MEMORIES OF MY BRITISH ROADSTERS
Most of my high school years, living in Montana, were spent driving a customized 1948 Chrysler. In 1960, I graduated, enlisted in the Army, and soon thereafter, I was stationed in Germany. My first appreciation for British sports cars developed in Germany in 1963 when my good Army friend purchased a new Triumph TR4. It was red in color, black interior and top, and I remember it having the overdrive transmission. My friend actually wanted the TR3, but was not able to order one due Triumph transitioning to the new TR4 design. What fun it was when we would pile in his TR4 and we would take off to visit small country towns, or travel the roads along the Rhine River.
Upon completing my three years of service in the Army, I returned to Montana and worked with my father on a ranch. In 1964, thinking it would only be temporary, I ventured out to Southern California. I was fortunate to immediately find a job when I arrived, and then made California my home; only returning to Montana for vacations and to visit family. Shortly after arriving in California I enrolled at Santa Ana Junior College, and I was also in the market to buy an inexpensive car to drive to school. Although I was married, there were no children at the time, so I just needed sufficient space to carry my books and supplies.
My first ownership of a British sports car evolved in 1966 when I purchased my 1956 Triumph TR3. It was advertised 4-sale for $250.00. It is hard to imagine the Triumph was considered little more than just a 10-year old used car, and not worth very much money.
My TR3 was repainted by a previous owner silver in color with “metal flake”, a fairly common paint process at the time. There were quite a few cracks in the clear coat, but I still felt proud to be driving around in my own sports car. The front bumper had been removed and there was the attractive mesh front grille still in place. It needed tires, so I bought white side wall “recaps”. The rear tires were larger than the front tires in order to give it the “California Rake”. The black convertible top and side curtains were far from weather proof, so I would often have wet seat cushions and wet carpet when it rained. The car always seemed to run well; although it did develop a starter or generator problem, and it was necessary to always park on a slope so I could start rolling and then “pop” the clutch to start the motor.
It was a fun car to drive and it served my needs very well. One day, after completing my college classes, I was returning home. Traveling down 17th street in Santa Ana, a driver decided to exit from a side street and collided into the side of my car. I lost control upon impact and stopped when the front end hit a cement curb twelve inches high. That was the final trip with my 1966 Triumph. No one was seriously injured in the accident; just some stitches in my forehead from hitting the rear view mirror. I continued to attend my classes after my brother-in- law gifted me his 1955 Oldsmobile he had owned since new. I was awarded my Associates Degree in 1968; then transferred to Cal State Fullerton to complete my Bachelor Degree, and started a new career in 1970.
British roadsters did not enter into the picture again until 1976 when I purchased a 1967 MG Midget. Then came a 1959 TR3 and several MGA’s while living in Southern California; several TR4’s and another TR3, after moving and living in Northern Michigan; and most recently, a TR6, now living in Arizona. All of my cars were obtained in need of total restoration, or at minimum, some refurbishment. When completed, several were displayed in classic car shows; some received awards. All of my cars have gone to new owners to enjoy. Thank You to my Army friend for purchasing his TR4 in 1963, and giving me the appreciation for these beautiful cars. What a rewarding past time it has been.