Episode 30. Vauxhall Carlton. PLD 813W.

For some time now I have been searching for this...

A 1980 2.0 litre Vauxhall Carlton estate automatic, registration number PLD 813W. This wasn't my first car, it wasn't even my car at all it belonged to my Aunty. Although it wasn't my car, it was the first car I drove solo(ish)! I remember the day vividly, I was just 15, and I'd practised driving for years starting with my Dad sitting me on his lap, and I steered as we drove around a car park. As my Dad always had automatics, all I needed to do was steer. (it's funny thinking about it, at the time all my friends Dads did this sort of thing with their kids, we all sat on our parents knees and steered the cars around carparks. Does anyone still do that?) Before too long I was big enough to reach the pedals, and being that my Dads car was an automatic, and all I needed to do was select 'Drive' and only had two pedals to deal with the 'Go' and the 'Whoa' pedals! So I was now big enough to try it out with my Dad sitting beside me, as we slowly drove around the car parks instead. It was great, I enjoyed it, and I thought I got pretty good at it, and that's really where the problem began! One night when my folks were out I was sitting in my aunties Carlton (she lived in the USA most of the time, but kept her car at my folks house for when she'd come home two or three times a year). So I'm sitting there with my friends, all of us were about 15 years old at the time, and we'd all done the driving on our parents lap thing, and we'd all pretty much progressed to driving around car parks with our parents sat next to us thing by then too. As we were sitting there chatting and listening to the music on the radio, suddenly one of them pipes up, lets go for a drive! I laughed and said, yeah right-o! But then he said he didn't think I could do it, and that I was a "bwaaarrk-buck-buck-buck-bwaaaarrk... CHICKEN!! Oh really I said... Buckle up buttercup! It was dark, rainy, and cold. Plus, my folks were out for the evening, so they were never going to know... What could go wrong!? So I plunged the ignition key into the barrel, and fired the old thing up. At first there was a lot of laughing and whooping, but still a lot of doubt that I would actually go through with it, I mean anyone could just start the car. I yanked it into 'Drive' and released the handbrake. My friends had all now fallen silent, and were hastily fastening their seatbelts as we headed off into the night! I did one full lap of the town, before heading for home! I was so nervous it was unreal, in my mind every car was a police car, every pedestrian was an off duty police officer! As I pulled back into my parents drive I can honestly say that I was buzzing, but my nerves were in tatters! But we'd made it, we'd got away with it ha ha... NEARLY! My friend, who was also my next door neighbour, the one who had started all this crap. The one who had called me a chicken and dared me to drive it, well his Dad was a Police Sergeant... His Dad was waiting in his drive as we pulled up! Oh dear! As I shut the engine off he started to walk towards us. There was no escape, it was really going to hit the fan, and hit the fan it did! The converstation started quite well, he asked if we'd all had a nice pleasant drive? We said that it was fairly pleasant, if a little nerve wracking! He then said that we now had a choice, he could give a call to the chaps at the station so they could come and have a chat, or we could have a nice little chat with all of our folks! Oh pooh, talk about being between a rock and a hard place! Who would I rather deal with, the Police, or my Folks? There's not going to be a way out of this where we're not going to be swimming in the brown stuff,  although the police probably wouldn't kill us for doing it! Which way do I go? Oh crap... Here comes my folks, so that's that decision made then!! So then there's the four of us, standing in my folks lounge, with eight angry parents sitting in front of us. I felt like we were stood infront of a firing squad! Man alive did they have a go at us! My Dad just went ballistic, infact all the Dads did, this all took place way back in about 1985, and I am genuinely surprised that I'm not still grounded! After that I never got to drive the car around the car park again!

Two years later and I'm learning to drive in the very car that I had got in so much trouble in before! I'd got my provisional licence, and my Dad put the 'L' plates on to the Carlton. Thinking that the two years that had passed since the night we took it for a drive would've eased my Dads anger I foolishly said, Don't worry Dad, I can do this on my own! He scowled at me and told me this was not a time to get funny! I was to do this properly, or not at all! Still to soon eh? Ok then off we go. But my Dad took me out for driving experience every night after work, and of course being that it was an automatic meant that I needed some extra tuition in a 1.0 litre Rustin Metro with a manual transmission! But just ten lessons, and three tests later I had my own full licence! I hit the road in it for the very first time (legally) solo!!

Damn I liked that car and really I should've bought it when my Aunty sold it back in the early 1990's, but I didn't have enough money to buy it, let alone insure the damn thing! I don't know what it had that made that car feel special to me, but it had something, and that something never left the back of my mind. The last time I saw it, it was still wearing its original light metallic blue paint work, and was driving through Southampton, and still looking in quite good shape. 

According to the DVLA website its not been taxed since 1995 so I'm guessing that it's long gone to the great scrapyard in the sky, but I'm hoping that it's still out there somewhere. In the meantime I was looking on howmanyleft and it suddenly dawned on me that there are very few Carltons left on the road. This is probably due as much as anything to the Scrappage Scheme of 2009 which has probably robbed the UK of thousands of older and classic cars! Therefore, as I cannot find the Carlton I am looking for I have decided to try and resurrect one, and get another Carlton back on the road. I've asked around my friends who are all pretty talented in different areas of car restoration and repair, and they're all up for it if I am able to find one! So I started looking for an estate from 1978–86, nothing else would do. I didn't (initially) care how rusty the body etc was, as I can get it welded up. I didn't care if the engine didn't work as I've had in mind a later, or different power source! It would be a bonus if the interior was good though, especially the plastic bits. So I went about putting adverts up on various forums asking if anyone knew where either my Carlton, or something like it was lurking, waiting for a new home? I figured that the internet is a pretty big place, so I thought that maybe the best way of finding one is to ask questions on various forums to see if anyone has one hidden away in a lock up or something. Eventually something did turn up, but thats a story for another time.

In the mean time, I am still looking for the one in the photo above, so in the highly unlikely event that someone, owns, or knows of, or has seen my old car in their travels that would be a huge bonus. So it was a two litre Vauxhall Carlton estate, registration number PLD 813W, and I guess it must've got sold around the early nineties from the Winchester area. Like I said, I'm guessing that it's long gone to the great scrapyard in the sky, but I'm still hopful that it's still out there somewhere. If you happen to have it (or one like it) lurking in your garage, or maybe know someone who does, then please do let me know.