Yankee Swap! Dave Newman unwrapped a Mini-themed blanket. He didn’t get to keep it.
Photo by Chris Izzo
NEMO Holiday Party a Real Hit!
by Faith Lamprey
PUTNAM, Conn. — The NEMO Holiday Party was held at Black Dog Bar & Grille in Putnam on Saturday, December 3rd. If the place looked familiar, it’s because the restaurant was formerly called J. D. Cooper’s and we had gone there a number of times for our Holiday Party in past years.
Eighteen people gathered together in a private room and big smiles were everywhere as we greeted each other. Attending the event were Dave Black, Greg Mazza, Dave and Barbara Newman, Bob and Kathy Brownell, Lorine and Derick Karabec, Faith Lamprey and Bruce Vild, Nuala and Iain Barker, Chris Izzo, Thom Pickett, Dave and Jean Icaza, Phil Darrell, and new member John Disano.
The Holiday Party is one of the club’s favorite events and usually a raucous time ensues during the customary Yankee Swap. Last year we got together in a restaurant in December, but no private room and no Yankee Swap — so, while it was wonderful to see everyone, the Party was a bit more subdued. This year the Yankee Swap was back!
After a few cocktails we managed to get everyone to sit down for lunch before the start of the Swap. Lively conversations were overheard as many had not seen each other in a while. Once the Swap started everyone enjoyed seeing the gifts being opened, especially when one was “taken” from someone. Many gifts changed hands, some multiple times.
Everyone had a fun time and enjoyed seeing each other. We carried our gifts to the cars and continued our conversations in the parking lot. We really are a convivial group!
At the September C&C. Adam and Annica Blake brought their Lotus Elise and Austin Cooper S.
Photo by David Schwartz
LAAM Cars & Coffee Wrap-up
by David Schwartz
BROOKLINE, Mass. — The Larz Anderson Auto Museum (LAAM) held six free “Cars & Coffee” lawn events from May through October. I attended the May, August and September events, and wrote about the May event in the June newsletter. All were well attended, with cars filling both lawns and the parking area near the Museum entrance. I wish I had been able to attend all six.
The official C&C hours are 8:30 to 11:30, though many people show up early and leave before the end. Additional cars arrive throughout the morning, so the variety keeps changing. British cars were well represented at each event, as were unusual vehicles of various marques. The LAAM staff does not hand out windshield tags, so it is not always possible to identify a car’s year and model. I have been known to stake out cars until the owner shows up.
I promoted all the C&C events in the calendar, but NEMO member attendance was low. In September, Wendy Birchmire drove her 1993 Mini Mayfair and Adam Blake drove his 1967 Austin Cooper S. I brought my 1968 Mini Traveller in August and September. September was a full Blake family affair. Annica drove their 1999 Lotus Elise with the three children split between the Mini and Lotus.
My wife, Betty Lehrman, attended the September event and even wore a flowered Hawaiian shirt to match mine. Gary Hampton wore one of his car-themed Hawaiian shirts, so the three of us had to stage a picture.
Other British cars included Robert Fish’s 1968 MGB, Gary Hampton’s 1960 Triumph TR3A, a Lotus Elan, a Lotus Elise Series 2, a “Locost” Lotus 7 kit car, a 1933 Rolls-Royce, a 2016 Rolls-Royce Wraith, a Jaguar E-type, a 1974 Jensen Interceptor, a 1960 Morgan Plus 4, a TR6, and a 1980 Triumph TR8.
Robert’s MGB sported a “Skiers Make Better Lovers” license plate frame that dates to around 1970. He bought several of these frames, and the other ones were appropriated by his adult children. The Lotus Elan’s bonnet was removed, affording a view of the very clean engine. Betty agreed that the early generation Miata has a similar look to the Elan.
David’s ‘season favorite’, a 1933 Rolls-Royce named ALBERT.
Photo by David Schwartz
The 1933 Rolls-Royce was my season favorite. The car is right-hand-drive, has a single sidemount on the driver’s side, black wire wheels, trafficators on the C-pillar, a sunroof, wooden dash and interior trim, and a six-cylinder engine. There were no modern license plates attached to the car, nor any year or model information.
I used a photo editor to enlarge the Massachusetts inspection sticker visible in one of my photos and was able read the license plate number backwards. The car is registered with the vanity plate ALBERT. A plate look-up on the RMV website showed 1933 as the year and “Sport” as the model. According to automotive author Dave LaChance, all Rolls-Royces were coachbuilt until the Silver Dawn of 1949.
I posted some photos and questions about the Rolls-Royce on the Arlington Classic Car Club (ACCC) Facebook page. This is a very knowledgeable group with over 300 members. Mark Diamond immediately responded that this very car attended a LAAM Cars & Coffee back in August, 2021.
