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The April 2002 Newsletter

March 14 Meeting Highlights

C. C. Goodson & Carl Floyd

We had 29 members and 3 visitors in attendance. Our visitors were Rickie Fields, Bill Gentry, and Fred Stewart.

This month’s Program was provided by Carl Floyd. Since there is such an interest in aviation in our club, Felipe Charon was invited to speak about his experiences as a Navy fighter pilot. A native of Puerto Rico, he attended and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Felipe enthusiastically related his experiences flying the F/A18C Hornet. A very nimble fighter/attack jet. He underscored it by showing some exciting video footage of the Hornet in action. When deployed, his base of operations was aboard the USS Independence aircraft carrier which has since been decommissioned. Felipe, or Flipper (his Navy radio nickname) has a real passion for flying. To him, F18s or Cessnas, it’s all fun!

The Board reported that Gerry and Becky Mitchell have offered to host our May meeting at their carriage house. More information will be provided prior to the meeting.

March Drive to Kentucky

By Randall Thomas

The Kentucky Contingent of the ABCS met up with the Tri-Cities group (and a Bean Station representative) at Hardees in Duffield, VA on a bright and sunny, if cold, March 23rd. After some coffee and juice, and gas fill- ups (those Jags are thirsty!), we proceeded west on US 58/421 up Powell Mountain to the scenic overlook for a minute or two to look out over the valley below.

There were 10 of us, driving 4 MGB’s, a Spitfire, an E- Type, an XJS, and a Honda. You could make a case that Hondas are related to LBC’s, what with the close collaboration between Honda and BL Cars, Rover

Group, BAe, etc. during the ‘80’s. In fact, the last Triumph-badged car sold in Britain, the Acclaim, was a Honda Civic with different grille and trim.

Back to the drive, we went on to Pennington Gap, and took US Alt. 58 northeast to Big Stone Gap, drove through town, and on to 4-lane U.S. 23 north. The route of Alt 58 is through a pretty little valley, but with the road construction under way, all this will change. There were many vacant houses about to be torn down in the right-of-way, giving a forlorn look to the other wise pastoral valley. Twenty-three North is a twisty up and down busy highway, and soon we were in the old coal company town of Jenkins, a mile or two from the VA/KY state line. We spent a half hour or so in the David Zegeer Coal and Railroad museum, in the renovated C & O Railway depot, and learned about the mining town Consolidation Coal built just before World War I, when the railroad came and the great reserves of bituminous coal were opened up.

For lunch, we drove on southwest on US 119 to nearby Whitesburg, the county seat, and ate at the Pine Mountain Grill, a new restaurant at the junction of KY Route 15 (leading to Hazard) and US 119 (going over the mountain to Cumberland and Harlan). I enjoyed my hillbilly favorite soup beans and cornbread, with onion and tomato, and remembered Dad saying how he thought that was all there was to eat in West Virginia during the Great Depression. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food and fellowship. Ben Bailey and I looked over a map to plan out some future drives to Breaks Interstate Park and Burke’s Garden, VA.

After lunch, brother-in-law Larry Elswick and I departed for Pikeville, and the rest of the group went back towards Pound, VA over Pine Mountain, past Bad Branch Falls and Flat Gap, and back to the 4-lane (dual-carriageway, as the Brits say) US 23. Sam Chandler told me all made it O.K. to this point, so I trust they all made it back to Tri-Cities as well.

The next drive is scheduled for Saturday, April 27 to the Breaks. We will have all the info and meeting times at our next club meeting. Ben Bailey has agreed to coordinate the Tri-Cities gathering to come as a group and meet me in Southwestern VA. We will let everyone know well ahead of time.

Special Invitation

Catesby Woodford of the Sterling British Motoring Society, a British club located (more or less) in and around Mt. Sterling, KY invites us to participate in their club sponsored “Bluegrass Bash” in Lexington, KY during the first weekend of May.

