My interest in MGs began in high school, when a friend of mine bought a used Midget. I knew the first time he let me drive it that I liked sports cars.
The year Christine and I got married, we bought a brand new 1975 rubber bumper MGB and used it as a daily driver, until moving to Syracuse, N.Y., in 1979 when we sold it, to be replaced with something more practical and winter-friendly.
While on a trip to England in 1996 I noticed a lot of MGs and British sports cars from the ’60s buzzing around, and the interest came back to me. When we got back home, I began the search. With not too much looking around, I found what I thought was a good one.
I let my emotions get ahead of me and bought our 1964 MGB from an individual in Pennsylvania. The car had an unknown history and had been used and abused as a race car, and put back together for street use. In short order I realized the MGB was in poor but drivable condition.
My wife and I joined the MG Car Club-Western New York Centre. Within the more than 25 years I have been a member I have held many offices within the club, such as Treasurer, Vice Chairman and Chairman. This membership created a large social network for Christine and me. Through the club we met many people with similar interests in cars and car activities. We enjoyed many tours, rallies and social events with the club.
After driving the MG for a while, I realized the car had a lot of problems. The motor needed a full rebuild, and the transmission was junk and needed to be replaced. From that point on, I kept changing parts to get it better looking and running. In 2006, with the help from fellow club members, I was encouraged to take on a restoration.
At first, I thought it could be done in six months. Boy, was I wrong! The restoration took on a life of its own. Of course, I faced interference with daily living, running my business, and raising a family. There were times when I would be stuck on a problem and needed time to get the appropriate part and/or solution. The project that I expected to last six months took six years to complete.
As the restoration went on and on, I developed the confidence to take on more mechanical projects and even home improvement. First, I insulated, drywalled and heated the garage so I could work on the MG during the winter months. I learned basic welding skills to replace the sills and floors with the help from a more experienced friend. In all, I replaced all the sheet metal from the doors, both front fenders and the bonnet.
I also replaced the transmission with an overdrive unit and re-did the interior with a kit from Moss Motors, which cleaned it up. Add to that a complete rewire.
I’m not saying I did this all myself. The project definitely required help from my friends, along with professionals, to get all the body panels to fit. The car had much hidden damage in its past life that required a frame-straightening machine.
At last it got painted in 2012 and was back on the road. Since then, I have upgraded the SUs to a Weber and changed out the original distributor to an electronic unit. With these improvements, though they are not original to the car, the B now starts and runs reliably.
Since owning the car, we have enjoyed many trips through upstate New York Finger Lakes region, New England and Pennsylvania. In 2017 we took a 5,000-mile road trip from upstate New York along the Blue Ridge Parkway to North Carolina and Georgia.
This past year we moved to Fort Myers, Fla., and joined the British Car Club of Southwest Florida. We are looking forward to growing our experiences with the hobby, and making many more new friends.
For all the trouble and time spent getting the car to run so we could have fun with it, I can say it’s been a fantastic journey where we have met wonderful folks and have had countless memorable experiences, along with learning many new skills that have carried over into our everyday lives.
The August 10th general membership meeting was called to order by President Mary Newman at 6:50 p.m.
There was low turnout due to weather and related pandemic concerns.
Kieran Curley attended as a guest.
The Treasurer was unable to attend. The Secretary’s report is on the website and also in the British Marque.
The monthly breakfast took place at Keke’s Restaurant in Fort Myers. It was attended by nine members.
Bill Newman made a motion to send a check for $200 to the British Sports Car Hall of Fame as a memorial for Cy Ling. The motion was seconded by Chris Baum. The motion carried.
Upcoming events (as of the meeting date)
Upcoming car shows include the International Jaguar Festival, October 20-24 Safety Harbor, October 21-24 and MG Jamboree, also in Safety Harbor, November 19-21.
Cars & Coffee at Bell Tower Shops is on the fourth Sunday of the month.
Our August 28th breakfast is at Skillets Restaurant in Fort Myers.
