NEMO’s best-dressed party guests. Nuala Barker is in front, backed by (left to right) John Haig, Dave Newman, Lorine Karabec, Derick
Karabec, and Jean Icaza.
Photo by David Schwartz
NEMO’s Holiday Party
by David Schwartz
FRAMINGHAM, Mass., Dec. 1 — The NEMO Holiday Party was again held at La Cantina Italiana in Framingham. The turnout was good, with 27 adults plus our youngest event regular, Nuala Barker. Thanks to the mild weather and lack of road salt, two members drove their classic Minis, yours truly and Paul Berton. (Congratulations to Paul for doing an outstanding job on the 10-year-long restoration project and engine rebuild of his 1967 Austin Cooper S!)
Every year a few people wear holiday-themed outfits to the party. This year featured such a standout selection that we were inspired to hold an impromptu vote for the best outfit. It was a difficult choice, but 1st place went to “Santa’s helper” Lorine Karabec. Keeping with the family theme, Derick Karabec was attired as an elf.
Meanwhile, Dave Newman sported a Rudolph faux tuxedo, John Haig wore a dancing reindeer coat with matching necktie, Jean Icaza wore a hat decorated with candy canes and a Christmas-tree Mini shirt, and Nuala Barker outclassed the adults with her purple velvet party dress.
Several announcements were made at the conclusion of lunch, including a heads-up on British by the Sea, where in honor of the 60th anniversary, the classic Mini is the featured marque. Bruce Vild and Faith Lamprey awarded a “Mini Enthusiast of the Year” trophy to Lorine and Derick in recognition of their work on Mini Meet East 2018 (they also ran MME 2013).
As usual, the Yankee Swap table overflowed with bags and packages of all sizes. Nuala’s ticket was picked first, which by NEMO rules gave her the right to the final swap at the very end. Her first gift was British beer, not really appropriate for a six-year-old, but dad Iain appreciated it (until it was quickly stolen).
Derick and Lorine and their ‘Mini Enthusiast’ trophy.
Photo by David Schwartz
The hottest gift last year was a fleece blanket printed with photos of NEMO member cars. Wendy Birchmire designed the blanket, which ultimately went home with Barbara Neiley. To the surprise and delight of many, Barbara re-gifted the blanket this year, explaining that it really should go to someone whose car was pictured. Alex Daly managed to hold onto the blanket this year, which was fitting since he was the first person to receive it last year.
Wendy designed another, slightly smaller blanket for this year’s Swap. It was packaged in a British flag shoulder bag along with a box of English toffee. I was the first to open the gift, but it was quickly stolen. My Mini Traveller was pictured in the top row and was the largest car on the blanket. Oh, well. After changing hands several times, the blanket, shoulder bag and toffee went home with Nuala after she made the final steal, much better than beer.
Other gifts included die cast Minis, two pillows picturing Minis, tools, LED trouble lights, Mini-related books and repair manuals, food, mugs, a radio controlled MINI, a 500-piece Mini puzzle, a vintage Mini advertisement, a framed Mini racing print, and a commemorative Queen Elizabeth tea cup. Ken Lemoine took home a 1:18 scale MINI, which he immediately shared with his young grandson (Ken is already training the next generation of enthusiasts).
Be sure to check the Facebook page and NEMO website for photo albums of the guests and Yankee Swap.
Giant bear guards all the toys collected by participants.
Photo by Wendy Birchmire
‘MINIs Making a Difference’ Toy Rally
by Wendy Birchmire
WARWICK, R.I. — On December 9th, 24 MINIs arrived at MINI of Warwick for the 16th Annual “MINIs Making a Difference” Toy Rally. Each car contained at least one present to be donated to Children’s Friend, Rhode Island’s oldest child welfare organization, providing services for children and families in need for 184 years.
MINI of Warwick closed the dealership to the general public for the day, welcomed the Toy Rally participants with a breakfast of muffins, doughnuts, sandwiches, coffee and orange juice, and gave everyone a goodie bag.
Each person d the number of presents they brought as they entered the dealership. I felt like a bit of a Scrooge when I heard that Abbie, a young MINI enthusiast, contributed 210 toys. She had asked her friends, neighbors and relatives to donate to the drive.
When the final count was tallied, 1,575 gifts had been collected. Wow! This event provided confirmation that MINI owners are kindhearted people. The Toy Rally has been held since 2003, and has so far provided 20,459 toys to needy children.
Members of Children’s Friend arrived to collect the gifts and then it was time to go motoring. We drove to the highway accompanied by a police escort. Officers in cruisers and on motorcycles stopped traffic at intersections so our caravan would not get separated. This year I purchased a walkie-talkie before the rally. I would not get lost this time.