The Bash is a Friday (May 3) late afternoon – Sunday (May 5) midday affair as a rule, held at The Springs Inn on Harrodsburg Road/North Broadway in Lexington. Events will include a full-time and well- stocked hospitality room, dinner, a road trip (not a timed rally), an auction, a derby party, and plenty of tire kicking. Depending upon the weather, they typically have 30+ cars in attendance. It is good to register if at all possible in order to determine how much food/beverages to have on hand.

Registration form is available at the following website:

Newsletter Format

Newsletter Format This month, the newsletter is mailed to all members in order to accommodate the enclosed information and registration forms on the following events:

The Gathering in Winston-Salem, NC, April 26-28, 2002

Marques at the Mint in Charlotte, NC, May 5, 2002

27th annual Edgar Rohr Memorial Car meet in Prince William County Fairgrounds, Manassas, VA, September 21, 2002

All British Motorcar & Motorbike Show, Historic Carnton Plantation, Franklin, TN, October 11-12, 2002

Footnote: The black and white edition is to save on the publication costs.

May Club Meeting

Dr. Gerry and Becky Mitchell cordially invite us to their home for the May 9th club meeting. The meeting will start at 6:30 PM. Gerry encourages everyone to drive their British cars so we can ‘kick tires and tell lies’ before and after our meeting.

Directions: coming from Kingsport, at the 11W and John B. Dennis intersection (East Stone Drive) go East about 3.5 miles. At the General Shale concrete block plant, turn left onto Arcadia. Travel about 1 mile North. Look for 2.5 acre pond with the driveway across the pond. Go up the left hand side of the drive. The address is 298 Arcadia and their phone (just in case) is 288-9862. Just bring yourself and your car.

The Mitchells will provide food and drinks.

Whatever Happened to Those
Little British Sports Cars?

By Mike Cook (submitted by Al Bradley)

Remember MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey, Morgan, Sunbeam? There were thousands of them scooting along our streets and highways in the '50s, '60s and '70s. A whole generation had discovered that we didn't have to drive dull domestic cars when we could have a spunky two-seater with the social cachet of an import.

What was it that made sports cars so exciting? Were they fast? Some were - nobody tried to win a stoplight grand prix against a Jaguar XK 120. But speed wasn't it. The MG TC and TD were very popular, but your everyday '55 Chevy was much faster.

A Sensual Appeal It wasn't the power nor even their capable handling. Sports cars were sensual. It began with the looks (it wasn't called "styling" in those days). Somehow, the combination of small size, swoopy curves and chrome trim was exactly what we wanted, now, and no other kind of car could give it to us.

Climbing into a British two-seater was like putting on a custom-made suit. The seat enclosed you. The wheel and shifter were close at hand. The instruments were eager to tell their stories. Even before you started the engine, you were wrapped in sensation.

Next, vitally important, was smell. Go to a collector car show today and persuade someone to let you sit in an MG or Triumph. Close your eyes and breathe in. Remember? It's that rich scent of oil and polish and varnish and hot metal, all overlaid with the aroma of Connolly hide, a satisfying smell unmatched by leather from any other country. You could sit in that car with your eyes closed and know that it was made in Britain.

And then, you switched on the key and pushed the starter button (this was a long time ago) and your hearing took over. Sometimes hoarse, often mellow, the exhaust throbbed its music in your ears, an overture to adventure down the nearest road. Into gear, clutch engaged, you were off to faraway places at max revs, even if you were just going around the block for ice cream.

Opportunities Await You. Remember? No? Well, maybe you were buried in the books, working overtime or perhaps born a few years too late. The red MG, the British Racing Green TR, the brilliant blue Austin- Healey and that magnificent XK 120 passed you by. If you missed it when it was happening, is the opportunity gone or can you still enjoy the thrill of a British two-seater on a winding country lane?

Absolutely! Not surprisingly, many of those Triumph and MG and Jaguar sports cars are alive and well all over North America. Kept shiny and in top mechanical condition, they aren't everyday cars any more. They sit patiently garaged until the weekend when they are brought out with pride for a relaxing drive or to take to a show. Collector clubs offer advice, magazines list cars for sale and parts suppliers can still come up with virtually everything needed to keep these 30- or 50- year-old cars running at their best.

