You’ve got in touch in your droves to tell us about your first car journeys as drivers, as we build up to the announcement of our Safe Used First Car 2017.

So without further ado, let’s run through the results. You may find that they say a few telling things about the drivers we have across our Co-op…

Make and model

There was a clear favourite amongst the 51 of you who responded, when asked what the make and model of your first car was: the famous Ford Escort.

Ford Escort: a trusty first vehicle
Ford Escort: a trusty first vehicle

12% of you had an Escort of some description as your first vehicle, and you had plenty of good times with it; Funeral Director Craig Findlay had his taken off him for gallivanting around Fife before he’d passed his test, whilst Rob’s first Escort trip was a 340-mile adventure from Johannesburg to Durban!

Obscure colours were also popular amongst our Funeral Arrangers, including Elaine Carnell’s bright orange Escort Estate, and Chris Rose‘s yellow MK2 model (with added go faster stripes).

We also had 10 Vauxhall vehicles to add to our 11 Fords, with the trusty Corsa proving the most popular model. The Nissan Micra made 3 appearances, but beyond that it’s a diverse bunch of vehicles with some seriously retro models out there. I think we can all agree that Gordon had a seriously classy first ride in a Kingfisher Hillman Hunter (right).

And the results illustrate why we’re focusing on the used car market, because apart from Fay Duckham’s brand new Morris Ital Estate, all of your first cars were second hand (or 20th hand in the case of Carolyn Johnston).

Your first journey

We received dozens of wonderful stories – too many to share here. Here are some great excerpts:

Jacqui Butler, HR Project Consultant, Food:

“My first trip out I drove to work at my Saturday job at a pharmacy in the next village. Unbeknown to me at the time, my mum had followed me the whole way to check I got there safe.”

Matthew Hough, Customer Insight Analyst, Insurance:

“My first major journey took me from my small hometown in Sandbach down to Wolverhampton. Before the days of Sat Navs and GPS, all you had was an A to Z and a list of instructions that punished you if you missed your turning.

“The weather was horrific, torrential rain beating down on my windscreen wipers which were swiping back and forth but unable to keep up with the deluge that came down on them.

“I turned my wipers down a notch as they now sounded like they were going to tear a hole through my windscreen. Just then, with my wipers on intermittent, a van came thundering past and splashed a huge muddy puddle over my front window. I was blind, travelling at 30 mph.

“I couldn’t pull over to the side as I was in the middle lane of three, all I could do was carry on going forward purely on memory of what the road looked like. It felt like an eternity in my head, but the intermittent wipers came across again to offer vision again to my surroundings which had, in reality only been taken from me two seconds prior.”

Kay Nayland, Learning Facilitator, Food:

“My first journey in my turquoise Nissan Micra was driving it back from my boss’ house. I’d paid her £500 for it and, en route home, I failed to stop at a roundabout; only doing so when my terrified mum dug her fingernails into my arm. I almost gave my friend in the backseat whiplash by slamming the brakes.”

Keith, page comments:

“My great little car delivered my friends and I somewhat safely down to Donnington for the Monsters of Rock festival despite lunatic lorry drivers and a top speed of about 55 – given its load of long haired smelly teenagers and several crates of beer.”

A prevailing theme of unforeseen obstacles crops up – which is why it’s important to have a safe car!

A sense of freedom

When it came to how you felt on that first journey, a sense of freedom came up again and again. Here are some of your stories:

Tony Clews, Operations Trainer, Food:

“Slightly nervous, but like a new fledgling on the first flight. I just wanted to tell everyone and not feeling safe never entered my head. I couldn’t wait to finish work so I could get home, have my tea, then be out in my car with a couple of mates. I even drove on the motorway that evening, loving every minute of my new found freedom.”

Tim Johnson, Retail Loss Analyst:

“I was excited as I was finally free of any restraints, and slightly confused as nobody was telling me when to turn anymore (there was no sat nav in the 80’s either). As I learned to drive in it, I was confident and comfortable. I had also been on similar journeys whilst accompanied, so it was almost routine.”

Alexandra Sharman, Property Analyst, Estates Services:

“The car was very old (10 years+). I remember worrying about whether it would survive the journey home. The key fell out of the ignition on the way but the car didn’t stop running! It was really filthy and needed a good clean but it was cheap to buy and it was mine!”

Lloyd Smith, IT Service Manager, Insurance:

“Nervous – sat next to my Dad who had a look of pure panic on his face!”

Jo Newman, Colleague Engagement, Insurance:

“I was nervous as I had never had to drive faster than 40 – 50 MPH on my lessons and was consciously aware that I would need to build up speed as I made my way down the slip road to join the motorway.

“Unfortunately as I turned left on to the slip road from the roundabout I accelerated but didn’t turn the steering wheel quick enough and veered to the right. In my panic I yanked the steering wheel to the left causing the car to shudder and I felt completely out of control with the car.

“My heart was beating so fast and I started to cry thinking knowing I couldn’t stop and still had to get out onto the motorway. I indicated and managed to manoeuvre out from the slip road. I was gaining control and calming down but the behind me I was being flashed. I had no idea what I was doing wrong.

“Searching frantically on my dashboard (whilst trying tokeep my eyes in front and in all the mirrors) I suddenly realised my indicator was still ticking and switched it off. Thank goodness, panic over…”

What happened to your car?

There were a number of unfortunate endings to your precious first vehicles though:

Judith King, Strategic Communications Manager, Insurance:

“I had my Mini Clubman for a couple of years, still loved it, but moved onto a newer (still secondhand) Ford Fiesta. I learnt later that, no long after I’d sold it, my Mini had been shunted by a lorry (the driver was okay but the car was a write-off). And I have to say that was quite a sad moment.”

Steve Paines, Project Manager, Food:

“Only had the car for about 6-8 months as it got stolen and written off.”

Val Franklin, Admin Arranger, Funeralcare:

“I had the car for about 6 months until on my way home from work smoke began to rise from the dashboard – so much so that I had to stick my head out of the window to see where I was going.

“I made it home and my brother helped me ‘mend’ the electrics with tin foil. I sold it for £25 to my brothers friend who had it for 2 weeks before it blew up altogether – but we blamed him as he had taken out the radio to put in a radio cassette. My brother and I still laugh about it today.”

Keith Clinton, Contracts Manager:

“I kept my car for two and a half years. I loved it to bits and it never let me down. I eventually sold it in the newspaper for £135 – a massive loss of £40 in my ownership. I would love to think that it still exists but I fear it was scrapped many years ago. My replacement was another VW Beetle – much newer and more capable but nothing beats your first car.”

Enhancing young driver safety

From Austin Allegros to VW Beetles, and from quiet drives to college to hazardous motorway missions tackling the elements, we’ve had the whole range of first journey experiences.

Our Safe Used First Car award recommends an affordable, safe used car that will enhance the safety of young drivers on the roads. So whilst we can’t do much about protective parents hiding the keys, or drivers forgetting to put their lights on, we can provide sound safety advice.

Thanks for taking part. And stay tuned as we build up to the big reveal of our Safe Used First Car 2017!