We got us a great big convoy…

Ahh, those heady days when you could just drive, with no prospect of unsolicited communication with the outside world. Yes kids, believe it or not, before the late 80’s there were no such things as ‘mobile phones’, in car (unless your were James Bond or Noel Edmunds) or not.

Apart from for a fleeting moment in 1980/81….

I often see Defenders through my hands fitted with a ‘CB radio’. Usually very badly fitted. I believe off-roaders tend to use them when greenlaning in a convoy, to be responsible 4×4’ers and warn following drivers of obstacles they’ve just driven over.

Except whenever my friends and I have been off-roading, the dialogue rapidly descends into abuse and general messing about…

Fair enough, but I also see a few with CB’s that have clearly never been off tarmac in their lives. I suspect the owners think having a CB radio is ‘cool’.

Except it’s not.

Except from that fleeting moment in 80/81, when it (sort of) was.

Unlike today, when many under-25’s don’t drive, through choice or economic necessity, buying and running a car, and passing a driving test, at the turn of the 80’s, was far more straightforward, and almost all of us had cars. And, almost without exception, we all procured an in-car CB radio, which were then illegal in the UK.

It must have been the proscription that gave it an edge, because when they were legalised in November 1981, the fad for them disappeared overnight (and in our group the continued possession, never mind use of, one thereafter was to lay oneself open to ridicule).

I bought mine from some dodgy bloke in a pub. Allegedly it was a ‘good’ one although I never really understood the features. DX’ing, anyone? Anyway I, probably none to carefully, installed it in my Triumph Vitesse (of which more later) with a huge aerial on the rear deck, and promptly started ‘talking’, using, as seemed de rigeur, a daft American patois as popularised by the song referenced in the title. And we all had these ridiculous ‘handles’ as well.

However it must have been enormous fun at the time, as I spent a night in the cells, having been spotted with an ‘illegal communications device) – the big aerial gave it way – and for refusing to explain where I’d got it from. I think it might have even been impounded.

And then, in a flash, the craze ended. Whenever I see a CB radio in a Defender now, I leave it well alone.