Following this review the meeting adjourned. —Bill Newman
[Continued from last issue. Hermann has found the car of his dreams, a Triumph TR6, and has begun talking turkey with its owner.]
After both sides took positions in the talks, and several phone calls and e-mails later, I used some frequent flyer miles for a one-way ticket from Flint, Mich., through Boston to Islip, N.Y. On a beautiful and hot Saturday morning in June my brother-in-law picked me up at the airport and we drove to get the car, plus an extra set of original rims.
The car was waiting for us washed and ready to go. The hardtop was mounted and some spare parts and manuals were packed in the trunk. The deal was a formality and went easy as pie.
I got into the car, started it and drove it carefully backwards down the driveway. Suddenly the engine died. It turned out the car was out of gas. We put in a gallon from a canister and stopped at the first gas station to fill up. This should have given me an inkling of what was to come.
The drive to Long Beach was no problem, and after some sandwiches at my in-laws’ and packing the rims, the soft-top and other essentials in the Triumph, I was on the way to Michigan.
Unfortunately, I got in a traffic jam on the Cross-Bronx Expressway. There was no emergency lane to let the car cool off, and taking an exit in this area could be life-threatening! So I moved along in 95°-plus heat — and the engine water showed some higher temperature, too.
Using the heater for some extra engine cooling became a tough choice with the hardtop mounted. The engine stalled a few times in idle, but we finally made it and reached free highways to Pennsylvania.
The car performed well, and I found myself cruising with 70 to 80 miles an hour, while the engine, while in 4th and overdrive, revved only 2200 to 2500rpm. I got off somewhere for gas, but the stations were closed. Starting the engine again, I noticed quite some smoke from the exhaust pipe. The next station was open and I filled up the car and checked the oil. The later was down half a quart below minimum. I added some oil and continued.
Now the car showed some problem with the ignition. From time to time, it seemed that the ignition was shut off for a fraction of a second. It had become dark, and I saw some living as well as some not-so-living deer at the side of the highway. As I didn’t want to add to the casualty count, I got off the road and looked for a motel.
The next morning found me up bright and early, continuing my quest through the Pennsylvania mountains. The car used a lot of oil and the problem with the ignition interrupted the steady roar about every five minutes.
After crossing the Ohio border, I passed an old Chevy Suburban with an empty trailer and Michigan license plates. Several minutes later, the ignition problem became more severe and for the first time, I had the feeling that we may not make the remaining 300 miles.
I slowed down, let the Chevy catch up, and when he passed me, I honked the horn and gave him distress signs. He stopped behind me on the emergency lane and I asked the driver what it would take to get a ride on his trailer. He responded that this would not be a problem at all and at the next parking area, we loaded the Triumph on the trailer.
It turned out that the Chevy driver was an engineer who had brought a special Mustang to a performance shop in Pennsylvania. He lived in Dearborn, but he took me all the way to Clarkston and did not accept any payment whatsoever.
Later it was discovered that the problem with the ignition was a faulty condenser, due to a not-so-perfect improvement. But a Bosch condenser, able to deal with higher power, solved the problem for good.
The oil consumption was the result of the additional oil line to the cylinder head in combination with the aftermarket valve cover and the three-carburetor set-up. Oil was sucked from the valve cover into the engine intake. The installation of an oil-air separator, feeding the oil back to the crankcase solved that problem for good.
For four years we drove the TR6 to many events in Michigan. It never let us down, and my experience on the way from New York to Michigan meant that this was a truly lucky car. I continued to improve the car, but with time we got the desire to have a more classic car.
And so I offered the car for sale — and within four weeks it was gone for more money than it had cost us during the whole time.
The BCCSWF meeting of July 13th was called to order by President Mary Newman at 6:30 p.m.
There was one guest and potential member, Chuck Swanson. He has a 1974 MGB and has recently moved to the area.
The Secretary’s report is on the website and also will be in the British Marque.
The Treasurer sent in his report, being unable to attend the meeting. We have 58 members.
