Jimi Beckwith: Ford Fiesta/Peugeot 207
I learned to drive in a bog-standard petrol-powered Ford Fiesta, with a comparatively miserable week in a Peugeot 207 courtesy car when the Fiesta took a big hit with another learner behind the wheel. The Fiesta wasn't the most interesting or unusual, but it did the job. It kept out the nerve-shredding storm-force winds and torrential rain, come test day, too.
Mark Pearson, senior digital reviews editor: Lancia Beta
My father’s Lancia Beta had a twin-cam engine and plenty of brio, but it also had ludicrously heavy low-geared steering, and a driving position that favoured long arms and short legs. With the seat right back and reclined enough to avoid my head brushing the roof, I could barely reach the bottom of the steering wheel, never mind the top.
Darren Moss, content editor: Ford Fiesta Ghia
The car I learned to drive in was also the first car I owned – a 32,000-mile Mk.4 Ford Fiesta. Its 1.25-litre engine wasn’t the last word in refinement, economy, speed, torque or even noise, but I still adored this car. Ghia spec bought a few luxuries too, including a mock wood effect on the dashboard.
Sam Sheehan, senior staff writer: Ford Focus/Ford Escort
Mine was a diesel Ford Focus Mk2 - it was fairly bland so my memories are blurry. My memories of driving a Mk4 Escort at the age of 15 are much clearer. I took it around the block on private land surrounding my dad's garage, and it smelt of unburnt fuel and had a loud, blowing exhaust. Felt like such a geezer though.
Matt Prior, head of video, features: Mini 1000/Volvo 360
I learned to drive partly in a 1976 Mini 1000, and partly in a 1984 Volvo 360 saloon; taught in both by my old man, and passing at the second attempt. My front teeth, however, would probably have preferred it if it was the Volvo, not the Mini, I drove into a tree a month later.
Rachel Burgess, news editor: Vauxhall Corsa
What else could it be but the Corsa? Sold en masse at discounted rates to learning schools across the country, my learner Corsa was accompanied by an eccentric tutor who spent his time making rollies, and giving me 'breaks' so he could smoke them. While I'm, naturally, an outstanding driver, my claim to fame in the Corsa was passing my test with a major fault. Suffice to say, the Corsa didn't leave a huge mark on me.
John Howell, reviewer: Humber Sceptre
I taught myself to drive at 14 on my Uncle's farm in Wales in a 1974 Humber Sceptre. I fixed it up it and used it to blast around the farm, often building impromptu racetracks out of hay bales to practice my car control. It’s still in the barn where I left it; it’s done about 33,000 miles since new, but none harder than the few hundred I put it through back then.
Alan Taylor-Jones, reviewer: Citroën GSA/Vauxhall Corsa
Like many of you, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel as soon as I turned 17. While I was getting lessons in a dreary first generation diesel Corsa, I’d already purchased my first car in anticipation of my eventual pass, a Citroën GSA Pallas SE. Given the choice between an oil-burning supermini and a brown velour sofa on wheels, I always looked forward to parental guidance in my car over lessons from a professional.