May 2024

[1-May_24_Skeleton.jpg] A skeleton checks under a bonnet at the Trunk or Treat Cars & Coffee at LAAM.
Photo by David Schwartz

Trunk or Treat at LAAM

The final Larz Anderson Auto Museum Cars & Coffee of 2023 was held on October 28th. I prefer fall car shows as they avoid the heat and humidity of summer events. We had a nice sunny day, the temperature was cool and comfortable, and the trees surrounding the grounds still showed fall colors. There was a good turnout, with cars parked on both the upper and lower lawn.

Car owners were encouraged to give out Halloween candy and dress their cars for the occasion. Numerous cars sported costumes or other seasonal accoutrements. There was a skeleton checking under the hood of a recent-generation Mazda Miata, a spider driving an Alfa Romeo Spider, and the original Star Trek crew was pictured on the windshield sunshade of an SUV.

My 1968 Mini Traveller opted for the ever-popular Clown Car motif. I was out of the red foam clown noses that I have given away at past events, but people were happy to take candy from the bowl in the way-back.

There were two other classic Minis parked on the upper lawn, including Adam Blake’s 1967 Austin Cooper. A gray modern MINI with the vanity plate FERRET was parked on the lower lawn and a number of other British cars were scattered about.

German cars were well represented, including vintage Porsches and BMWs. I was surprised to see a Mercedes 300SL Gullwing coupe. The doors were raised, providing a good view of the plaid seats.

LAAM’s Cars & Coffee is free for car owners and spectators. Museum admission and espresso drinks are complimentary. The official hours are 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and there is no advance registration. Space fills up, so you should arrive by 8 a.m. if want to display a vehicle. This is especially true for the May event.

The 2024 dates are May 11th, June 8th, July 20th, August 17th, September 7th, and October 5th. LAAM is located at 15 Newton St. in Brookline, Mass.

May 2024

[2-May_24_Blake_Model_T.jpg] Adam Blake’s Mini next to another classic at Wheels of Wellesley.
Photo by David Schwartz

Wheels of Wellesley

The “Wheels of Wellesley” car show is sponsored by the Modifiers Car Club in conjunction with the Wellesley Celebrations Committee and is part of a full weekend of activities.

The 2023 show was held on May 21st. There was a good turnout of LBCs, including four classic Minis belonging to NEMO members. There was also a Triumph TR3A, a Triumph TR6, two Jaguar E-types, and two Austin-Healey 3000s.

Wheels of Wellesley is a small multi-marque show. Central Street in Wellesley Square is closed to traffic and show cars park on both sides of the street. Restaurants and businesses are open for the event.

Most of the British cars were parked near each other, and Adam Blake’s Mini was parked next to a Ford Model T. Former NEMO member Paul Saulnier brought his 1959 Volvo PV544. Other cars ranged from rat rods (one of which had two engines under the hood), hot rods, beautifully restored prewar and early postwar cars, ’50s and ’60s muscle cars, and preserved cars with loads of patina.

There was a 1952 Willys M38 Army Jeep with a sign that read “Kids* of all ages allowed on M38 Army Jeep with parental O.K. and oversight. (*Owner decides who is a kid).” The Jeep was very popular with young children and many kids took turns at the wheel.

May 2024

[3-May_24_Jeep.jpg] Kids (of all ages) enjoying the M38 Army Jeep.
Photo by David Schwartz

One of my favorite cars was a bright red 1959 Chrysler 300E owned by Dave Larsen. The driver and passenger front seats swiveled towards their respective doors. There was a Chevy Camero hot rod that was rebadged “Chomaro” due to the huge, fully chromed engine protruding through the hood.

Studebakers and Chevy Bel Airs were well represented, as were Ford T-Birds, one of which had a convertible top that retracted into the trunk. Foreign cars included several classic VW Beetles, a VW van, and a 1970 Datsun 240Z with only 24,000 miles.

Wheels of Wellesley 2024 will be held on May 19th from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Central Street in Wellesley, Mass. will be closed about 15 minutes prior to show car entry. The staging area and entrance are on Cross Street, which is off of Weston Road.

The show is part of “Wellesley’s Wonderful Weekend,” which includes a parade, concert, art exhibits, fireworks, and much more. The full weekend schedule is available at https://wellesleywonderfulweekend.com/schedule/.

For show-specific information, see the Mass Modifiers website: https://modifiersofwellesleycarclub.com/.



