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THE FINAL CHAPTER - MY FIRST CAR!
Well now, my first car!
Everyone has to tell the story of their first car. Mine was, of course, a cracker. And, I’m pleased to say, It was a good ‘Aussie’ car (or, at least, a good aussie engine!). It was a 1978 Ford TE Cortina; the model with the big Australian 4.1 litre straight 6 crammed in there under the bonnet! In the UK there were 4 cylinder and smaller capacity V6 variants, but only down here in Oz was such a brutish little beastie allowed! It was a relatively small car by today’s standards, but was built (and looked) like a brick. It went outrageously fast in a straight line (with that big engine) but never went outrageously well around corners (in fact, it went outrageously badly around corners!!).
I got my driver’s license on my 17th birthday, and very soon after my dad came with me to pick it up from the dealer. Off I went in it, and I remember the first thing my dad said when we got home: “don’t ever let me see you do that again you maniac!” Apparently, without me knowing it, on leaving the dealership I had screeched the tires all the way across two lanes of traffic to the other side of the road to get going. The car was just so light for so much power (and the dealer’s tires were rubbish!)! I was still in grade 12 (3 months to go) and was one of the first amongst my friends to actually DRIVE to school! I was so pleased with myself!
Over the 4 years that I owned this car I tinkered madly with it! There’s a great shot there with my girlfriend’s Datsun 180B … they were the cars of times! People’s first cars were these, Holden Geminis and Toranas, old Valiants, and of course Falcons and Commodores! We had been working hard on my dad’s old 1971 XY Falcon for years, so the tinkering bug was well and truly in my veins. First came the engine … “ported and polished the heads” (sounds important, no?), changed the exhaust (they told me it was a “stainless steel system” … they lied), considered extractors (but couldn’t afford them!), actually had side-skirts made for the car (side-skirts! On a Cortina! Check out the photos!), spotlights fitted under the bumper, fitted the more modern looking grill from the later TF model Cortina, and then actually re-sprayed the car, just myself and a mate, from blue to red (a major endeavour!). Thus, the first photos you see it’s blue … the last are red! And in the end it looked SPECTACULAR! Some of my best post-graduation & early university memories involve that car!
I was really proud of that old car, it was bullet-proof, as many of the older, heavy and ‘pre-plasticated’ cars were (and especially with that big falcon engine!). It’s only when I look back on it that I realise it was just a Cortina! But that’s the thing with your first car, isn’t it? No matter what it is, it’s special. I was sad to say goodbye to my old friend but it was when I was preparing to go overseas (which is the subject of another story … see THAT blog about travelling the world by road!) and it just needed to find a new owner. As time went on, after it was gone from my life, it turned out there were things wrong with the car that I honestly never even had a clue about! If I had been as good at tinkering with cars then as I am now I would have picked them in an instant (and fixed them), but life’s a steep learning curve. The girl I sold it to is actually a dear friend to this day and, I think, is probably reading this! Hi Nessie! Sorry for any grief the car gave you … I was genuinely ignorant of any gremlins and sincerely loved that car!
“It was just a Cortina …”, but there’s a hell of a lot of my long-term mates, as well as myself, who remember that odd, 4.1 litre, 6 cylinder, red “Super-Cortina” with real sentiment! It was my first car.