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put to the test

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Post Sun Oct 15, 2017 12:05 am
stewartwillsher User avatar

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I knew exactly what I was doing and my main objective, when I moved on from the 100E.
I was growing up, and at the same time I wanted to be able to choose the car I wanted, and not be constrained by external forces.
I had my sights set, possibly from school days on a particular car [that car itself will feature in a later story] and now I really thought it was a possibility.
I really had had some fun with the 100E, and done some things that I had only dreamed of.
But my ambitions could not be achieved with the 100E.

It was 1965, and I was on a roll.
Partly, this came about because my career had taken a quantum leap, both sideways and upwards, into the pioneering world of computing.
Not only had my ambitious car objectives changed from just mucking about with cars, but workwise, the scope now was mind-blowingly huge,
My disposable income had increased exponentially, so it was only the nasty insurance people who were holding me back from achieving my next goal, car-wise.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists membership itself offered no special insurance deals other than discounts, but hitherto uninsurable risks could be placed individually, and that was what I was aiming at.

I started to study the Roadcraft manual for police drivers, which was the basis of the IAM test.
But I had to get myself equipped with a motor more suitable and impressive than the 100E, also.

Several cars were very attractive and footed the bill.
The prime candidate was the Sunbeam Talbot 90, and I went to look at a couple.
A beautiful car, but the prices made me wince.
So the MG Magnette and Riley Pathfinder were considered and viewed.
Again I though, a lot of dosh.
Then I stumbled upon a Riley 1.5, and I new it ticked the boxes, at first sight.
It not only exuded class, but it oozed sportiness, except, perhaps roadholding, where its torsion bars got themselves a bit wound up if over stretched.
But it looked good, smelled good and sounded good; and the price was right.
Appearance - that Riley radiator grill was the highest quality chrome and all the trimmings matched, right down to the hub caps.
Step inside and it was all leather and thick pile carpets, and you could smell class.
Wood veneer smiled at you from the dash and door cappings.
Then firing it up, those inch and a half SU's shouted performance; and it did go!
Goodness knows what the fuel consumption was, but you could hear the fuel being sucked in!
And, hey, from the perspective of IAM impression, it had seat belts; yes, the first time I had ever worn them.
It was a lovely car to drive for those days, and was classy, a bit different from my previous two Ford down-market steeds.
But interestingly, it still had a starting handle, like its sober sister motor the Wolseley 1500 and baby siblings the Morris Minor and Traveller.

So, no excuses nor prevarication, form filled and sent off for test application, with a painful cheque.
I already had my copy of Roadcraft, and had read it from cover to cover; now I had to go out and drive like it said!
My father was very dismissive and thought it impossible for me to curtail, what he considered as my boy racer style, for the two and a half hours it was reckoned to take for the test.
He chuckled that I had just thrown away good money and had got carried away with my own optimism and self-appraisal.
All of which made me more determined to pass.

The day came, and the rendezvous was mid-morning on a Saturday, mid winter, in a pub car park just outside the East End of London, and close to where I was born.
I turned up early, of course, and sat fidgety watching cars come; is that him; and leave; not him.
A couple of Jags and similar, teased me and I had psyched myself up unnecessarily.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw this chap leaping across the dual carriageway, dodging the traffic and waving frantically in my direction; he had parked on the other side of the road, whether to suss me out from afar or just for his convenience, I knew not.
It was spot on the time prearranged and this nutter was homing in on me.
I had totally the wrong stereotype of a Class One Police Hendon Driving Instructor, for that is what IAM examiners were in those days, and had not envisaged a scruffy farmer.
The greeting also was so friendly and relaxed with him putting me at my ease immediately by looking round the car and complimenting me on choice and quality and condition.
I had got that right; so good start.
I think he must have spent a quarter of an hour chatting and explaining the test and its features; most of which resulted in a silent gulp as I went over in my mind what was needed of me.

