One odd connection with my Dad's Douglas bike is the fact that later Douglas imported Vespa scooters which was my first ride also.

When we moved to Foxton in the early 1950s the only public transport was at a  bus stop for the once a week bus. That bustop was 1.5 miles away!  So your own transport was very useful.


Our family transport was this dark blue Douglas motorbike and sidecar.  All I can recall is that it had a gear lever up besides the fuel tank and Dad put a bag of cement in the sidecar to aid handling.


This little car was Ford’s first European car made between 1932 and 1937 and in basic form could be had for £100. So ours was probaby around 20 years old when we got it. It was notable for an almost complete lack of brakes!  I do not remember much about it other than it seemed to take forever to travel the 14 miles or so between Leicester and Foxton.

This mid 1930s car was a step up from the old Ford. It was dark red and had a light grey hood. This hood also had pram irons and could be folded halfway back to form what was known as the “de ville” position. This gave open air motoring to the front seats and enclosed motoring for the rear seats. The leather seats had pneumatic seat squabs instead of springs.


We once took a trip down to Brixham in Devon with it. As I suppose the cruising speed was in the 40 -50 mph range and the distance some 220 miles it was an epic all day event. I do remember that the head gasket blew whilst we were down there and consumed some valuable ice cream money in the repair.


This was in the days before the MOT and when the chassis rear spring shackle mount corroded away my father, in the true traditions of RAF engineering set to with sheet metal and fabricated a replacement part. I do not remember any welding involved so it was probably riveted and bolted into place.

This was the first car of Dad’s I got to drive.  It had a 1172 sidevalve engine with a three speed gearbox. It also had those annoying vacumm operated windscreen wipers. So when you were screaming along up a hill in a too low second gear and eventually changed up to top the amount of throttle needed to deal with the large gear ratio gap meant you had no wipers! Just what you wanted trying to pass a lorry in the rain.


At first this was a van, but if you were handy you could get a kit which converted it into an “estate” car. The kit consisted of a set of windows with mounting kit. These kits existed because you paid no purchase tax on a van but did on a proper estate version. I remember going to a scrap yard and getting two green leather seats for the front, very luxurious. Can’t remember what we did for the rear seats.