April 2024

[1-Apr_24_NEMO_Mini.jpg] The first production Morris Mini, recently adopted by NEMO.
Photo by David Schwartz

Minis at the British Motor Museum

by David Schwartz

GAYDON, Warks., U.K. — In June 2023, I spent two weeks traveling in England with forty members of the Morris Minor Registry of North America.

The trip culminated in a two-day car show celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Morris Minor. There were many trip highlights, including a visit to the British Motor Museum, which had been on my bucket list since I entered the British car hobby 11 years ago.

The Museum was previously known as the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, and it is still the source of British Motor Heritage Certificates.

It is home to the world’s largest collection of historic British cars, with over 400 cars in its collection. The main Museum building was not large enough to house the entire collection, and in 2015 the adjacent Collections Centre opened to display vehicles that were previously in storage.

In 2009 the Museum featured a temporary exhibit, “The Mini 50th Exhibition.” There are still a large number of classic Minis on display in both buildings, including very early cars, Monte Carlo Rally winners, Mokes, variants, prototypes, a sectioned Mini, even a full-size Lego Mini!

The Welcome Gallery in the Museum lobby displayed at least eight historically significant British cars built between 1896 and 1971. The cars were arranged in chronological order, and I was excited to see a white 1959 Morris Mini-Minor, the first production Morris Mini, which left the Cowley factory on May 8th, 1959.

This Mini wears the plate 621 AOK and was recently adopted by NEMO (see the March British Marque for details). The Mini was parked next to a red 1963 Jaguar E-type, a surprising juxtaposition.

April 2024

[2-Apr_24_ADO34.jpg] ‘Dinky Toy’ ADO 34 from 1964. Photo by David Schwartz

Other lobby cars included the 1896 Wolseley Autocar Number One, designed by Herbert Austin the 1897 Daimler Grafton Phaeton, the oldest Coventry-built Daimler a 1912 Ford Model T Torpedo, the second-oldest British-built Ford and the 1925 MG known as “Old Number One” and “the Kimber Special.”

Old Number One was a one-off special, built for Cecil Kimber, manager of Morris Garages, the business that gave its initials to MG. This was rarified company for the common Morris Mini.

Near the Museum entrance were several 1:1 scale cars sitting on top of giant Dinky Toys boxes. The boxes were labeled “Prototype” Series, and one was a 1964 MG/Mini ADO 34, a concept for a Mini-based front-wheel-drive MG sports car.

Different versions of ADO 34 were developed by Austin at Longbridge and MG at Abingdon. The Museum car was the Longbridge version and was constructed using two Mini subframes and a Cooper S engine and wheels. The body of the Museum car was designed and built in Italy by Pininfarina. The project was cancelled in 1964.

A 1962 “Twini” Mini Moke twin-engine prototype was displayed in the Museum building. A rear engine was mounted in a Mini front subframe with the steering locked in the straight-ahead position. There were two separate gearshift levers, the normal one for the front engine, and a second for the rear engine. The same clutch served both transmissions. It is no surprise that the Twini was never manufactured.

In 1968, Moke production moved from England to Australia, then moved again in 1981 to Portugal. A 1984 Portuguese-built Moke was in the Collections Centre.

Roped off in the main building was a 2017 Lego Mini Cooper. Red with a British flag roof, it was built by over a thousand Museum visitors in nine days over a February school holiday. Visitors were assisted by expert Lego builders. Even the tires and wheels were built out of Legos. The car weighs 1940 lbs., which is about 540 lbs. more than an actual classic Mini! A total of 229,893 Lego bricks were used to build it.

April 2024

[3-Apr_24_Motorsport.jpg] The Museum’s ‘Motorsport’ section, with Monte Carlo-winning Mini Coopers right in the center.
Photo by David Schwartz

An entire section of the Museum was devoted to motorsport. The raised centerpiece of the exhibit consisted of three Morris Mini Cooper S models that won the Monte Carlo Rally. Car #37, a 1963 model with a 70bhp, 1071cc engine, helped Paddy Hopkirk finish 3rd overall in the Tour de France, and 1st in the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally. Car #52, a 1964 model with a 75bhp, 1275cc engine, won in blizzard conditions in 1965, and car #177, a 1966 model also with a 75bhp, 1275cc engine, won in 1967.

Another early Mini in the rally section was a 1959 Austin Se7en Downton, one of the oldest surviving Austin versions. This particular Austin was built in September 1959 and was originally owned by Daniel Richmond of Downton Engineering. The Downton Austin Se7en raced in 1960 and was adjacent to the Monte Carlo Mini Coopers.

My tour group only had a half day budgeted for British Motor Museum. I spent several hours in the main building, then rushed over to the Collections Centre. The first floor was home to the Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust collection, which I ran through, since the Minis are on the second floor.

