As my regular reader at my place will know, I’m a huge fan of older cars. I would like to say ‘classic’ cars, but nothing I’ve owned really falls into the category of classic, just old.
I’ve gained over the years, a collection of six or seven books on vehicle maintenance that date back to the sixties and seventies. They contain nothing of relevance to modern vehicles, they’re all about points, carburettors, generators and such, I just keep them out of a sense of nostalgia.
One of these books is called, ‘Know Your Car’, and is from 1975, the year I was born. It’s about general vehicle maintenance, but also contains various driving tips and advice,
Here’s an example from a chapter entitles, ‘Reading the road':
Give a bettered car a wide berth, it betrays the thoughtlessness and carelessness of the driver. Another bump may mean little to him but trouble for you.
Of course in modern times, every little bump means kerching! Get if fixed, and get the whiplash claim in.
My favourite chapter in the book is called, ‘The art of back seat driving’. When did you last hear road safety advice for passengers?
Here’s an example:
[A] rule of successful co-driving is don’t get the drivers back up. If he becomes tense and irritated, his driving is bound to suffer. In other words, if he wants the radio on and the window open – don’t argue.
Don’t argue! I like that. I also like the advice on travelling with children:
Rules for children travelling in cars should be strict and simple.Sit down, don’t play with the door handles, talk quietly. Don’t kick or touch the drivers seat. You must instill into them a respect for the driver, who should never have to turn round or be involved in any way with looking after the children in the back seat while he is driving.
Are you listening, school rum mum?
My absolute favourite section of this chapter includes the driver smoking in the car. In a time when the modern day health Nazis want to ban this activity, this book goes to show that we weren’t always so full of shit.
What do you make of this?
[Another] rule is to be at his beck and call. The front seat passenger should be something between a nursemaid and a waiter. If he wants a sweet, find it for him.
If he must smoke while driving, light his cigarette for him. At night give him warning so he is not startled by the flame, and shield the light as much as possible from his eyes. Pass the cigarette (Cold end first) by holding it against the lower edge of the windscreen in the vicinity of his left hand, so his eyes do not have to stray far from the road to see it.
Biscuits, chocolates and sweets (unwrapped) should also be passed in the same way.
Can you believe that? Never mind being progressive, I suggest a return to these simpler times. I would be more than happy to offer Deborah Arnott a lift, if it meant her passing me a lit cigarette. Cold end first, of course.
Excerpts taken from, ‘Know your car’, by John Dyson. 1975. ISBN 0 900 72728 4