Ford Prefect (photo: Riley/Wikipedia Commons)

Reminiscing on the Effort and Reward of My First Car

By Carly Peters

AMA member Jim Spalding has always been a car guy—it’s practically genetic. His dad and uncle both loved cars; even his mom drove a Model T coupe. As a youth working in the family auto shop, it’s no surprise that he dreamed of his own car. When he finally got his driver’s licence, Spalding couldn’t quite afford his dream wheels. So, he set his sights on
something more attainable.

In the post-war period, an invasion of British cars had made its way to the Canadian market; one of the most affordable was the Ford Prefect. Based on a 1930s North American Ford model, the Prefect wasn’t exactly modern in appearance, but the $95 price tag was just right for a high-schooler.

After an extensive search, Spalding found a 1952 model with a partially working second gear—a rare find in the inexpensive import! (The Prefect not only looked like a pre-war Ford, it was also mechanically similar—making it somewhat antiquated compared to other models of the day.)

Photo: Jim Spalding

Spalding got to work customizing it by rigging up a kitchen radio in the dash, and stashing the vehicle’s 90-volt battery under the front seat. For months, he happily bombed around Edmonton, driving to school, work and even going on his first drive-in movie date.

The heater didn’t work very well (he had to stick his finger in the fan to get it going), but the young Spalding didn’t care. The freedom his first car provided was well worth a little chill.

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