British cars in the upper lot.
Photo by David Schwartz
LAAM Cars & Coffee Season Opener
by David Schwartz
BROOKLINE, Mass. — From May through October the Larz Anderson Auto Museum (LAAM) holds a free monthly “Cars & Coffee.” The May 13th season opener was a beautiful sunny day with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to mid-70s.
The official event hours were 8:30 to 11:30, though attendees started arriving by 7:30. Many people only stayed for an hour or two and left early, so there was a constant turnover of vehicles.
Betty and I planned to connect with a small group of British car owners at 8:30 so we could drive in and park together. We received a text at 8:10 that the show field was open and already quite crowded, so we dispensed with meeting and headed directly to the main entrance. We attempted to drive in behind a vintage Ferrari, but were told by a policeman that the grounds were full (or at least too full for a classic Mini). Betty said we were Museum members and a volunteer waved us in and told us to park “up top.”
The Ferrari parked next to a line of high-end supercars near the Museum entrance. Since “up top” was rather vague, I started to back in next to the Ferrari. A volunteer told us we couldn’t park there and had to move to the upper lot. A classic Mini Traveller usually draws more interest than most modern supercars, but we still had to join the more “plebian” vehicles angle-parked on the Museum road across from the first parking lot.
We were a few cars down from three MGs owned by members of the Boston Area MG Club — Rudy Koehle and Susie McGee in an MGB, Billy and Deb Hoyt in an MGA, and Gerry Lodge and Kelly Moynihan in an MGB — and we were happy to connect with them all.
Waiting in line at the free espresso bar gave us time to catch up with our BAMGC friends. Also in line was BAMGC member Gary Hampton, who arrived early with his TR3A and was able to park on the main lawn.
Armed with iced Americanos we walked the show fields. Both the upper and lower lawns were full, though the cars were not tightly packed. This made it easier for cars to leave and other cars to take their places.
Caterham 7 on the lower field. The driver had to remove the steering wheel to get out of it.
Photo by David Schwartz
The variety of vehicles was excellent, though, as expected, heavy on performance-oriented cars (Porsches, BMWs, Ferraris, muscle cars, exotic supercars). My eyes automatically seek out classics and unusual vehicles, and the performance cars barely register.
There are some regulars at these events, including an Austin-Healey 3000, a 1970 Lotus Elan, and Roger Fuller’s 1989 Trabant station wagon. There were at least three modern MINIs present, and Adam Blake drove his beautiful 1967 Austin Cooper S. A green classic Mini arrived late but I never located the owner.
A Caterham 7 arrived mid-morning and parked next to a modern Lotus on the main lawn. The car had side curtains attached, which must have made the tiny cockpit very claustrophobic. The owner removed the steering wheel, reached over the windshield and placed the steering wheel on the bonnet so he could exit the car. His adult passenger needed help getting out.
Volvos were well represented, including a pristine Volvo 122 two-door sedan and three “Swedish Brick” station wagons. One of the wagons had magnetic flames on the front fenders, and Volvo “Prancing Moose” decals below the A-pillars.
(The Prancing Moose was a parody of Ferrari’s “Prancing Horse” logo. Volvo corporate was not amused, and about five years ago sent a cease-and-desist letter to the creator of the Prancing Moose over his use of the company’s name.)
I had a long chat with the five-year owner of a 1957 Chevy Belair sedan. The car sported a two-tone paint job, in white over blue. The owner uses it as his daily driver in good weather. He enjoys taking people for rides and told me he likes to pull over and offer his passenger a chance to drive. That is my kind of classic car owner!
Maluch, the Polski Fiat.
Photo by David Schwartz
(My grandfather owned a similar-looking Belair in the early 1960s and I have fond memories of weekend outings in his car. In the mid-’60s my grandfather sold his Belair to a neighbor for $50. Years later he was annoyed to see his old Belair still on the road.)
My favorite unusual car was a bright red, 1990 Fiat 126P. From a distance I thought the car was a Yugo. On closer inspection I realized it is smaller than the Yugo, and had a “Polski Fiat” badge mounted near the left headlight.
The Fiat 126 was created to replace the Fiat 500. After Polish production started, Fiat added the letter P to the name for Polski. The couple that owns it were born in Poland and remember these cars from when they were very young. The car is all original with very low mileage. It has a two-cylinder 650cc rear-mounted engine and even has a Polish AM radio installed.
In Poland the car became a cultural icon and earned the nickname “Maluch,” meaning “The Little One” or “Toddler.” The name became official in 1997 when Fiat affixed a Maluch badge to the rear of the car — which explains the MALUCH vanity plates. You never know what will turn up at these events.