Of course, when these preserved, restored, coddled cars come on the market, they bring premium prices. So, what about the sports car enthusiast on a budget? First, check your local Want Ad Press or Community Shopper. You'll be surprised how many MGs, Triumphs and other premium two-seaters are listed.

Roadside Beauties Also, you can't go wrong just driving down the road and looking! Running an errand one day, I passed a house that I had seen hundreds of times but, this time, the garage door was open. Inside, peeking out from under a pile of old blankets and boxes was a Triumph TR3. I have since had a look at it. It is bodily and mechanically sound and may be for sale at a reasonable figure. On vacation a couple of years ago, driving down a back road in Virginia, we came upon a small auto repair shop with at least 10 TR7 and TR8 convertibles parked out front. None were licensed, all were clean and looked complete, and all were available.

My daughter came home from school last week and said she had passed a house with an old sports car parked at one side. She said, "It looks like one of those Jaguar 120s you like." Yes, it had a "For Sale" sign on it and we're going to drop by and check it out.

Last winter, out on our Christmas tree expedition, we passed a gas station with a bunch of junk American cars parked around it. Just visible behind the building was a grille with a familiar shape. Stopping for a quick look, we found a Jaguar XK 150 coupe with peeling paint but a sound body, just waiting for someone to adopt it. In the same group was a decent, restorable, MGB roadster.

Figuring Your Investment You are not going to be able to buy one of these cars or other "finds" for $50 and a smile. However, they should be considerably less expensive than the super shiny show cars we mentioned. Your investment of a few hundred to a couple of thousand dollars can pay off if you are at all mechanically handy. These fun cars are often quite simple to work on. The average backyard mechanic with decent tools and a service manual can fix almost anything on the car. Parts prices are usually reasonable. Some folks think that fixing/restoring is part of the fun, but even if repairs aren't your hobby, doing it yourself certainly helps the budget.

A few years ago, a friend saw a Jaguar XK 140 which had been stashed in a barn for years. Dragged out into the sunlight it was a sorry-looking machine, but it was all there and he bought it quite reasonably. Since bringing it home, he has done everything from welding in new body metal to rebuilding and tuning the carburetors. Recently, still needing paint but running strong, it carried him and his wife to a Jaguar meet over a thousand miles from home and got them back again. When completed, the car will be worth much more than his investment.

The Road To Adventure If the thought of owning a vintage British two-seater makes your eyes light up, do some back-road driving and see what you come up with. You can also try the Internet. The Vintage Triumph Register, Jaguar Clubs of North America and the North American Council of MG Registers are all on the web.

It won't be long before you and your personal two-seater are headed down that road to adventure. Enjoy!

Michael L. Cook, who retired from Jaguar Cars in 1991, is the editor of Jaguar Journal and Vintage Triumph as well as the author of several books about collecting cars. He also writes for British Car magazine and Special Interest Autos from his home in New Jersey.

Just for Laughs

A really “scruffy” looking bum stopped a man on the street and asked for $2.

“Will you buy booze?” the man asked, to which the bum replied, “No.”

“Will you gamble it away?” Once again the bum replied, “No.”

Will you make bets at the golf course?” The bum replied, “No, I don’t play golf.”

Then the man asks, “Will you come home with me so my wife can see what happens to a man who doesn’t drink, gamble, or play golf?”

ABCS Officers & Committee Chairs for 2002

President: Robert Hall, 423-262-0402.

Vice-President: Gael Bright, 423-239-4247.

Secretary: Clarence (CC) Goodson, 423-928-2023

Treasurer: Al Bradley, 540-628-4763.

Newsletter: Jane Ogle, 423-282-5687.

Driving Events: Randall Thomas, 606-432-5153.

Programs: John Hanlin, 423-239-5603.

Webpage: Herren Floyd, 423-239-5455.

Past Newsletters

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