Clare's first car, Tom the Corsa

Ben Cooper
Written by: Ben Cooper
Posted on: 23 March 2016

As part of our mission to reunite someone with their first ever car, we’ve been asking people for their memories of their first cars.

Here, Clare Mansell who blogs at maybushstudio.com reminisces about Tom, her beloved Vauxhall Corsa.

My first car was a Vauxhall Corsa creatively called Tom because it was red and therefore looked a bit like a tomato.

I was quite a reluctant learner driver and hadn't really taken to driving a manual, so in a desperate attempt to get on the road, I went back and started from scratch in an automatic. After one failed driving test, I passed on my second attempt in an auto and was let loose on the roads!

Like many new drivers my first car was a gift from my parents and when I got it I was absolutely terrified to drive it in case I had a crash. In fact I was so scared to get behind the wheel that when a friend of mine came round to see it, I insisted on taking the handbrake off and pushing it out of the garage rather than starting the engine!

Fortunately that friend did me a massive favour and helped me get over my fear in a rather sneaky way. He suggested we drive round the block and he would sit in the passenger seat for moral support. Five minutes down the road he asked me to pull over, then jumped out of the passenger door and told me to make my own way home!

Clare's first car, Tom the Corsa

After that I was absolutely fine driving by myself, so much so that in my first two years of driving I put 45,000 miles on Tom's clock zipping up and down the motorway. At the time I was living in south London and working in Whitstable presenting a late-night radio show, taking over every evening from a now infamous broadcaster called Jeremy Kyle! So Tom the Corsa met some rather interesting characters in his time with me.

The mileage I covered during the time I was working in Kent was so vast that I used to have to fill the car up every other day, though fortunately fuel was a bit cheaper then and it only used to cost me £20. My dad who had seen me struggle to get to grips with driving was slightly horrified when he discovered I was doing about 1,000 miles a week and told me I wasn't supposed to drive it quite that much!

Although Tom was an automatic, he didn't have too many other exciting features, I'm not even sure he had a CD player. The one thing I really remember that was lacking was air conditioning. I recall being stuck in some long queues on the motorway during the summer months and arriving at my destination being rather hot and sweaty and feeling like I was stuck to the driver's seat.

Tom was eventually replaced (I'd worn him out) by another Vauxhall Corsa, this one had air-conditioning and metallic paint, but despite the new model's flashy credentials he was never as special to me as that first hatchback... I wonder where my old Corsa is now?

If you’ve ever thought about reuniting with your first car, enter First car, first love and if your story wins, we’ll track it down.

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