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
FT. MYERS., Fla. — On April 24th, the BCCSWF met for a Club Breakfast at Keke’s Breakfast Café on Daniels Pkwy. in Ft. Myers. Attendees included Cecil Carter and Isabel Monuz, Chris and Mary Jane Cosden, John and Carolyn Iwasiw, and new members John and Chris Baum.
Cecil and Isabel arrived in their all original Mark II right-hand-drive Jaguar. The Cosdens drove their magnificently red MG TD. The Iwasiws, I’m sorry to say, didn’t arrive in either the MGB or the MGA, due to “mechanical issues.” The Baums, who recently moved to Ft. Myers from Rochester, N.Y., drove their MGB.
The conversation was interesting and totally enjoyable. This is a time to get to know your fellow club members a bit better.
Both the food and service were great, especially the waffles with fresh fruit and the eggs Benedict. I’d recommend Keke’s anytime.
If you’ve not attended a Breakfast with the club, join us next time.
The meeting, on April 13th, was called to order by Vice-President Cecil Carter.
New members Charlie and Mary Cox were recognized, who have a 2016 Aston Martin. Also present was Gary Bower, who has a 1974 Jaguar XKE.
The Secretary’s report is on the web and also in British Marque. The Treasurer, Larry McCartt, gave his report.
Twelve members of the club attended Breakfast at Keke’s in Cape Coral, Fla. on March 27th. The restaurant was very accommodating to the group. There were several classic British cars in the parking lot and some good camaraderie after we enjoyed our breakfast.
The next Breakfast will be held at the Keke’s in South Ft. Myers on Daniels Pkwy. on April 24th (still in the future at the time of the meeting). The Secretary will send out an e-mail for members to RSVP if they wish to attend.
The club celebrated birthdays for the two members with April birthdays who were present.
Ed Olson proposed a trip to the Labelle Brewery, with lunch afterward.
Also coming up:
The 2021 JCNA International Jaguar Festival, October 20th through 24th at the Sanibel Harbor Resort & Spa, 17260 Harbor Point Dr., Ft. Myers, Fla.
The Safety Harbor Car Show, sponsored by the Tampa Bay Austin-Healey Car Club, October 23rd.
Cecil Carter is checking with the organizers to see if the Arcadia Memorial Day event honoring fallen British Pilots in the Oak Ridge Cemetery will be held.
The meeting adjourned. —Ken Taylor
CAPE CORAL, Fla. — One of the most anticipated events of the season, the 9th Annual B.I.G. European Sports & Collector Car Show, took place on March 7th at Rotary Park in Cape Coral.
Park visitors and show exhibitors had the opportunity to view 163 participating cars on the field. This year’s event was hosted by the Porsche Club of America-Everglades Region.
Rotary Park was a new park for the Show. The previous five years of the Show were held in Jaycee in Cape Coral. Having a new location required different traffic patterns and additional show resources, but we were able to get everyone in place for the Show to begin.
As in past years the cars were displayed across a wide area of the park separated into areas for British, Italian, and German (B.I.G.) cars and further into classes by model. The largest section was the German area, as they had the most cars on the show field.
The meeting, held on Tuesday, March 9th, was called to order by President Mary Newman at 6:30 p.m.
New members John and Chris Baum, Harry Hartwell and Wil Diaz were recognized.
The Secretary report is on the website. The Treasurer sent his to the President for the meeting.
A few members attended breakfast at the 41 Diner. The Engelharts and Cynthia Mahoney said they enjoyed their meal.
Bill and Mary Newman attended the Cape Coral Charity Car Show at Sun Splash Park on February 27th. It was a very hot day and there was very little shade. We did not stay for the awards.
Bill and Mary, along with Cecil Carter, Ed O’Neal, John Orr, John Pokorny, Peter Sales and Dennis McKinley, attended the BIG (British, Italian and German) Show at Rotary Park in Cape Coral on March 7th. It was a change in location and it was a great site. There was a lot of room and shade. The Show had 173 in attendance. Winners were announced at the end for each class within the groups.
Ken Taylor participated in a race at Sebring on March 14th. He ran his Miata instead of his British car.
Upcoming events (as of the meeting date)
The club will have a breakfast run to KeKe’s in Cape Coral on March 27th. Ed Olson is organizing a run to a blueberry farm in Alva, followed by lunch, on March 28th.
The President and British Marque editor for our club news asked members to submit articles.
The membership decided to postpone the annual Picnic until fall, by which time more members should be vaccinated against COVID.
The President stated the memorial for deceased member Cy Ling will be later.
The meeting then adjourned. —Bill Newman, Secretary