As Motorsport enthusiasts or Petrolheads, our love for cars and motoring can often be traced back to fond memories of our childhood family vehicle. The cars pictured below have all been owned by members of the team here at HERO ERA and their families.
George Mullins – Senior Event Manager – My father was an early Petrolhead, he had lots of different cars. His choices were some what curtailed because he was also a family man and a farmer and needed his cars to fulfil roles to accommodate these ties. For the family car, he needed something big enough to fulfil a promise he made to my mum when he took on the farming business, and that was he would not get himself tied to the business, like so many of his farming buddies, and would have at least one family holiday a year. So at this point they invested in a caravan and a tow car. I have very fond memories of “Grace” a Wolseley 16/110 named after the garage owners wife! As kids, my sister and I were dragged all over Europe sat in the back with the wooden drop down picnic tables that acted as desks for drawing and the likes. We needed to be entertained as it was not unusual for us to do 500 mile days on the way to Italy or Spain etc. To fulfil the petrol head genes, Dad would insist on doing as many mountain passes as possible (with the caravan on the back!) and routes that we all now enjoy on the Marathons and Winter Challenges. People use to think we were bonkers, after all it was fairly unusual in those days, I thought it was great and encouraged by looking at maps and proposed routes that we could take. If this was not enough, my father would also enter the “British caravan Road Rally” with Grace and the family caravan, much to my disgust I was deemed not old enough to take part and this would have to wait until I was 15 (a Triumph 2.5 Pi by then, but that’s another story!). These rallies would typically have two 400 mile night sections, “Special Tests” and as it was usually based at a race track, and also have a timed lap around circuit. Pictured is an old photo that we found among Dad’s stuff. It would be late sixties with an event based at Mallory Park on a special Test, Mum is Co Driving. For those doubters out there, please see this YouTube clip of the Caravan Road Rallies in the 70s!
Christian von Sanden – Creative Director – Here is a picture of me with my father on the farm I grew up on in Santa Fe province, Argentina. The photo must be from 1981 on the day my parents got these two new cars. They are both Argentine made Ford Falcons with a 6 cylinder 3litre engine. The red one is a Ford Falcon De Luxe and the white one is a Ford Falcon Standard. As you can see the number plates are sequential.
Craig Baker – Webmaster – When we were kids we had the usual family estate for daily driving, but a car that stands out for me from my childhood was my dad’s old Morris Marina. A 1978, 2 door 1300 in white, with some delightful green seat covers! It was purchased from a family friend and had more sentimental value than anything else. Two things that really stick in my memory with that particular car were the fact it didn’t have any seatbelts in the back, so my sister and I were often reminded to sit still and to stop messing about. The second memory was when my mother took me out to pick up a birthday cake from Sainsbury’s… in the snow! The snow got progressively worse as the journey continued, to the point where we had to turn around and go home, but no sooner did we decide to do that, we got stuck in the snow and everybody around us got out of their cars and gave us a shove to get us going again. It was cold, wet, the car was running badly, my mother was stressed out and embarrassed, and me, well, I just wanted a birthday cake!
Tony Jardine – Communications Director – I have always had a soft spot for Jaguar, which is why my step father took me and the rest of the family in the Jag to Pendine Sands in South Wales! The famous beach is six miles long where speed records were broken. Tragically J.G. Parry-Thomas lost his life in a 27 litre car called ‘Babs’ trying to re take the Land Speed Record from Malcolm Campbell on Pendine Sands in 1927. You could drive your car along the long flat sands even in 1963. At 11 years of age I persuaded the old man to let me drive the lovely British Racing Green Jaguar flat out through the gears whilst my Mum, brother and sister all shrieked in the back. My step father seemed cool enough at first in the passenger seat but then gave in to the chorus of protest as I reached 75 mph he shouted ‘enough,’ so I had to slow down remembering not to hit the brakes too hard. It was enough for me to forever love the classic straight six Jaguar engine throat, but not the gearbox. Nor did I like the occasional ‘pinking’ from the engine which suggested to me that the old man was on the cheap fuel again! To sink into the lovely leather seat and try to gaze over the walnut dash with big clear speedo was a real experience, my vision was limited, but I could hear was the revs going up and clearly see the rev counter going into the red. I have subsequently raced a Mk 1 and a Mk 2 Jaguar at Goodwood, this time I made sure I could see over the steering wheel and that we put decent fuel in.
Chris Elkins – Route Coordinator – One car from my childhood years that sticks in my mind is my mother’s 2-litre Triumph Vitesse. It was always driven like she had just stolen it and as kids we loved to stand on the passenger seat and hang out of the Webasto sunroof around town. At a time when most cars struggled to do more than 80mph, it was the first car I ever went more than 100 miles an hour in. I would have been about 8 or 9 at the time and I can even remember the registration number – JHR761E. It’s probably still out there somewhere.
