Last's months meeting held at Rush Street Grill proved to be another successful edition of the annual "ABCS Parking Lot Car Show." A short meeting was held early where we had 27 people present including four guests - Bill and Marcy Powers (please see the accompanying note from Marcy) from the Knoxville English Auto Society, Frank Wier with his TR-6 and Charlie Clark, who is looking for a Spitfire. If anyone has any leads on a Spitfire for Mr. Clark, he can be contacted at 423 434-9039.
The members received their new name tags which were universally acclaimed for the looks and durability. Name tags will be provided for all members and future members when they join. However, a lost name tag will cost $6.75 to replace. In addition, club members are encouraged to wear their name tags to all club events. It was decided that the smart looking name tags may not be incentive enough for some forgetful members (like myself), and so, a policy was instituted wherein if you miss two meetings without your tag, you will be fined one dollar. Being the cheap and forgetful person that I am, my tag has already taken up residence in my car.
Various opportunities to drive your British car were discussed including the excellent events planned by Ben Bailey, the driving chairman. There is one change to the current driving schedule - this month's Poker Run and Mystery Drive has been change d to just a Mystery Drive. The start time and location have not changed, so show up prepared to drive your car to somewhere in the Tri-State region. Also, David Valentine invited the club to join in several local Porsche club events. The members were encouraged to remember the Fun Fest Road Rally (July 15 at Warriors Path) and the Fun Fest Car Show (July 22 at Dobyns-Bennett). Registration for these events is still open and you may do so by contacting the Fun Fest office via telephone at 423 246-7552. You will have to apply in person at the office in the Fort Henry Mall.
With the business and meal conducted, the club turned out into the parking lot to kick some tires, tell some lies and admire some British cars. It was a wonderful evening for the event - cool, clear and dry. For once, nature smiled on the British car industry.
We had over a dozen cars in attendance with Jaguar being the most predominate marque. Every range of Jaguar sporting model from the XK120 to the XJS was represented. A broad range of British cars were present with MG, Triumph, Austin-Healey, Land Rover, Sunbeam and Caterham represented. The oldest car in attendence was a 1953 Jaguar XK120 and the newest was a 1998 Caterham Super Seven (Lotus Seven).
The Caterham was a hit with all in attendance. We were fortunate for the Powers bringing it up from Knoxville at the invitation of Dick Williams. They reciprocated the invitation with an open request for any of us to join them at their meetings which are held on the first Thursday at 7 PM in Knoxville (locations vary, but you may contact Dick Williams for further info).
Eventhough virtually new, the Caterham was very faithful to the original type car even down to its twin carb, Ford derived 1.6 liter Kent engine turning a four speed manual transmission. This engine was the basis for the famous Lotus twin cam motor which originally appeared in the Super Seven and Ford Lotus Cortina. The engine and transmission were remanufactured Ford of Europe Capri mechanicals and were then installed in the car. Ford supported versions of this engine are still available through Ford Motorsports SVO/SVT catalogue as it is the basis for the Formula Ford series. Typical Kent engines make between 90 HP (stock single carb model) to 120 HP (Lotus derived twin cam model) and this is very impressive power for a 1,300 pound car.
Currently, Ford is offering a package including the Contour V6 and a five speed transmission for the Caterham's which increases the cars already tremendous power by over 40 percent to 165 HP. A 2000 model Caterham without engine can be purchased for $31,000 and the V6 option is another 8K.
The Lotus Super Seven that the car is based upon first appeared in 1957 as a kit car to get around Britain's home market auto tax of 66 percent. Lotus produced 2,942 of these cars before turning production (including the original tool and die) over to Caterham in the 1970's. Caterham has since produced nearly four times as many cars in about the same production life. The car is still highly sought after both new and as a collectible.
Changes Joe Bowman
You could say that I am rather used to leading the unconventional life that I do. But this month marks two major changes for me…assuming the newsletter duties from Al Bradley and purchasing another car related item. I am becoming convinced that I lead my life based upon the cars I like, instead of buying cars that "make a statement about, or fulfill a need in, my life." As General Motors would have you do.
There is no mini-van in my future…..there is no SUV…there's hardly a chance for a sensible sedan either. When most of the readers of this column were growing up, the old timers would say "Jimmy's finally settled down" when he got married and traded in that MG TD (or more likely in East Tennessee - a Deuce coupe) for a flamingo pink station wagon with a Powerglide transmission. When I was entering adulthood, the same thing was said of my friends who traded in their restored muscle cars for a minivan right after they got a job down at the factory. While they were contemplating a mortgage, I was busy deciding on the merits of mechanical fuel injection - did Bosch or Marnelli make the best system? (Sorry, folks, Lucas wasn't even a consideration).
