While returning from a business trip to Florence, Alabama I was startled to see a sign in front of a building that said "We Buy Old Race Cars and Kit Cars". I noticed that there were several European vehicles out front along with a number of kit cars from the 1960s and '70s. A quick U-turn and I was outside the former church building - complete with steeple.
The gentleman inside greeted me warily as if he had all manner of crackpots stopping for a visit- I was probably one more in a long line. He warmed up when I mentioned my interest in old British cars and he offered to show me around his Aladdin's cave of old cars.
The first stop was five (count 'em, five) 500 series Lotus Elites in various stages of neglect. Never my favorite (but then my taste has been questioned before) of the Lotus family, he said that these cars were purchased for a pittance and were destined to be sold off for parts - unless a brave soul wanted to buy a couple for restoration. Nearby, was an early Lotus Europa complete with extra-tiny rear window and Renault power. He said - almost apologetically - that the Europa was destined to have a Ford V8 transplant.
The proprietor also showed me a couple of 50s-era Woodill Wildfire and Glasspar kit cars awaiting restoration. There were several tube frame mid engine racers from the late 60s in various states of disassembly as well.
Inside the building were several partially restored kit cars with some destined for export to Europe. In the back of the shop sat an MG TD that had received a Ford V8 engine in the 1960s. It was being restored as it was then - not back to the original Abingdon specification. The workmanship appeared to be first rate.
Back outside I was shown a Volvo PV544 that raced at Sebring in 1964. It was beautifully preserved and was being readied for the historic racing circuit.
I bid my host farewell and continued on home having spent about an hour in a pretty cool place.
Lotus image via tumblr.com