Michael Eaves' 1972 Triumph Spitfire
My 95-year-old grandfather (pictured) purchased this car new in 1972 in Houston. He parked it in a warehouse in Port Arthur, Texas, in 1987, where it remained until he gave it to me in approximately 2006 so that I could restore it. When I picked it up, it didn't run and rodents had destroyed the interior. Also, it had been partially submerged in the storm surge created by Hurricane Rita. It was in horrible shape. When he gave it to me, he had two conditions: (1) I could never sell it; and (2) I had to paint it the original color (saffron yellow).
-He was a pilot in WWII and flew P-38’s.
-When he purchased the Spitfire in 1972, he also purchased a “racing rear-end” (his term) and actually raced it in (and won) several rallies in and around the Houston/Galveston area.
-In the 1970’s, he flew P-51’s in numerous air shows in Texas (but his favorite plane was always the P-38)
-He worked for the IRS and was transferred to Washington D.C. in the mid-1970’s, but drove the Spitfire back and forth to Texas several times during the 15 years he worked in DC.
-He taught college mathematics and accounting classes at Lamar University in Port Arthur, Texas after retiring from the IRS and returning to Texas in the mid-1980’s
-He will be 98 in February and is still going strong.
-He actually won the Texas Lottery approximately 5 years ago.
-He is a sports fanatic. He likes all sports, but LOVES college football (his favorite teams is the Purdue Boilermakers).
-As for the restored car, I actually drove it from Beaumont, Texas to Key West, Florida, and back, 4 years ago with no problems whatsoever. My wife and I have also taken it to the Texas Hill Country on several trips, which is about 6 hours from our home in Beaumont. As you and I discussed, when I restored it I feared the worst with regard to the Lucas electrical system, particularly since the car had been virtually submerged when Hurricane Rita made landfall several years ago. However, after getting the car to my house after he gave it to me, I put a new battery in it and low and behold, every single bulb on the car worked (exterior lights, dash lights, etc.). It was incredible. It took me a little bit longer to actually get the car running (the old Stromberg carburetor had to be re-built), but to this day I have never changed a bulb or done any work on the electrical system. Incredible.