Museum admission is free during Cars & Coffee and the latest exhibit showcases road rally cars. The oldest car is a 1901 Winton Bullet, the first production race car offered for sale to the public. It was purchased by Larz and Isabel Anderson and is owned by the Museum. The Winton has a 40hp two-cylinder engine and was capable of reaching 70mph — not a speed I would want to achieve in what is little more than a horseless carriage.
Other rally cars include a 1949 Cadillac 62 Series Coupe, and a pair of French-built 1972 A110 Alpines. This is an interesting exhibit even if you are not a racing fan.
In all, it was a great day for a car show, and the number and variety of cars were outstanding. I plan to arrive by 8 a.m. for future Cars & Coffee events and recommend other NEMO members do the same.
Mini Meet East June 30-July 3!
The always-incredibly-fun Mini Meet East will be held June 30th through July 3rd in Rochester, N.Y. — well within striking distance of NEMO members. The host hotel is the DoubleTree Rochester, 1111 Jefferson Rd., Rochester, reachable at (585) 475-1510.
For Meet information, including a link to register, go to https://minimeeteast.regfox.com/mme2023.
Friday, June 30 — Registration open, 4 to 8 p.m.
Saturday, July 1 — Car wash available, 7 to 10 a.m. club executive meeting, 8:15 a.m. MME 2023 Car Show, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Funkhana, starts 3 p.m. Kidkhana, starts 3 p.m.
Sunday, July 2 — Scavenger Hunt, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Group Photo, 1 to 2 p.m. Mystery Event, 2 to 4 p.m.
Monday, July 3 — 11:00 a.m., Driving Skills Event (regular and R/C cars), 11 a.m. Banquet at the hotel, 3 p.m.
Meet pre-registration ends at 12:01 a.m. (ET) on June 24th. After this date, it must be done on-site in Rochester.
The last day to order T-shirts is June 8th.
There will be a swap meet (boot sale) in the hotel parking lot for any registered participant whenever the group is at the hotel.
Registration amounts are in U.S. dollars and will be converted to your home currency (if needed) by the bank. Please remember if you need to cancel, don’t forget to cancel your hotel room, too.
Please send any questions to email@example.com and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible (usually within a few hours).
Note: Saturday and Sunday’s schedule may change due to the weather and the group photo.
David’s Morris Mini Traveller is positively dwarfed by a Chrysler Town & Country woodie convertible.
Photos by David Schwartz
Woodies in the Cove
by David Schwartz
“Woodies in the Cove” is an annual car show for woodies of all sorts — station wagons, sedans, convertibles — hosted by the Historical Society of Wells and Ogunquit, Maine. The “Cove” refers to Perkins Cove, a popular tourist spot with restaurants, shops, boat tours, and great ocean views. The car show takes place on a large field in Wells, and the event culminates in a police-escorted five-mile parade south on Route 1 to Shore Road in Ogunquit, which leads to Perkins Cove Road.
In August 2019 the National Woodie Meet was held at Woodies in the Cove. The National Woodie Club is made up of regional chapters, with the Yankee Wood Chapter covering New England. I publicized the national meet in the NEMO newsletter after attending a Massachusetts event run by the Yankee Wood Chapter. Chapter members had no idea Mini produced woodies, though they were familiar with the Morris Minor Traveller.
Several NEMO members expressed interest in attending Woodies in the Cove in 2019, but most had conflicts with the date. My 1968 Mini Traveller was the sole classic Mini in attendance. Barbara and David Newman represented modern MINIs with their unique 2013 ClubVan, “Woody Cooper.” A heavily modified 1967 Morris Minor Traveller sporting a Chevy 4.6-liter V6 engine was the only other British car.
Cars from all over the U.S. and at least one from Canada attended the multi-day national event, which featured several driving tours. Most owners drove their cars, and a few even towed trailers.
At least 100 woodies were present for the car show and parade. Only one owner I spoke with had mechanical trouble, and other attendees were able to source the necessary parts to get him back on the road.
NEMO members Dave and Barbara Newman displayed their unique ClubVan.
The variety and condition of woodies was impressive. Vehicles ranged from Ford Model T and Model A Depot Hacks, to massive convertibles, classic woodie wagons, and a few vinyl wood grain station wagons (which have become collectible). Surprises included a 1941 Cadillac sedan, a 1947 Dodge Passenger Bus, a 1940 Packard, and a 1947 Nash Ambassador Suburban.
The British cars attracted a lot of attention. A steady flow of people stopped by my Mini Traveller, the Newmans’ MINI ClubVan, and the hot rod Morris Minor Traveller.
Initially, I was parked between the Morris Minor and a 1950s-vintage Crosley station wagon that was slightly larger than my car. The rear quarter panels and tailgate of the Crosley were painted with faux wood grain. The car doors advertised “Kettle Cove Fish Market,” and “Friday is Fish Day” adorned the tailgate. A large wooden fish served as a hood ornament, and wooden roof racks carried a surfboard. The Crosley departed early, and a truly massive Chrysler Town & Country convertible took its place (see photo).
