In late summer of 1984 I was a lanky 16 yr. old Indiana kid, just about to get my driver’s license. I spent much of that summer trying to reassemble my first car (a 1974 MG Midget). The previous fall at age 15, I managed to convince my parents that the Midget would be a perfect car for me to restore and learn on…not thinking I might soon grow an additional 4”. That year I spent much more time leaning over the engine bay and underneath the car than actually sitting inside of it. Finally, at 16 years old and 6’-3”, the Midget became a rather tight fit and we were soon to part ways.
I restored that car in a vacant garage my dad let me use at 126 Pierce Street in West Lafayette, Indiana. Pierce street was a quiet, shady street on a college campus, and a close enough to moped commute from my home. I spent a lot of hours at that garage taking that car apart and doing my best to get it all back together. I learned a lot through the process, and to my surprise…the Midget did finally start and run. Thank you, Victoria British.
My moped could hammer out 28 miles an hour, which was slow enough that you noticed details that you might miss at higher speeds. On Pierce Street, there was one particular detail that often caught my eye. It was a yellow/gold Triumph TR6 that was always parked somewhere on the block. It wasn’t perfect, but it was “there” in all its glory: Union Jack fender decal, slender body, big wheels…just 100 percent cool. It became something that I not only noticed once or twice, but I began to look for each time I turned down the street. It turned out that I never really stopped looking for one of those, even long after selling the Midget in the spring of 1985.
In the years since, I have had many cars, have been around the world, had several career paths, earned a handful of degrees, wife, family, dog, station wagon, etc. Last year I was home, visiting my Mom and just driving around town. 28 years brings a lot of change to a college town. On my drive out of town I inadvertently spot an old Triumph on a trailer in a field. (Spotting British cars is something we all learn). It happens to be a faded gold ‘72 TR6, and the next thing I know, I’m talking to the owner about how cool those were. It hadn’t run in years, was rusting under a tarp, and soon headed to scrap. Long story short…$200 bucks later and that car was parked in my Mom’s garage. I still had to explain this to my wife 500 miles away in Minnesota.
My wife (fortunately) understands that I have a Vintage British Car “problem”, and of course my mom doesn’t care that that old thing is (still) parked in the garage. So there it sat over the winter and all is good. After looking at the condition though, I knew that this car would never get back on the road, and I wondered why I thought I had to have it….but $200? Come on!
I finally declared this a “parts car” and therefore I needed to begin my quest for a “project” car up in Minnesota. (How’s that for some man-logic?) Without too much effort I managed to locate a ’71 TR6 driver in Minnesota and bought it.
I went back to Indiana recently to see just how many parts were worth taking off the parts car. After all, I had to find time to remove the parts and somehow get them up to Minnesota. The “parts car” as a whole would be cost prohibitive to transport 500 miles. And, it was pretty rough after sitting under that tarp, in a field, on a trailer for who knows how long. I had to part the poor thing out there in Indiana.
As I begin pulling gauges, chrome hardware, switches, I realize that it was well worth the $200. I tried everything I could to detach the seats from the rusted floors, but they would only incline, and refused to become unbolted. I found a lot of things in the glove box, under carpet and in the trunk, but my favorite item was an old parking ticket, written on carbon paper, which was under one of those seized up seats.
Hmmm….”1984. 110 Pierce Street” ! At that point the universe all stopped for just a moment and I wasn’t quiet sure what to feel. This car was that exact same yellow TR6 that I noticed as a kid on a moped in 1984…The one that forced my quest for a TR6 all those years. And that parking ticket sat under the seat from the fall of 1984 until just last year. And there I was, pulling parts off of that thing in my Parent’s garage nearly 30 years later.
The full circle makes me smile when I think of it. I’m still a little stunned as I try to grasp the irony of it all and I’m now not sure if I have the heart to scrap the “parts car”. After all, that car waited all of those years for me while I always longed for a TR6.