Bikes, Cars and Thoughts from Mars – Michael W J Wilgar


A snapshot of eighties tomfoolery


Funny and endearing stories from growing up in Belfast and family life to the motorbike adventures in recent years and Michael’s insights to life in general. Enjoyable and thought provoking.

Beverley Campbell

Bikes, Cars and Thoughts from Mars is Michael W J Wilgar’s evocative and refreshing memoir that’s a must-read for anyone born in the 1970s.

Packed with scenic motorcycle adventures and coming of age memories, stories of friendship, fatherhood and family relationships, loss and laughter, this is an unforgettable depiction of his life so far. He shares his diverse anecdotes with relish, honesty and humour, to create the kind of read that stays with you long after the book is finished.

From his early childhood in Northern Ireland, the broken bone stories, and the toys he played with to his first bicycle and the youth club discos, there is much in here to bring a smile to any ‘70s child. His lifelong love of motorcycles has enabled him to enjoy escapades without circumnavigating the globe and forge biker friendships which last forever.

What stands out most in this entertaining memoir is the author’s wry sense of humour, plenty of which is sprinkled throughout the book. He offers ‘Sound Advice’ to other bikers and shares his personal insight into the BBC’s ‘Top Gear’ programme (both past and present versions) – both of which will provoke a reaction from even the most tight-lipped people.

If you’re an avid memoir reader you will thoroughly enjoy Wilgar’s chatty, warm and articulate writing style, and by the final page you’ll feel like you know him inside out.

A lovely glimpse into the past and a much simpler world that has sadly gone for ever. Each chapter is self contained so you can dip in and out of the book without losing the storyline.

Mr B


About the Author

Michael Wilgar was born In Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1970.  He writes about his memories as a child growing up in a country of violence.

Michael’s short story memoirs tell of the fun and adventurous times he and his friends had over the years, From Playing with toys as a child to Motorcycling around Ireland, taking in the spectacular scenery, Michael reflects the mainly positive side of life in an honest and amusing manner with a unique writing style that most will warm to. 

I have not fought in a historic war, travelled to outer space or bounced around the planet on a space hopper. So why bother to write at all? Well, I’m not quite sure really. Maybe just my attempt to leave a record of some sort of what it was like during these years at times, and some of the fun things we got up to; possibly just a reminder not to take life too seriously.

Michael Wilgar


I think I must have been about six years old when I got an Action Man complete with helicopter for Christmas. Not sure exactly how it came about; it must have been me showing a great interest in a TV advert showing Action Man flying around in his helicopter on his heroic missions and me watching with great excitement believing Santa could deliver me a real flying Action Man to go on adventures with.

Well, disappointment does not entirely cover how I felt that Christmas morning. Having unwrapped my presents and loaded Action Man into his war machine, I carried them both to the top of the stairs. I then turned around and launched them into the air, sending them on their maiden flight, only to be left wholly traumatised and crying my eyes out as the damn thing did not make the slightest effort to fly. It just went plummeting to the bottom of the stairs and smashed into 60 pieces or so. I mean, the bloody thing flew perfectly well on TV, so what the hell was Santa playing at leaving me a flightless aircraft for my main Christmas present? Was he not the jolly spreader of joy that I was led to believe? The man whose sole purpose in life was supposed to be to, one day a year, give children their heart’s desire. Doubt I had spread through my seven-year-old mind and at that point I thought he was one serious asshole, and if he’d walked in the door at that moment I’d have shoved what was left of my helicopter up his fat butt.

And what would Jesus have to say about this? I remember that day not only because of the emotional tragedy unleashed upon my inner being, but also because when my uncles and aunts came round later on and were told the full story of why I had a face on me like a well-slapped bottom, every year after that they loved to bring up the story of me launching my helicopter from the top of the stairs as a source of great amusement. Bless him, my uncle tried to UHU glue the thing back together again, but it was a pointless effort. Lesson learned; don’t believe everything you see on T bloody V.

Looking back, I reckon these are the things that inspire our first senses, feelings for adventure, using our imaginations through our toys as children in our innocent minds. I remember toys breaking easily when you played a little rough with them. But then came the TONKA TRUCK advertised on TV as tough to the point of being indestructible. Shown carrying stones and rocks on its tipping loading body while driving over rough terrain, it was my ‘want to have’ present for my birthday. If any child could break that super truck, it was me, and if it broke those assholes at the Tonka Truck factory would be getting a piece of my mind. 

My birthday came; my Tonka Truck was unwrapped and immediately put through its paces. I’d already set out in my mind some rigorous tests I would be putting my new truck through involving being thrown down the stairs, a head-on collision at high speed into a pebble-dashed wall, then dropped from a height of ten feet from our upper garden wall onto concrete. Yep, that was one tough truck alright.

Mum came out and tried to explain to me, that although it was advertised as indestructible, that didn’t mean that I should go well out of my way to try and prove them wrong. I just don’t think Mum realised that as far as I was concerned, Mr. Tonka had personally come to me with this truck, spat in my face, called me a sissy and dared me to try and break the bloody thing. Well, Mr. Tonka won this time, and I got a bit bored. Turns out I like things better when you can smash them to pieces and end up emotionally distraught. Yes, OK, I may have had some issues. See there are two types of boys – one who likes to get toys and plays hard with them until the wheels fall off and end up in the bin, then there are those boys who get toys and look at them and admire them, keep them in a display cabinet for many years. You can spot them on Antiques Roadshow displaying their collection of toys they never played with so as not to scratch them. You will also see those pushing shopping trolleys around behind their wives in shopping centres, unless they are 50 years of age still living in their parents’ roof space where Action Man has his own bed beside them. The saddest thing of all is they end up living life with very swollen space hoppers all because they never played a bit rough with their Tonka Toy.


The author impresses as being; intelligent, practical, companionable, insightful and thoughtful. Apart from that he seems to be alright.

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