A Life In Cars

The life story of Dickie Sutherland

1963

Starting Work & Buying My First Car

I started work on 14 February 1963 as an apprentice Panel Beater.money I had saved until this time. But equally, limited by my lack of knowledge of what was available to buy.

I started work on 14 February 1963 as an apprentice Panel Beater. It was almost as if a switch had been flicked ‘On’ inside me. I almost instantly became ‘mad keen’ on buying my first car. To drive to work, Trade School, and weekend adventures.
The cars on offer in my price range were very limited and not 4-door tourers of the 1920s and 30s to be seen. Well limited due to the lack of money I had saved until this time. But equally, limited by my lack of knowledge of what was available to buy.

The two main contenders were a Riley 1.5 or 2.5 litre, and a FJ Holden. In the upper price bracket, also the Wolseley 444, with more subtle styling but quite a bit more expensive. The Jaguar MkV, real British style, a bit bigger car, MkIV more saloon than a sportscar, they oozed British ’pucker’ appeal to a young guy.
The asking price for an FJ was £300 or more. The two Riley models £150 to 300.
Rileys had bucket seats, leather trim, a wood grain dash and trim and a ‘four on the floor’ gearbox. It was styled in the shape of a British sporting saloon. “Very pomp and proper,” I thought.

MKIV Jaguar

The FJ Holden was a locally built car. Popular, it offered cheaper spares. It was a three-speed column shift, had bench seats and was a little more expensive.

1948 Holden (FX), the forerunner to the FJ, was very popular, and more expensive.

One particular day my girlfriend and I were travelling by bus, which was a common form of transport for a lad without a car. She mentioned that wherever we travelled, I was always looking out the window at the car yards, everyone we passed. I’m not sure if she was making a general observation or that I should have been paying more attention to her!
Anyways, my favourite car at the time was the Riley 2.5. However, the £150 asking price seemed to be a lifetime of savings away and I was getting older by the day. My pay was £6.00 a flat week with expenses, board £2.00, and other treats there was little disposable cash for saving.

Bucket seats, 4 on the floor, wooden dash, armour or leather and wood.

Reading the advertisements in the Advertiser I would daydream about the sumptuous interiors, the aroma of the leather-covered bucket seats, the class of the wood grain dash, the appeal of the four-speed floor gear change, the flowing lines of the body styling. “What a car,” I dreamed while making notes on the trend in values.

Keep saving less dreaming, one day, one day.

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