My first car was a lime-green Skoda 105, similar to the one in the picture below.
My Dad bought the car in the late 1970s. At the time, Skoda had a reputation as a car manufacturer along the same lines as £1 discount stores have today amongst high-class supermarkets. It didn’t do much for our street credibility, but it did have one thing going for it; it wasn’t a Lada! The car was a bit of a noisy “chugga-bus” but it was reliable, and it did get the family out and about safely. My Dad would never have a word said against it.
I’ve deliberately started this story in the middle; let me take you to the start. My Dad passed a motorcycle test while serving in the Army in the late 1950s. When he converted from an Army licence to a full civilian driving licence, due to an administrative error, he was given a full driving licence which entitled him to drive motor cars. In over 50 years driving, he never had an accident (to my knowledge!); these days, you hear stories of people passing their driving test and crashing within the next 24 hours. His first car was a Hillman Minx, there were probably others in between but in the 1970s he purchased a Reliant Robin 3-wheeler, or as it might be referred to today, a “Del-boy”. A few years later, the British car manufacturer, Reliant released a four-wheel version of the Robin called a Kitten. We exchanged the 3-wheeler for a 4-wheeler which ultimately was traded for the Skoda 105. It’s clear that my Dad’s motoring philosophy was more about getting from A to B than becoming a style icon.
I was fortunate, after a year of taking trains to and from University, Dad decided to buy a new mustard-yellow Skoda and gave me the lime-green one. My first significant journey in the car was the four-hour trip from home to Norwich. It involved about 20 miles on the M62 and many more down the A1. I didn’t find out until afterwards, but my Dad secretly followed me on that journey to make sure I was OK. He eventually turned round to go back home… after I reached Doncaster!!
I had many adventures in that car, many of them involving mechanical malfunctions. The Haynes manual became my best friend and ultimately my most read publication. I learned a lot about car maintenance and even changed a cam belt on my own, in the dark, in heavy rain, on a motorway hard shoulder near Swinton.
From being a little embarrassed at how uncool my car was, I grew to appreciate the advantages it gave me. If there is one thing I learned from my Dad, it is that a vehicle is designed to get you from A to B and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Ferrari or a Skoda, whether it’s fire-engine red or lime green. This mentality has been applied to many other aspects of my life, the exception being my wife, Angela, who is, of course, the fire-engine red Ferrari!
What happened to the mustard-yellow Skoda? It was handed down to my brother when he passed his test and Dad bought another Skoda. He continued to enjoy this brand of car for the rest of his driving life. We called his last one the “big yellow taxi”.
Two weeks ago, Angela took out a lease on a new car. You guessed it; it’s another Skoda (a “Yeti”) – our first.
These days it is a highly respected brand of motor vehicle, practical, reliable and now with an acceptable level of style. Nobody we have spoken to, whether they are friends or people in the motor industry, has anything negative to say about them and we honestly couldn’t be happier. It is funny how events in your life can come full circle.