Vehicles I Have Owned 1: 1966 Honda C50, registration number GON 86D.
Many thirteen years olds want nothing more than to be able to control a motor vehicle, especially one powered by an internal combustion engine, with gears, mechanical noises and petroleum based aromas.
Certainly I was no exception and so, having visited my pal, Paul Noakes’ house one Saturday afternoon in 1978 and espying his father’s once regular, faithful transport sitting unused, hard against the garden fence, I headed home, seven doors up, to badger my mum into letting me buy it.
The ‘it’ was the above mentioned Honda C50, step-through and it came to me in original, but much used condition for the princely sum of ten pounds.
A stroll 200 yards up the road to the nearby ‘Jet’ petrol station, with an empty, old, one gallon oil can saw me return with sufficient fuel to part fill the under seat tank.
The shutoff valve leaked, but with the assistance of my mum, we managed to repair it with some of the old bits and bobs accumulated in tins and boxes, which resided in the damp recesses under the sink in our rather basic, original 1921 kitchen.
Problem solved, choke on, ignition on, a couple of kicks and up it started.
And so it was that I learned the ways of the Honda’s ‘one up, two down’, gearbox and centrifugal clutch, as I carved up the scrub land at the rear of our lawn.
It was also the machine which helped to put me off motorcycles when, in the snow, I came off the thing at no more than 10mph, trapping my lower leg between the brake pedal and hot exhaust pipe, and badly burning my calf muscle, leaving me needing a walking stick for a few weeks.
Out of the bike came the engine and into an acquired racing go-cart chassis it went, thus creating the slowest motorised four wheeled vehicle I have ever known, bar none.
That exhaust pipe, now nestling next to the seat, had me again, or at least my cheap school blazer as, while having a quick blast down the street after lessons one day, it melted through the left side pocket.
The blazer had to last out the final few months of school and the outrageously sluggish go-kart headed off to pastures new.
I’d been studying the Birmingham Evening Mail newspaper’s classified adverts...
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