July 2024

[1-Jul_24_BBTS_Minis.jpg] Mini line-up at British by the Sea.
Photo by Iain Barker

BBTS: A Mini Report
by Iain Barker

WATERFORD, Conn. — Scheduled at the culmination of the 28th Annual British Car Week, the 36th Annual British by the Sea Gathering was held on June 2nd, at Harkness Memorial State Park. Hosted by the Connecticut MG Club, this is one of our family’s favorite events of the New England car show calendar.

This was the first outing of the driving season for our 1967 Morris Mini Cooper S, and other than boosting the battery charge, topping off the oil, and adjusting tire pressures, remarkably little maintenance was needed to bring ‘Mini KK’ out of her winter hibernation. In particular, I had switched to using waterless coolant last season and I was glad to see that it fulfilled its claim of protecting well during the long, cold winter months — without the problems of antifreeze gelling that had plagued us in previous years.

The drive down from Cambridge on Rt. 90/Rt. 395 took a little over two hours and the Mini didn’t miss a beat. The weather was clear, but on a hot summer’s day the adjacent sea breeze coming in from Long Island Sound was most welcome — especially as with many British cars, our Mini does not have air conditioning.

I would estimate that around 350 to 400 British vehicles in total attended this picturesque location, including eight classic Minis and three modern MINIs. There is a popular vote held for each class and the winners are shown below:

Classic Mini Class — 1st, David Icaza, from Amston, Conn., 1969 Austin Countryman 2nd, Iain and Nuala Barker, from Cambridge, Mass., 1967 Morris Cooper S 3rd, Kat Szymanski and Myles Luboff, from Waterford, Conn., 1986 Austin.

July 2024

[2-Jul_24_BBTS_MINIs.jpg] MINI line-up at British by the Sea.
Photo by Iain Barker

MINI Class — 1st, Lisa D’Alton, from Stamford, Conn., 2024 Cooper S Auto (Seaside Edition) 2nd, Barbara Newman, from Kingston, Mass., 2015 Cooper Roadster 3rd, Shawn Gray, from Cranston, R.I., 2006 Cooper.

I found it interesting that despite only three MINIs in attendance, there was one from each of the three new MINI generations, and as Dave Newman pointed out, all three were convertibles — reinforcing the notion that in spite of being practical transportation, MINIs are still fun summer cars at heart.

Of the classic Minis, the Szymanski/Luboff car was particularly striking — being both bright pink in color and re-engined with a supercharger, complete with remote SU carburetor, which had somehow been squeezed into the Mini’s diminutive engine bay.

Benefiting from such a large attendance of cars it was impossible to see everything in detail, but my own personal ‘Best in Show’ award would have to go to a 1970 Lotus Europa S2, which appeared to be in mostly original condition and held its own well against the array of more modern Lotus models. With its distinctive fastback-style rear wings, it looked like it was doing 150mph just sitting still.

Another highlight of this show were the vendors, which in addition to the usual memorabilia and regular ‘classic car scene’ stalls, included at least two autojumble-style sellers. If you are prepared to rummage, you could just find that rare 1950s carburetor set, or MG leaf springs needed to finish your never-ending restoration project!

June 2024

[1-Jun_24_River_Windrush.jpg] The River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water.
Photo by David Schwartz

The Cotswolds Motoring Museum
by David Schwartz

BOURTON-ON-THE-WATER, Gloucs., U.K. — My two-week trip with the Morris Minor Registry of North America last June had the option of visiting three British Motor Museums. The April newsletter focused on Minis at the British Motor Museum. This is the second article in what will eventually be a trilogy.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a popular tourist destination in the Cotswolds. The River Windrush runs through the village, is crossed by several stone bridges, and is surrounded by stone cottages. My group visited on a Sunday and the town was packed with locals and tourists. It was a hot, sunny day. Families picnicked in the shade along the river, children, adults and dogs waded in the water, and ice cream vendors did a brisk business.

The Cotswold Motoring Museum is housed in The Old Mill, a series of stone and brick buildings in an old water mill dating to the 17th century. The Museum contains seven galleries filled with rare cars, trucks, motorcycles, and caravans (camper trailers) from several countries. The galleries are packed to the ceiling with an eclectic collection of motoring memorabilia, toys, and items that defy categorization.