So, belts fastened (another plus and a nod and smile from him) and off we went.
About the first half hour was a mix of suburban roads on the edge of the East End, then we headed out into Essex.
As we approached a market town, he gave the instruction to start the commentary,
which in those days was considered the make or break part of the test and difficult and stressful.
Each hazard observed had to be identified in advance, together with action to be taken and why.
The length was supposed to be twenty minutes or thereabouts, but it felt like a lifetime.
In the middle of the high street of a town, and this was Saturday morning don't forget, a dog ran out and I had an emergency brake scenario with tidying it up afterwards.
"That was a dog". I muttered; he chuckled!
Apparently I was in full swing with the commentary and just kept the mouth engaged with brain throughout.
At last he quietly said I could dispense with the commentary; sigh of relief!
Next came an amusing variation on the hill start, reverse round a corner and three point turn manoeuvres to show vehicle control; the difference being that on this occasion it was all on the side of a very steep hill, possibly one in three.
No probs there.
Then a lot of twisty country lanes, and in the middle of this bit he shouted STOP!
Thinking this to be the equivalent of the emergency stop. I executed it well, but though it an odd location.
As soon as the dust settled he leapt out of the car and disappeared into the hedgerow bellowing at the top of his voice and waving his clip board like someone possessed.
I sat there a little bit nonplussed and waited for the return of my examiner.
After a few minutes he was back, a bit puffed, and settled in the passenger seat.
I said nothing!
He quietly admitted that he had spotted a poacher with a twelve bore and gave chase as the rogue was shooting on his land.
He commended me for my stopping and we continued.
The next challenge appeared almost immediately at the top of a very long incline down into a small village.
I was instructed to reach forty mph quickly, which I did, then he said to stop the vehicle before reaching the village using no brakes and not damaging the vehicle nor hedgerows.
Deft use of clutch, gears and eventually reverse to stall the car, and I still had a good bit left before the first house.
I felt pleased with myself.
Then we headed down to a dual carriageway that went East and out of the clutches of London.
Open it up, he said, and this was before the awful seventy limit was imposed.
I was pushing the ton when he remarked at what a super and versatile car I had.
I glowed with pride.
Turning back towards London, I was in high spirits and let her rip again, before calming down for the suburbs and an uneventful tootle back to the pub car park where we started.
I was feeling good until, after doing the tidy switching off, he laid into me.
The bugger had pages of notes and spent near on half an hour ripping me to shreds.
I was a bit quiet as not many answers were needed; his observations were faultless, unlike my driving.
Not quite in tears but greatly deflated; he folded his arms, put his papers in his briefcase, smiled and told me he was incredibly impressed with my driving for one so young; told me I had passed; slapped me on the back; opened the door and was off, leaping across the dual carriageway to where he had left his car.
It was like waking from a peculiar dream that had a mix of reality and not so.
I don't remember driving home, but I'm sure it was a very subdued journey.
My father was speechless (very unusual for him) and mum just glowed that her not so little boy had come up trumps again.
In the post, a few days later, was my membership card and of course the opportunity to buy a load of stuff, from which I chose key ring and radiator grill badge.

So, having ticked off one of the most significant hurdles that was in the way of my objective, I could now seriously move on; first to sell the Riley which had done me so proud, but was a bit of an old man's car, then go for the target.
What that target car was, you'll have to wait until the next chapter of my story. :-)
"La Gata Negra" 2.0 HDI 2014 Swiss spec fully loaded.
"Bus" 7 seat 5008 1.6HDI 2014.
"Purple People Eater" 108 1.2 PureTech 2016 Top fully loaded.
"Animal" Linhai 300 4x4 ATV 2008.

Post Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:01 am
stewartwillsher User avatar

Senior Member
Senior Member

Posts: 700
Kudos: 280
Location: Western Spain
Here's the Riley :thumbup:
riley.jpg (18.33 KiB) Viewed 650 times
"La Gata Negra" 2.0 HDI 2014 Swiss spec fully loaded.
"Bus" 7 seat 5008 1.6HDI 2014.
"Purple People Eater" 108 1.2 PureTech 2016 Top fully loaded.
"Animal" Linhai 300 4x4 ATV 2008.

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