The June Breakfast was held on June 26th at the House of Omelets in Cape Coral. Eleven members attended.
There was an SCCA race at Sebring, including Vintage, June 12-13. It was hot and rainy.
Upcoming events (as of the meeting date)
Hermann Schaller gave some details on the proposed Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club Car Show on January 16, 2022. They have automatically invited the winners from last year’s show. The show will be by invitation only. They have a limit on the number of cars they can accept.
SCCA will be having a sports car race at Sebring September 3-5.
The Safety Harbor car show sponsored by the Tampa Bay Austin-Healey Club will be held October 21-23.
The International Jaguar Festival will be held at the Sanibel Harbor Resort October 20-24. Details at the jaguarclubofswf.com website.
The Bell Tower Shops are the site of a Cars & Coffee get-together on the 4th Sunday of the month from 8:30 to 11 a.m.
The MG Jamboree sponsored by the Florida Suncoast MG Car Club will be held at the Safety Harbor Resort November 19-21.
The monthly breakfast will be Saturday, July 31st, at Keke’s Breakfast Café, Fort Myers.
Marcia Ling informed the club that the memorial service for Cy Ling will be held July 30th at the Burnt Store Presbyterian Church in Punta Gorda. The Secretary will send an e-mail with the details.
The meeting then adjourned. —Bill Newman
At age 14, while grocery shopping with my mother, I convinced her to let me buy a car catalog that listed all cars produced in the world at that time. In the following months I learned all the detailed information and admired the pictures of about 1200 car models.
I especially fell in love with the British roadsters. In 1973 our class made a school trip to the Frankfurt International Automotive Show, where I saw beautiful cars from Triumph, TVR, MG and Lotus. The wooden dashboards of the Triumphs really attracted me. The TR6 brochures described a drive through the countryside with sweeping curves and up-and-down-shifts using the gears and overdrive. Alone the word “overdrive” made me dream about someday driving this car!
In 1983, I owned a Lotus Europa S2 and went with some college friends to Belgium for a long weekend. One of them had a Triumph TR6 in Sapphire Blue. Since my Lotus showed (again) some signs of technical problems, we left it at the place we stayed and took some other cars for the one-hour drive to another town. When it was time to drive back, Wilfried, the owner of the TR6, had a couple of Belgian beers too many, so he asked me to drive his Triumph.
The car was there, top down, with the 150hp PI engine waiting to roar. I made myself comfortable behind the wheel, checked the location of the essential switches, put the shifter in neutral, pushed the clutch and started the engine.
This was for me the first time to drive an inline 6. The sound of the engine signaled smooth power. I pressed the shifter in first and let the clutch carefully up. I didn’t want to leave tire marks behind. The clutch gripped very suddenly and I just managed to avoid stalling the engine. Wilfried told me that I was the first person that didn’t stall his car the first time launching it. He felt convinced of my car skills. He asked me to hit the road and to catch up with the other cars, which had left some minutes before.
Here was the opportunity I was waiting for — I had more horsepower than usual and somebody asked me to race! Well — hold on, this is going to be fun. He must have been drunk completely, because I threw his car over the narrow Belgian countryside roads like a wannabe Stirling Moss attacking the Mille Miglia. My passenger was hanging in and laughing like crazy.
Soon we caught up with the other cars, which were no real competition for the TR6. But in front a BMW 323i with similar power and a similar reckless driver saw us closing in. That was when the serious part of the race started.
The speed limits were written for other cars, the brake pedal became taboo and the speed averaged above 100mph, but there was no way to pass the BMW. It braked better and accelerated equally. Our way brought us to a fork from which two roads offered a similar distance to our destination, and they would merge shortly before reaching the small town where we were staying. The BMW followed the main road and we took the other. At this point, I had gotten used to the steering impact from the rear axle, due to different power loads.
From today’s view we were simply lucky not to meet a cow or anything else in the road. There was no curve in which the tires didn’t scream. Some drifts used the whole width of the road.
