Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Memories -

I guess that most of us re­mem­ber our first car. Mine was an old 1957 green Hill­man Minx. Back in the days when au­to­matic trans­mis­sion was a lux­ury op­tion, I had a man­ual with a col­umn change. Those were the days be­fore car radios or seat belts were in­stalled. Re­mem­ber hav­ing a por­ta­ble tran­sis­tor ra­dio hang­ing from the rear view mir­ror? No FM ra­dio in those days only AM. The days be­fore cars had in­di­ca­tor lights, al­though some did have a very small yel­low arm that stuck out about three or four inches from the col­umn along­side be­side the win­dows at the side of the car; mostly though you had to use hand sig­nals. I no­tice that some driv­ers to­day still use hand sig­nals how­ever I don’t think two fin­gers stuck in the air in­di­cates where you are go­ing.

That first car - you would wash and pol­ish un­til it gleamed in the sun­light; the in­de­pen­dence that you felt when you no longer had to ask dad to drive you some­where; all your mates pil­ing in and go­ing for spin around the neigh­bour­hood; be­ing able to take some­one spe­cial to the drive-in movies; driv­ing along on a sum­mer’s day with the win­dows wound down to let the breeze in be­cause you had no air­con­di­tion­ing.

You would con­sider go­ing for a coun­try drive, just be­cause you could. The coun­try drives were much closer back then. A drive to Camp­bell­town was con­sid­ered a coun­try drive as you drove along Camp­bell­town Rd, be­fore the mo­tor­ways were built. Now it is all houses and sub­urbs driv­ing to Camp­bell­town from any­where else in met­ro­pol­i­tan Syd­ney. With the way that Syd­ney is grow­ing it will soon be the same with Wind­sor. Box Hill be­tween Rouse Hill and Wind­sor is now be­ing sub­di­vided for homes. The first week­end I had my first car, I spent an hour or two wash­ing it and then de­cided to go for a drive (from Cabra­matta) and just kept go­ing, end­ing up in Can­berra hav­ing to stop oc­ca­sion­ally to re­fill the ra­di­a­tor.

Re­mem­ber when driv­ing up a steep hill you and your pas­sen­gers would rock back­wards and for­wards on your bench seats to en­cour­age the car to make it to the top of the hill, whilst say­ing to the ma­chine “C’mon, you can do it”. Once at the top of the hill, be­cause you did not have power as­sisted brakes or power steer­ing, you could turn the mo­tor off and let it roll down the other side keep­ing your foot hov­er­ing over the foot­brake pedal. Such were the days. You may have given your car a nick­name such as “Old Betsy” or a very pop­u­lar “Rolls can Hardly” for rolls well down­hill but hardly goes up­hill.

Most cars also had bench seats with no con­sole be­tween the pas­sen­ger and the driver and no seat belts you could sit close to­gether. Good for young cou­ples that’s for sure. Talk­ing of seats, my wife once had a boyfriend in her younger days whose first car lacked a seat on the pas­sen­ger side and she was forced to sit on a pile of cush­ions. She soon gave that boy the flick.

You could dec­o­rate or fancy up your car with such novel­ties as a dog whose head would bounce up and down which you could put on the top of the dash or in the rear win­dow. You may have had a shark’s tooth hang­ing from the rear view mir­ror. Oil com­pa­nies such as Esso (re­mem­ber that brand?) would make avail­able a tiger’s tail for you to hang from the petrol cap of the car. And talk­ing of petrol brands who re­mem­bers “Stan the Man” from the Golden Fleece ser­vice sta­tion chain? That was when Ser­vice Sta­tions pro­vided ser­vice. Check your oil and wa­ter Sir? You would be asked. “How about your tyres?” The at­ten­dant would fill your tank and wipe your wind­screen.

In­stead of a GPS you re­lied on a street directory to find your way from one point to an­other or per­haps strip maps from the NRMA or from ser­vice sta­tions when go­ing on coun­try or in­ter­state trips.

Mo­tor­ing in the 1950s and 60s was a real ad­ven­ture, pulling over at the side of the road for a pic­nic lunch or per­haps call­ing into a Greek café on the main street of a coun­try town for din­ner. The days be­fore the fast food chains of McDon­ald’s or Hun­gry Jacks etc mo­nop­o­lised the trade.

Fond mem­o­ries? Yes in­deed.

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