Ken Hallett writes about his love of cars, and how he came to drive a Crossfire (or two).
As young lad on leaving school at 15, I worked in a motor cycle shop and later moved on to the local garage. From the age of 16 until my national Service at 18, I had a 1934 AJS 350 single with twin exhaust and girder forks, I recall it used more oil per mile than petrol! Followed by a 1935 France Barnett two stroke, then a 1952 Bond Mini car driven via a Villiers 197cc engine…and a few more wrecks, most purchase for a few pounds and in shocking condition. I demobbed from the RAF in 1961 after serving three years, which I really enjoyed, but not enough to sign on. I purchased an almost new Jawa 350 twin, a well made bike and quite fast. I thought I could ride like Jeff Duke, but after a motor cycle accident and a spell in hospital, I realized I was no Jeff Duke!
Then cars, far too many to list, but here's a few of the interesting ones. An Austin Atlantic, a rust bucket but fantastic looks, then an old but lovely 1947 Humber Hawk, a very beat-up 1959 Frog Eyed Sprite and then a 1957 Nash Metropolitan soft top made for the USA market. It had a BMC 1500cc engine and column gear change. It looked like a boat and drove like one! (The crossfire will be mentioned, stay with it!) Married in 1966 two children followed, and a wonderful gentle collie dog, called Jason. We had the ideal vehicle for a young family, a Ford Cortina estate, followed by an early Volvo Estate. The years raced by, the children had grown and sadly Jason had died of old age after 14 years, I still miss him even now. Time for a vehicle change and Jane bought her first Golf and me a fantastic Marcus Mantala Coupe, soon to be traded in for the latest Marcos Mantara Spyder. Both had big V8 engines, very low slung and flightily fast but stopping was a problem, and wet roads a nightmare. Jane hated it for numerous reasons, to low, uncomfortable, and with the big lump up front, was always hot around her feet, and heated up her perfume and lipstick inside her handbag when placed on the floor! It had to go, and it did!
You know how generally painful shopping can be for men; well it was during a shopping expedition 2002/3 with Jane, that I saw my first Crossfire. Out of town there is a large shopping prescient where M&S and Sainsbury are divided by a large entrance/display area, and on this day the local Chrysler main dealer was displaying a Crossfire Coupe auto in black…I sat in it and drooled over it for a while, it reminded me of the first time I met Jane. It was love at first sight…I collected a brochure and price list (not for Jane, but for the car) and costing around £28.000, that was the end of my dream.
One Crossfire ………………………………………… Leads to Another!
It was later, in 2007 that I purchased my first Crossfire Coupe from a main dealer, with one owner and 6k on the clock. Driving it home was a sheer joy. Comfortable and quiet, reasonably fast, and did not heat handbags!! Then a few years later I sold the Crossfire (V6 AXF) and within months I regretted it. I kept in touch with a few Crossfire owners, and kept an eye on the Crossfire forums. Then later, with Jane's approval (and to stop me sobbing at night) I purchased Crossfire, this time a Roadster, and once more in black which for me is the best colour!
Needless to say, I will not make the same mistake in selling this Crossfire, it’s with me till the end, and then my boy Gareth will have it. I am always surprised and pleased at the attention the Crossfire receives. I love the sound on starting up and the buzz I always get driving it………
Keats 1795-1821 could have been describing the Crossfire when he wrote:
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever; its loveliness increases, it will never pass into nothingness"