Scott Picha's 1979 Triumph TR7
As a teenager Scott Picha lived in Muncie, Indiana and his first car was a red 1973 Triumph Spitfire named Spike. Scott purchased him secondhand in 1979 from somebody who was upgrading to a brand new TR7. Then, in 1985 history repeated itself. Scott was approached by the same person who sold him his first Triumph, asking if he was interested in purchasing the TR7. It seems that Scott had been saving up for a motorcycle, so the process that went through his mind, in about three seconds, was:
Motorcycle: wind in the hair = summertime fun.
TR7: wind in the hair = summertime fun, but with the advantage of a convertible top for when the weather changes during a day and ROOM FOR A GIRL.
It was probably the last point that tipped the balance in favor of the Wedge! He purchased the car in August 1985 and has owned her ever since!
Scott immediately named his Wedge Flamedancer because of her vermilion color as well as her red / black tartan interior. Right from the start there was one simple rule; the only two people who could drive Flamedancer were Scott and his trusted mechanic. That was it, and that rule lasted for almost a decade. However, in November 1992 Scott visited a Star Trek convention [he is what has become known as a Trekker], where he met a lovely young lady with large, dark brown eyes and the ability to deliver the best hugs in the whole world! They started dating and by mid-summer of 1993 his friends started telling her: ‘You know he is going to marry you, right?’ She was confused at first until they explained it for her. ‘You drove his car.’
On October 16, 1993, Scott proved all his friends correct. He went down on one knee and formally proposed to Jerilyn Lowe, then on May 7, 1994, they were wed. Naturally, the car used to drive away from the wedding ceremony was his beloved Flamedancer, but with Scott behind the steering wheel. There was no way he was going to let his new wife, his chosen life-partner, drive in high heels and a wedding gown!
Scott and Jeri enjoyed many trips in Flamedancer from Indiana (where they resided) to Wisconsin, the East Coast and to Florida. These trips and many more are all memories that Scott will cherish forever, but it is sad to report that Jeri passed away very unexpectedly after 17 years ,1 month 17, days of wedded bliss.
Flamedancer began a complete restoration in July 2011. As the restoration neared completion in August of 2014, Scott was told to take Flamedancer out for a weekend test-drive and report any discrepancies remaining back to the shop for attention. Scott put almost 200 miles on her over the weekend through several jaunts to nearby ice cream parlors. After compiling a fairly short list of faults, Scott returned the car to the shop on Monday, September 1, with one request – have her done by September 8. It seems the Vintage Triumph Register National Convention was starting on September 9. As this was the 40th anniversary of the TR7, this was to be the featured model at the event. Also, the Triumph Wedge Owners Association had arranged for Harris Mann, the designer of the TR7 body style, to be in attendance. These two facts made this a must-attend event for Scott.
The shop understood and, true to their word, they returned the car on September 8. The head of the shop’s restoration department drove Flamedancer (with Scott’s permission) from the shop to Scott’s house. Scott loaded the trunk (boot) with his luggage for the trip, returned the manager to the shop, and left on his first adventure in his newly restored ride. True to her name, she still sports a fire theme. Her new paint color is Dupont ChromaLusion Burnt Fire. Her interior has been upgraded to biscuit-colored leather with red piping trim and flames custom embroidered on the headrests.
The shop had one request of Scott for his journey. They requested the newly overhauled engine not be taken above 3,000 rpm for the first 1,000 miles as a safe break-in. This made the drive from Indiana to Dobson, North Carolina (the site of the convention) take a little longer than planned, but Scott really did not care. Part of the restoration included an upgrade of the stereo system. The new radio accepted a USB connection to Scott’s iPod. The two original door speakers had been upgraded and the vertical portion behind the parcel shelf now houses two additional speakers, giving an excellent surround sound when the top (hood) is up.
As part of his planning for this trip, Scott had joined the VTR and TWOA prior to the completion of Flamedancer’s restoration. The convention was Scott’s first experience with this type of venue and it was a remarkable experience. Scott had registered Flamedancer for the car show but when other members of the TWOA saw her he was advised to change to the Concours d'Elegance Modified Touring division. Being a total rookie, Scott took the advice. This also meant that Scott would have to participate in a moving event during the convention to qualify for judging at the Concours d'Elegance. It did not take long to find Monica Hubanks, a fellow TWOA member, as a willing partner for the Funkanna and Gimmick Rally. Driving portion – check.
On Friday night of the convention the TWOA, planned a scenic ride through the Blue Ridge Parkway and had invited Harris Mann to be the guest of honor. As the group was getting ready to depart, the president of the TWOA approached Scott. It seemed that Mr. Mann needed a ride to the dinner and would Scott mind giving Harris a lift? What followed was an absolutely delightful 90-minute ride talking with an automotive designing icon and ending with Harris signing both the door to the glove box and the inside of the trunk (boot) lid.
On Saturday morning, Scott awoke before the sun. The hotel he was staying at had provided a car washing station and he wanted to get there early to get Flamedancer cleaned up for the group photo and car show. After a front row appearance for the picture, Scott was directed to the gathering spot for his class in the show. Again, car show veterans were there to help out by showing Scott how to present Flamedancer, advice with what the judges would be checking, and even providing a cordless vacuum for some very last-minute interior cleaning.
The formal end to the convention was the banquet / award ceremony Saturday evening. After a wonderful meal, the awards were handed out. Imagine Scott’s surprise when in her very first event Flamedancer won her class in the Modified Touring division! The plaque was handed out by Harris Mann, who was very gracious to congratulate Scott on the win and on the car.
Scott is now very infected with the car show scene and is not looking for a cure. What he is looking for are those elusive last few points that will make Flamedancer even better.