After a short ride, we exited the highway, drove through cow-country back roads and whizzed though S-turns in a way that only MINI owners understand. My MINI felt a little clunky with its new snow tires, but still clung to those turns beautifully.
After about an hour’s drive on mostly rural roads we arrived at Foxwoods Casino. The more adventuresome MINI owners gathered at Monza World Class Karting. They donned full helmets and raced around the twisty track in cars that can go up to 45mph. Instead, I chose to do some Christmas shopping at the resort and had a nice buffet lunch in one of the many restaurants. Yes, I know, I am a coward, and I’m likely to stay that way for the rest of my life! Watching others race around the track is enough excitement for me.
Count me in for this event next year, and maybe also the Turkey Trot, where volunteers fill their MINIs with turkeys and food baskets for distribution around Rhode Island to those in need.
Paul Berton was brave enough to bring a classic Mini to the Holiday Party!
Photo by David Schwartz
March 31 — NEMO’s Annual Meeting will be held from 12 noon to 4 p.m. at Owen O’Leary’s, 17 Connector Rd., Westborough, Mass. Their phone is (508) 366-9262 and website www.owenolearys.com. We reserved the lounge, which has high-top tables and space for at least 30 people. Owen O’Leary’s is an Irish pub with an extensive beer selection. Food and drink will be ordered à la carte. We will be holding the usual Give-away Freebie Raffle, so if you have any Mini-related items you would like to donate bring them along. An evite will be sent to the membership list in late February with a reminder in March. Owen O’Leary’s is located on the eastbound side of Route 9, about 1 mile from I-495. There is another location in Southborough, so be sure you punch the correct address into your GPS.
June 2 — British by the Sea will take place at Harkness Memorial State Park, Waterford, Conn. In honor of the 60th anniversary, the classic Mini will be the featured marque. Classic Minis will be right up front on the show field with new MINIs two rows back. We want to have a record turnout of our favorite little cars! The Connecticut MG Club has offered to put the British Marque vendor booth in front with the Minis. We need one or more of our members to bring pop-up tents so the club will have a place to gather, too. There is a new show T-shirt every year. Dianne Izzo suggested NEMO get involved with the 2019 T-shirt design. Details are on the BBTS website, www.ctmgclub.com/BBtS.html.
July 12-14 — The Goulds’ Microcar Classic. Minis, classic and modern, are welcome, and you never know what else will show up. Last year it was a slew of Russian cars and a Crosley, in addition to the usual 2CVs, Isettas and Messerschmitts. Always a hoot, especially when we go to the Larz Anderson Auto Museum and give spectators rides. Go to www.bubbledrome.com to find out more.
August 8-12 — National Woodie Meet, Ogunquit and Wells, Maine. Here is a chance to show your Mini Traveller or Countryman with their much larger, American-made brethren. A car show and Perkins Cove parade are on Saturday, August 10th. There are several Woodie cruises, a lobster dinner, optional sailing, etc. British Woodies are welcome to attend. The full agenda for the weekend may be found at https://woodies.clubexpress.com/content.aspx?page_id=5&club_id=871106&item_id=43745. The National Woodie Club is made of regional chapters. The “Yankee Wood Chapter” covers New England and runs an annual fall event. Stay tuned.
Keith Hartinger’s Austin A50, up from Florida, was an eyecatcher at the BLW show.
Photo by David Schwartz
BLW Car Show — Legendary!
by David Schwartz
SANDWICH, Mass., Oct. 7 — The British Legends Weekend (BLW) car show was back on the grass this year at the Oakcrest Cove Field in Sandwich. Jaguar and Land Rover were the featured marques, and once again there was a “Concours d’Evolution,” which paired classic vehicles with their modern counterparts.
Lunch was provided by several food trucks, a dessert truck and a well-attended beer truck. Our hosts, the Cape Cod British Car Club, arranged for a large dining tent next to the food vendors.
The day was dreary with a few raindrops in the afternoon. Even so, there was a stunning selection of classic Jaguars, including my personal favorites, the XK120 and XK150. In the “rarely if ever seen” category were a 1929 Rover Riviera fabric body 2-litre saloon, a 1950 Allard K2, and a 1955 Austin Cambridge A50.
Yes, I am including the Austin A50 with this rarified company because it made me smile more than any other car on the field. The A50 had right-hand drive and a two-tone turquoise-and-white paint scheme. They were never exported to the US and this was the first one I had ever seen. Owner Keith Hartinger trailered the car from Florida to the Cape. He has several other British cars and has previously attended BLW.
[Keith was the recipient of a British Marque Favourite Award a couple of years ago for a lovely bone-stock Mini he had brought to that year’s BLW. —Exec. Ed.]
