My First Car...with endurance runner and charity fund-raiser Ray Matthews


Did you pass your driving test first-time?

I passed first time in 1960. I had ten lessons. I remember it had been snowing for a couple of days prior to the test and continued during it. The morning tests were cancelled but the roads cleared later and we opted to carry on. The Austin A40 was a great car to learn in. I remember we had to use hand signals back then, even though this new A40 had the new blinking lights. It was always freezing in the car because the window was always open.


What was the first ever car you owned?

My first car, bought in 1961 was a black split screen Morris Minor Traveller, which cost £260. I remember always messing about with the “semaphore traficators” (illuminated signal arms), that had a mind of their own. The top speed was around 65mph. That was a massive drop from my Norton International motorbike, but with a young family — my son Gary was born in 1960 — the Morris was the right choice.


What would have been your dream first car at the time you bought it?

My dream car has always been a white Jaguar XK 150. I have had some pretty amazing cars over the years, including an E-Type Jag, a 911 Porsche, and I loved driving the Mazda RX 8 with the Wankel rotary engine, but still swoon when I see an XK 150.

What was your fondest memory from your time with the car?

Being able to pack everything including the kitchen sink, our Collie dog, tent and family to head off through the night on our first holiday down to Penzance, Cornwall. I have still memories of map navigation and that wonderment when you finally arrive at the precise destination you had set off for.


And the worst memory of your time with the car?

The first time the “Moggy Minor” let me down. I had been hearing funny noises from the near side rear end and one day it gave a sigh and the body dropped onto the rear wheel, revealing a corroded chassis. I remember packing a piece of four by three timber in there and tying it securely enough to get me to the garage. A week later we were back on the road and back to overloading the back with bricks and cement… Total abuse.

Would you class yourself as a “petrolhead” or prefer to be driven?

I’m a petrolhead. I hate being passenger and, like most people, I think I’m a good driver. One of the greatest bits of advice I received from my driving instructor was: “Treat every other driver like an idiot.” I have and other than a fairly recent hit-and-run which wrote-off my Toyota Rav4, I have avoided any accidents over almost 60 years. I now love driving my Lexus CT Sport.

Related topics: