasture in the back yard and stayed rusting there until Dad died and it went for scrap.
I’d left home when Dad got the Valiant but I did get to drive it a few times and was most impressed.
Not once in his life did Dad get a brand new car.
Before I was born Mum did drive but the story was that one day when she was driving in the city the car got stuck on some tram lines. Mum bundled my brothers out, got home somehow and told Dad where he could find the car. After I got my license Mum “bought me” a Ford Consul at a local auction for $65. Some days after it arrived home Mum got me to sit with her in the car, when she asked, “Which one is the brake pedal?” my heart sank. She’d never had to sit a test to get her license but surreptisiously kept renewing it until she decided she was going to drive again. Fortunately she never did but if Dad was driving anywhere in busy traffic and we spoke to Mum she’d say, “Don’t distract me, I’m driving!”
10 thoughts on “Times Past: Wheels”
Just loved this post Sue and your photos are priceless and certainly show ‘Times Past’. We certainly went in for the big cars. Why were they called “suicide doors”? You learning to drive sounds like me and I wonder what happened to the traffic the day your Mum left the car on the tram tracks. Wonderful memories of wheels. Thanks for joining in.
The doors were apparently very dangerous, if there was a shunt there was a tendency for the doors to fly open and people were propelled out since there were no seatbelts holding them in. No childproof locks on the doors either!
Lucky the roads were poorer and people didn’t travel so fast probably none of us would have survived. Thanks for explanation. 🙂
My brother told me he hated the Ford Thames because it only went 30 mph and he and Dad drove over 200 miles in it one day. Probably the longest journey it ever made!
That would have made for a long trip.
My mom also, was an excellent backseat driver (as we refer to it here in South Africa) and when my Dad dared to go too fast, she pinched him until he slowed down.
We also use the term “backseat driver” and Mum definitely had all the necessary qualifications. Once when I was driving we were stopped at lights, as soon as they changed she told me I could go. I said, “I can’t”. About 5 mins later she asked me why I’d said I couldn’t go when the light was green so I informed her the car in front of me hadn’t moved and I didn’t fancy having a crash!
Haha that’s a good one!