With provisional licence in hand, the car standing taxed and insured in the yard outside, Alwyn Williams waited impatiently for the clock to strike midnight on September 7, 1991.
Finally, the hour had come and he and his mum, Menna, ran out to the car, in the dark, for him to go for his first drive on the roads.
The self-confessed car nut had already passed his tractor licence aged 16, so had some driving experience but still couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of a car.
“It was something we had been talking about doing for months,” he recalls. “I can’t explain how exciting it was to finally be doing it after all that time.”
The pair travelled 15 miles to the next town and back, getting home at around 1am with Alwyn buzzing from his experience. Two days and just one lesson later, he took his test and flew through it.
“I’d picked up my first car, a 1985 1.6 diesel Ford Orion, on the Friday, and was legal on the roads on Monday,” he says.
The transport planner from near Stoke-on-Trent admits he has had a fascination with cars from the minute he could push a toy car around the living room as a toddler.
“I had other typical boys’ toys, trucks and the like,” he said. “But it was always the cars I went back to and I couldn’t wait to start having my own cars.”
For his next vehicle, Alwyn stayed with Ford, moving to a 1.8 diesel Escort and then to 1.9 turbo diesel Peugeot 306.
“I had better jobs after that, and could afford new cars,” he says, “and at the age of 25 I drove off the forecourt in my first brand new car – a red Peugeot 306. It was an amazing feeling. I bought it from a town centre showroom in Birkenhead, and as I drove off the forecourt, everyone was looking at my car. It was just brilliant.”
Two years later, Alwyn bought his first Volkswagen. “I bought a black VW Golf, which was the most expensive car I could afford at the time,” he says. “It was a 1.9 turbo diesel and I loved it. I’ve never owned a petrol car – mainly because of fuel economy, and even now I still always go for diesel.”
But it was his next Golf which will always hold a special place in Alwyn’s heart. The car, which he describes as “just awesome”, was a black GTiD in the new shape, top of the range, at a time when there were very few around.
“I loved driving it, I just felt so proud,” he said. “It nearly broke my heart when, two years later, due to family commitments, I had to swap it for a sensible, practical Peugeot 307. Even the salesman was sympathetic about what I’d had to do.
“I still hanker after that Golf, even now, and when I see one I just have to stare.”
As the father of two young boys, Alwyn had to leave his petrol-head ways behind for a few years, opting for more appropriate family vehicles but by 2010, his children were older and there was no need to cram pushchairs, car seats and other baby paraphernalia into the car. His hobby resurfaced again – in style.
“I bought a Renault Clio GT in blue, with a 2-litre turbo diesel engine that was chipped to 194 bhp,” he says. “It had all the extras, upgraded alloys, body pack, everything. It was three months old and had been a demo model. I had to drive to Glasgow to fetch it but it was worth every minute.”
As a top of the range model, Alwyn’s Clio had been used by Renault for marketing purposes, and every so often he would see his car pop up in TV adverts. “That was an amazing feeling,” he says. “I used to love the fact that my car was on the telly – it gave me such a buzz.”
The 41-year-old freely admits he is one of the shyest people one could meet; so why does he want the fastest, smartest and most unusual car on the road?
“People look at my car, not at me,” he says simply. “I hate being looked at but I love people looking at my cars, and that’s why I wanted a personal plate.”
Following the GT, Alwyn chose another Clio, again an ex-demo with all the extras and, as a 40th birthday present to himself, he bought himself the plate ALW 560.
“I’d always wanted a personal plate,” he says. “I had been left some money and I wanted to spend it on something that would last. I saw the plate as an investment and I spent ages looking for exactly the right one. I wanted the letters first, then the numbers, and I wanted it to end in either a zero or a five – nothing else would do.
“I purchased the number plate from Regtransfers. I saw it on a Saturday, put in an offer on Sunday and it was accepted on Monday. A brilliant stress free transaction.”
Alwyn continues to change his cars. Since the Clio he has had a BMW and his current Mercedes, but it looks as if his personalised number plate will be a constant, even as the cars themselves come and go. For the moment, at least.