Featured Members Vehicles
1959 Austin Cambridge A55 MKII
Our featured car was dispatched from the Austin works at Longbridge on 23rd September 1959 and went to a P. Pike & Co. the Austin dealer in Exeter. It was first registered on 9th October and was sold to a Mr. Pomeroy, a solicitor who lived in the town of Sidmouth in East Devon. He then sold it to Deans, a local garage that also ran a taxi firm and the car was used as a taxi. They then sold it to a man called Les Sellway, who was a local bus driver, and he owned it for many years. A local publican, Len Eavis then bought it for £25 and intended to use it as a hire car but found that the insurance was too high and it stood in the back of the car park of the Balfour Arms for six months.
After cycling 25 miles a day for just over a year I was looking for a car, and as I was learning to drive as well, so I needed something to practice with. I was really after a Ford Escort or Cortina and after going in to Exeter to look at an Escort that was for sale and finding the vendor not at home I was now desperate.
After going to a jumble sale in aid of the local brass band my father and I went in to the Balfour Arms for a pie and a pint. Now Len Eavis was an old friend of my father’s and father told him of our wasted trip into Exeter the night before. Len then told us that he had this old Austin Cambridge out the back. Now our first question was. What’s an Austin Cambridge? Now father had owned small Austins for about 20 years but had no idea about the larger ones. After a very quick look (as I said before I was desperate) a price of £100 was agreed on (not bad £75 storage fee for six months) and on the 9thJune 1982 I had my first car, a banger that I intended to keep for about six months until I could get enough overtime in to get myself something newer.
I passed my driving test on 3rd January 1983. It was 3 days after they brought in the requirement that you had to wear seat belts for occupants of the front seats. The Examiner looked at the car and said “oh no seatbelts” and I don’t think he wanted to see the car again and that was the only reason I passed my test! I was due to take my test in December but had to cancel the date because the windscreen wipers decided to die.
Not long after I passed my test we were going to Dawlish Warren and the car in front was pulling away from us. Then suddenly it came to a halt after a wheelbarrow wheel that rolled out of someone’s driveway got lodged under the car. The problem was no brake lights came on and by the time I started to brake but it was too late and I slid into the back of it. Now instead of doing the sensible thing and just scrapping it and moving on I started to look for parts and discovered magazines like Practical Classics and here I discovered car clubs with the promise of new opportunities to acquire parts.
After about a year and what to me was a vast amount of money I had my beloved Austin Cambridge back and it came back a different colour. What I thought of as Grey was in fact a shade of Purple that was called Orchid. After a respray in 1989 to tidy it up for that years Bristol Classic Car Show the paint shop painted it a different shade of Purple and now I can’t match it.
About 16 years ago I had COD in a lock-up about 4 miles way from where I live and vandals got in and trampled over the roof, smashed the windscreen, bent the bonnet and tried to set fire to it which made me lose interest in it and that’s why it is in such a sorry state today.