One of David Baker’s ‘retro’ Minis, actually a 1991 though wearing Mk1 S rallye trim.
Photo by Iain Barker
The Bristol British Car Show Reborn
by Iain Barker
In January 2020, Alan Roseman, President of British Motorcars of New England (BMCNE), volunteered to host the British Motorcar Festival in Bristol, R.I., after organizer Michael Gaetano decided not to hold it again. Little did they know that the COVID-19 pandemic was about to scupper those plans. The show was inevitably postponed until 2021.
This year’s show was therefore eagerly anticipated by all in the local British classic car community. Sadly, the sudden death of Alan in May 2021 left a huge void for BMCNE to fill, with no guidance for how to host a show of this scale. Despite those setbacks I’m glad to say that the 2021 show, renamed “British Motorcars in Bristol,” was a huge success, and was a credit to all those who worked tirelessly to plan and run the event.
The Bristol show is actually a two-day event, with Friday consisting of a driving tour, a parade through the town, and a street party open to the public. Saturday is car show day, and for us was the main focus of the weekend’s festivities.
Regional car shows such as this are the life-blood of the New England classic car community, and my 9-year-old daughter Nuala and I make it a point to overnight in a hotel so that we can make the most of the weekend away. We submitted our show registration and booked a hotel for Saturday night months in advance. Fate caused us to change our plans with the forecast arrival of Hurricane Henri.
A further problem surfaced in the week prior to the show, when the recently rebuilt brake servo on our 1967 Mk1 Morris Mini Cooper S decided to misbehave. The brakes worked fine during the annual Massachusetts safety inspection but would refuse to release. Driving the 160-mile round-trip to Bristol was not guaranteed to be smooth motoring.
As the hurricane was not due to make landfall in Rhode Island until Sunday afternoon, we were determined to make it to the show ground “come hell or high water,” so we decided instead to make it a day trip, driving there and back on Saturday, and to flat tow the 1967 Mini behind my 2015 MINI. With the classic Mini pretty much un-drivable we would have a guaranteed means to get home ahead of the coming storm.
We arrived at Colt State Park around 9 a.m. to a gloriously clear Saturday morning. The forecast was to remain clear all day, providing ideal conditions for owners to show off their prized classic British cars in all their splendor. It was somewhat humid due to the incoming low pressure weather front.
Bristol is an all-marques show, open to any car of British manufacture. MGs were by far predominant, then Triumph — with a handful of Spitfires, TRs from 3 through 8. There were prestige classes for Astons, Rolls, Bentleys, etc. Throw in a mix of classic Minis, Land Rovers, Lotus, Jaguars, and others, and there were 126 cars and two motorcycles on the show field.
I’m happy to report that the event was very well run. Check in at the main entrance was very smooth, and we were soon parked up in the class of what would become a total of 11 Minis.
With sunscreen applied and awnings erected for shade from the midsummer sun, everything was set for the event. In fact, the only complaint I heard during the whole day was when my daughter chastised me for not bringing her swimsuit! Colt State Park has a public beach area, ideal for cooling off in the sultry conditions. In the end, she went swimming fully clothed. At least it didn’t take too long to dry out afterwards in the scorching sunshine.
Steve Aoyama’s Mini/VTEC.
Photo by Iain Barker
The 11 Mini models in attendance represented a good cross-section of the variants and 60-year heritage of our Little British Cars. It was good to see some new faces amongst familiar attendees this year. Notable Minis included David Baker’s two cars, a Willow Green 1989 Mini 1000 café racer-styled in Austin Mk1 trim and a red/black 1991 Mini 1000 works-styled in Morris Mk1 S trim with a 1293cc tuned engine.
Matt Jennison brought a red 1960 flat-roof Mk1 Austin Countryman with a 997 Cooper engine, Marion Condon an Island Blue 1987 Mk5 Mini 1000, Kahl Alrassi an orange 1971 Mk3 Morris Mini 1000 in Mk1 trim, and Derek Klegraefe a green 1967 with a fiberglass Clubman front and Yamaha R1 motorcycle engine.
