Your most vivid car memories, visualised

2021 marks 75 years since JCT600 opened for business. To celebrate this extra special year, we commissioned a survey to help paint a picture of British motoring over the last few decades, and to get a sense of the how the UK’s drivers relate to their cars today. One of the questions we asked people was “What, if anything, is your most vivid memory in a car?”

From more than 1,200 responses to this question, we picked four of our favourites to bring to life as illustrations…

“Standing on the back ladder on my dad’s Land Rover while he drove”

One respondent fondly remembered hitching a ride on the back of their dad’s Land Rover. We’ll assume this was on private land, perhaps on a beautiful, slightly muddy slice of Yorkshire countryside, and only ever done at safe and sensible speeds! Fresh air, thrills and father-son bonding at its best – how could anyone forget an experience like this?

“Going on long car journeys and counting Eddie Stobart lorries to pass the time”

Tea and biscuits, fish and chips, weather-related small talk, and Eddie Stobart – all undeniably part of the fabric of British culture. Eddie Stobart lorries are a comfortingly persistent presence on the nation’s motorways, and a name that lingers in the nostalgic backroads of our collective imagination.

“Stop people in the street and ask them to name a road haulage company and it is a safe bet a sizeable number will come up with Eddie Stobart,” says the BBC. So how did they become so iconic?

Edward Stobart started out in 1970 (a full 30 years after JCT600 came into the world), with 8 trucks and 12 employees. His masterstroke was making his lorries colourful (this was totally unusual at the time) and giving each one a female name (the first was called Twiggy, after the 60s supermodel!) The shortest name today is “Nia” and the longest is “Gladys Duchess of Overton” (both on Scania R 420s). Drivers were also smartly dressed, and were actively instructed to wave and honk their horn when signalled by passers-by.

Eddie Stobart now operates 2,700 vehicles – this Stobart fan club now has more than 46,000 likes on Facebook – and many people who grew up spotting the lorries from the back seats as kids continue Stobart-spotting from the driver’s seat today. May this very British trend continue for many decades to come!

“Holding my breath going through tunnels, trying to beat my brothers”

Sometime, somewhere, someone decided that holding your breath when going through a tunnel was good luck. In some families, making it to the end without taking a breath entitled you to make a wish that was guaranteed to come true. In others, holding your breath was about averting bad luck ­–  don’t breathe until we’re out or this damned thing might collapse!

Some people seem to think this game began because people were worried about poor ventilation in tunnels and inhaling toxic air. Others have even suggested the tradition was born from a fear of ghosts. For the less superstitious amongst us, this was simply a chance to see who had the biggest, strongest lungs.

It’s not a game we can responsibly recommend – it’s generally a good idea to keep all passengers as well-oxygenated as possible, and you definitely shouldn’t hold your breath whilst driving – but this does seem to be a memory many of us share, both here in the UK and abroad.

If all this tunnel-talk has got you in the mood to head out for a drive and enjoy some roaring engine noise, the lower deck of the Tinsley Viaduct in Sheffield is popular with Yorkshire’s petrolheads looking for some concrete amplification!

“Wearing a crash helmet when my older brother was learning to drive”

We were definitely expecting some people to share memories from when they were learning to drive in our survey, but we weren’t necessarily expecting this. We’re not sure whether the learner was a genuine liability or the brother was just engaging in some fairly slapstick banter, so we’ll simply present this recollection and let you decide.

Bonus: More findings from our 75th anniversary survey – see which cars people remember learning to drive in.

More vivid car memories from our survey

There were many more illustration-worthy memories that people shared via our survey, but unfortunately we couldn’t bring them all to life. Here are a few more answers that hit us right in the feels…

“Writing one off spectacularly at the Menai Bridge”

“Travelling to a rock concert in the back of a farm Land Rover with very bad suspension and no seats or padding”

“Travelling in a Triumph sports car to Glastonbury festival”

“The first time I took my parents on holiday touring the Lake District. My dad drove for a living and it was wonderful to see him be able to enjoy the countryside while I took the strain of the driving”

What’s your most vivid memory in a car? We’d love to hear your stories – happy or sad, scary or weird! Feel free to Tweet us and we’ll RT the best ones.

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