The ABCS gathered once again at Rush Street Grill in Kingsport, 26 strong to celebrate British Car ownership! Two of our number were visitors Sandra Ramsey and Johnny Jessie . Allen Calcote assured both Sandra and Johnny that we would be happy to have them as members.
We are still handing out name tags to the membership. The subject of levying fines for not wearing tags was discussed with apparently as many in favor of doing so as those opposed. That discussion was dropped for now and the amnesty continues.
The main event tonight was David Gage's recounting of his adventures on his recent trip to England. David, you recall, is the enterprising young guy who traffics in old Rovers. He buys lots of Rover parts and assembles cars out of them, repairs cars with them and sells them to customers, too. This trip is one that we would all like to make sometime.
One of David's recent acquisitions was a Rover camper vehicle which he actually found in Dundee, Scotland and sent to live with friends in England. So, David went to visit his Rover there in England. One of his first genuine English experiences was in filling up the Rover's fuel tank.
The 16 gallons of petrol to fill the tank cost the equivalent of $75! YIKES! However, David also noted that at the end of this adventure, when the Rover was crated and shipped by boat, it still had around half of its precious petrol remaining in the tank.
One of the purposes of David's trip was to attend a much celebrated Rover Gathering and his camper equipped Rover was just the way to do it.
David managed to visit several other towns and cities while in England and his recounting of his adventures was certainly entertaining and informative.
Thanks to David Gage for a job excellently done and to Richard Williams, Programs Chairman for getting David to do it!
Grayson Highlands Drive
On Saturday, 8/26/00, nine cars (eight British) and fourteen people visited Grayson Highlands State Park.
Six ABCS cars lined up before the trip. As always driving VA Rt. 58 from Damascus along Straight Branch was a delight, as was the park itself. Well, it was a bit chilly at those altitudes. Someone was heard to remark, "Let's get to the shelter before it snows!" It never did actually snow up there!
ABCS Mourns Bowman
Once again, the ABCS has been shocked by a death in the family - that of Newsletter Editor Joe Bowman, who died at age 31. Joe volunteered to take over the ABCS Newsletter editor's job in April and actually began the job with the July, 2000 issue. I think we all appreciated the frustrations he expressed with repairing his Jaguar and the pleasure he derived from his racing endeavors at Virginia International Raceway. We'll certainly miss Joe and his encyclopedic knowledge of every sports car engine ever made and his willingness to help.
There is still today, what poses as a mysterious British Car Graveyard nestled on a remote knoll in the Appalachian foothills near Meta, Kentucky. A mile or so drive on a muddy, rutted road from the nearest paved highway lies the final resting place of about dozen MGBs, a Triumph TR3, TR6 and more than a few Spitfires. Also the decaying remains of an MGA, Austin-Healey 3000, a handful of chrome bumper Midgets and one Sunbeam Rapier. There are over 50 British cars in this graveyard. Quite a few I didn't care to explore this time of year without the aid of snakeproof boots and a machete to clear the dense vegetation obscuring these once proud marques.
This is not one of those exciting "Bentley in a Barn" stories. This is not a pretty story at all.
When I say graveyard, I mean that literally. This place is not a salvage or junkyard where you might expect to find a project car or even a useable rearend or gearbox. The best thing you will find here is a rusty British lawn ornament (and most of us have one already).
The original owner of all these classics was an entrepreneur who made a few (more than a few) bucks during the eastern Kentucky coal boom of the 197O's. Rumors of a large Swiss bank account swirled around his fascination with British sports cars. It is said that he bought every old British car he could get his hands on, and his collection blossomed from far and wide. His family thought he was a bit touched and legend has it that his kin disowned him.
Old Don has been gone a few years now. I'm assured that some of his vast collection fell into good hands and remain on the road today.
Dale Maynard of Meta, Kentucky, bought the remaining "collection" about five years ago from Dons heirs and somehow transported the corpses to his junkyard near Meta, Kentucky. Dale is a friendly fellow, but one is easily convinced of his desire for privacy by the remote little cranny where he makes his home. The dozen or so cute little puppies roaming in his yard are part Doberman and aren't for sale. Not exactly an omen beckoning a return visit.
In this country, the number and variety of British cars lying in repose there can only be found today at one of the finer British car shows.
When you visit this remote British auto graveyard, you leave with a tear in your eye and want to hum an Irish dirge Cemeteries are not happy places. A bagpiper should serenade the spirits of these decaying metal beasts to soothe their tired souls into automotive heaven.
Thanks to fellow club member Randall Thomas, of Pikeville and NAMGBR member, Ron Stewart, of Hazard, Kentucky, without whose assistance I would never have known of the existence, history and location of this site
(Not paid, not political and not even well reasoned)
I think of you ABCS members occasionally. This act occurs when I experience something even remotely car-related that I think you may enjoy. In a running e-mail conversation with Sam Chandler last night, I remembered that I had been to one of my favorite places in Boone, NC that day. I apologize to Sam if much of this column sounds repetitive to him, but you need to know, too.
My good wife and I visit Boone occasionally to check on our student at Appalachian State and to see what advances that Institute has made at our expense lately. The answer is that there have been many advances and we like to feel as though we played some major role in them, financially. We often take this opportunity to eat at what has come to be our favorite restaurant there - Angelica Herbs at 586 West King Street. Angelica's is a vegetarian restaurant.
My good wife and I are not vegetarians and do not care about anyone else's religion, either, thank you. We do like the food and how well they make everything taste in spite of what is in it; or more specifically, what else IS NOT in it. They just have a way with spices there, I think. The second thing I like about Angelica's is that the patrons and patronesses of this place make EVEN ME look straight!
Finally, there's the deck. This deck reaches almost out into King Street, so it is large and it is comfortably equipped. If you get a seat on the deck near the street you can watch the traffic. That's where you ABCS members finally enter this picture. There's lots of traffic in Boone and some of it is interesting. I think that this time of year, the quality of traffic has to do with the proximity of Boone to the Blue Ridge Parkway and the ever popular changing of the leaves in the Fall.
Corvettes, Hondas and BMWs abound around college campuses, it seems. Aside from those run of the mill cars, this year we saw a nice, faded orange MGB with chrome bumpers pass by. Last year at about this time, we saw a Cobra. While this was undoubtedly a reproduction Cobra, I almost choked on my noodles at the sight and sound of it. Try it yourself while there's still time left this Fall.
Go to Boone. Watch the traffic. Tell them Al sent you.