Rounding out the field were Steve and Joyce Aoyama with their Union Jack 1972 customized Morris Traveller with Honda VTEC engine, Roger and Crystal Treadwell with their orange 1976 New Zealand Mini LE, Wendy Birchmire with her Union Jack 1973 Austin Mini 1000, and Tony Borges with his blue 1966 Mk1 Riley Elf.
My personal favorites were the 1960 Countryman and the two later-model retro-styled cars, these being the excellent handiwork of Matt and Dave of “Misfit Mutts Garage.” The duo recently displayed other Minis at Larz Anderson’s British Car Day.
The level of work in Steve’s VTEC conversion displays well and always attracts a crowd. Derek’s fitting of a motorcycle engine into a Mini is some next-level engineering. Steve and Derek are both talented fabricators, with many of the custom parts on their cars first 3D printed as a plastic base, then laid up in carbon fiber.
The official results for Class 35, Mini Early: Honorable mention, David Baker’s Willow Green car, 3rd place, Khal Alrassi, 2nd place, Matt Jennison, 1st place, Iain and Nuala Barker.
In non-Mini classes, the two Allard racecars of Axel and Hanko Rosenblad stood out, and are well beyond our budget. The spotless engine of Anthony Amato’s 1953 Jaguar XK120C, and Andrew Comparetto’s 1951 Jaguar XK120 carrying 1953 Monte Carlo rally plates, presented very well.
All said, it was an excellent first event for BMCNE, and everyone really enjoyed the break after so many long months of COVID isolation. The only minor glitch came during the award ceremony while calling out the results by car number instead of owner. It was a very minor problem in the grander scale of things.
Well done, BMCNE, and thank you!
Items from Paul’s estate include bumpers, a front panel, tires, stained glass MINI art and more.
Photo by Dave Black
Auction to Benefit Hrach Fund
by Faith Lamprey & Dave Black
The club has recently been given a number of items from Paul Gingras’ estate. Paul was an early supporter and contributor to the NEMO Hrach Fund, so we thought it would be appropriate to auction them off with the proceeds going to the Fund.
Randy Koehler also sent us a stack of Mini Magazines that we have added to the list as well.
The items can be seen in the photos and are listed here: two Falken tires, 165/70R10 two chrome bumpers, new one Moto-Lita steering wheel, used one stained glass MINI created by Ken Lemoine one front panel marked ALA7619 and 24 issues of Mini Magazine from 2001 and 2002.
If you are interested in any of these items, e-mail Faith at email@example.com with the item and your bid. There will be a link to the item list on the Home page of the club website, nemomini.org, noting the highest bid received for each item.
If you have an interest or send in a bid, check the website often. You can submit another bid if someone has outbid you.
Bidding will close on November 30th at midnight. The names of the winners will be posted on the item list on the website and you can contact Dave Black to arrange pickup.
by Faith Lamprey
In lieu of a Holiday Party this year, a number of members suggested simply meeting at a restaurant for dinner. No pre-ordered meal (you can order what you want from the menu) or planned activities (Yankee Swap, Costume Contest, etc.) — just a casual social gathering to help us stay in touch.
The restaurant that was suggested was Mr. Z’s by the Lake at 2400 Putnam Pike (Rt. 44) in Chepachet, R.I. Plans are to meet there at noon on Sunday, December 5th, at noon. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org so we have some idea of how many to expect.
The Mini line at Larz Anderson.
Photo by David Schwartz
British Car Day
by David Schwartz
BROOKLINE, MASS., July 11 — The weather was partially sunny with comfortable temperatures for the 2021 edition of British Car Day at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum (LAAM). Participant turnout was excellent, with cars filling the upper lawn and about two-thirds of the lower lawn.
Pre-registration on the Museum website closed two days before the event, but additional cars were admitted at the gate. As a COVID precaution, owners were asked not to arrive prior to 9 a.m., and cars were not parked as tightly as usual. It was clear that attendees were happy to return to some sense of normalcy.
