The car has shaped so much of our world and we all have a story or memory that we can share.
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A while ago I shared ownership of an old red Nissan with a friend. It wasn’t great to begin with, and it steadily became more and more poorly. We’d decided it had reached the end of the road, and it was sitting outside my house, waiting for me to dispose of it. Then one day I came back to find that some kids (presumably) had broken into it. And filled it full of fallen autumn leaves. A kind of installation. Sad and amusing.
Last year my Dad died of cancer. A few months later I had to drive his car to a dealer and it was sold for scrap. He had said for years that this would be his last car, we always joked that it wasn’t and teased him about what the next one would be, but as ever he was right. As I drove his car I felt like he was there with me. He had taught me to drive years ago when my children were small. In my head I could hear his patient voice telling me to take care, that I was doing fine and reassuring me that this was the right thing to do. It was the hardest drive I have ever done. When I handed over the keys, I felt an acute and deep sense of his loss. I was saying farewell to his last car and also yet another painful farewell to my beloved Dad.
I was born and brought up in Iran. The meaning of the car has changed for me, when I got the driving licence. The car for me was the first really private sphere. It wasn’t only a vehicle but a world in which I could listen to the music which I love and could let anyone I wanted to enter this petty-world and get rid of others. When I was 19, this moving secret garden was an amazing sign of maturity. In the horrible real world outside of this petty-world, everything depends on the authorities which are beyond your power. But there, inside the car, you were like Adam in the paradise- obviously always the Fall is expected!
The 1st car I bought was a VW Beetle, 2 tone orange and rust. Real sense of independent and freedom. One morning I woke up early to an empty day, so I jumped into my muchly dented Beetle and decided to go the Brighton Beach. Living in North London I was able to drive through London spontaneously popping at friends houses to see if they wanted to come too, (no moblles phones back them), groaning under the wieght of 5 people sqeezed into Phyliss (my VW) and trundled gathering picnic delights on the way. We reached the beach had a wonderful time frolicking and meandered back home happy memories well delved into our souls.
FIRST AND LAST
I’ve just sold my old car. It was also my first car – a 2.3l Saab 900S. I bought it cheaply and did it up for a charity drive across Europe, including making it multicoloured. It went like a tank and rode like a boat, and I loved every second I drove it. Your first car should definitely not be a boring little hatchback with a puny engine. Think big.
I ended up in a hire car with 4 relative strangers crossing the Golden Gate bridge to leave San Francisco – 2 Canadians and 2 Spanish fellow travellers I’d met in a backpacking hostel. None of us understood the constantly changing speed restrictions – 10mins after setting off with the newly hired car, we were being pulled over by police – flashing lights, sirens, flashlights in the faces of those of us cowering in the back, big guns visible on the officer’s belts. We got a warning and an escort across the rest of the bridge. It was surprisingly scary as I had no idea why we were being pulled over and didn’t really know the people I was with. It was pretty funny afterwards though and the rest of the time we travelled together in the car, we were more careful about the speeding restrictions. Being pulled over by police with a biew of Alcatraz prison in the background was a highly memorable experience.
I despise the laziness, waste and pollution that the car generates. I despise the isolation and aggression car owning and driving creates. yet I have often had deep relationships with my car and often chosen cars I believe say something about me. How conditioned are we to believe that cars are more than just tools? Humans are truly cybernetic organisms and our relationship with cars is as fundamental as our relationship to a limb.
My first car lasted for two weeks and I finished it off by flipping it over into a field full of cows. I think the cows were quite confused. But they didn’t come and help.
I am a lecturer at a university. I have some projects that are related to motorsport. I recently used my department’s pool car to take a visiting academic and an Indian student intern to a racing track to see one of the racing cars that we have been working on. We had a film crew from New Zealand making a program about it.In between filming I allowed my Indian student to take me and the academic around the track in the pool car, a new Jaguar XF. I began to regret this as we hit 200 kph on the long straight and entered the chicane at a sphincter-twitching pace. All I could think of was how much trouble I would be in if we crashed. Crashing seemed like a real possibility as we went around corners at what seemed like the very limit of the car’s capability. Despite my protestations we took the car on a second lap which was just as traumatic. In the end we returned to the pits safely. My visiting academic, who was sat in the back seemed unperturbed and the student couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about. It became apparent that despite my involvement in motorsport, I am really not a ‘fast car’ person.
My daily drive is a VW camper van. This is my third. I convert them myself, it is a labour of love. I know it inside out. It is so much more than a car. It is freedom.
