12 November 2012

Old Austin

Recently my brother John found an old Austin 1929 12/4 car like our one at # 353 the place where we grew up.  So he wrote a blog post about it.  Our recollections of what he wrote are not quite the same  but as I'm eleven years older than him I have earlier memories of 'old Austin' as we called her.  Being younger his memory might be better - but?

After WW2 Dad moved us to Hastings where he worked as an electrician at Tomoana Freezing Works and later as an electrician with his own business. He purchased 'old Austin' (before you were born, John!) and we used her for family outings, collecting firewood and timber for the little house he was adding two rooms to - while for two winters we lived in ex-army huts. They were quite idyllic times with us going on camping holidays and picnics in the summer when Dad came home from work.

We moved to Kaponga in Taranaki and here she was used to transport us about the countryside to places like Dawson Falls and Kaupokunui.  After a year we moved to Hornby on the edge of Christchurch. This is where 'old Austin' really came into her own. I was developing interests in the outdoors and Dad often allowed me to come on many of his tramping and hunting trips with his workmates.  There were tramping trips up Mts Herbert, Torlesse, Cloudsley, Enys, Hutt and Harpers Pass.  And hunting trips up Mts. Grey and Thomas and to Lake Sumner.  'Old Austin' never let us down.

Old Austin - Mt Thomas - Dad, Jack Bingham, BLS- circa 1954


One afternoon when Dad was away I decided that 'old Austin' would show me how to drive.  I carefully backed her onto the drive (I'd been observing what Dad did) and proceeded to drive her up and down the drive. Mum arrived and warned me that Dad might take a serious view of this self-help behaviour. To put 'old Austin' back in front of the double garage I had to do a right and left turn to reposition her.  'Old Austin' had a central throttle control and as I made the final left turn towards the shed my sleve caught on the throttle lever.  With a sudden roar 'old Austin' roared forward and with a sickening thud crashed into the garage door where she stalled.  The garage door was never the same again. This was not what I'd intended.  Luckily the substantial front spring extensions took the impact and 'old Austin' was spared.  Would I be spared too? Mum smoothed the waters for me ("Barry was trying to put the car away for you, Charlie").  I was bigger than Dad by then - that may have helped too!


'Old Austin' Crossing the Clarence River - 1950s