The Morris Minor Traveller hot rod was a high-end conversion, with few original parts aside from the body shell. The Chevy V6 engine had many performance tweaks. A 3.73 Positraction rear end was fitted, as was an air ride suspension and tilt steering column. The interior was fitted with custom embossed leather seats and wool carpets. The sides and rear doors were given the American woodie wagon treatment and fitted with mahogany panels. I hope the owner started with an unrestorable Morris Minor.
The oldest car at the show was a 1913 Ford Model T. With so many years represented, it was interesting to see the progression from the boxy Model T and Model A, continuing to the slab-sided cars of the late 1930s through the mid-1940s, and finally transitioning to the streamlined 1950s Ford Country Squire and Chrysler Town & Country.
What was David’s favorite? This Nash Ambassador.
It was difficult to choose a favorite from so many amazing cars. After careful consideration, the 1947 Nash Ambassador Suburban gets my vote. The four-door sedan was in pristine condition and was shown with factory accessories, including a period roof rack with a cylindrical container for storing a twin bed mattress. The car has a fold-down rear seat, and the twin mattress was stretched from the trunk into the passenger compartment.
To my surprise, the Nash was not the People’s Choice winner. The award went to a 1947 Dodge Passenger Bus, which has a custom woodie body fitted to a truck chassis.
After the awards ceremony, it was time for the parade to Perkins Cove. Route 1 traffic on a nice summer weekend is brutal. However, police closed the southbound lane to all but the show cars, and police cars led the parade of woodies.
Attendees slowly exited the show field and were met with cheers and waves (though not from the drivers stuck in traffic on side streets and parking lots). Crowds of spectators were heavy once we turned onto Shore Road. My driver-quality Mini Traveller received more cheers, waves, and applause than the pristine full-size woodies that surrounded me. When the parade slowed to a crawl in the loop at the end of Perkins Cove Road, someone ran up to my car and told me it was his favorite!
You can view a video of the parade start at https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=479235149319035.
The 2023 edition of Woodies in the Cove is scheduled for August 12th. The turnout is likely to be 40 or 50 cars since this year’s event is not combined with the National Woodie Meet. It is still well worth attending, with or without a Mini Traveller or Countryman.
A tribute to Her Majesty and 007, complete with Mini!
Photo by Jean Icaza
A Rose Garden Fit for the Queen
by Jean Icaza
Imagine, if you will, a small village in Rosemont, Scotland. With a beautiful little rose garden created for Queen Elizabeth to enjoy while on her travels to and from Balmoral Castle. Accompanied by her bodyguard and her Corgis, she would time this trip for the spring bloom of the roses. They could stretch their legs, have a delightful respite from official duties, and enjoy a spot of tea and a jam sandwich in the gazebo, all while enjoying the many colors and fragrances in her Rosemont Garden.
Now, imagine our delight at having our 1969 Austin Mini Countryman, chauffeured by James Bond, a/k/a Daniel Craig, chosen to transport Her Majesty on this delightful imaginary trip!
The Connecticut Flower and Garden Show took place on February 23rd through 26th in Hartford, Conn. This display was designed by Marci Martin, a Connecticut resident active in the Connecticut Rose Society. She had her theme and was in search of a Little British Car to use in the display.
A friend put us in touch with Marci, and our Mini fit her vision for this display. It was a fun experience for David and me.
P.S.: Daniel came home with me, as well as Her Majesty, and the Corgi cutouts not seen in the photos!
[Contrib. Ed. note: You may wonder, why is James Bond in the Rose Garden? “James Bond” escorted “Queen Elizabeth” to the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony in London. You can watch that on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AS-dCdYZbo. — DS]
Paddington Bear, on the left in the gazebo, was having tea while the Queen and 007 looked on.
Photo by Jean Icaza
by David Schwartz
We always need newsletter articles covering both classic and modern Minis. I can’t possibly make it to all the events attended by other members, so how about some new reporters covering new venues?
Owner stories are always of interest too, so write about what got you into the classic or modern Minis. Other topics might include winter car repair projects, events you attended last year that were not already covered, event previews for 2023, additions to the calendar, local cruise nights, etc.
An article can be as simple as a paragraph and some pictures. You don’t need to channel Shakespeare.
The editorial deadline for the NEMO newsletter is usually the second Monday of the month. Please send articles and photos to firstname.lastname@example.org by the previous Friday. Photos should be 1 MB or higher. Extra photos are welcome. If they don’t fit in the newsletter, we can always post them on the website.
There is a prize for the best article. The author gets to be newsletter editor (British Marque Contributing Editor) next year.