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Sensation: Community and Passion in Devon
Auboné Braddon is one of the country’s leading experts on Ford Anglias. He owns 12 of them. But he doesn’t possess a driving licence. That is because Auboné is visually impaired. But this disadvantage has not hindered his love of these characterful English classics. Auboné tells us a fascinating story of passion, community and the sensorial experience of classic car ownership – against all odds.
Aubone Braddon stands proudly in front of a quarter of his Ford Anglias. Picture: JM DRAKE
My love of vintage and classic cars starts with my first memories of transport in general. The car I can remember in abundance in the late 1960s, early 70s, was the Anglia 105E. My dad had two Anglia Estates, and our neighbours across the road also had two. The mechanic who worked for my dad also had two Anglias. Anglias were everywhere I looked!
A quiet corner of Devon that is forever Anglia. Picture: JM DRAKE
As time went on of course, these cars became more and more scarce – and around the same time, I got to the age when people would normally be learning to drive. As a visually impaired person, I had to face the reality that I would never learn to drive. I realised I would never be able to experience the freedom and joy of passing the driving test myself and head out on the road. I always sort of knew this of course. All my schooling was done at the West Of England School For Children With Little Or No Sight in Exeter – and I had been registered blind from an early age. Nevertheless, the reality of the situation didn’t really set in until my friends began to drive and I wasn’t able to.
There were two ways that I could have dealt with the fact of my visual impairment. One was to hide away from anything automotive, to deny the passion and the interest that was undeniably in me. Alternatively, I could face the situation and my predicament head on. I chose the latter. This choice came naturally to me, when a friend, who was exactly the same age as me, took me out in her Mk2 Cortina the day she passed her test. Despite my visual impairment, I truly and profoundly shared in the freedom and excitement of her new driving skill. It was all about sensation – the movement of the car, the smell of the interior, the noise of the engine – and the simple human joy of freedom that I was sharing with my friend. I didn’t need perfect eyesight to experience these things. I have never looked back from my love of cars – and especially Ford Anglias.
Auboné’s first car – the 1962 lime green and ermine Anglia Deluxe – is still at the heart of his collection.
When I reached 21 I said to my family that I would still like to own a car even though I couldn’t drive. We all decided there was no reason why I couldn’t own the car I loved. It wasn’t long before we had found a lovely 1962 Anglia Deluxe in lime green and ermine white locally and I bought it. The car was only 24 years old so not really considered at the time a classic back then in 1986. It was something just a little bit different. I still own that car today – and it assumes a pride of place in my collection of 12 Ford Anglias.
It wasn’t long before I found details for the Ford Anglia 105E Owners’ Club, paid my dues and became a member. This was just fabulous. There were so many Anglia owners in this group – there was an instant community of like minded people. I felt accepted, embraced by my fellow Anglia lovers – and the fact of my visual impairment didn’t matter at all. Many of these people have become lifelong friends. I loved receiving the club magazine ‘Anglebox’ and then met one or two people locally that were also Anglia owners. The only thing was there was not a great deal happening in the Devon area as far as the club was concerned. With the support of friends I applied for the post of South West Area Organiser. This was back in 1990 and I am still in the post. They can’t get rid of me.
Over the years I have developed many ways to enjoy ownership of cars – not only through community, but through the senses too. So, for example, though I am visually impaired, I can recognise the tonal range of the classic Ford Anglias – so I can clearly distinguish each of the cars that I own – and other Anglias in this way. Similarly, if you opened the door of one of my cars, I could tell you which one you had opened – in a combination of the sound of the door, the smell of the interior. In terms of the driving experience too, I am lucky to have a good network of supportive and enthusiastic friends who happily join me for a drive and take the wheel. This is particularly fun in the ‘Rally Anglia’, which, I think, is the jewel in the crown of my collection.
For Auboné, Ford Anglias are about all-round sensorial experience. Picture: JM DRAKE
When it comes down to it – the nature of the driving experience is much broader than the visual – it is about sound, the smell and the physical movement of driving – and of course the friendships I have forged are the thing that join all these things together. And living here in Devon, I am in the ideal place. Driving along the Devon lanes on a spring day in a classic Ford Anglia – is just sensorial perfection.
An artist’s impression of a Ford Anglia
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