A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland


This is the life story of Richard “Dickie” Sutherland, a Baby Boomer growing up in Adelaide, South Australia during the golden era of the motor car.

The light bulb moment

Most Tuesdays I make a phone call to Darryl.

Darryl and I met when I was an apprentice as a Panel Beater, he was apprenticed as a Motor Mechanic. Over the years our friendship grew to the point he was the Best Man at my wedding and we’ve shared a strong friendship ever since.

The Tuesday phone call usually includes a car-related question that I need to resolve or a discussion about car-related topics. You could say that Darryl is my encyclopedia, my Wikipedia, my instruction manual for all things automotive. And cars are the one topic that we talk about every time we speak.

After my weekly call with Darryl ‘this week’ it occurred to me that cars have been the common, central focus of my life. So thank you Darryl for the years of wonderful friendship and for the idea behind A Life In Cars.

Cars have not been my whole life, but they have been a central focus.

They have also been a centre point for my working life and hundreds of adventures along the way.

After the phone call ‘this week’ it occurred to me that by combining the diaries, car log-books, car-related documentation and photographs I have collected throughout my life, I could create a great theme for the story of my life.

A Life In Cars is my life’s story and cars are the vehicle telling that story.

Darryl Horner and GTR Torana
Darryl with a GTR Torana, similar to the white one he owned.

How it all came about

Consolidating my possessions

A couple of years back, I was clearing out every room and every cupboard in our house and our garage and every nook and cranny I could find.

My wife, Carolyn and I, were making space for our daughter Sarah and her family, to move in with us while they built a new house.

We needed every spare inch to fit them in for 18 months while they lived with us.

Up inside the roof space in the garage, stored amongst the boxes, I found a collection of my diaries, ledgers, school workbooks, photos, slide photos, mementoes and trophies. These are forgotten bits and pieces I had collected throughout my life.

Looking at them I began to think that maybe it was time to give this collection some new relevance, in an easy-to-read format, so when the time comes… Others will know the deeper value of these items and if there is a need to keep or discard the collection.

Writing it all down for the future generations

A working life beginning as a Lecturer (Trade School Teacher) equipped me with skills in developing and writing workbooks.

I put these skills to use after retiring, as the Magazine Editor for the Triumph Sports Owners Association Car Club and writing the Sutherland family history. So naturally, this new idea and the process of cleaning out the house lead me to look at my collection of memorabilia with a new purpose.

I become motivated to sort and organise my collection of relics, valued possessions and memories. And doing so evoked memories that drove the need to bring it all together in a user-friendly format so that others could learn about my time growing up in the post-war period in South Australia.

Once started, I was captured by the nostalgia of it all and having attempted to write the Sutherland family history for the next generations, I also wanted to leave a detailed overview of my life and times.  

I didn’t have all that many details about my parents’ lives, so I wanted to leave something more tangible for my kids.

Part 1 of my life story – The Journeyman’s Trip

By combining the written, photographic and relics, I started to rediscover all of the memories and emotional ties connected to these items.

Many memories were long forgotten, whilst others I have held onto and cherished over the years. The process has also given me a new perspective on the life I have and new questions about the paths I travelled.

More recently I began the task of combining and preserving the handwritten stories, slide photographs and mementoes collected from an adventure three of my friends and I undertook. That has all come together in another story and you could say that that is the first part of my life story.  It is the story of “The Journeyman’s Trip.” The big overseas adventure that me and three mates took to the United Kingdom back in 1970-71.

Part 2 of my life story – A Life In Cars

The second part of my story is this collection of stories; A Life In Cars.

Informed in part by the diaries and books that I compiled throughout the years, and partly informed by a collection of financial ledgers (that I used to record and tally my car-related expenses), I am now piecing the story of A Life In Cars together.

A Life In Cars is part of my story, along with connections with other people along the way and also the social impact of the motor car; which become affordable for everyone to own after the Second World War.

I have written, questioned, and researched this theme in part to gain a better understanding of a life lived and to explore the impact of the motor car in the 1950s and beyond.

The year is 2023

Publishing the stories online

In around 2018, my son Nicholas had taken an interest in A Life In Cars and read the first printed version of my book from front to back.

However, it wasn’t until 2022 that he began talking about a blog.

He had been working with websites for a few years and talked about the benefits of publishing content online. With a website, we could expect easy sharing and therefore, a wider readership, plus hopefully, the longevity of the story with only small annual costs.

Thus in January of 2023, we began bringing the stories and images from Microsoft Publisher into WordPress. 

At the time of writing this, we are steadily adding new stories to this blog each week and look forward to completing the digital version of A Life In Cars.