They may have been a bit basic, but the humble Ford Fiesta Mk 2 and Vauxhall Nova were the joint most popular 'first cars' in a survey of motoring journalists' and PR staffs' earliest motoring memories.

Ford Fiesta

Ford Fiesta

The poll, carried out by Newspress to show just how far the most basic car has progressed since the 1980s, was prepared in conjunction with the annual SMMT Media Test Day, where some of the most fuel efficient, eco-friendly cars ever made are available to test drive.

Newspress, meanwhile, is offering journalists the chance to try some less advanced but certainly characterful forms of transport.

The poll-topping Fiesta and Nova will be on hand, in era-defining Popular Plus and Merit trim levels, along with a Nissan Micra, which was so beloved of driving schools in its heyday that it would have been the first car so many of the event's attendees drove. And stalled.

And for good measure, we've also thrown in the third most popular car in our survey - which, astonishingly, was the Austin Allegro. Before any of you bother to ask, ours does not have a square steering wheel. But if you fancy taking it home with you (and why wouldn't you?), it is available to hire from Great Escape Classic Car Hire - Book early, though, as we hear it's very popular for weddings.

Among the highlights of our survey were some delightfully quirky cars. A DAF 33 which, according to its owner was 'As quick going backwards as it was forwards' (how on earth did he find out?), a Citroen GSA Pallas SE that died when its owner 'knackered the rear subframe when a particularly vicious Scandinavian flick went wrong' (in a GSA?) and a bright yellow Reliant Regal three-wheeler that 'rode its middle wheel on the strip of ice in the road during winter, making it impossible to steer' (surely the makers of Only Fools and Horses missed a golden comedy opportunity here).

Of all the first cars owned by motoring journos and PRs the least powerful was the aforementioned Reliant Regal, while the beefiest was a Ford Capri RS3100 - they don't come much cooler than that.

Among some of the more characterful features were a Renault Clio with a 'spontaneously reclining (sometimes in motion) driver's seat', A Hillman Imp from which 'you could remove the ignition key whilst driving along' and a £250 Fiat Panda that 'didn't quite lead the simplistic, joyful dream promised by Giugiaro'.

There was also one correspondent who decided that both the best and worst features of their first car were that 'it was an orange Lada, need I say more?'

Over 25 per cent of respondents said they'd own their first car again 'in a heartbeat' (appended by the Reliant Regal owner with the words 'possibly my last'), while four of them still own them - of those, one is a VW Polo GT, another a Citroen 2CV6, another a Renault 5 and finally, someone still owns their Allegro…

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