The first car I saw was a 1965 Austin Mini that was sectioned (cut in half) to demonstrate all the features that made the Mini so unique: the front-wheel-drive transverse engine with the transmission in the sump, large interior space with storage pockets and sliding windows, and even the Hydrolastic suspension (available on select models from 1964 to 1971.) The sectioned Mini rode on all four wheels, was left-hand-drive, and the full transverse engine was present. The car was white with a red interior, and the suspension components were highlighted in red.

April 2024

[4-Apr_24_Sectioned.jpg] Sectioned Mini, showing the details of the suspension and the interior.
Photo by David Schwartz

Other cars on display in the Collections Centre include production cars and prototypes, including a 1971 Mini Cooper S MkIII, a 1992 Mini Cord FA glass-fibre, plastic-bodied car produced in Venezuela, a 1974 Mini Clubman SRV4 safety research vehicle, a 1976 Mini 9X gearless prototype designed by Alec Issigonis, a 1989 ERA Mini Turbo, and even the damaged body of a 1976 Mini 1275GT that was infamously disposed of in a Longbridge tunnel. (Some people believe the tunnel car was the last Mini to leave the Longbridge factory.)

A beautifully restored 1962 Austin Mini 5cwt van also was on display, a replica of those used by John Cooper Garages. Cooper used identical vans to transport parts and provide support for customer cars. Unfortunately, none of the original Cooper Garage vans have survived.

Our half-day visit wasn’t nearly long enough to see everything in both buildings. Although I can cross the British Motor Museum off my bucket list, I would happily go back again. The cars described here are only a fraction of the ones I viewed.

If you are planning a trip to England and only have time to visit one motor museum, this should be your top priority. To see everything requires an entire day. The Museum schedules special events throughout the year, runs activities for children, and holds car shows in the parking lot. See their website for additional information: https://www.britishmotormuseum.co.uk/.



March 2024

[1-Mar_24_British_Car_Line.jpg] British car line — with a Simca thrown in for good measure.
Photo by David Schwartz

Brimfield Winery — Quite a Show

by David Schwartz

BRIMFIELD, MASS., October 8th — The Brimfield auto show fell off my radar in 2023, though I had included it on the NEMO calendar in previous years. Many events were cancelled in 2023 due to rain, and I skipped others because of the heat.

So it was fortuitous when fellow NEMO member Wendy Birchmire messaged, asking if I was planning on attending the Brimfield show. Naturally, it rained on October 7th, the original date. The organizers had scheduled the 8th as a rain date, so I made a last-minute decision to go.

The drive from Framingham to Brimfield is about 46 miles, 40 of which are on the Mass Pike. This was clearly a job for my 1968 Mini Traveller, not my much-slower 1950 Morris Minor. The weather was partly cloudy, and the morning cool enough that I needed to turn on the heat. (I had the foresight to loosen up the heater control valve before backing out of my garage.)

I saw numerous classic vehicles on the highway, including several Ford Broncos, one of which was trailered down from Maine. The show venue was Auction Acres, one of several fields used for the Brimfield Antique Flea Market held in May, July and September. Auction Acres is located on Route 20, behind the Brimfield Winery.

Show registration opened at 8 a.m. with the public admitted at 10. The lawn was already packed when I arrived at 9:15.

Vehicles were organized in 26 categories with the same model vehicles of a similar vintage parked together. I was directed about two-thirds of the way down the field to join a group of mostly British cars.

A few miscellaneous foreign cars were mixed in with the Brits, and I was parked next to a 1964 Simca Bertone Coupe. Wendy Birchmire’s 1973 Union Jack Mini 1000 was directly behind my Mini Traveller. She and husband Tom trailered “Jack” down from Needham.

March 2024

[2-Mar_24_Wolseley_Mascot.jpg] ‘W’ is for ‘Wolesley’ — namely Ed Collins’ 1958 Six/90.
Photo by David Schwartz

Ultimately, about 600 cars and trucks attended the show. There was a huge variety of makes and models of all ages, ranging from the late 1920s through recent production. American muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s were heavily represented, and there were numerous hot rods and customs. As usual, I gravitated toward the older American cars, foreign cars, and several unusual trucks.

The British car highlight for me was a 1958 Wolseley Six/90 owned by Ed Collins. According to Ed, his car is one of only two in North America. It was certainly the first I have seen. The Six/90 had luxury features such as a wooden dash, leather seats, and an ornate “W” hood ornament with wings extending back on each side.