I counted 11 classic Minis in attendance, with five I had never seen before. There were two modern MINIs, including a convertible in a factory shade of purple/blue that was a special color for that model.
NEMO members Iain and Nuala Barker, Wendy and Tom Birchmire, Dave and Barbara Newman, Alex Daly and Bob Brownell brought their classic Minis. Ken Lemoine drove his 1961 Jaguar XK150 and I drove my 1950 Morris Minor Tourer (the original weather forecast was for a hot day, and top down was a cooler option). We all parked on the upper lawn, with most Minis in the center.
I am happy to report the Jaguars were scattered this year, rather than claiming the only shady spot on the field. Faith Lamprey and Bruce Vild brought their original-owner 1980 MGB and parked on the lower lawn. Bruce sported a Hawaiian shirt with B movie posters on it, a present from Faith. They are both big B movie fans!
We hadn’t seen the Newmans since the 2019 Holiday Party, but they were there at LAAM. Dave is a big fan of Jeremy Clarkson, whose TV shows include Top Gear, The Grand Tour, and the new Clarkson’s Farm (Diddly Squat Farm). Iain took the opportunity to deliver Dave’s retirement gift, a “This Smells Like My Bollocks” candle from Jeremy’s Diddly Squat Farm shop.
The Farm website describes the item as follows: “The unique and leathery scent of my car seat, blended with hints of oakmoss and earthy spices. A totally unique and bespoke scent, created for Jeremy. There is no other smell like this in the world.” Happy retirement, Dave! We expect a review of the candle.
Tony Borges’ 1966 Riley Elf.
Photos by David Schwartz
Welcome to new members Tony Borges, Steve Borges, and Antonio Sapata. Tony brought a very nice 1966 Riley Elf, Steve a “hot rod” ERA turbo Mini, and Antonio a metallic red Mini saloon. They were parked directly behind Faith and Bruce and joined NEMO on the spot.
Two Minis on the upper lawn belonged to Matt and Dave of “Misfit Mutts Garage.” They own nine classics between them, and brought a 1968 Austin Mini pickup truck, and a beautiful light green 1989 saloon with significant upgrades. The truck’s passenger side inner fender was cut away to make room for a Honda engine and still retain a regular-style bonnet.
There were several rare cars at the show. My personal favorite was Bruce Male’s 1955 Bentley R-type Continental Fastback. The car has smooth flowing lines more reminiscent of Jaguar than Bentley. Only 208 were produced. Also present was an enormous 1928 Bentley 4 1/2 Litre Tourer, which was quite a contrast to the Fastback.
The current Museum exhibit is entitled “Hidden Treasures” and features seldom-seen cars and trucks from New England collections.
There were several early pickup trucks in the exhibit, including a 1922 Ford Model T snowmobile. The snowmobile components were sold as a kit by Ford dealers through the late 1920s.
This was the first car show I attended since the 2019 season and it was great to see so many old friends. Let us hope that the Delta variant doesn’t force cancellation of late 2021 events.
The happy couple in the Landry Mini. Limo? Who needs a limo?
Photos courtesy Stacy M Photography
Mini Countryman Wedding Car
by David Schwartz
In early May, a call went out on the NEMO Google group from bride-to-be Elizabeth Elliott:
“This might be a long shot, but do any NEMO members in or around Connecticut own a Union Jack Mini? My fiancé just moved to the U.S. from London, England, and I’m looking to track down a Union Jack Mini to use as our “getaway car” at our wedding this summer. Will pay to borrow it for a few hours and take a few photos with it! Please let me know if you have any leads, and thank you in advance.”
Jean and Brian Landry answered the call, offering the use of Jean’s 1964 Austin Mini Countryman with a Union Jack on the roof.
Elizabeth Elliott and Daniel Smith were married on July 4th in Manchester, Conn. Many thanks to the Landrys for loaning their car, and congratulations to the bride and groom.
There is a cottage industry in the U.K. for Morris Minor wedding cars, but this is the first I have heard of using a Mini. The back seat of a Mini has plenty of room for a wedding dress. Okay, perhaps with the front seat folded over...
