December 2021

[1-Dec_21_Nuala.jpg] Nuala Barker and Monroe enjoy quality time next to the LBCs.
Photo by Iain Barker

LBCs at Wheels of Wellesley
by David Schwartz

WELLESLEY, Mass., Oct. 3 — Six British cars joined muscle cars, classic cars, hot rods, antique trucks and other vehicles at the eighth annual “Wheels of Wellesley” car show.

The event was sponsored by the Modifiers Car Club in conjunction with the Wellesley Celebrations Committee. At 10:45 a.m. the Wellesley Police closed Central Street (Rt. 135) between Weston Road and Crest Road. Vehicles angle-parked along the westbound side of Central Street and parallel-parked along the eastbound side.

The car show hours were from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., which overlapped the 53rd Wellesley Veterans Parade. The Parade ran west on Rt. 135 and ended when it reached the car show.

When I arrived, Iain and Nuala Barker’s 1967 Mini Cooper S was parallel-parked behind Rudy Koehle’s 1980 MGB. A space was available in front of the MGB, so I parked my 1968 Mini Traveller without waiting to be directed by the show organizers.

A few minutes later, Gary and Meryl Hampton, along with Monroe the dog, arrived in their 1960 TR3A. They were stranded on the opposite side of the street amongst American muscle cars. Since four LBCs easily fit in three parking spaces, we each rolled back a few feet so the TR3A could join us. People were quite amused when I put my car in neutral and simply pushed it. Nuala was in dog heaven with Monroe in our little group, and she asked to pet the many dogs that walked by.

The other British cars were mixed in with American cars. Nels Anderson arrived early and angle-parked his 1953 MG TD near the beginning of the show cars. The sixth British car I counted was a 1965 Austin-Healey 3000 owned by Jerry Payton that I had seen before.

Many parade spectators and participants came down to see the car show. The British cars were a big hit even with muscle car fans and owners. We fielded lots of questions and the usual jokes about how small the Minis are.

It was nice to meet NEMO member Wendy McGoldrick in person. Wendy joined NEMO after seeing four classic Minis on the fall 2020 Mass Modifiers Kimball’s Ice Cream Drive. She attended the virtual NEMO annual meeting in May and said she wanted to buy a classic Mini. Wendy’s husband had his GTO at the Wellesley show and they both stopped by to say hello and talk Minis.

I always enjoy multi-marque shows due to the variety of vehicles. COVID and the demise of the Weston Center Car Show led me to explore several different multi-marque events this year. I would have attended more but had some conflicts.

December 2021

[2-Dec_21_Polara.jpg] Not British and definitely not Mini, the 1960 Dodge Polara was a favorite anyway.
Photo by David Schwartz

While I appreciate muscle cars and hot rods, I generally focus on unique antique cars and trucks. The Wellesley show did not disappoint. My favorite car was Dave Larsen’s 1960 Dodge Polara D-500. This car was present at other 2021 multi-marque shows, and I previously reported on it in the October 2019 newsletter. The Polara is a standout in the realm of late 1950s space-age styling, and it’s a muscle car to boot.

My second favorite car was a white 1957 Ford T-Bird. Except for the wire wheels, this car was a ringer for the white T-Bird driven by Suzanne Somers in the movie American Graffiti. This is the vintage T-Bird I have always coveted, and the car was for sale at a “reasonable” price. Sadly, my wife would not have been happy (though if I said it was her birthday present...?).

Other notable cars included a 1936 Ford Phaeton with a racing greyhound hood ornament, a 1975 VW Kombi Van with a split flip-open front windshield, a DeSoto Fireflite, a 1929 Cadillac convertible, and a VW Beetle rat rod with a “swamp cooler” mounted on the passenger side window.

Trucks were also well represented. An antique fire engine collector from Framingham brought three fire engines and invited people to sit in one them, a 1930 Maxim. He has a small firehouse in his backyard.

A 1945 Dodge tank truck outfitted with a sound system played oldies music all day. This truck is a regular at local parades. Of course, there were numerous classic pickup trucks, too, some of which had received the hot rod treatment.

Restaurants and stores along Central Street were open, and a food truck selling seafood was parked in the middle of the car show. This was an event well worth attending. I will be sure to list it in the NEMO calendar next year.

November 2021

[1-Nov_21_Union_Jack_Mini.jpg] Wendy’s class-winning 1973 ‘Union Jack’ Mini.
Photo by Wendy Birchmire

British Invasion 2021
by Wendy Birchmire

Perfect! That is the only way to describe the weather at the British Invasion in Stowe, Vt., on Saturday, September 11th. The sky was bright with hardly a cloud, the temperature hovered around 70° and a light breeze allowed the myriad of British flags to flutter.

