This  was a Mini Van - registration 199 YRB

    In 1966 the only car I ever wanted was a Cortina Mk 1.They were brilliant - and those rear lights..........even Ian likes them.  My good friend Paul Eastburn used to borrow his grandfatherís Mk1 GT and boy did we have some fun in it!  However, the first car I actually bought - in 1967 was a minivan and minis are never forgotten.  The van was bought from a family friend, Norman Robson ĖSmith having been abandoned for 6 months in the car park of the Apollo Club, Holderness Road, Hull.  Norman had been told to remove it so it was very cheap!  A new battery was fitted, Paul played with it and it was driven home.

    I had yet to pass my driving test, indeed I couldnít even drive a car but I bragged that I could drive the car into my fatherís garage, which I did. Unfortunately I didnít stop and hit the end wall of the garage. On examining the car for damage we discovered the wings were so rotten the headlamps had pushed back into the wings without so much as cracking the glass. This incident did teach me an important lesson in life.........learn where the brake-pedal is!

    No problem, my dad ( Wilf ) was a precision engineer, and he completely rebuilt the front end of the mini with fibreglass sheets with much rubbing down by me. Perhaps this was one of the first fibreglass fronts, albeit not a flip front.   Later, holes appeared in the driverís side floor pan.  No problem, this time Paul came to my assistance.  Paul had been an apprentice mechanic for a year and knew lots about cars (he still does and rebuilds classic cars for a hobby ).  He returned to school to take his `A` levels.  Paul, with a little assistance from me, ( making coffee and rolling cigs ) panel beat a 2 x 3 foot sheet of steel to match the van floor ( approx. ľ of the floor ),including all the channels etc.  This plate was pop riveted in place and covered with quality under seal. This was all carried out in a garage without power, lighting etc.

    The van ran amazingly well and made several trips to Leslie in Fife, Scotland to visit a girlfriend, Phyllis Bell (her father had fitted water injection to his car which had greatly improved acceleration and economy ). The van did, however, disgrace itself once by breaking down on the Forth Bridge. Paul and I had to push the van ľ mile off the bridge.  I was still on `L` plates at the time.

    The van had been re-sprayed by Wilf, blue with a white roof, on the drive of Paulís parentsí house in Bilton. It looked superb. Shortly afterwards, in what was to become a custom with my minis, it was sold to Mr B. Kates for the grand sum of £90.00.Mr Kates was not impressed when several months later the van failed itís MOT due to rotten rear sub frame and sills.

    One amusing memory was when my mum asked why I had so many cushions in the rear of the van. She seemed happy with my explanation that they were to suppress the noise.


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