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My website address is: http://www.automotivelife.nl. I’m not a commercial organisation, just a private individual with an automotive related blog.

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An anonymised string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: https://automattic.com/privacy/. After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.

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Any comments left on the site pages to which I reply are left on the site until such time as I deem to clean up and remove them. Data left (email address etc.) when posting the comment is only visible to the administrator (Martyn) except for the comment text itself including the name of the poster. Requests to share data from earlier posters will never be shared with newer posters.

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For my own personal view of visitor locations and referral information the site uses the Jetpack plugin to create site statistics.

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Automotivelife does not share any personal data with anyone!

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If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognise and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

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If you have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

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Visitor comments may be checked through an automated spam detection service.

Contact information

Any privacy concerns can be addressed to admin@automotivelife.nl

Well I’ve eventually got the site up and running on a new server. After configuring a newer machine with a LAMP installation on a Debian8 OS at the end of last year, I tried to export the old database and import it on the new site. Unfortunately without much success. The old site was not structured that well (I learned a lot since it started 😊) and needed a lot of correction to get it to work well, so I decided to build it again from scratch (lots of copy/paste). The last few days have also been a bit stressful as after going live I had some problems with the Apache web server crashing. Traced it to some PHP errors inherited from the old site, god knows how that ever worked as it did. Anyway, still a little fine tuning to do but hopefully it should perform a little better than on the old machine.

Hi  – I’m Martyn Thompson and have been messing about with internal combustion engines since 1966. Although my dad was never that technically involved with the cars that he owned I was always fascinated by them. The picture below of me (far right) and some of my mates was taken in the lane at the back of our house in Birmingham by my dad, I would have been about 10 I think.

We all played with toy cars of course (no Nintendo or Playstations back then) and used to nick sand and cement that our dad’s were using around the house and built roads and bridges. The real point of the photo though is that the two lads next to me Paul and his little brother Steven came from quite a large family who lived in a house that backed onto the other side of this lane. They had an older brother who was probably late teens, early twenties and I still have this vivid memory of him and his mate building a small sports car in their small garage, very much like what would later become popular as the Lotus Seven. I would imagine that it was actually based on an Austin Seven or something like that but I never got to talk to him about it as he hadn’t really got a lot of time for us kids and I didn’t actually know much about cars. Nevertheless I was always fascinated with the idea of one day doing the same.

Around this time one of our neighbours was moving and my dad was helping them. I was allowed to go along and that was the first time I rode in the cab of a truck, an old Thames Trader probably from the fifties. So that was the second thing that would leave an indelible mark on my life, and future.

Turn the clock forward about five years and we were living in Leicester and I had long ago left those lads behind me, not the impressions of the time though. It was 1966 and the laws regarding driving licences at the time meant that when you were 16 you could immediately get a provisional motorcycle licence and drive anything up to 250cc as long as you had ‘L’ plates (white square about 15x15cm with a red letter L). I was determined that I was going to get a bike and spent the school summer holidays of ’66 working at a paint wholesalers who supplied my dad who had a hardware shop. I always had to work for everything, my dad didn’t believe in “spoiling kids”. At the end of the summer I had saved enough to look around for a bike which was cool until my mum put a spoke in things by convincing my dad that a motorbike would be dangerous. After a lot of discussion it was decided that I could get a scooter and so I found something in my price range – a ’59 Vespa 125cc. Unfortunately no pictures but I bought it off an old guy and it needed a bit of work to get it up to scratch but that started my Automotive Life for real. I wasn’t actually old enough to ride it until the december of that year but that gave me the time to work on it. My dad could see that I was interested in more than just owning it and suggested that I go to night school classes which were free to students of our school where they were held. I enrolled in a basic engine maintenance class and that’s where I learned the basics about 4-stroke and 2-stroke engines and all the ancillaries that made them run. Carbs, distributors, coils, dynamo’s (alternators) etc. My dad also insisted that I went on a training course organised by the RAC/ACU which started a couple of weeks before my 16th birthday which meant that the first two sessions I only took part in the theory. I passed the rest of the training (Highway code, road craft, basic technical theory and off road slow control) with flying colours and by the beginning of March ’67 I had passed my test and could ride ‘unlimited’, but also carry a passenger – absolutely essential for a 16 year old looking for girls.

By this time the old 125cc didn’t quite cut it as I had joined a Vespa owners club populated by Mods who had some really flash machines. I managed to sell the 125 for a profit and with some money saved from a paper round and working in my dad’s shop I bought a ’63 Vespa Sportique 150cc. This a picture from sometime in late ’67 taken in our back garden.

Pity that this is the only picture as you can’t see it from the side. The side pods were chrome plated by my grandad at the factory where he worked and I had once again put my stamp on a cheaply bought vehicle. The next trade up was in ’68 to a ’64 Vespa 160cc Gran Sport which was the fastest scooter I ever owned (again no bloody pictures). I had spent some time and effort tuning it and on a good day it would top 120kph. After that I managed to convince my dad that a motorbike was the way to go and I bought a ’63 Triumph Tiger 90 350cc twin. Smashing little bike but it wasn’t long before someone offered me a deal on a Triton Cafe Racer which I could not miss out on. Triton is normally a Triumph engine in a Norton frame. In this case a 650cc Bonneville pre-unit (separate gearbox) engine in a Norton featherbed frame with a big aluminium Dunstall tank, rear sets and clip ons. Again I had to spend some time getting it up to scratch and as usual no photos but I really, really wish that I still had it today. If you’re interested Wikipedia has some info: Wikipedia – Triton Motorcycle

By this time I had my car licence although it took 18 months. No real interest you see, I did four lessons then didn’t bother for a few months until my mother nagged me. Another four lessons and then again didn’t bother for a while, finally another four and my instructor thought I was ready. I passed the test on a beautiful warm sunny Monday morning in June ’69. I remember it was the first test of the day and I was worried the examiner could have the Monday morning blues but he was in an exceptionally good mood and so I did my best and was back in the test centre within 20 minutes.

So then began the badgering from the family to sell the bike and accept a car as a present from my grandad which I eventually grudgingly did. I was really sad to let the cafe racer go and move into a Mini but after a while I found that it actually went down better with the opposite sex. I had a number of different cars after that. Some cool cars like a ’65 Mini Cooper S, ’67 Ford Cortina 1600E, ’64 Reliant Scimitar GT, ’66 Chevy Bel Air. Some less cool after I first got married ’68 Triumph 2000 Mk.1, ’73 Citroen GS POS (piece of shit) – worst car I ever owned, I was so glad when some twat crossed the white line and wrote it off. Had a ’74 Ford Cortina 2000 GT for a while before trading it in for this ’77 Ford Escort 1600 Sport which after some modifications I ended up rallying.

Some of the cars after this are covered further in the relative site sections.