At the end the TR6 won over the newer BMW by about 10 seconds, while all others came in 20 to 30 minutes later! The driver of the 323i blamed the traffic for his disaster, but nobody really listened. The old English car beat the new German masterpiece. That is the only thing that counts.
Personally, I preferred my Lotus for the pure speed and cornering, but it was broken so often that a Triumph looked reliable to me.
New car or old car?
As life went on, I had a number of sports cars, but they all were newer ones. The closest I came to an old-timer were some replicas with the good looks from yesterday and newer mechanics.
After moving to the States and living in Virginia, I got a BMW M-Roadster as a daily driver. The transfer to Michigan showed the limits of such a sports car on the rough Midwestern roads and started a discussion with my wife about the costs of a third (fun) car.
The depreciation of any nice, modern sports car is the largest part of its annual costs. The question came up which old-timer would keep its value (or appreciate), while keeping the maintenance costs manageable. We looked into the Austin-Healey 3000, Morgan Plus 8, Jaguar E-type, MGB, and Triumph TR4, TR250 and TR6.
The Triumphs seemed to be the best cost-to-fun ratio available. Finally, we gave up the Beamer and started looking for a top-down, fun-driving car.
In early spring 2002 I bookmarked the different sources on the Internet with some kind of English roadster content. Based on the experience with restoring some sports cars in Germany and the associated costs, I decided to look for a fully-restored vehicle, if possible, with some (sporty) improvements.
The exchange of e-mails with the owners of some cars for sale made me understand that TR250s are very rare, and excellent condition comes with a high price tag. The market looked better for a TR4 or TR6, but the first test drives and reviews of cars showed a difference in the understanding of “excellent condition.”
One day in the VTR classifieds I found the following ad:
“TR6 — Dark blue, hardtop, Panasports, triple Strombergs, Richard Good sway bars, shroud, roller rockers, G3 camshaft, new everything, drilled rotors, stainless brake hoses, oil cooler and spin-off adapter, racing belts, custom-made spiral cut tiger maple dash, stainless Group 44 copy header and exhaust, Delrin bushes, custom springs, overdrive, etc., etc., must sell due to illness. 30K invested. All reasonable offers considered. Please no dreamers.”
The car was located close to the Hamptons on Long Island, N.Y. The pictures sent by e-mail showed a beautiful car with several improvements.
By e-mail and phone, I tried to learn as much as possible about it. As we were going to visit my wife’s family for Memorial Day in Long Beach, Long Island, this was a chance to see it in person.
Once there, I drove out to the eastern part of Long Island and took a look to the car. I was offered to look into all details. A spark plug came out to check its color. Oil and water were checked before and after the test drive. The wheels were taken off for better access to the frame. The test drive included town roads, fast countryside curves and an interstate with speed up to 80mph.
All of that convinced me about the car’s quality and we started negotiations.
[To be continued.]
Our June 8th meeting was called to order by President Mary Newman at 6:50 p.m.
New member Craig Humphrey introduced himself. He has a 1966 Austin-Healey 3000. Also present was Jackie Engle, a guest.
Treasurer Larry McCartt gave his report. We have 57 members at present.
The President reported that there will be an article about the Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Celtic Ray in the next British Marque. [See our July issue. —Exec. Ed.]
There was a Breakfast Run to Penny’s Restaurant in Punta Gorda on May 29th. Ten members attended.
The club was represented at the Arcadia Rotary Club Memorial Day Event by Bill and Mary Newman, Cecil Carter and Isabel Munoz, Marcia and Larry McCartt, Maureen Larkin and Greg Curson. A group also went to the Celtic Ray after the service.
Upcoming events (as of the date of the meeting)
June 12-13 — Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) race, including the Vintage Group.
June 26 — Breakfast at the House of Omelets in Cape Coral.
October 21-23 — Car Show, Safety Harbor, Fla., presented by the Tampa Bay Austin-Healey Club.
