Classic influences from childhood.

2 replies [Last post]
Joined: 2011-06-04

I was going to write into the magazine with this but, as there is no guarantee that it would be printed, I thought I'd post it here instead because I think it's an interesting subject and I'd love to see everyone's response.

I was recently wondering why, as a 17 year old who had just passed his test (first time of course!), I was adamant that I did not want a British car. Then I began to think about where I grew up and whether that had had an influence on my taste.

I also thought that it would make for interesting reading if I opened up the question to a larger audience, so here goes. The topic is: "Cars that you grew up with or regularly saw in your neighbourhood." I'll kick it off.

I grew up in a nice wee village just on the outskirts of Glasgow, from 1966 until 1986, when I left for London. It was a small cul-de-sac of six houses, four terraced (including my parents') and two semi-detached bungalows. Fairly normal, upper working/lower middle class area. Within the terraced row, there was a lawyer, a civil servant, a bookkeeper (my father) and a retired widow (can't remember what her occupation was). So far, so normal, you may think. But the interesting part, I think, is the choice of cars. The lawyer always drove Alfa Romeos, mainly 105/115 series but moved later to the Alfetta GTV. The civil servant next door always drove a Citroen GS, perhaps sparking my fondness for the marque which continues to this day. My father couldn't really afford a car but we were given, at different times, a VW Beetle (FXS 856G- I think) and a lilac Morris Minor (Chuggaboom- BTM 558C). The old lady next to us always drove Fiats, bought from a local dealer named Parker's who was at one time, strangely enough, the only Morgan dealer in Scotland. Across the road, one house was occupied by an elderly widow who did not drive and the other by my uncle who is the man responsible for my love of cars. An architect, he loved cars and always drove something interesting. My earliest memory (with photographic evidence) is of me sitting, holding the massive steering wheel and beaming at the camera in the driving seat of his big, black, Mercedes 190 Ponton.

So, apart from the Morris (which we only had a short while and was a gift, rather than a choice) not a Brit in sight! Of course, outside that little cul-de-sac world, there were British cars, around the corner and up the hill and on the A80 just down the road, I saw plenty of different makes, but I do wonder just how big an impact this little environment, with its choice of car, had on me as I grew up. I now drive a (officially classic as of this year) 1988 BMW E34 520i. Of course, whilst growing up, I was also a regular reader of Motor, Autocar, Car, Motor Sport, Thoroughbred and Classic Cars, Classic Cars etc. and these magazines may also have played a part in influencing my taste.

Now, it's your turn! What kind of cars did you grow up with and do you think it has influenced your choice of car ever since?


MrBenovich's picture
Joined: 2011-04-12


Hmmm. an interesting topic.

My early childhood motoring memories are with a lot of British telecom vans. My father, back then, was just an engineer and it was his daily workhorse. Bizzarely a early 1980s Dodge BT van came up for sale at auction fairly recently - which took me back a bit. It was only a few years later did my father have enough spare cash to indulge his passion of cars. A cream/tan Triumph 2000 complete with brown lether interior (with a bench seat) was one of his first, a Mark II Escort 1300e, then a blue Sunbeam Alpine followed (regrets of not getting the Tigert were a common dinner time discussion later in life), then a bright red Mini Cooper before moving to moderns when mum complained of poor quslity and comfort.

I was probably a little too young to appreciate them all back then, though remember vividly where my enthusiast for 'classic' cars started. Watching the 1976 Charles Bail movie - The Gumball Rally on TV in the early '80s. The main race, of course, being Cobra vs Ferrari. Naturally I wanted to grow up to buy a Cobra (since it won the race) and had a plethora of model Cobra's at home (all blue of course). Sadly, I am still chasing that dream, but have been a fan of them, and cars in general, ever since. 

The only other influence was via my father being a lifelong subscriber to Classic & Sports Car which always had pride of place on top of the coffee table at home. My brother and I would only dare sneak a look at the images and classifieds when we wasn't in the room. The other title he read, as he was a bit of a tinkerer, was Practical Classics - which was under the table alongside Radio Times, Railway Modeller and Land Rover Owners mag...


Joined: 2014-01-03

I think I have personally been lagely influenced by TV but also my sense of adventure and desire to have something unique. I have always been fond of cars that would be a rare sight if you were to see one so I guess that's why I am so fond of american classics such as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. Coming closer to home, I'd say some of the old BMW's are fantastic cars. The 76' E9 is beautiful.