WHAT IS IT?
I’ve been thinking about your project recently, especially when I was driving to pick up my new car and trading in my old one which was just a fairly ordinary small car, not vintage, not particularly special and I’d only had it three years. Now I consider myself to be a fairy sensible human but driving to trade in the old model I found myself talking to it and apologising for trading it in and reassuring it that it wasn’t because it didn’t work, or it had let me down but it was purely a financial decision… now why is that?? I’m not one for talking to inanimate objects..(although I do admit to stroking my apple mac occasionally) so WHAT IS IT ABOUT CARS? Why do we have an emotional connection?
First time I ever drove a car was in a friend’s car when it was very definitely not ok for me to be doing so. I know this because I jacked it straight into a hedge!
I watched my school friend get into her fathers car for her first driving lesson. I saw the choking black smoke come out of the exhaust and thought; this is too disgusting to be allowed, the government will outlaw it soon. I never learnt, waiting for it to be forbidden.
PETE AND TRACEY
My very first car was a red Ford Fiesta. The first night I got it I excitedly drove to my friend’s house for tea and to show off. 21 and mobile – rock and roll. I gobbled down my tea and then invented a crucial journey to enable me to leap back in the car. Alas on leaving her house my car was not there. It had been stolen! The Police had to come and I had to get a lift home. They found it two days later with Pete loves Tracy in marker pen in the side. In hindsight it was a shame they found the car as it broke down on a weekly basis til it got towed away for scrap. Often wonder who Peter and Tracy were.
I enjoy getting lost driving with my friend! We never use a map, we always assume we both know the way, but always spend over an hour trying to find it. We often give up and just stop for something to eat before going home. But the hour we spent getting lost and laughing about it is quality time!I enjoy getting lost driving with my friend! We never use a map, we always assume we both know the way, but always spend over an hour trying to find it. We often give up and just stop for something to eat before going home. But the hour we spent getting lost and laughing about it is quality time!
Utter peace is driving fast round the Warwickshire countryside on a hot summers day windows down, music on, singing at the top of my voice. Truly living completely in that moment.
I have a friend who realised that a mouse was living in her car. Packets were being nibbled, sweets delicately removed, discarded fruit bars sampled. Where was this mouse? No-one knew. Were there other mice? The mouse and the car owner have never met, but there is a bond of loyalty between them. Small offerings are left in the boot. Mousey must be one of the best travelled rodents in the country. All this could be severely tested if the mouse was found to be something else, something bigger and altogether more rattier.
It was 1966. I was 17. It was about 5am, we were on the Hastings seafront and there was no-one around. I was with Rob. He had talked us into going down to the coast from London with him in an old Jag. Rob knew scary people. He was unpredictable. We sat in the car listening to music, smoking and looking at the sea. The grey sky began to brighten.
Rob suddenly jumped out of the car, opened the boot and took out a shotgun. I breathed in sharply. Rob swung around aiming at things and making gun noises like a child. I relaxed. The gun wasn’t loaded. Obviously. Then suddenly he took aim at the clock on the pier and blasted it with both barrels. The noise was deafening. Seagulls took to the sky screaming complaint. I felt sick. Then just as suddenly we were off, tearing along the sea front and out of town. I didn’t see Rob much after that. Some years later I heard that he had died in a road accident. I wasn’t surprised.
I avoid going by car, even with my family. If we have to go by car I will but I’d rather use public transport, or if there’s a family wedding I’d go on my bicycle, but I want to do everything locally, even by public transport. I pay £180 per month on using the train, but I think what’s quite frustrating is that when you are commuting on a bus or a train, or you just go on a road, and you see just one passenger or one driver in a car and there are so many of these, there’s an army of these cars and there’s one passenger! And you think do they not know the consequences and it’s the issue of comfort and convenience but it’s not that at all…. and I actually do enjoy the tube a lot I like going on a bus, just the whole kind of being with people, seeing people, observing people which you can never get in a car because you’re in a container.
Driving home after a day in Newcastle, my girlfriend and I reached the Harrogate ring road by nightfall and drove on past Menwith Hill. A sudden impulse made me turn into a car park overlooking Fewston Reservoir. It was a romantic setting, secluded and unlit by street lights. For a while we kissed and things were on the verge of becoming more intense when a car pulled up alongside. A police car. The officer wound down his window and indicated that I should do the same. He asked us what we were doing and without going into unseemly detail, we confessed. With a few words of caution, he sent us on our way. Only later did we discover that we had chosen a notorious dogging site for our tryst.