October 20-24 — International Jaguar Festival meet, Sanibel Harbor Resort, Ft. Myers, Fla.
November 19-21 — MG Jamboree, Safety Harbor, Fla. presented by the Florida Suncoast MG Car Club.The meeting adjourned. —Bill Newman, Secretary
ARCADIA, Fla. — Before Pearl Harbor there was a need to establish flying schools in the United States. South Central Florida became a central location for two important British training schools — the British Number 5 at Riddle Field, Clewiston, and the U.S. School at Carlstrom Field, Arcadia. Carlstrom Field opened in June 1941 and Riddle Field in September.
During the course of their training many young pilots had accidents and 23 died. The British authorities requested a burial spot for the fallen pilots. Five plots were set aside that had adequate size for the fallen pilots along with two extra plots for meditation and memorials.
Carlstrom Field in Arcadia was the site of training with planes of simple design, such as the PT-17s. At Clewiston, advanced trainers such as BT-13s and AT-6s were used.
A formal commemorative service is held annually at the British Plot in Arcadia’s Oak Ridge Cemetery by the Rotary Club of Arcadia. The BCCSWF has participated in this event for many years. Each year our club has presented a memorial wreath for placement at the plot.
This year the club was represented by Bill and Mary Newman, Marcia and Larry McCartt, Cecil Carter and Isabel Munoz, Maureen Larkin and Greg Curson.
A PT-17 under restoration was also at the memorial, having been brought there by Hal Thompson.
A group of us went to the Celtic Ray in Punta Gorda after the service. This has become a tradition.
PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — The British Car Club of Southwest Florida did a luncheon run to the “Best Irish Pub in Southwest Florida,” namely the Celtic Ray. It is located in Punta Gorda and is owned by an Irishman, Kevin Doyle, and his son. Kevin also is fond of British cars and has a newer Mini.
The inside of the pub is very authentic and the outside area has been expanded to accommodate the ever-growing group of patrons. Kevin also has an outdoor stage for entertainment. Bill and I try to get to the pub about twice a month and enjoy the food, drink and hospitality.
The occasion for this trip was Cinco de Mayo. Yes, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo at an Irish pub.
We had a great turnout of 16 members and several British cars. Bill and I were joined by members John and Carolyn Iwasiu, Cynthia Mahoney and Dennis McKinley, Bob and Susan Englehart, Herman and Jeri Schaller. —Mary Newman
The meeting was called to order by President Mary Newman at 6:40 p.m. on Tuesday, May 11th, at Famous Dave’s. Guests included Barney Gaylord, “the MGA Guru,” and his son Elliot.
The minutes of the last meeting were reported on the website.
The Treasurer gave his report. We have 55 members.
Vice President Cecil Carter reported on the April breakfast that was at KeKe’s in South Ft. Myers. Eight members attended and brought three British cars.
The next breakfast (as of the meeting date) will be at May 29th at Penny’s in Punta Gorda. The Secretary will send out an e-mail with details.
Bill and Mary Newman reported on Cinco de Mayo at the Celtic Ray Pub in Punta Gorda. Sixteen members attended with four British cars.
John Baum reported on the trip to a U-pick Blueberry Farm with lunch afterward at the Le Belle Brewery. The group picked a lot of blueberries.
Ken Taylor reported that the Sports Car Club of America is holding a Club Regional Race in June, and it will include the Vintage group.
The club discussed the upcoming Memorial Day Service at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in Arcadia, Fla.
The Tampa Bay Austin-Healey club will be holding their car show October 21-23 in Safety Harbor, Fla.There will be an MG Jamboree hosted by the Florida Suncoast MG Car Club November 19-21, also in Safety Harbor.
The International Jaguar Festival will be held Oct 20-24, hosted by the Jaguar Club of Southwest Florida at the Sanibel Harbor Resort.
Marcia Ling donated several car club shirts to club members. They belonged to her late husband and long-time member Cy Ling.
The meeting then adjourned. —Bill Newman