Working model of a British steam locomotive gives an idea of scale.
Photo by David Schwartz
Waushakum Live Steamers Visit
by David Schwartz
HOLLISTON, Mass. — On June 27th, NEMO teamed up with the Boston Area MG Club (BAMG) for our first in-person event since the December 2019 Holiday Party — a visit to the Waushakum Live Steamers facility in Holliston. Ken Lemoine knows Jim Abrams, President of the Steamers, and arranged for a meet-up of British cars and miniature ride-on trains.
“Live steam” locomotives are scale models that operate the same way as full-size steam locomotives — a fire fueled by coal is used to boil water and make steam, which is then used to power the engine. Members of the Steamers also own models of diesel and electric locomotives.
The locomotives are capable of hauling cars carrying several people, with the engineer riding on the coal tender or a freight car. The Steamers maintain three gauges of outdoor track (3.5”, 4.75” and 7.25”) that wind through the woods, as well as a large maintenance facility complete with hydraulic lifts and turntables.
NEMO and BAMG members met in the parking lot of the Doubletree Hotel in Milford, Mass., for socializing and an impromptu car show before the short, scenic drive to Holliston. NEMO was well represented with 10 cars, 18 adults and 3 kids, and we welcomed new members the Rivera family and Linda and Ian Kabat. There were at least seven MGs and 11 BAMG members, including the Crawfords’ 1933 J2.
The day started off overcast, but it was warm and muggy, so I chose to drive my 1950 Morris Minor Tourer instead of my Morris Mini. Alec Issigonis designed both cars, and MG stands for Morris Garages, so I felt free to park with either club.
Iain Barker’s daughter Nuala had never ridden in a convertible and hitched a ride in my car. She truly enjoyed the full wind-in-her-hair experience as there are no windows for the back seat. We had to remind her to stay seated, as there are no seatbelts either.
Naturally the Minor’s odometer doesn’t work so it was impossible to follow Ken’s detailed directions. We got separated from the group at a traffic light and finally switched to my phone’s GPS. As the last car to arrive at the Steamers’ facility, we were greeted by a round of applause. Minis, MINIs and MGs intermingled in the shaded parking area, with a spot of respect set aside for the oldest cars, my Morris Minor and the MG J2.
The oldest cars from NEMO and BAMG in their ‘spot of respect’.
Photo by Gerry Lodge
It takes a while to build a head of steam, even in miniature locomotives, so Jim Abrams started us off with a tour of the maintenance area. There are lifts available for unloading locomotives from vehicles and staging trains on the track, plus a transfer table for moving equipment from the engine house to the steaming bays, where engines are readied for service. Their “main line” consists of 3,599 ft. of 7.25” gauge track that meanders through the forest and passes through a tunnel.
We spent a while watching a British outline locomotive belching steam as the owner tinkered with it. Sadly there was a stuck valve so the locomotive was out of service for the day. We were directed to the boarding area where a long diesel locomotive pulling five freight cars awaited. The engineer then spent the morning giving passengers rides through the woods around the main line.
We observed smaller-scale steam locomotives running on elevated track with an engineer riding side-saddle on the coal tender or a flatcar. Owners of the smaller trains did not offer rides to our group, which was fine as they could only handle one or two people.
At around 12:30 Ken announced that pizza had been ordered and it was time to motor over to the Exhibit ‘A’ Brewing Company in Framingham for lunch. My Morris Minor ended up leading a group of cars when we departed, and once again I parted ways with the written directions. We looped around through neighborhoods and came to a main road where Mike Crawford went flying by in the J2, at which point I happily relinquished the lead. In Ashland, cars started veering off in different directions and it was time to fire up the GPS again. At least we were not the last to arrive at Exhibit ‘A’!
To my amusement, everyone was carded at the entrance. Seating was outdoors in the Beer Garden as Exhibit ‘A’ has yet to re-open their indoor Taproom.
We were joined at lunch by Ken’s wife Helen and son Brett and Bob Brownell’s wife Kathy.