To quote Mark, “It completely blew me away. I ended up having a conversation with the owner. This car was the pièce de resistance. I couldn’t stay away from it: a 1933 Rolls-Royce 20/25 with body by Connaught. Restored by its English expat owner and in superb shape. The engine started right up, ran like a clock and was surprisingly quiet for 1933.” Mark owns a Peugeot 504 and is an equal opportunity fan of any great car.
Noteworthy non-British cars included a 1932 Auburn 8-100A custom that has appeared at the Misselwood Concours d’Elegance, a 1937 Oldsmobile F44 sporting an external windshield visor, a massive 1941 Buick Roadmaster four-door convertible, a 1957 Alfa Romeo Giulietta, a 1989 Trabant station wagon, a 1976 Volkswagen Camper Van, a 1972 Citroën SM, a 1985 Merkur XR4Ti (when was the last time you saw one of these?). A Tesla owner with a sense of humor had two Duracell “Z” size batteries mounted under the bonnet.
There was a well-preserved mid-’50s Chevy Corvette. I had never noticed the Space Age styling of the early Corvettes, especially the rocket fins on top of the rear fenders and small chrome bullets on the front and rear bumpers.
The Stig keeps an eye on things.
Photo by David Schwartz
A Mexican-market, Volkswagen Van-based Work Truck was parked near the Museum entrance. The owner was very friendly and spent a while chatting and taking pictures of his companions pretending to clean the windshield of my Mini Traveller.
The September event featured a red 1991 Honda Beat, and a yellow 1993 Honda Beat. The Beat is a kei car manufactured from 1991 through 1996. Kei is short for “light automobile” and must meet Japanese regulations limiting their physical size and engine size. I had never seen a Beat before and don’t believe the owners knew each other. Quite a coincidence to see two of them.
Betty really admired a Citroën 2CV Charleston in a red-and-black paint scheme. I told her this model is on my “short list.” Buying one is fine with her, as long as I sell another car first. She hasn’t driven her Miata much in the last two years, so perhaps a swap is in order.
The Stig put in an appearance at the September C&C. For those not familiar with the British television show Top Gear, the Stig is an anonymous race car driver hiding behind a full-face helmet. The joke is that nobody knows who or what is inside the Stig’s racing suit. The Stig at LAAM never broke character and wouldn’t engage in conversation. I did convince him (her, they, it?) to strike a pose in front of Wendy’s Mini.
Prior to the COVID pandemic I frequently invited people to sit in my Mini Traveller. This was often a challenge to tall people to prove they would fit, and so kids could enjoy a car that was just their size. There were so many enthusiastic Mini fans that I reinstated photo ops (being outdoors and quadruple vaccinated also helped). Some of the kids were so cute that I couldn’t resist taking my own photos, and I have a great picture of two young kids in “the wayback” sitting on my British flag carpet and waving a British flag.
LAAM Cars & Coffee is a free event, including free espresso drinks and Museum admission. I hope to see more NEMO members next season.
Mini line plus an MGA at Gore Place.
Photo by Nels Anderson
British Cars Invade Gore Place
by David Schwartz
WALTHAM, Mass., Sept. 25 — Gore Place, the former corporate office of the Waltham Manufacturing Company, which built Metz automobiles, is the site of a classic car show organized by the Motorheads Car Club, in conjunction with the Waltham Museum and owners of Waltham-built vehicles.
I thought it would be fun to stage a mini-British Invasion at a show that is heavy on muscle cars and reached out to the organizers about reserving an area to park all the British cars together. Motorheads representatives were very receptive to the idea. They requested a car count the day before the show and asked us to stage at the Waltham BJ’s Wholesale Club so we could drive in as a group. I reserved a place on the main lawn, wanting to be in the middle of the action.
We didn’t have enough Minis for a full-scale British Invasion, so I reached out to other car clubs and friends to recruit additional British cars. Sixteen people responded, and several more were tentative. I requested 18 spots, figuring a few people would drop out at the last minute or have car trouble, and we would pick up a couple of extras. Parking spaces are sized for ’60s American land yachts, more than enough to squeeze in some extra LBCs.
Fall is my favorite season for attending classic car events. My wife Betty and I had a comfortable drive on back roads from Framingham to Waltham, and we didn’t need the heat or faux A/C (my dash-mounted fan).
Most participants were able to meet at the staging area by 8 a.m. We departed BJ’s at 8:10 for the short drive to Gore Place. Classic Minis led the parade so we could park together. A variety of other British car marques followed. At least four clubs were represented — NEMO, the Boston Area MG Club (BAMG), the Bay State MGA Club (BSMGAC), and the Austin-Healey Club of New England.
