Yes, young people, you read right. Once, you could fill up your sporty little number to the brim, for six pounds! (and I avoid the stereotype definition – hatchback – as they hadn’t been conceived back then). It was the 1970’s.
Imagine, empty roads in the evenings and weekends; no speed cameras, no police presence, and long drives in the country on winding roads without potholes, or seeing another car for an hour. I was there, for I was … a Boy-Racer.
I had a Ford Cortina 1600E in racing green, exactly like the one in the picture – the envy of my peers. It received tuning, washing and waxing every weekend, without fail.
In those days, 88 house power was a lot and shifted my machine, on soft, low-pro rubber, from zero to 60 in a heady 12.4 seconds. It felt like a lot back then, but then ‘normal’ cars were uncomfortably noisy at 70mph, and never felt safe in a cross-wind.
It boasted a stitched leather and polished aluminium racing steering wheel, and a gleaming wooden dash to compete with the drawing room of any middle-class home of the era. I added a state-of-the-art stereo, with a spec that exceeded all but an enthusiast’s home sound system (of which there were quite a few, come to think of it) for the boom-beat of the seventies had to travel with you. No personal stereos back then.
My beast may be a relic by today’s modern over-manufactured standards, but back then such cars heralded (pun intended) liberation through freedom of access and speed. This, inevitably, increased adolescent mortality, but who thought about such statistics? Well – as it turned out – the insurance companies. But for a few glorious years, life for us in our late teens, was bliss.
Of course, there was a reason we were called a boy-racers, for driving then was almost exclusively the domain of the male. Few woman even had cars, for decent-paying jobs went to men in that male-dominated time. So much so, in fact, that it was something of a novelty, to be pointed out, when you saw a woman behind the wheel of any car.
I feel for you testosterone-fuelled lead-footed boys of today, for you have been deprived of a time that gave the necessary outlet for your rampant exhibition-exciting hormones – it will not come again.
I wonder where my 1600E is now? The thought of it, at some point crushed between two scrap metal machine jaws, too much to bare. And I can still remember the number plate after nearly 40 years – the only car I can.
Did you have one car that stood out for you?
(Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia)