CAPE CORAL, Fla. — On Saturday, September 12th, the British Car Club of Southwest Florida went on a tour through the Wicked Dolphin Rum Distillery, which is located in Cape Coral.
Among the interesting facts we learned is that it is a “craft distillery” (makes fewer than 750,000 gallons per year) and that it is also independently owned and operated. They use local ingredients (produced within 100 miles). Their copper pot still was imported from the state of Kentucky.
The tour guide explained the process of making rum and we were able to sample their Rum Punch — which we all found to be very good and decided to have it at our Holiday Party!
The tour went through the storage area, where there are many rows of barrels. The guide explained that the rum is aged in used Kentucky bourbon barrels for 3-14 years. Their rum comes in many different flavors: Vanilla Bean, Mango, Coconut, Key Lime, and Blueberry & Strawberry Shine. They also make vodka.
Volunteers are used to help with the bottling of the rum. Compensation is a bottle of rum!
The Distillery began making hand sanitizer last spring, and are producing thousands of gallons each week for hospitals and first responders. They also sell this to the public and had a sanitizer giveaway back in August. This helped them to stay afloat during the COVID shutdown.
At the end of the tour, we were treated to a complimentary tasting in the gift shop area. Wicked Dolphin also has their own brand of coffee, which many of the members purchased at the end of the tour.
Afterward, we went to Mel’s Diner for lunch and fellowship. The tropical weather from Sally did not dampen the enthusiasm of this group!
Thanks to Cecil Carter, Bob and Susan Engelhart, and Peter and Sandy Blackford for coming out, which made for a very fun and enjoyable afternoon!
I owned this 1927 MG 14/40 tourer in the early-to-mid ’60s in Dayton, Ohio. At the time I didn’t know of any older MGs other than an M-type in Cincinnati, which I almost owned also.
The 14/40 was the second model MG produced after the “bull-nosed” 14/28.
In 1925-27 Cecil Kimber’s young company moved to Cowley, Oxford. By then the model after the one I had was the pure, “all-MG” 18/80, not a made-over Morris Oxford.
I acquired my tourer from a NASA cinematographer in Cape Canaveral, and from there I trailered it back to Dayton.
The MG needed a lot of work and a lot of tinkering, on a nickel-and-dime budget at that.
I acquired an original Solex carb from France and cork-lined clutch plates from the U.K., and decided to doll her up here and there, like with a running-board spotlight and bulb horn.
The headlamps can be dipped, to the left of course, by an external lever. The coachwork consists of but two doors to help the rigidity of the body. A starter-generator keeps things going in that department. There are octagon motifs everywhere, except the scuttle ventilators.
The rear wings are not original. I added a license plate and taillight panel at the rear with the MG logo showing as polished aluminum.
The car was woefully underpowered, even with a 2-liter flathead engine coupled to a 3-speed transmission. With a hand-pulled choke it started very easy, it seemed. Petrol was fed into a small under-the-bonnet tank. (Don’t refuel when the engine is hot! I refueled from a 5-gallon can in the driveway.)
The MG was finished in cream with red interior and black top. Side curtains were nowhere to be found, it seemed.
I enjoyed showing the 14/40 and it surprised a lot of MG fans at the time. One memorable outing was at the Greenfield Old Car Festival in Dearborn, Mich. The car is titled as a ’25 so it was barely eligible for showing. We conned a security lad to allow us to spot the car in front of the Wright Brothers’ bicycle shop for a photo since we were from Dayton.
A copy of that photo is in one of the MG publications from the MG works. On one of my visits to England and to the MG Car Club next door to the office building, I pulled the copy with the photo to show several MG T owners who are friends.
The car has been in two museums that I know of — Silver Springs in Florida and Jerry Goguen’s Westminster MG Museum in Vermont.
At one time it was in the hands of an MG dealer in the Miami area. I sold it to a friend of mine in Kettering, Ohio, and I believe a dentist in Connecticut has it now, although there was a rumor I heard that it had gone back to England.
The original factory color scheme on the 14/40 series was blue or red wings and blue or red cellulose from the beltline up and top of the bonnet only, with polished metal for the rest of the body. This scheme carried over from the bull-nose 14/28 series.
Available factory coachwork consisted of the four-seat tourer, two-seat roadster with dickey seat and a two-door saloon.
A saloon was chosen by the works as a “gofer” for company errands and such. It was also used for testing paint color — hence it was nicknamed the Auld Speckled ’Un, or, as we know it today, the Old Speckled Hen. —Larry McCartt
Penny’s Restaurant, in Punta Gorda, has become a BCCSWF breakfast favorite. Members of the club returned to Penny’s for its August Saturday morning breakfast gathering and were not disappointed. Penny, and her staff, again delighted club members with as outstanding menu and excellent service.
Several members praised the restaurant during the September club meeting. It’s a good bet that the club will return in the not too distant future. In the meantime, the September breakfast gathering will be at another club favorite, the House of Omelets in Cape Coral, on September 26th. —Cecil Carter
The British Car Club of Southwest Florida met on Tuesday, September 8th, at Famous Dave’s Restaurant in Fort Myers. President Cecil Carter called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.
New members Al and Christine Jensen were welcomed to the club. They are the owners of a beautiful 1967 Austin-Healey 3000. Al spoke briefly about his experiences with the car.
Treasurer Tom Brewsaugh gave the monthly financial report. Tom informed the club that he and his wife, Kiki, are relocating and would be leaving the club soon. The club thanks Tom for his many years of outstanding service to the club.
Past events were discussed. The August Saturday breakfast gathering was held at Penny’s Restaurant in Punta Gorda. Members who attended spoke favorably about the morning. The September breakfast gathering will be on Saturday, September 26th, at the House of Omelets in Cape Coral. The gathering will begin at 8:30 a.m., with breakfast at 9 a.m.
Cecil mentioned the upcoming (as of the meeting date) rally sponsored by the Jaguar Club of Southwest Florida on September 19th. He also announced that “Wheels Across the Pond” was cancelled.
The BCCSWF Holiday Party was discussed. Marcia McCartt suggested that the club change the November Welcome Back Snowbirds/Pool Party to December and make it also a Holiday Party at her home. The members thought that was a great idea and the consensus was to do so.
The 50/50 was won by Bill Newman.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned. —Ken Taylor
I bought my first Triumph Spitfire from RS&S Sports Cars in Baton Rouge, La., in early 1977. After looking at several TR3s, I found the yellow 1976 Spitfire 1500 with only 15,000 miles parked on the dealer lot, looking like it needed a new home. For $3,500 I became a British car owner for the first time.
The yellow Spit became my daily driver and weekend autocrosser for many years. In those days I was autocrossing every weekend, somewhere in Louisiana or Mississippi. Notable events were in the New Orleans Superdome parking lot, the streets of downtown Baton Rouge, and a banked oval speedway in Jackson, Miss. My son and daughter both learned to drive with the yellow Spit and my adventures were many.
Of course, all this action took a toll on the car, and it is now on the fourth engine and a few rebuilds in between. My Spitfire engine sports a twenty-thousandths overbore, performance cam, roller rocker, oversize valves and 10:1 compression, and breathes with a 40mm sidedraft Weber carb and performance exhaust header. The wheels are 6” wide Superlights.
About 15 years ago it was repainted in the original Mimosa Yellow and a hardtop was installed. I still own the yellow Spit and consider it to be a part of my family. It has been resting in our garage for a few years, needing a rear suspension rebuild, which will be happening soon.
Sometime around 1982 I bought a very early Spitfire 4 racecar. This machine raced SCCA H Production and I saw it in action at the one and only Baton Rouge Grand Prix in the early 1980s. I autocrossed it in the Production class during the times the yellow Spit was resting. I remember one event where I spun out at the finish and won the class crossing the line backwards.
This car was dark brown with twin SU carbs and an 1147cc engine. It was sold to a Baton Rouge undertaker as part of a property settlement with my first spouse.
Before leaving Louisiana, I obtained an SCCA competition license and began racing a VW GTI in Showroom Stock, then a Spec Racer Sports Renault. By this time I had met and married Mary and had become dissatisfied with SCCA club racing — and especially the non-British cars I had been racing.
Having moved to Florida in 1985, I started autocrossing the yellow Spitfire again with the Gulf Coast Autocrossers, a local Ft. Myers group that had the use of a small airport for their events. This type of motorsports held my interest until 2005, when Mary gave me a birthday gift of a performance driving event at Palm Beach International Raceway (then known as Moroso Motorsports Park). The cars were Factory Five AC Cobra replicas and the experience convinced me to go racing again.
An ad in Autoweek for a Spitfire Mark II vintage racecar caught my eye and I called the owner, who was in Virginia. After explaining my background and my love for Spitfires, the owner promised to save the car for me. Mary and I flew to the Washington, D.C., area to look at the car and agree on a price. The next weekend we drove up with a trailer and picked up the little 1147cc white Spitfire.
The next order of business was a Panoz Racing School at Sebring, where I renewed my competition license and then went on to vintage racing with SCCA and HSR. The little white car (Mary’s favorite) was not very fast but it sure was a lot of fun. We took the car to the Mitty at Road Atlanta in 2007 and raced all the tracks in Florida.
My last race in that car was on the long course at Sebring. The Spitfire was running great and I was setting my best lap times when something under the bonnet went ping and I was trailing a cloud of white smoke behind me. The result was a broken rocker shaft. Valves had gone through several pistons and the crankshaft was broken.
The next Spitfire came along in 2012 when I heard that fellow racer Tim Slater was planning on selling off some of his racecars. The one that I liked the best was a replica of the Triumph factory effort at Sebring and Le Mans in 1964 and 1965. It was a fastback coupe similar to the GT6 but with the 1300cc engine and twin HS4 SU carbs. The color was British Racing Green with a yellow stripe and face. Tim took the white Spit and cash for the green car.
Three or four races into the 2012 season I was doing a practice lap at Sebring when the left rear tire got a puncture and the car went straight into the Armco at Turn 12. The bonnet was destroyed along with the front part of the frame and the radiator was wrapped around the front of the engine.
I obtained another bonnet and frame from Tim Slater and brought everything to Steve Smith of Twin Cam Motorsports in Sarasota. Steve was able to put everything back together in six weeks and we took the car to HSR’s Hutchinson Island Race in Savannah. The car was successfully raced for another four years until December 2017.
The HSR event in December 2017 was the last time I drove the green car. I was on the last lap of the first race and dicing with a unique Hillman sedan. After putting some distance ahead of the Hillman I entered the Turn 7 hairpin. Upon exit the rear end stepped out and I corrected. Suddenly the rear end violently came around again and I was airborne and upside down. The car bounced off the roof and landed on the wheels facing the other direction and off track.
I was unhurt, but the desire to drive the car again was gone. Tim bought the car back and put it back together with plans to race it again.
I continued to race my Triumph GT6 Group 44 tribute car for a few more years and will write an article about the car in the future. The yellow Spitfire 1500 will hopefully be on the road again soon and will provide more adventures for Mary and me.
The meeting was called to order by President Cecil Carter at 6:30 p.m. He introduced a new guest who became a member. His name is Greg Curson and he is a friend of members Marcia and Larry McCartt. He owns a ’71 MGB.
The Treasurer, Tom Brewsaugh, was not able to attend, but sent his report. The minutes of the previous meeting are on the website and in British Marque. Past Secretary Mary Newman took the minutes for the meeting.
A few members went on the Tour of Pine Island that was sponsored by some members of the Austin-Healey club that also belong to the BCCSWF. They had a total of six cars and they had a great day.
Breakfast at Penny’s in Punta Gorda was a great success, with seven cars attending. Everyone liked the breakfast and apparently the pancakes.
The Celtic Ray luncheon had 13 people who braved the heat in their non-air-conditioned cars on a steamy July 11th. We were greeted by the friendly staff and were happy to be able to get into the air-conditioning. The food and drink were great, as usual.
Future events (as of the meeting date)
The club will meet for breakfast on July 25th at Marco’s Diner on San Carlos Blvd. and McGregor Blvd. in Ft. Myers. The President will send out an e-mail with details.
Other upcoming events
The Safety Harbor car show will be held on October 24th. [This has since been cancelled.]
The “Wheels Across the Pond” car show will be held October 31st.
The Jaguar festival has been cancelled due to the pandemic.
The meeting adjourned. —Mary Newman
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. He 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.
On this particular day we had 13 members who drove their British cars in the heat on a very humid July 11th. We opted to sit inside. Along with Bill and myself were Larry and Marcia McCartt, President Cecil Carter, Dennis McKinley, Cynthia Mahoney, Bob and Susan Engelhart, Ed O’Neal, Bob Teddor, Al Jensen and Maureen Larkin. We were all grateful to get into the air conditioning and enjoyed our favorite libations and food.
The city of Punta Gorda had recently passed a “mask” ordinance and we all fully complied. There has been a very confusing set of rules set by different municipalities in the area but we all need to abide by the rules in order to be safe for us all.
Bill and I sponsored another luncheon run to the Ray last year on “Cinco de Mayo,” and they had fish tacos.
On the topic of the pandemic...
It has been very interesting and somewhat disappointing. Fellow car club members Gary and Trish Maue and Bill and I had booked a cruise to celebrate our birthdays — mine is on St. Patrick’s Day, Trish’s on March 16th and Gary’s on March 18th. We made our reservations well in advance and were looking to on a brand new ship that had a go-kart track (!) that Gary and Bill were excited to try. We were all ready to go Sunday, March 15th, when we got an e-mail on the Friday night before that all cruises were cancelled.
Bill and I decided that, as we already were packed and our house/pet sitter was already at our house, we would drive to Louisiana via Biloxi, Miss., which we have done several times before.
We took off in our 2016 red MINI early on Sunday and got to the casino hotel by the early evening. We did a few slots that night. Next morning we took off for Baton Rouge for my favorite casino hotel, at which I had made a reservation.
About 25 miles outside Baton Rouge I got a call that they were closing the hotel. Now we had to find a place to eat some lunch and regroup. We finally found the last restaurant in Baton Rouge that was open, and I called back to the hotel in Biloxi for a room that evening.
