Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mugs & Motors - Car Collection Edition

A tropical system churning off the Mississippi coast that dumped rain on our part of the world wasn't enough to keep around 20 SABCC members away from the club's August activity.

We met at the Schillinger Road location of Panera Bread where we settled in for breakfast items, coffee and conversation. As the members arrived, we added more tables to already growing line, eventually spilling over into nearby booths. Members caught up on the current state of projects, compared notes for the upcoming British Car Festival and generally enjoyed the company of like-minded individuals. 

Unlike previous Mugs & Motors events, only two SABCC'ers drove their British cars -Michael King in his MG Midget and Keith Jarvis in his MGB. As we made arrangements to leave Panera Michael allowed discretion to be the better part of valor and stopped by his house to swap his open topped Midget for something a little more snug. The gathering clouds bothered Keith not a whit since his MGB was equipped with a hardtop.

We more or less caravanned over to the activity of the day at the Henderson Collection in south Mobile. 

The collection is owned by Jim Henderson, president of Mobile Lumber Company and reflects his own tastes in classic automobiles. Henderson is a fan of the "shoebox"
Ford sedans of the early fifties, primarily the 1951 model. Our host for the morning, collection caretaker Mark Gwin, related that Henderson had the first date with his wife in a 1951 Ford. He has gathered as many examples of the various trim levels offered in 1951 as he can find, ranging from the bottom of the heap Customline to a very nice Victoria. A Country Squire "woodie" wagon rounded out his collection.

The Detroit "Big Three" was well represented with models from nearly every GM and Chrysler division as well as a selection of Fords from the very early days to a modern Shelby Mustang. The spacious building has been made even more efficient through the use of four-post lifts that allow cars to be "stacked" on one another. I'm not sure who the lift manufacturer is, but they certainly had a very nice order to fill. 

Mark told us that all of the cars in the collection are driven frequently or at least started and ran weekly. 

 A couple of Packards that participated in the most recent Great Race were being stored as a courtesy to their owners since their transport rig experienced mechanical problems prior to the race's end in Mobile. One of them was decked out in livery that recalled the epic Carrera Panamerica races of the 1950s held in Mexico. 

As far as British fare was concerned, the Green and Pleasant Place was represented by a Black Cab (in left hand drive) and a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow once owned (and customized) by none other than Liberace. The Roller had its
interior leather replaced with brocade fabric and the exterior chrome had been gold plated in the spirit of excess for which the showman was so well known. 

Sadly, a vehicle identified as a 1953 MG was actually a VW pan with a Fiberfab body on it. Most guests that visit the collection are likely none the wiser. 

Once we took in the main collection area, Mark showed us through a building where the collection's transporters are stored. From dual axle trailers to a rollback to a couple massive enclosed transporter rigs, the cars in the collection travel in style. 

Mark showed us a Ford pickup/Airstream travel trailer combination that once belonged to the late Larry Hagman of I Dream of Jeannie and Dallas fame. The normally bright-finished Airstream was painted dark blue to match the Ford truck and the interior had been decorated to resemble the inside of Jeannie's bottle. Hagman took this personal dressing room with him wherever he was working.

Finally, we were shown through to the garage area were the cars are kept in rude running health. The spacious facility had nearly anything a do it yourself home mechanic could dream about. 

After nearly two hours, we expressed our thanks to our host and went on our way, another SABCC activity in the books. 

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