NEMO Minis in the parade included my 1968 Morris Mini Traveller, Bob Brownell’s 1963 Austin Mini 850, Iain and Nuala Barker’s 1967 Morris Mini Cooper S, Shahin Kia’s 1966 Austin Cooper S, and Adam Blake’s 1967 Austin Mk1 Cooper S. It was great to see the Kia car in person.
The multi-marque British line included a Land Rover. Note the lion perched on the roof.
Photo by Nels Anderson
The BAMG cars featured a variety of British marques. Gary Hampton drove his 1960 Triumph TR3A and Nels Anderson his 1963 Land Rover Station Wagon, complete with safari accoutrements. (The large stuffed lion on the roof is always a hit, especially when it roars via remote control!) Gerry Lodge drove his 1972 MGB, and Robert Fish brought a 1968 MGB.
BSMGAC members Dana and Kathy Booth drove their “Nasty Boy” 1955 Austin-Healey BN1. The car was tastefully upgraded with a Mustang V8 engine and 5-speed manual transmission. It looks like a stock Healey until you peek under the bonnet.
Dana wore an aviator cap and goggles as protection from the morning chill. The car was a milestone birthday present from Kathy. Betty and Kathy Booth bonded over their common interest in musical theater and costumes. (It was a nice diversion from all the car talk.)
An unexpected attendee was Don Blais in his 1959 MGA roadster. The car is white with a red interior, and is so nice we let him park with the Minis.
David Mailly met us at the staging area in a really sharp 1958 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite. David heard about the show from Dana Booth.
Dile Holton brought his 1972 Triumph TR6, and Tim and Sharon Russell arrived in a 1976 TR6. They are friends of other attendees.
We knew Ed Alderman planned to join the group at the show with his 1970 Morris Minor Traveller. Although we reserved space, we did need to ask a classic Saab 900 to move over to make room for the Morris.
Wendy Birchmire planned to meet us at the staging area in her 1993 Mini Mayfair. Unfortunately the car broke down after a short distance and had to be towed home. Wendy opted for a “do-over” and drove her 1973 Union Jack Mini 1000. “Jack” made it to the show but suffered a brake failure en route. Wendy described the pedal going to the floor, and how she downshifted and drove very slowly. Jack’s master cylinder was empty. Iain Barker diagnosed a leak in one of the rubber brake lines. He topped off the master from the large bottle of brake fluid he carries.
The Booths’ ‘Nasty Boy’ Healey.
Photo by David Schwartz
Our official group had 16 cars, but BAMG membership director Gerry Lodge directed traffic and recruited a Jaguar E-type and modern XK to park at the end of the line next to the Morris Minor. So, we had 18 cars in the British Invasion line, plus another Jaguar a few cars down. An MG Midget and Austin-Healey BJ8 were elsewhere on the field.
Gary Hampton and I have a running joke about the prevalence of Hawaiian shirts at car shows. We both own Woodie Wagon Hawaiian shirts and decided to wear them to the show. I found my shirt in the Owls Head Transportation Museum gift shop. Betty said she would not be seen in public with me if I bought the shirt. She left me no choice.
There were far too many interesting cars and trucks to cover them all in this article. Personal favorites included the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office 1954 Ford F250 Paddy Wagon accompanied by two special officers. Kids had a good time climbing into the back.
There was a replica of the Ghostbusters movie car, a Cadillac ambulance complete with roof top accessories. A black early ’50s chopped Mercury had beautiful yellow and orange flames on the hood and doors. Ironically, there was a period child’s car seat mounted on the back seat. A 1939 Ford Pickup hot rod had little ground clearance, a huge V8 engine and a number of humorous details.
The show also featured plenty of original cars, including a nicely restored 1962 Volvo 544, a 1957 Cadillac Eldorado convertible with loads of chrome and moderate-sized tail fins, and a fully-optioned 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado. That was the first year for the front-wheel-drive Toronado, and the lack of the transmission tunnel allowed for loads of leg room.
David (left) and BAMG member Gary Hampton model the latest in Woodie Wagon-themed Hawaiian shirts.
Photo by Betty Lehrman
A Ford Model A club parked together in the shade on the upper lawn.
Four Metz automobiles built between 1911 and 1915 were showcased in front of the Gore mansion. They were joined by a restored 1901 Orient, which was also built in Waltham. The Orient used a single-cylinder 4.5hp French-built Aster engine, which was water-cooled. It had a top speed of 23mph and was a true horseless carriage. I love seeing Brass Era cars at a muscle car show!
The awards ceremony was delayed and many cars departed before the announcements were made. The plan was to notify the winners ahead of time, but this didn’t happen. Bob Brownell’s Mini 850 won a trophy, but he left before the awards ceremony, so they gave it to the next in line.
Our British cars were well received by other car owners and the general public. The British car owners I spoke with had a good time and agreed we should do it again next year.
I am happy to report that Jack and Wendy made it home safely with the brakes intact.