Classic car expert and author Dave LaChance has been a judge at past BLW shows, and he was around this year, too. Since Rover was a featured marque, Dave drove his 1968 Rover 2000TC from the Berkshires, where he lives, to Sandwich. I have seen photos of the TC on-line and it was nice to finally meet her in person.
On our drive to the Cape, my wife Betty asked about cars besides Jaguar that were named after animals. We only came up with a few. Knowing there were many more, we held an “ask the expert” session with Dave, who came up with a much longer list, including the “horses”: Mustang, Pinto and Bronco.
Sidelined, but saved
Chris Cole and Gail Gray made their annual trip from their home in Vermont to attend BLW. They own a number of classic British cars and alternate between their Mini and TR4A. Despite the long distance, they never trailer a classic car to the Cape.
I knew something was amiss when they pulled onto the show field in an unfamiliar car. It seems they had a misadventure on the Saturday driving tour when a suspension part in their car failed and the left front wheel broke free. Fortunately, no one was injured.
Their car was towed to Mike Dallaire’s garage for temporary repairs. Chris and Keith Hartinger spent hours piecing it back together, but the car was not safe to drive any distance. Keith generously offered to give Chris, Gail and their car a ride back to Vermont (this after trailering his A50 up from Florida!).
Mike loaned his Triumph Spitfire to Chris and Gail to drive for the remainder of the weekend. What a great community.
Nuala Barker’s favorite in the car show was the MINI with a mermaid in the driver’s seat!
Photo by Iain Barker
NEMO on the field>
Congratulations to NEMO member Chris Izzo on his recent purchase of a 1983 Jaguar XJ6. Chris owns several British project cars including a Mini van. It was great to see him with a well-kept running car on the show field! As a bonus, the car won 1st place on its maiden outing.
The turnout of classic Minis was quite low, with only my 1968 Mini Traveller and Iain Barker’s 1967 Mini Cooper S in attendance. Four modern MINIs were on the show field with another two in the parking lot, including Iain’s 2015 Cooper S tow vehicle. A Honda VTEC-powered 1964 Mini van was registered in the show’s Modified class. Perhaps the rainy weather forecast kept NEMO members away.
Two non-human “drivers” were spotted among the Mini classes. A mermaid was seated in Pam Dallaire’s MINI convertible, and a tree sloth took the wheel of Iain Barker’s Mini Cooper S. It is nice to see car owners add some humor to the show.
The competition was tough, but Iain and I won 1st place in our respective classes. Bruce Vild took home a 2nd for his modern MINI, 1st going to Pam and her mermaid.
Best of Show was awarded to Dirk Burrowes for his 1929 Rover.
At the end of the show it was great fun to watch Iain pull his 2015 MINI onto the field, connect a tow bar to his classic Mini and drive away in tandem. There was some light rain on the drive home, but fortunately Betty and I made it to Framingham just in time to avoid the deluge.
Next year, BLW will be held October 11-13 in Plymouth, Mass. The Saturday evening banquet will be at Plimoth Plantation with the Sunday car show on a grassy field at Plymouth Airport.
See you there!
Food Bank donations fill the hatch!
Photo by Bob Shaffer
Winnepesaukee Rally — A Food ‘Drive’!
by Bob Shaffer
BEDFORD, N.H., Nov. 10 — The NH Mini Events rally group held their third annual canned food drive and Winnepesaukee Rally in conjunction with MINI of Bedford. The food drive benefits the New Hampshire Food Bank. This year, ten MINI owners and four passengers met at the dealership for coffee and donuts, and to drop off their donations.
As in past years, participants didn’t bring just a few items, but each brought several cases of canned goods. The donations more than half filled the rear of a 2018 MINI Countryman (see photo).
Following some photos at the dealership, the rally group drove north around the western side of Lake Winnepesaukee with a lunch stop at the the Bob House and the Reel ’n Tavern in Moultonborough. After lunch the Rally continued down the eastern side of the lake, concluding at the Cork ’n Keg Grill in Raymond. While the morning weather was rainy at times, the scenery along the New Hampshire country roads was gorgeous, with colorful foliage lining most of the driving route.
NH Mini Events hosts 6-8 rallies a year, featuring scenic drives on twisty roads around New Hampshire. Most rallies include a lunch stop at a good local restaurant. The final two rallies of each calendar year have a charity component. The November rally is a food drive, and the December rally supports Toys for Tots (and is also hosted by MINI of Bedford).
Paul Bradt founded NH Mini Events and continues to lead it. MINI owners interested in participating in the rallies can find more information on the group’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/NHMiniEvents.
Drone’s eye view of the MINIs on the Rally.