The staff at Exhibit ‘A’ was terrific and the beer was quite good. They even treated us to the pizza, which was from a local New York-style pizzeria. They feature food trucks, guest food vendors and live music Thursdays through Sundays.
Waushakum hosts events that are open to the general public. Their 51st Annual Meet is scheduled for Saturday, August 28th. See their website for the latest information: https://www.waushakumlivesteamers.org/events/.
The British car line at the parade marshalling point.
Photo by David Schwartz
The British Invade Arlington
by David Schwartz
ARLINGTON, MASS., May 9 — The Arlington Classic Car Club (ACCC) holds an annual parade every spring. I learned about it last year when Iain Barker wrote about it in the NEMO newsletter.
The ACCC is a Facebook group it’s been around since 2012. Membership is by invitation only. The standards are pretty low (“Do you like cool cars?”), so they let me join. Being an Arlington resident is not a requirement. In fact, some members don’t even live in Massachusetts. There are no dues, and members post a lot of fun (usually car-related) content.
The club has held several group drives and outings in 2021. For this one, it was a beautiful, breezy spring day and there was no rain in the forecast. My wife Betty and I were excited to get out of the house for the drive.
We arrived at St. Camillus Church, the parade meeting point, at 2:45 p.m. for the 3 p.m. start. We saw Rudy Koehle’s bright yellow MGB in the parking lot but were surprised there were no other cars.
Then a green-and-white VW Bus filled with kids pulled up. It was Gustavo, the parade organizer, who enthusiastically directed us to the other side of the Church. There we found many other cars and drivers, including Iain, his daughter Nuala, and their Mini KK.
A line of other British cars was parked up front. Gary and Meryl Hampton, along with their dog Monroe, were present with their TR3A. Monroe has his own Facebook account and is the ACCC member of the family. (We sometimes wonder if he owns the car, too, and just lets the humans drive it.)
There were 38 classic cars all told, including 11 British ones — two classic Minis, two Triumphs, two MGBs, an MGB GT, an MGC, a Ford Anglia, and two Catterham Sevens. Throw in the five Lotus-inspired Miatas and a total of 16 British(ish) cars attended.
French, Italian, German, Swedish and American cars were also well represented. Jon and Ginny Chomitz, core attendees of Goulds’ Microcar Classic, parked their 1971 Citroën ID20F station wagon next to the British car line.
My favorite American cars were a Dodge woodie wagon and an early ’60s Buick convertible complete with a “Kennedy for President” bumper sticker. There was even a 1962 Honda Cub motorcycle.
After a brief drivers’ meeting, we split into three groups with a leader for each group. Iain and Nuala waved goodbye — Iain wisely decided to skip the parade and do more gentle drives to break in his new engine.
Appreciative crowds greeted the invaders, British and otherwise!
Photo by Betty Lehrman
My ’68 Mini Traveller was in the first group, led by Gustavo in his ’77 VW Bus. We wound through the steep hills of Arlington Heights, never getting above second gear, with some of the hills requiring first. We wondered how any car could negotiate those steep roads in the winter, but the mighty Mini took it all in stride.
Traffic stopped to let us pass and large groups of families greeted us from front lawns and sidewalks. Even the dogs were fascinated — several of them turning their heads from side to side as each car drove by — clearly fans of classic cars! We felt like celebrities as children and adults smiled, waved, clapped and pointed at every corner. Gustavo reported that the Facebook route map had over 800 hits. Clearly, the people of Arlington appreciate the parade!
The crowds thinned after we reached Pleasant Street, though there were still some people seated in lawn chairs along Mass Avenue, and we pleasantly surprised many residents who were going about their business outside.
Unfortunately, the VW Bus had to drop out due to mechanical difficulties partway through the course. The driver of a bright green VW Karmann Ghia convertible took the lead of our line.
The parade ended at Arlington High School. Participants gradually peeled off to go their separate ways. We were all invited to Gustavo’s house for a beer after the drive, but we opted to head for a friend’s house for an outdoor dinner.
It was an exhilarating ride. We hope to go again next year!