Eleonora Piccolo – ERA Events Manager – My dad’s Alfa Romeo Giulia Junior, I remember always thinking that was the coolest car in town, cherry red, sporty. Well… Mum obviously thought I had the coolest ski jacket in town, so that took priority over the car in this photo!
Patrick Burke – Managing Director – The first car I can properly remember was my father’s BMW 5 series (end of 70s, beginning of the 80s). I remember this was a great car and having always been a relaxed back-seat passenger, I remember this was the car where I had the best sleep. The seats were covered by a sort of velvet/cord fabric that was nice and cosy and warm… And it never took long for me to go into snooze mode…. Which I still do today by the way when I sit in the back, except I now snore as well. The second car from my youth was my grandfather’s yellow Land Rover. Going for a drive with all my cousins sitting on the back bench seats facing each other… that was the ultimate fun experience.
Seren Whyte – Event Admin Support – I don’t know the year but it was a Carlton Estate and it’s the first car I remember my parents having, although I’m pretty sure they had to buy it as my sister got car sick on the test drive. I also remember, around four or five years old, driving this car around a car park on dads knee while he did the pedals and gears!
Guy Woodcock – Competition Director – Up until I was probably 12 so 1973 we didn’t have a car, the only form of transport we had was the family Bedford CF van which was used for the market garden and florist business, many trips to the Birmingham Flower market at 4am on a Thursday morning, trips to Whixhall Moss to fetch Peat and many family holidays which in those days were 2 days if we were lucky spent sleeping in the back of the van at Borth near Aberystwyth. I was driving then from aged 11 on the track around the market garden loading and unloading it as a treat for being able to have a quick drive! Then cars started to appear, usually what Dads mate had in the local garage, a mix of dodgy Austin 1800, and a 2200 straight 6 Front wheel drive a big Maxi, then the car I learnt to drive in mostly on Loton Park Hillclimb track ,a Hillman Super Minx which was known to be driven to a local pub a couple of miles away when parents were out for the evening and a few offs into the undergrowth in Loton Park where recovery from a mate on his Dad’s tractor was needed, no lasting damage though, thank god!
Tomas de Vargas Machuca – Chairman – My grandfather drove a 1976 Jaguar XJ 4.2, My grandmother drove a 1969 Austin Princess, My mother had a 1972 Honda Civic in the US, My father drove a 1980 Fiat 132 Mirafiori in Italy, and later a 1984 Mercedes 280 SE.
Rhys Evans – HERO Membership & Store Coordinator – Of the many cars that my dad owned at some point in my childhood, the one that stands out has to be the dark blue 1998 VW Passat. Admittedly it wasn’t very fast, but it did have the ‘ski hole’ in the back armrest, which as a kid felt like a portal to another dimension! It meant that we could get toys, or more importantly snacks, from the boot whenever we wanted, or at least until my parents caught on and started moving them to the back of the boot. As a family we did many long journeys in that Passat, a few of which were to caravan sites in Brittany. It was on one such trip that after getting ready for a day out my brother and I engaged in a very spirited game of tag, using the Passat as a roundabout of sorts, which would have been fine had we not just been plastered in sunscreen. It didn’t take a forensic team to work out whos handprints were now greasily smudged all over the front of the car. Some cars look good in two tone, this did not. Try as he might, my dad never did shift them and when the car was sold, It was sold with my 8year old handprints proudly adorning the bonnet.
Brian Whyte – Operations Director – Early Memories was my dad’s Citroen Amy 8 and the gear lever coming out of the dash, the gears were reversed (like a Porsche 911; 1st where you expect 2nd to be). He went from a large powerful two tone (and that was important) Morris Oxford 16/60 to the Citroen. It was a totally underpowered car. I remember my mum shouting ‘pull your thing out’ referring to the gear stick, which was a necessary action, every time you wanted to go up a hill! Then there was the hillman Imp, another small engine car but was purchased because it could get up my parents drive, The Amy 8 Couldn’t, no power! Now that we could travel more with new motorways, the Imp was eventually traded in for the car I loved, an ex demo 1974 Rover 2200 TC in Almond. Quite a rare car because it was a TC (Twin Carbs) and round dials like the Rover 3500 instead of the long speedo of the 2000 & 2200 SC. The Rover couldn’t get up the drive either, plenty of power, just too wide!
Nick Reeves – Senior Event Manager – Austin Mini Countryman (not to be confused with a Morris mini Traveller) We used to go off on summer holiday day trips in this, my mum and auntie in the front with three kids sat on the back seat (no seat belts) and a fourth kid sometimes accompanied by the dog in the back. The only car I’ve ever had to periodically varnish.
Lizzy Lewis – Hospitality & Client Experience Coordinator – The only thing I really remember from our childhood family car was when my sister spewed in the back after Sunday dinner at my nan’s and it stunk of cabbage. We sold the car shortly after that…