This was the 30th anniversary weekend of the largest British lifestyle event in the eastern USA. This year’s show had 450 entries and 67 People’s Choice competition classes. In prior years, there were 550 to 650 cars, but the pandemic prevented Canadians and others from attending.

There was a vast array of vendors of all things British on one side of the field. The other side of the field was filled with food vendors with a variety of offerings from a raw bar to Mediterranean cuisine. There was also a Queen’s Court with beverages, food, and a tent to sit under. All this and lively British music playing through speakers throughout the field made for a great day!

The event coordinator worked with the town of Stowe to tap into a fire hydrant for a water supply. This enabled them to bring a bathroom trailer and flush toilets to the show field — a nice touch that I know people appreciated.

After registration packet pickup on Friday, a variety of activities were available: a Vermont self-guided driving tour (complete with a one-hour suggested route), a registrants’ reception, and a Stowe Village street party. Saturday included the Concours d’Elegance, the Ladies Hat Competition, British Costume Competition (winner chosen by an incognito, roving judge), the British Classic Motorcar Show and the awards ceremony. Sunday also had a variety of activities: the Smuggler’s Notch Driving Tour, the Competition of Colors (cars are grouped by their color, not by their marque), tailgate picnic presentations, and a rolling review of the 1st-place winners from the day before.

On Saturday, when I drove our little Union Jack Mini onto the field, I was pleased to see there were eight other classics: Dave Icaza’s 1969 Austin Mini Countryman, Neil and Kate Wright’s 1967 Austin Mini Cooper S, Gregg and Rhonda Betcher’s 1993 Rover Mini, Chris Parry’s 1972 Austin Mini saloon, Steve and Bill Rule’s “Rover Mini Rolls-Royce,” Corey Plummer’s Innocenti Mini Cooper 1300, Jason Witter’s 1977 Mini 850, and Jean Landry’s 1964 Austin Mini Countryman. In the next class there were eight shining, modern MINIs.

November 2021

[2-Nov_21_Newman_Woody.jpg] Barbara and Dave’s 2013 ‘Woody’ Club Van, tops in the MINI class.
Photo by Wendy Birchmire

The Rover Mini Rolls definitely fits into the unusual category, though it was not registered as a variant. According to the owners, the car started life as a Rover Mini and was exported to Japan. Subsequently it was imported to New Zealand where it was “Rollerized.” From there the car made its way to Los Angeles, then South Carolina, and eventually New Hampshire. In 2009, the Mini Rolls appeared in the Hilton Head Concours d’Elegance & Motoring Festival.

It wasn’t until later in the day when I wandered over to the Concours and saw Gary Daniels’ stunning 1967 Mini Cooper S Rallye Monte Carlo replica. Hopefully, the drone that was flying overhead will provide some pictures to share on-line.

My favorite non-Mini was the Crawford family’s 1937 MG VA Tickford, which won 1st in the MG Prewar class. According to Mike Crawford, they needed a prewar MG with four seats to accommodate the entire family, with room for a car seat for their 3-year-old son Camden. The Mini class winners included NEMO members Dave Icaza, 1969 Austin Mini Countryman, Mini Saloons 1959-1969 yours truly, 1973 Mini 1000, Mini Saloons 1970-2000 Jean Landry, 1964 Austin Mini Countryman, Mini Variants, 1959-2000 and Barbara and Dave Newman, 2013 Club Van, New MINI, 2001 to present.

[Note: Check out the NEMO Gallery. It has several photos of the cars mentioned in this article.]

The Mini awards were near the end of the presentation, and it was nice to see that plenty of people stuck around to cheer and applaud. Michael Gaetano, the British Invasion organizer, had requested that attendees stay after their class had been awarded to add to the “celebration of the other winners with some well-deserved encouragement and applause.” People took this to heart and I felt supported when my car earned 1st in class.

Along with my attractive winner’s plaque was a letter congratulating me on my 1st-place win and inviting me, along with the other class winners, to a showing on Sunday when the winners would have a chance to show off their cars again and share some of the history of their vehicle.

I was sorry that I was unable to stay for that. Maybe next year my schedule will allow it. After all, Minis will be one of the featured marques in 2022.

October 2021

[1-Oct_21_David_Baker.jpg] 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.

October 2021

[2-Oct_21_Aoyama_Traveller.jpg] 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!


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