Having been original owner of a Spitfire and also having owned a Series 1 E-Type, I knew British cars fairly well, but found that I migrated over to several different sports cars until settling on a BMW Z-3 "M". Nice performance and great reliability, but something was missing. I never seemed to bond with my non-English speaking cars for some reason. Oh, I liked them alright, they were new-tech, shiny, and fast...some people even turned their heads occasionally as I drove by...but still, something was lacking.
One day, while pouring a rum and coke (now diet coke to watch that bulging figure), I sat back to reminisce and began to think of my past...past friends, past places I lived, past jobs, even past cars I had owned. Jeez, I was about to turn 60 and no matter how you cut those numbers, I was old and I felt old age creeping up. With more time behind me than waiting in front of me, my mind began to wander.
An empty glass and another drink, things began to take shape in my mind. I thought about the day I bought my first house, the day my little boy was born, my first airplane ride…even the day I bought the Spit and XKE. Yep, by drink three, I was heavily into reminiscing.
I started to recall some of the cars I had owned…particularly the British ones. I wondered why I always named the British cars, but never the others. Why I always had a fondness for the British cars I owned and why I missed them so. I thought about how they occasionally broke down and how I repaired them, even if only fixed enough to limp into a repair station. I recalled how accomplished I felt when I was able to figure out the car’s problem and repair it with a bit of wire wrapped in some electrical tape; and then it came to me!
The reason was so clear, why had I not seen it before? It was so simple, so …obvious…and once identified, made perfect sense…my British cars “needed” me.
They needed the same special care and attention that, well…a small puppy would need. Careful washing and cleaning, weekly checkups, attention to a dozen small details which made the car look great and run dependably. THAT was why I bonded so much with those Brit cars I once owned, they “needed” me.
And in return…? I knew that car depended upon me to live, because without that attention I gave it, without that love I had for it, the car would surely die a slow death in the corner of some garage, heaped with items on top of a ripped canvas cover, tires gone flat, gas turning to varnish, a layer of dust an inch thick and a broken promise to someday restore it to its former glory. Yep, I shower the car with love and it returns it with a smile on my face and brings me back to a love of driving that is now long gone.
Yes, the British cars I owned somehow needed me, somehow wanted my attention, and wanted to be a part of the family; I know that now and in return for that attention I gave them…they gave me love, safety, and as much dependability as I had the mechanical knowhow to allow. Yep…I certainly cracked the code on that one!
And apparently, I cracked it just in time, too. It turns out that just a few months back, for my 60th birthday, my wife surprised me with yet another addition to the family; a car I had always wanted when I was younger, but never had the money to buy. This car was a restored 1973 TR6, with a shiny coat of Carmine Red and just waiting to call me “Dad”.
Long gone were the specialized tools I used for the Spit and Jag. Now, I needed to once again purchase the recently unnecessary items like torque wrenches, and a box of items nestled in a corner of the boot that I deemed “yeah, I can use this” which the BMWs and Jap cars didn’t seem to ever need. But, that is okay, my TR6 needs them and in return, she will give me love and the therapeutic smile on my face and wind in the hair (yes, I still have a full head of it) which are priceless in today’s world. And that smile will now replace the rum and coke as my psychiatrist and reestablish a love of driving that died long ago with the reliability and comfort of today’s almost boring cars.
Thank you, Triumph for producing this particular car for me…a car that was owned by a husband, then his wife before being given up to a restoration shop for a rebuild just for me.
And special thanks to my wife, Robin, for buying me a piece of my past and allowing me to relive it with you at my side.