Saturday, November 5, 2011

Showstoppers in Their Own Right

As mentioned elsewhere in these scribblings, the 21st edition of British Car Festival was a resounding success in the numbers of cars in attendance as well as the new downtown Fairhope venue. We had a wide variety of truly stunning cars on the field along with some solid drivers and what the editors at Hemmings Motor News would call Drivable Dreams - cars that deserve our admiration because they are loved just as they are - scruffy, scabby or a bit down at the heels, but on the road and enjoyed as they were intended.  

When my '76 MGB came into my life, it was a great driving car that didn't look much like it had just been loaded on the transporter at Abingdon. No, it had a number of rust holes in the front fenders and at the "dog legs" behind the doors and it had been afflicted with a velour interior - probably better than duct tape upholstery, I'm sure. Rusty or not, I was proud of the old girl. My MG was a survivor and I was going to do all I could to keep it in driving condition. With the help of many South Alabama British Car Club members, a few good friends and a little pocket money, I was able to renovate it with better body panels, paint and original-style upholstery. While not a concours queen (and never will be) it looks better and is more reliable.

With that said I doubt I will ever forget the snickers and less than kind remarks made by a few enthusiasts who either didn't know of my connection to the mangy little car on the show field or just didn't care. Yes, the remarks hurt, but they didn't diminish my pride in my first MG - pride that allowed me to drive the car to the show instead of locking it up in a trailer to be hauled.

No one appreciates a perfectly restored car more than me. I am in absolute awe of the effort and craftsmanship of the restorer. These cars are truly a view into the past and inspire others to reach the same heights. We probably won't see any of our local cars at Pebble Beach, but they can and do win judged events in the southeast. They are show stoppers in our area and clubs consider themselves fortunate to attract vehicles of this class.

A Well-Loved MGB
I was excited to have two very special cars on the British Car Festival show field this year that -in my opinion - captured the spirit of the automotive hobby. One was a Jaguar E-Type and the other one was an MGB. Both were driven by owners significantly younger than the average age of the rest of the show entrants.

The MGB was owned by a young man from Perdido Key, Florida who acquired it just a couple of months prior to the event. He spent evenings and weekends getting the car running reliably and polishing out the Tahiti Blue paint until it gleamed. Proudly pointing out the dealer installed air conditioning to me he said it was one of the few MGBs in the area that still had the original smog gear and Zenith-Stromberg carburetor. He was right. We chatted about serial numbers, date of manufacture, original equipment and nearly anything that came to his enthusiastic mind. I can't imagine many young drivers in a car 18 years older than they are and being as proud as he was. And his family was obviously proud of him.

The Future Wedding Car
The Jaguar E-Type was the subject of a "reawakening" by a young man who documented his efforts on a blog that has become a favorite of mine. The 1969 E-Type roadster was owned by his father who drove it for many years until it was parked with the intention of renovating it one day -one day many years later, it turned out. The father and son found SABCC and attended one of our meetings where they met other E-Type owners who were able to provide advice and assistance. Getting the E-Type ready for the show was his immediate goal, but he intends to have the car in condition to drive his bride away from their wedding ceremony in the spring. In my opinion, he's good to go.

Maybe my simple view of the world is not as sophisticated as others, but I (and a lot of people in the hobby that I've come to know) tend to take a "big tent" approach to the British car hobby. Shiny or not, if its classic, British and still on the road it's welcome to our events and we try to make sure everyone knows it.

The show attendees were spot on in voting the newly-purchased MGB a second in class and awarding the reawakened E-Type the "Diamond in the Rough" trophy.

Well done, lads - well done. 


  1. Thanks for the kind words. You guys put on a great show. See you next year.

    Will C. '76 MG-B
    PK, FL

  2. Thanks Rodney - That award meant a lot to me with all the work that has gone into the E. Looking forward to the next outing.



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