A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland

Richard in the driver’s seat, with Donald and his Clyno.


Donald’s Freedom Machine

At 16, my brother Donald had his drivers licence and his first job. And the cheapest second hand cars at the time were 4 door tourers. Enter the Clyno...!

Speaking of brother Donald, when he got his driver’s license in 1953, cars were few and in high demand. 

Four-door tourers of the 1920s and 30s were the cheapest cars available, after the war years of the 1940s had limited car production. 

Automobile manufacturers in Australia were switching from the War effort to developing and producing new cars, but could not meet the demand for affordable, new cars for working families.  

Donald, at 16, had his driver’s license and his first job,

Apprentice Auto Electrician.

The cheapest second-hand cars in the 1950s were the tourers of the 1920s.  Enter the Clyno 4-door tourer. Donald paid £20 for the Clyno “the best of all the early cars he owned” he often said.

The Clyno is powered by a 10.8hp. 1,368c.c. four-cylinder Coventry Climax engine, a 3-speed gearbox, electric lighting, featured four-wheel brakes and balloon tyres.

An example of a Clyno survivor taken recently.

Donald remembers Clyno, brakes were the best brakes of any car he ever had. It was a great all-terrain vehicle with great ground clearance, although it had a tendency to snap axles which he put down to the action of the inverted clutch.  

Like most cars of that time, Donald was always working on the Clyno. 

He repainted it black with a brush which was an acceptable method in those days.  When Mum recovered the family lounge suite, Donald reused the old lounge suite covers to re-upholster the front seat of the Clyno.  The brown velour fabric was very comfortable to sit on.  Sweet.

One time Donald could not get the Clyno to start. 

He would turn the crank handle trying to bring the motor to life with little to no avail. 

Yes, crank handle.

A six-volt battery was not quite adequate for a well-worn motor. 

Sitting in the driver’s seat I was instructed to put my foot here or there. Or hold some lever or knob while he cranked. 

I noticed each time he cranked if I pressed the silver button on the floor (with my left foot), the motor with kick momentarily.  Donald didn’t acknowledge that technique.

I later realised that pressing the dipswitch would in, would no way assist with starting a motor.  Hey, at that time I was making a real contribution. I was! 

The cars of the 20s and 30s were ideal all-terrain vehicles, providing fun for all.

Donald’s group of mates would take their car away at every opportunity out into the country camping and shooting. The boys camped out, hunting rabbits and driving over the countryside.

Along with the adventure of camping and hunting, they gained an education in fixing the cars; when and if they broke down on their outback adventures. 

Donald with his mates would take the Clyno out on Saturdays and Sundays cruising the local area, into town, or to the beaches, at any opportunity. 

On weekends whenever I could (I was about 8 or 9 years old) I would jump into the back seat when the boys were going for a drive.  More often my presence would be bought to Donald’s attention at which I was ordered out of the car. 

When I get my license, “that was the style of car I was going to get” I thought.

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