Photo by AH PhotoVideography
Haunted Apple Jack Rally
by Wendy Birchmire
What could be nicer than joining other MINI owners for a ride through the back roads of New England on a picturesque, but rainy Saturday? “Not much,” would be my answer.
The Haunted Apple Jack Rally on October 13th began at MINI of Peabody in Peabody, Mass. After meeting there and admiring the new MINIs for sale, 29 cars began the caravan to the Cider Hill Farm in Amesbury. We made several stops along the way to admire the autumn foliage.
The orchard provided pick-your-own apples of numerous varieties as well as a farm store stocked with wonderful pastries and freshly made donuts. After the sun began to shine, a group of hearty MINI enthusiasts ventured into the orchard.
The caravan reconvened and we were off to two different restaurants in Epping, N.H.
Somewhere along the way other MINI owners joined the group, so it was about 60 MINI enthusiasts who met for dinner at one of the two restaurants. The Holy Grail, which I chose, could only accommodate 40 people in their upstairs dining room, so the rest of the group went to the Rail Penny Tavern.
Following dinner, an adventurous group of MINI owners went to the Haunted Overload in Lee, N.H., to be scared by the witches and goblins. I headed home since I’m a coward and don’t like people and objects jumping out at me!
If you have never been on a rally, you should give it a try. Kristin Masta and Josh Amato do a great job organizing them. The people are genial and full of information about MINIs. It is a totally fun experience.
All the cars on the route today were modern MINIs, but classic Minis are always welcome.
Check the MINIs of Boston Group on Facebook for upcoming events at www.facebook.com/groups/boston miniclub.
Variant, or just a different model?
Photo courtesy Wikipedia
Variant, or Just a Variation?
by Bruce Vild
Body style, engine size, wheel size, suspension type, country of origin, even brand — there are so many ways classic Minis have varied during the car’s 41-year run that it’s sometimes difficult to draw the line between a “Variant” and a car that is just the result of product development, adaptation to a particular market, or up-market design for dealers of premium brands in the old BMC chain.
We may all agree that re-bodied or re-engined Minis are Variants (think Mini Marcos or VTEC powerplants here), but what about alternative body styles from the factory, such as the woodie wagons, the vans and pickups, or even the squared-off Mini Clubman saloon and 1275 GT of the 1970s?
The question “What is a Variant?” came up after the most recent British Invasion in Stowe, Vt. In the people’s choice competition there were two classes for Classic Minis according to year, and one for Mini Variants. The classes were sorted on the basis of the information provided about the cars at the time of registration.
An Austin Countryman (woodie wagon) wound up winning the popular vote in one of the Classic Mini classes and a 1st place plaque. The owner of the Mini saloon that placed 2nd lodged a protest, suggesting the winning Countryman be disqualified because it was in the wrong class. He said it should have been with the Variants.
After he and I traded several e-mails, event organizer Michael Gaetano decided that the Countryman would not be disqualified and the results of the popular vote would stand. However, we agreed that a clear, concise and consistent definition of Mini Variant needed to be developed going forward, and NEMO could help.
From some of the initial conversations I’ve had with people, we should start with body style. One person I spoke with said a Classic Mini is a “two-box” saloon, and all other body styles are Variants. So into the latter class would go the Austin Countryman, the Morris Mini Traveller, most certainly the Moke, the panel van and pickup. Add the Wolseley Hornet and Riley Elf as well, with their “three-box” (extended boot) layout.
The first-generation Innocenti Mini Cooper? No, that was a “two-box” saloon, therefore a Classic Mini.
Not so fast, said another person. The Innocenti Mini Cooper, along with the Australian Mini K, were saloons all right, but with enough bespoke features to put them in the Variant category. To the body style criterion for the Classic Mini he would add, “and manufactured in the Cowley plant in Oxford or the Longbridge plant in Birmingham, England.” Even if built under BMC or BL license, “foreign” Minis need not apply — they’re Variants.
What about other BMC models, such as the MG 1100, Morris 1100, Vanden Plas Princess 1100 or Austin America, which have Mini underpinnings?
No, the second person said, these were designed to be different vehicles from the beginning. In a show such as Stowe, they belong in classes for “Other MG, Morris or Austin,” not Mini Variants.
The third person I mentioned the controversy to simply replied, “Hmm. I’ll have to get back to you after I’ve given it some thought.”
And that’s where it stands now. We’ve all been tasked with giving it some thought. Get back to me at email@example.com or through the NEMO Google group and let’s get the discussion going.
And if you think trying to make the distinction by body style is bogus, let’s discuss that, too. The next Invasion is counting on us.
[Contrib. Ed. note: See the “ADO15” and “ADO16” articles in Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BMC_ADO16) for a list of vehicles based on the Mini’s transverse-mounted A Series engine. —DS]