Old Car Smell

By Tony Moorby January 08, 2018

I’ve pointed out a couple of times in recent years that I’ve now lived here in the USA longer than I lived in England, but nostalgia still creeps up behind me and occasionally taps me on the shoulder.

It can take all kinds of forms – driving along an Interstate and suddenly I think, “How in the world am I here, thousands of miles from where I started?” A hollow sense hovers over me for a couple of seconds then disappears as quickly as it came. But that sense of belonging still gets questioned from time to time. The sense of smell is scientifically proven to be the most evocative sense to trigger memory. The confluence of a certain group of scents, like fresh-mown grass in the early evening in late spring mixed with cherry blossom can take me to an absolute spot in Ravenscourt Park in West London when I was probably six or seven years old – not the whole park, but to a particular area within 10 feet of the tennis courts and the putting green. It’s that specific.

Then along with that picture, other details fill in, such as friends at the time, games we played, the taste of popsicles and so on. Perhaps unsurprisingly, cars provide a sense of nostalgia for me. My first car, shared with my brother, was a 1958 Ford Anglia with a little 850cc side valve four pot and a three speed transmission and no synchro on first. It wouldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding. Four Mini Coopers, various MGBs and Jaguars, Land Rovers and even an old Rolls Royce form part of a huge parade of hundreds of cars either owned, ran as demonstrators or company cars. Some would now qualify as exotics. A 1972 BMW 3.0 CSL brings back some exciting memories of cutting a dash across the countryside. Now a classic in its own right. At the Cars and Coffee meets here in Franklin the whiff of the leather in an old Jag or MG will whisk me right back to the sixties and seventies. I still run around in an old Range Rover to run errands and an old Jag XK8 Coupe for easy long distance sprints.

Best of all is motoring around in my Morgan Plus 8 with my grandson beside me on summer evenings. Hopefully these pleasant times will attach themselves to him and be part of his nostalgic reflections in years to come. Nostalgic senses are easily fed at this time of year especially. We relive Christmases past by watching our own kids and grandchildren going through the same paces as we did, the air bursting with anticipation over unwrapping presents. The aromas of food, the same now as they were then, although I have to cheat and buy a readymade Christmas cake and pudding as a pure self indulgence; no one here understands that they have to “mature” for a couple of months. My kids look at me as if I have four heads! I can imagine their nostalgia in the future; “Do you remember when dad used to light that yucky black Christmas pudding with brandy – scary!” But that taste can put me squarely back in London in the fifties.   

We really are a lucky family and I’m grateful for it and brushing nostalgia aside, I look forward to the New Year in spite of all the craziness around. A Happy New Year to all and may it bring all we wish for ourselves and others. I especially appreciate the support of everyone here at Used Car News for allowing my, sometimes disparate, opinions to grace these pages.

Last modified on Tuesday, 27 February 2018 19:50

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