My first car: 1966 Bedford minibus
- Credit: Archant
George Thorburn took most of the seats taken out of his 1966 Bedford minibus to keep insurance costs down on what was his first car.
Describing his pride and joy, he said: “It had a three-speed column change and floor dipswitch.
“I drove it to Czechoslovakia, which was an Iron Curtain country then, for a wedding.
“For the wedding - a university friend marrying a Czech girl - we crossed the border at Passau (Austria) where there were high towers with machine guns and other Cold War paraphernalia.
“The guards, much to our surprise, showed no interest in the vast quantities we had of illegal imports - tea, coffee, chocolate, all the stuff the Czechs couldn’t get, to be given away to guests after the wedding. Instead, the guards counted the sleeping bags, and were happy that there were four, and four of us, which meant we were not going to try to smuggle anyone out.
I also received what is possibly the world’s most polite parking ticket, left on my windscreen outside Vienna Cathedral on the way back from Czecho.
“This same vehicle I took on the Motorail from Earl’s Court to Perth, and thence to the Isle of Skye, and many times to north Wales up the A5 from London. It was on such a trip that the brakes failed completely coming through Betwys-y-Coed with quite a few miles left of very hilly and windy road.
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“My mates, all asleep in the back, knew nothing of the dangers they avoided and only grumbled about my overshooting the campsite gate at Capel Curig.”
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