When we checked in we were told they were closing the casino that night at midnight and the hotel soon thereafter. We went to the casino and payed a few slots and ate and drank until about 10 p.m. (we can’t stay up as late as we used to). We got up the next day, St. Patrick’s Day, and decided to drive straight back.
So that is my sorry story — but we did stay home for several weeks just to make sure we were not infected. I know a lot of people had it a lot worse. We hope that next year we can all celebrate our birthdays in a more relaxing way!
It was not Tiffany’s, but Penny’s Restaurant in Punta Gorda was the venue for the BCCSWF’s June breakfast gathering. Twelve club members, and seven British cars, made the trip on the last Saturday morning in June to sample the breakfast fare and enjoy the camaraderie.
They were not disappointed. Members selected from an expansive menu and enjoyed meals of the highest quality. Excellent service was provided by the restaurant’s owner, Penny, and members of the staff. The club’s new practice of investigating various restaurants for the Saturday breakfast gathering paid off. —Cecil Carter
This is a chronological history of our 1966 Austin-Healey 3000.
It was November of 1965, before the holiday break. I was a senior studying electrical engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. There were Morgans, MGs, Triumphs, and even a V8 Daimler running around campus. But I always liked the looks and the sounds of the Big Healey.
I was scheduled to graduate in February, and I had a job lined up. I thought I would treat myself and relieve some stress from studying by looking for a new car.
One day I drove my 1953 Ford rustbucket to Manhattan Motors on Queens Chapel Road in Hyattsville, Md. It was a gray and dreary day, but Manhattan was the local Austin-Healey dealer. I convinced them I had, or would have, the means to purchase one and convinced them to let me take a test drive.
There was a brand new 3000, BJ8, British Racing Green, wire wheels, perfect! And I had the keys! I remember starting the car and hearing that beautiful sucking noise from the twin SUs. Then, driving off the lot, hearing the throaty roar emanating from under the car. What a thrill!
I drove the car back to the dealership with a big smile on my face. The dealer salesman asked me what I thought. I said I loved it. But then it got down to the nits and grits. The price!
Remember this was 1965, my new job was going to pay me $680/month, $8,160/year. And this salary was near the top for a new engineer in 1966. The price for this new Healey, my dream car, was $3,200 — almost 40% of my annual salary, and that was pre-tax. I melted, thinking this would never, ever happen.
So I ended up with a brand new 1966 Ford Mustang convertible, dark blue with a white top, with a 289 V8 and an automatic slushbox. The price was much more affordable, it looked cool, but it was not fun to drive. Seemed like it just couldn’t get out of its own way, and my buddies who had manual transmission would blow me away. I did put Koni shocks and Michelin Xs on it, so I felt a little better.
(I love the smell of the Xs when they warm up. I think I was the first guy I knew that had radial tires.)
Then life happened for the next 55 years. In February last year, 2019, my sister and brother-in-law were visiting us in Naples, Fla. One of our favorite events that month is the annual “Cars on Fifth,” hosted by the Ferrari Club of Naples. This event is a major supporter of St. Matthew’s House, which provides innovative solutions to fight homelessness, hunger, substance abuse and poverty in Southwest Florida.
As well as gorgeous Ferraris of various vintages, other cars are invited to participate along beautiful 5th Avenue in downtown Naples, and the 2019 show was the best one yet. There were 607 cars spread across many classes. This included more than 150 Ferraris and supercars, 70 Corvettes, 70 Porsches, 80 muscle cars, 20 antiques and classics, 30 British cars, and 30 cool cruisers.
Now, my brother-in-law has worked with cars for his entire life and loves to go to car shows. But our schedules didn’t align that year and he went to the show by himself.
On the evening of February 9, 2019, my brother-in-law sent me a photo of a 1966 Austin-Healey 3000 with a For Sale sign in it. British Racing Green, wire wheels, it was love at first sight. Déjà vu all over again.
I couldn’t make out the phone number on the For Sale sign, but he blew up the photo and gave me two deciphered numbers.
To make a long story short, she ended up in our garage. The icing on the cake is that the inside of the glove box door is signed by Donald Healey!
She had “been around the block” a few times, as they say. After a few weeks of brake work, tuning up, fluid flushing and refilling, etc., we drove it for about a month. We sent for, and received, its BMIHT certificate.
We then decided it need to be returned as closely as possible to its initial condition and drove it to Tsikuris Classics in Lakeland, Fla., for interior and exterior refurbishment.
We know it will cost three times as much as planned and take three times longer. But progress is being made, and we remain very excited each time a progress report is received.
Her name is “Victoria,” and we hope that upon her return to our garage we will be able to spend many hours experiencing fun and camaraderie with the other members of British Car Club of Southwest Florida. —Frank Palulis