Motoring Miscellany Fortunately the Ford cars did not stay long and family motoring looked up considerably when they were replaced in 1958 by much more acceptable wheels and introduced me to the MG marque. Pop bought a delectable MG Magnette ZB Varitone in a lovely two tone black and green whilst Mother had a green MG YB Type. As a result when Chris and I started legally driving we gained a reputation by Pop’s friends of being probably the fastest Learners in Sutton Coldfield. Obviously we tempered our style when we took our driving tests! Happy memories of the Magnette include going to the 1960 BRSCC International London Racing Car Show. In those halcyon days roads and the newly constructed M1 were quiet and on the then downhill concrete section of the motorway near St Albans we saw 100 mph on the clock – I guess an over optimistic speed but never mind, I thought it great. After passing my test those teenage years seemed wonderful – and we all have great youth stories to recount of some of our “madness”! My best friend was Jeremy Sadler, many will know of him as Josh Sadler of Autofarm Porsche fame. Jeremy and I were mad keen on cars and enviously he was given his brother in law’s Wolsey Hornet Special known as The Bullet in which we had some fantastic times. We had some super motoring events including when Josh was at Birmingham University with other engineering chums, amongst who was the late Harvey Postlethwaite of F1 fame. The Bullet mixed it with Harvey in his Morgan and in company with a Triumph TR4 and MG F1 Type. Both cars made a big impression on me as it was then I started to learn drive under age and then with L plates. At that time, late 1950s, one could drive unheeded on the “old” Fradley airfield, near Lichfield, adjoining the Curborough Sprint Track. Pop thought it would be ideal for him to teach Chris and I to drive – far more fun than the usual childhood of sitting on Dads’ lap and steering illegally! Pop was an excellent driver and brilliant in teaching us not only the rudiments of car control BUT REAL driving! So once we could handle the basics the next stage was technique and style. Fast cornering was essential and on the airfield we would be told when to brake and then accelerate hard to the point we had the Magnette in some lovely drifts! Pop indoctrinated us with “It is not the speed you go into the corner but the speed you come out!” - developing racing lines. My parents were incredibly generous and encouraging to Chris and me and after passing our driving tests we were allowed, on occasions, to use both the MGs, but woe betide damage!! Alyson and I met in 1962 and she was soon introduced to my world of motoring which competed with her interests in dinghy sailing - we enjoyed both but eventually motoring prevailed. Alyson soon experienced YB motoring which in itself was challenging as the car had a propensity, when driven hard, to go from understeer to oversteer! On a couple of occasions, glad to report when on my own, I managed to spin the car but mercifully with the quieter roads I got away with it bar perhaps new underwear! Of course I chose not to be such a show off to Alyson although she does recall a well-known 90 degree bend nearby, named by us young motoring bods as “hub cap corner”, which was, and still is today, clearly marked SLOW as you approach. To we motoring aficionados the challenge was the opposite – to accelerate and take as fast as you can, based of course on my Fradley training! I am glad to say the occasion did not deter Alyson’s enthusiasm for fast cars.
Motoring Miscellany In the 1950s and 1960s the family firm, Newton Oils, had a pit at Silverstone by the start line of the original Woodcote Corner, adjoining the Vandervell pit. The location was fantastic and on the many occasions going to the International Trophy Meetings and British Grand Prix one was allowed to happily mix with the motor racing fraternity and wander amongst the cars and drivers on the start line - ideal for my autograph hunting which included most of the signatures of that era! On a few occasions Tony Vandervell was present in support of his great Vanwall cars. In the early 1960s Pop starting thinking seriously about buying a vintage car which I thought was an excellent idea. His historic knowledge of models was immense but budgetary constraints meant that whilst Bentley 3 litres were high on the target list they were considered unaffordable at the astronomical price of £250 to £300! Instead attention turned to MG 18/80s - a model he considered desirable and in financial reach, recounting memories of these cars as a young man, whether sports or saloon models. Research started and we first saw an 18/80 at Tring in 1960/61 but Pop was not smitten as the car did not have an authentic body. Interestingly that MG, reg. no. SC 5297, was subsequently bought by John Cooper, fellow EMGS and MGCC Vintage Register member - John and I have often talked about that car. Contacts developed and via Pat Tennant , the then MGCC Vintage Secretary, Pop viewed and subsequently bought in 1963 from Commander John Guild, PL 8282 an 18/80 MK1 Speed Model, fitted with a Tigress body, for the princely sum of £160. Silverstone, early 1960s and a bespectacled & youthful Rodney stands behind Innes Ireland as he chats with Reg Parnell. The 18/80 in the 1950s at Aspall Hall, when owned by John Guild. Jack Brabham, Silverstone 1962, with Rodney peering in at top right corner. John Guild & Rex Kettel conduct pre-purchase negotiations. Exotic 1960s hardware – Ferrari 250 GTOs, E-Types & Aston Martins.