A pensioner has been reunited with the first car he ever bought when he was a teenager and restored it back to its former glory – 61 YEARS after he traded it in for a new model.
Brian Rollings saved up for months to buy a 1936 Austin Seven Opal Tourer for £140 just months after passing his test when he turned 17 in 1953.
He spent hours polishing the car and took his pals to Weston-super-Mare in Somerset on holiday before reluctantly trading it in for a bigger Ford Popular 103E in 1955.
Brian even went on his first date with his wife of 56-years Sylvia, when they first met shortly after he bought his beloved car.
But Brian, now 77, always regretted selling the car and after getting interested in classic cars set about trying to track down his pride and joy.
Incredibly, after spending 10 years scouring classic car magazines, auction houses and internet sites, he finally found it in a dusty barn 18 miles away from his home in 2011.
He bought the car, with a top speed of 52mph, back and has spent the last three years lovingly restoring it back to its former glory.
It now takes pride of place outside the great grandad’s home in Walsall, West Mids., and he has vowed never to be parted from the car again.
Brian, a retired engineer who has two grown-up sons, three grandsons and two great-granddaughters, said: “I bought the car from a greengrocer in Birmingham for #140 in 1953.
“I’d got a new job and wanted a car so put an ad in the local paper for an Austin Seven Opal, my dream car.
“A greengrocer contacted me and told me he had one so I raced over and viewed it and said I wanted it.
“I must have saved for months to find the money and I was worried someone else would snatch it up but when I drove it home for the first time I felt like a king.
“My mates thought it was great too and we had some fantastic times heading to the coast with the top down.
“I sold it in 1955 after trading it in for a bigger car but I always regretted doing that. I loved the car and over the years I just wanted to get it back.
“I got into classic cars and bought a Rolls-Royce and a Mark VI Bentley convertible but I always hankered for the old 1936 Austin Seven.
“Finally I saw it advertised when I went to the Practical Classics Restoration Show at the NEC in 2011.
“I enquired about the car immediately but was devastated to learn it had been sold the day before.
“It had been off the road for 40 years in a barn in Coleshill in Warwickshire. It was rotten and covered in toy teddy bears.
“I was determined not to let it slip away.
“The purchaser had agreed the deal and, even though it was painted orange and in a very grim state, I knew I could get it back to how it used to be.
“I collected the car the following week and started on the restoration immediately.
“I was 75 when I got the car back so I felt time was of the essence.
“Then on November 4, 2012, just eleven months after the project began it passed its MOT first time.
“I love driving it around now. I feel exactly like I did when I was 17.”
Wife Sylvia, 77, a retired administrator added: “I always say to people that Brian loved two things in this life, me and that Austin Seven.
“I remember him driving me around when we first started courting and it is lovely to go out again and re-live all those wonderful memories.”
Last weekend his motor was the star attraction at the Practical Classics Restoration Show at the NEC which was attended by tens of thousands of car fanatics.