The year was 1996. And after what felt like a million lessons and the hardest test in the world, I passed my driving test on the second attempt.
My first car was technically my Mum’s. But I used to drive it every where. It was a light blue/green Austin Metro. It had a manual choke, which probably says as much about my age as it does the age of the car. Needless to say it was not the kind of car that required car finance deals, but I loved it.
Yes that is me circa 1996. Spot the scrunchie and Athena posters.
I spent virtually my entire student loan on petrol for that car doing the 70 mile round trip to Uni everyday. Plus the amount of times my Dad would fill up the tank for me.
My Granddad paid for my membership to the AA every year I was at uni and he really got his moneys worth. I was on first name terms with the local AA men. Especially the one that towed me all the way home from Uni!
I had a really bad habit of locking my keys in the car and was helped out by several kind / questionable men who broke into my car for me so I could retrieve the keys. It was surprisingly easy to do.
By the time the car was retired there was a weed growing in the drivers foot-well.
But I really really loved that car. I drove that car to college, to University, then job interviews, to part time jobs and my first ever proper job.
I listened to mix tapes that I had made specially for the car with my friends, and we sang along to MMMBop and Ironic with the windows down and the volume loud.
And it went some. I think the term would be like sh*t of a shovel. I used to bomb past fancy sports cars on the A31. The drivers did a double take of my little metro flying down the road, whilst they ate my dust!
It was the car that a police man stopped me from driving because it leaked two tiny drops of petrol. I was trying to get to my final exam at Uni. The police man didn’t care. Dad to the rescue again.
It was the car that I drove our dog to the vets in the day we didn’t get to bring him home.
The car that I drove to rescue my best friend from a party where she had had too much to drink.
It was the car that my brother drove into my parents caravan, which not coincidentally was the first time I had ever seen my Dad truly angry.
The car that my boyfriend and I drove to the Isle of Wight for my first ever holiday with a boy.
It was the car that taught me how to navigate the New Forest ponies. And cows. And deer.
Tthe car that saw my mum hanging on for dear life and actually screaming whilst I drove. To be fair I was still a learner and my Mum is the worst backseat driver. It’s also fair to say that after turning up at my grandparents house with my Mum, and myself crying, and my little brother proclaiming he thought he was going to die, all future driving practice was with my Dad.
I drove that car in sunshine with no air-con and wind down windows. In rain so heavy it came inside. I drove it through snow and the thickest fog I have ever seen.
That car gave me my freedom.
Looking back I am amazed it didn’t give me any speeding tickets or points on my licence.
After 4 years I upgraded it to something that didn’t need to be hit with a hammer to start in the rain. But I’ll never forget my little metro.
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