If anyone ever wanted an XJS, I have one I could part with...a trade for something simple like a Spitfire would be nice...funny that sounds just the opposite of how this story began...nearly a year ago. I am in the process of buying a house and it does have a garage so maybe my Jag will finally come home to me -albeit on the back of a wrecker but since that is the 9only way that I have seen it move in a year so it will seem "normal" to me.If I have it at home, at least I can go into the garage and sit in it from time to time and smell the leather...ah, the joys of Jaguar ownership. I have located several places that do strictly XJS work in the Knoxville area and if I don't have any success with fixing it myself it will either go there or I shall resign my self to converting it to carbs. An expensive process and everyone has warned me that it messes with the everyday driveability of the car...you have to ditch the A/C...but since I never get to drive it now, getting to drive it without A/C seems like a small price to pay. (The $4,000 for the Weber carb conversion ISN"T a small price to pay; however so I still have to give that plan some thought.)
Now, I am convinced that I center my life around cars. No, I don't have the extensive collection of autos that I would like to have - but who does? No, I don't spend every spare hour working on them - it only seems like it when you own a Jaguar. But consider the following list of cars I have owned.
OK Here goes in order (I think):
1979 Nissan B210 Wagon - got from Mom, a kid hit it while parked on street
1969 MG Midget Mk111 - w/ SCCA 1275 cc dual carb engine - wrapped it around a guardrail
1979 Chevy Monza - the cool looking coupe - engine blew up twice in six months
1975 Pontiac Astre - a Vega with a 2.5 Pontiac 4 cyl - only good thing was the 5 speed
1970 Volvo Wagon - two speed automatic 4 cyl. 4000 lbs - need I say more?
1978 B210 - hatchback with Godzilla styleing..A/C worked tho..smoked like a chimney
1977 FIAT 131S - awesome twin cam engine and 5 speed - worked on electrics all the time
1970 Plymounth Duster - slant six, primer grey redneckmobile - friend thankfully wrecked it
1979 VW Rabbit - 1.5 FI engine and 5 speed..cut the top off and went racing
1978 VW Rabbit - blew the engine, used it for parts on the race car
1964 VW Karmann-Ghia - beautiful "bathtub" styling…could absorb water like a sponge..didn't drive it in the rain or even near a mud puddle…slower than a snail.
1980 Nissan 210 - hatchback, hit a tree with it
1980 Chevette - I'd rather not admit it
1970 Jeep Commando - CJ3A front with J10 truck rear - called it "The Beast"
1982 VW Rabbit - future wife wrecked it her first time driving it - should've took the hint
1984 Plymounth Reliant - engine blew with 100K on it - very typical I found out
1978 Nissan 710 Pickup - a good little truck, traded it for the aforementioned Reliant
1979 TR7 Convertible - fast and fun, an oil truck used it as a door stop one day
1964 Chevy Corvair Monza Spyder - aluminum bodied four carb racing Spyder, ungodly fast
1976 Volvo Wagon - durable as hell but the personality of a loaf of bread
1978 Volvo Sedan - see above, wife blew engine and trans out of it, replaced both, sold
1983 Mercury Wagon - bought to appease wife, blew up of its own accord one day
1985 Audi 5000S - rebuilt w/ 1994 100S parts and a turbo and computer from Europe - wife blew up..led to divorce..fastest car I owned until now
1984 Audi 4000S Diesel - at the same time as 5000 - towed so much, dropped by auto club
1985 Volvo Diesel - a glutton for punishment I guess
1973 TR Spitfire - rebuilt it completely, handled like a demon, ex-wife "entertained" my car mechanic in it..had to sell it after that...
1995 Nissan Sentra - first new car -wife got it in the divorce - I still have the payments though
1979 TR Spitfire - just because, still have it, had to show up the ex
1999 Hyundai Accent - modifing it to race, previous daily driver. I love this car
1982 Jaguar XJS V12 - my project - ei where all my money goes - beautiful V12 coupe
There are more I can't remember…mostly some MG Midgets..
...and now I have acquired another car related item. Despite the fact that my XJS languishes in a rented garage without me having laid a single spanner to it in two months (I keep the wiring book and harness by my front door as a constant reminder of my new found laxness), I went in search of another auto acquisition.
Well, I wasn't even sure what I wanted. I just new that it was the right time to get something new….no, new to me is the right way of putting it. I have always liked things that were older - cars, friends, furniture, etc. I've never really fit in with my peer group age-wise. That may explain why I am a member of this car club in the first place for I often observe that I am the youngest member by nearly fifteen years.
So, I went in search of something older….and what I located appeared to be built in the 1920's. No one was really sure. You see, the owner had died and it had been passed on to some younger relatives that abandoned it once they were expecting another baby (Yes, they do have a minivan). I checked with the state and they thought it was built in 1928..but they couldn't say
Yes, once again…I tried to do a through search..you know, ask the neighbors what they thought..if they knew how long it had been sitting there abandoned; who had owned it in the first place, if it appeared that they had taken good care of it….and I got mostly satisfactory responses.
Having been a victim of my exuberance to own a Jaguar, I called in a professional of look it over. They seemed to agree that the previous owners had done what they could to get it into shape, but just had ran out of money.