Sunday, 30 September 2012

ME AND MY MOTOR - Frank Neaves

Cortina MkIII 2000E - Frank's Motor

Earlier this year, the nice people at the Hull Daily Mail asked me to contribute to their 'Me & My Motor' section. It didn't start well. I told them my first car was a knackered Vespa 90. 'That's not a car,' they said. 'Stick to four wheels, preferably one at each corner,' they said. 
So I gave them my list of second-hand crates: the 1977 Datsun Cherry, the Fiesta with holes in the floor, the Volvo with stuff growing in it ... I could've gone on, but the look of Clarkson-style contempt suggested they'd got the message. Which was when I pulled the chair a bit closer and leaned in, 'Tell you what,' I said, 'if you're interested, I know a bloke who might have what you're looking for.' 
I can't say Frank wasn't happy about it. He's keeping a low profile at the moment, but once I'd managed to find him, he came round. He usually does. 
1. What do you drive?
Last thing I owned outright was a Rover 75, maroon, leather seats, walnut dash, but that was a while back. It got a dent in it. These days if I need a car I tend to borrow one.

2. What was your first car?
A Mark II Cortina 1600E, metallic silver. They used to say you could break in with a lolly stick, which apparently someone did. Never saw it, or them, again.

3. What was your best car and why?
A Mark III Cortina 2000E. Midnight blue with a vinyl roof and an 8-track player for me Motown Chartbusters. 

. . . and your worst car and why?
When the first Cortina got pinched, I had a Hillman Minx for a while, bought it for £20 from a bloke in Catford. Felt like a right dick, you could do nought-to-sixty in about three weeks.
4. Do you consider yourself to be a good driver?
Back in the day I was solid. Not the best, but I never got caught, put it that way.

5. Have you ever had a crash? If so, what happened?
Not a crash exactly, there was one time though about three in the morning on the south circular, but that was more what you’d call an ‘enforced stop’.

6. What do you keep in your glovebox?

A first aid kit and a bible. If the first one don’t work, always handy to have the second one.
7. What drives you mad behind the wheel?
Drivers with no manners.

8. What music do you drive to?
Strictly a classic soul man these days. Mavis Staples for the quiet days and crank it up with some Otis or Wilson Pickett.

9. Who would be your perfect passenger?
One who knows how to keep his trap shut.
10. What’s the craziest thing you have ever done in a car?
Give a ride to someone who didn’t keep his trap shut.

11. Who cleans your car, and how often?

When I’ve got one, I do. Back in the day when I was driving for a living, chauffering for Mr Schiller I’d do it every day. Inside and out. Spotless.
I'll be reading from Frank's Wild Years and talking about Ted Lewis, crimewriting and social-realist writing across the Humber region along with Mr Nick Quantrill (The Late Greats and Broken Dreams) in THE HUMBER BEAT at Ilkley Fringe Festival this Tuesday, 2nd October at Ilkley Playhouse. We're on at 9pm.

Frank's Wild Years - available from selected Waterstones,
online at Amazon, Waterstones or by e-mailing me direct

"An urban masterpiece; riveting from first to last. Nick Triplow is the true successor to Ted Lewis."
Mike Hodges, Director - Get Carter
"Frank's Wild Years is simply stunning. A brilliant character study, a gripping gangster story and an incredibly moving examination of friendship, family, loyalty and loss."
Paul D Brazill


  1. Brilliant!

    Me dad had a Hillman Minx back in t'day, but first car as I knew we had when I was little was a Singer. Soft top an' both doors could come off - bloody freezin'! Dad drove all t'way to Stoke. We went to Alton Towers - it packed in on a hill...

  2. Good one Nick, it reminded me of my first car, a 1960 blue Austin A40 Farina,very cool!