With our First car, first love competition now closed, here are ten cars that grabbed our attention, either because the car was pretty cool or it had an interesting story.
The car: Triumph Herald 13/60
What it fixed: Betty 2 helped Betony get to college.
Betony received Betty 2 when she was 18, as a gift from her dad. "It was tax exempt, so perfect for a first car," she explains. "Her number plate was YBT which stood for ’You Beautiful Triumph’. The footwell and roof leaked, and she had a house speaker plugged into a Walkman for a stereo!"
But despite it all Betony wouldn’t have had her first car any other way. Sadly Betty 2 met an untimely end when an uncoupled farm trailer wrote her off.
The car: VW-Porsche 914
What it fixed: Climber let Vanessa stay in touch with mates, get to college and go on road trips.
Vanessa’s first car was a rare, and incredibly desirable, VW-Porsche 914.
According to Vanessa: "Climber was one of only seven converted by Crayford to right-hand drive."
Crayford Auto Developments were famed for their range of conversions, so it’s no wonder Vanessa has such fond memories of Climber. "Plus it was a soft top and red!" she adds.
The car: Rover Mini
What it fixed: Winston helped Sarah stay in touch with friends and get to work on time.
They say pets are like their owners, but what about cars? Winston and Sarah certainly shared at least one characteristic: "He was the coolest Mini ever. He was tiny like me, he had a Union Jack roof, and a Dixie horn!"
Minis have been a firm favourite throughout the competition, perhaps because these loveable icons distill driving down to its essence, although Winston wasn’t a speedmobile, as Sarah reveals. "He couldn't go over 50mph, struggled with speed bumps, and would only start via a choke knob. But he was the greatest car I've ever had and I would do anything for him to be back in my life! #findwinston."
The Custard Demon
The car: Datsun Cherry
What it fixed: This cheerful Datsun allowed Victoria to get to work, go on road trips and maintain friendships.
Unlike most of our entrants Victoria knows where The Custard Demon currently resides: "It's been parked up for a decade unused, unloved (with another yellow Datsun)."
Like a lot of first cars that have been put forward, The Custard Demon had its fair share of faults. "It stayed parked up for six months until I'd passed my test. Lots of work later, Custard was out tearing up the North West roads and endlessly breaking down," Victoria remembers, but some of Custard’s problems weren’t its fault. "I never forgave myself for reversing it into a bollard and denting the chrome."
The car: Vauxhall Corsa
What it fixed: Speedy did the whole shebang: got Cora to college, work, took her on road trips and helped her hang out with her mates.
Cora’s Corsa will always be special to her, simply by virtue of being her first car. But as she recalls, she had a bit of a love-hate relationship with it: "I feared driving it - but other than that, it was fantastic!"
The car: Ford Escort 1.3L
What it fixed: This baby blue Escort let Hazel meet up with her friends, and someone even more important.
Once you get your first car, you wonder how you ever managed without it. As Hazel recalls, owning her Escort meant she could "finally go to the seaside without taking two buses and a train to get there, and the same back."
But her Escort played a much bigger part in her life than day trips with friends. "Most importantly, I’d never have met my husband without it. We met on a target rifle range and I couldn't take my rifle on the bus! We've been happily married for over 30 years now."
Herman the German
The car: VW Beetle
What it fixed: Thanks to Herman, Steve could get to his job and enjoyed road trips.
"Herman was my first love. He was noisy and brash and had a steering wheel the size of a bus, but I loved him," Steve recalls.
Like so many first cars, there was something about the tangible aspects of Herman that Steve looks back on fondly: "I can still hear the jugga-jugga-jugga noise of his engine and the heady whiff of petrol in the cabin (he was leaking somewhere). We said auf wiedersehen when I was 20, and I like to think he misses me, as much as I miss him."
Winston (another one)
The car: Land Rover Defender 110
What it fixed: Everything. Winston did it all.
First cars tend not to be pretty, but Andy’s Land Rover Defender looked like it had been in the wars, because it had. "Having just been spat out of the Ministry of Defence, my Land Rover lay up in a field lusting to be called up to the front line again for a new driver. Inevitably, it was love at first sight."Named after Winston Churchill, this hulking behemoth was Andy’s reliable companion for years: "Camping, off-roading, my first date, hospital trips, job interview transport, wedding car, rowing boat transporter, snow plough, photography mule, support vehicle. He conquered and did it all!"
The car: Mini Cooper
What it fixed: This pint-sized powerhouse saw Craig through college and into the big wide world of work.
A common theme among many of our entries is the unreliable and often un-drivability of first cars. They tend to be shop-worn survivors on their last legs, but Craig has fond memories of his Mini: "It was an original Mini, and she was just so much fun to drive. Plus, when it snowed, it was the only car that moved on the road because all the other cars were rear-wheel drive in those days."
The car: Morris Mini
What it fixed: Gladys kept Claire in touch with friends and got her to college in style.
If first cars do anything it’s this: they open up a new world of freedom. No more public transport, or getting lifts off mum and dad or an older sibling. Once you have your first car the world runs on your schedule. And so it was for Claire: "Gladys gave me so much independence. I could go to places I hadn't been before."
We had many, many more entries than we ever could’ve imagined, and after a tortuous judging process, we’ve chosen a winner: Ali Campbell, and her Nissan Figaro, named Mozart.
Ali is 37 years old, lives in London and works in media, performing music on the side. Here’s her entry:
"I used to be a professional musician (which is why I called my car Mozart!) playing at weddings and events – my lovely Figaro helped me to scoot around country churches and hotels with my string quartet. Mozart wasn't very big inside so the cello had to poke out of the window. The only problem was that it kept breaking down, I was never quite sure if I was going to make it to the church on time to play the bride down the aisle… we had a lot of near misses!"