Other British cars included a 1960 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite, a 1954 Jaguar XK140, a 1954 MG TF 1500, a 1973 Triumph GT6, a 1993 Land Rover Defender, a 1971 Triumph TR6, a 1983 Jaguar XJ6, several MGBs, and a 1974 MG Midget.

In the “quasi-British” category was a 1948 Grumman Chevy Step Van sporting a large British flag logo with “Triumph” (as in motorcycles) across the middle. The truck had loads of patina, missing paint and a window sticker that read “Shiny paint causes stress.” The van was built on a Chevy chassis and had an aluminum body. Yes, the body was produced by the same company that built the ubiquitous aluminum canoes.

There were three classic VW Beetles, including a custom 1970 “Beetle Vandetta.” The Vandetta looked like the love child of a Beetle and a Citroën 2CV Fourgonette. A pristine 1986 2CV was also in attendance. Other foreign cars of note included a 1966 Amphicar, a 1972 Opel GT, and a Porsche Speedster that may have been a replica.

March 2024

[3-Mar_24_Grumman_Step_Van.jpg] Grumman-Chevy Step Van in Triumph M/C livery. Patina to spare!
Photo by David Schwartz

The 1964 Simca Bertone Coupe parked beside my Mini was owned by Jim Peeter. The car was rear-engined and was built in France with the body built in Turin by Bertone. Jim’s car was very original, down to the missing paint and shabby interior. He owns another Simca that is not drivable. These are rare cars in the USA.

My favorite American cars included a trio of Chevy Corvettes ranging from 1958 to 1960. Numerous late ’50s Chevy Bel-Airs were on the field, as was a Chevy Nomad station wagon. One 1957 Bel-Air had a carhop tray complete with fake food and glass Coke bottles. A massive 1959 Chevy Impala had large horizontal tail fins, a Continental kit spare tire, and rubber-tipped Dagmars on the front bumpers. A four-door Chevy Corvair with an open bonnet and boot featured a “Visible V8” 1/4-scale engine model under the bonnet where the spare tire normally resides. Corvairs, of course, have their engines in the rear, so the owner had a sense of humor.

Three Model A Fords were present, including a 1931 Depot Hack Woodie Wagon, a 1931 two-door sedan with a modern car seat mounted in the rear, and a 1930 with a Ford airplane radiator cap. The Depot Hack underwent a multi-year restoration when the owner’s son took over a stalled project. A large group of vintage Ford Broncos were parked together near the rear of the field.

A 1952 Cadillac Series 62 featured heavy chrome on the bumpers and had huge front and rear Dagmars. Other notable American cars included a 1940 LaSalle convertible, a 1959 Jeep FC150, and a 1951 Studebaker Commander State Convertible.

Proceeds from the show were donated to the Brimfield Firefighters Association. Two fire trucks were present, one of which needed a complete restoration. The second was a beautifully restored 1940s Dodge, badged for the Wales Fire Department. (Wales is adjacent to Brimfield.)

March 2024

[4-Mar_24_VW_Beetle_Vandetta.jpg] 1970 VW Beetle ‘Vandetta’.
Photos by David Schwartz

A variety of food trucks were present, as was a grill serving burgers and hot dogs. The food lines were quite long, so I was glad to have brought snacks. The Brimfield Winery sold wine by the glass and bottle. Classic rock music was played all day by FM radio DJ Bruce Marshall.

This was a great multi-marque show. I will try to organize a group of Minis to arrive together for the October 12, 2024 event. The Winery also runs Friday car cruise nights from May through the fall. See their website for details: https://brimfieldwinery.com/events/.

March 2024

NEMO Adopts 621 AOK!

It’s official: New England Mini Owners has adopted 621 AOK, Morris Mini-Minor number one.

It all started with an e-mail from Dave Newman to the NEMO Google Group about a program at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, England, where individuals or organizations could support the Museum by making a donation to “adopt” one of the cars in their collection. One reply led to another, and when we found out that the 1959 Mini was available the decision was easy.

Treasurer Dave Black completed all the necessary paperwork to make the donation (a modest £100), and we soon were sent a “Certificate of Adoption” from the Museum with a photo and additional information about the car.

“Thank you for your support,” the Museum stated. “It will help us to collect, conserve, share and inspire, now and into the future.”

A photo of NEMO’s latest addition (for the period of 12 months, anyway) will be posted in the Gallery on the NEMO website.

Other clubs looking to support a charity related to our hobby might want to look into this as there are dozens of cars and marques available in the program. Contact adoption@britishmotormuseum.co.uk.



 

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