The first classic Mini I saw in the wild was parked in front of the Museum. It was a rare variant made primarily of shrubbery. I sent a photo of the car to the NEMO Variant Committee. Iain Barker replied, “Looks like LP883 Cooper S wheels. That’s one expensive hedge.” Bruce Vild pointed out that it “takes driving green to a whole new level.”

The Museum displays a large number of Austins, including models I had never heard of before. A pair of Austin 7 variants sit by the main entrance. The 1935 Austin 7 Nippy two-seater convertible was built from 1933 to 1937. The car features a rounded back, curved front axle, and was based on the Sports 65 model. It has a red body, black fenders and a red interior.

June 2024

[2-Jun_24_Topiary.jpg] Shrubbery. Brits do love gardening.
Photo by David Schwartz

A green and white 1929 Austin 7 Swallow saloon is parked next to the Nippy. The Swallow is historically significant because it starts the Jaguar automobile story. In 1922 William Lyons and William Walmsley formed the Swallow Sidecar Company, which originally built motorcycle sidecars. In 1927 they redesigned the Austin 7 body and produced cars under the name Austin Swallow. The Swallow had features associated with luxury cars, including full instrumentation, cloth-covered trim, a two-tone paint job, and unusual fresh air trumpets mounted behind the bonnet. In 1931, the company name was changed to SS, and in 1945 the name was changed again to Jaguar Cars.

The Museum also owns a 1934 Austin Bantam convertible which looks like a more stylish version of the Austin 7. The car is left-hand drive, is more rounded than British Austin 7s, and sports a two-tone blue over light blue paint job, including light blue wheels. The U.S.-based American Austin Car Company built modified Austin 7s under license. Unfortunately, U.S. demand for a small, light car was very low. Only 5,500 Austin Bantams were produced between 1929 and 1940 when production ceased.

A crouching ski jumper radiator cap on a 1938 Riley Adelphi really caught my eye. The cap was not factory original, or at least it is not shown in any photos I found on-line. Riley was known for producing powerful six-cylinder engines, though the Adelphi has a 2443cc four-cylinder engine. Despite the car’s large size and heavy weight, the dual overdrive gearbox allowed it to cruise at 90mph.

Perhaps the fast top speed inspired an owner to install the ski jumper cap. There is a large display case filled with other fun radiator caps, including two more skiers, a couple dancing, and a variety of animals.

June 2024

[3-Jun_24_Austin_7s.jpg] Two Austin 7s, Swallow saloon and Nippy.
Photo by David Schwartz

The Museum’s foreign cars include a 1938 BMW 327, a 1973 Volvo P1800ES (with Roger Moore from The Saint at the wheel), and a 1937 Fiat 500 Topolino. The Fiat is tiny and incredibly cute. The name Topolino is essentially Italian for Mickey Mouse. The body is painted royal blue (including the radiator slats) and has a black roof, fenders, headlights, and vestigial running boards. The front of the car is rounded, and the doors are hinged at the rear with vertical door pulls up front. The 596cc engine gave the car a top speed of 53mph.

A radio station mock-up with a DJ, turntables, a reel-to-reel tape recorder, and broadcast equipment plays homage to the days of “pirate radio” in the U.K. In the 1960s, various pirate radio stations broadcast to the United Kingdom from ships in international waters. The stations specialized in rock and pop music that was not played on BBC Radio.

As part of the display there is a large photo on the wall of the lightship Veronica, which broadcast as Radio Veronica to the Netherlands, and flyers for Radio Caroline which broadcast to the U.K. Caroline still exists on-line. The movie Pirate Radio tells the story of the fictional station “Radio Rock.” This all is a little incongruous for a car museum, though perhaps car radios are the tie-in.

Minis and variants are limited to a 1972 Mini Clubman and a mud-covered 1964 MG 1100. The MG is a sportier version of the Austin/Morris 1100. The Museum’s car was raced in the Monte Carlo Rally in the 1960s and bears the names Alan Smith and Tony Davies. In the 1990s the MG took part in some Monte Carlo rally recreations. I suspect the mud is for effect, as opposed to actual Monte Carlo mud.

Allow at least several hours for a Museum visit. There is so much to see it is easy to glaze over. There are lots of nearby pubs and restaurants so you can take a break and go back to the Museum later.

There is also a great gift shop, where I purchased a classic Mini T-shirt, refrigerator magnets, and postcards.

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

Wrapping Up, Looking Ahead
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/.


Copyright ‘New England Mini Owners’ 2006 -All Rights Reserved.