British car line — with a Simca thrown in for good measure.
Photo by David Schwartz
Brimfield Winery — Quite a Show
by David Schwartz
BRIMFIELD, MASS., October 8th — The Brimfield auto show fell off my radar in 2023, though I had included it on the NEMO calendar in previous years. Many events were cancelled in 2023 due to rain, and I skipped others because of the heat.
So it was fortuitous when fellow NEMO member Wendy Birchmire messaged, asking if I was planning on attending the Brimfield show. Naturally, it rained on October 7th, the original date. The organizers had scheduled the 8th as a rain date, so I made a last-minute decision to go.
The drive from Framingham to Brimfield is about 46 miles, 40 of which are on the Mass Pike. This was clearly a job for my 1968 Mini Traveller, not my much-slower 1950 Morris Minor. The weather was partly cloudy, and the morning cool enough that I needed to turn on the heat. (I had the foresight to loosen up the heater control valve before backing out of my garage.)
I saw numerous classic vehicles on the highway, including several Ford Broncos, one of which was trailered down from Maine. The show venue was Auction Acres, one of several fields used for the Brimfield Antique Flea Market held in May, July and September. Auction Acres is located on Route 20, behind the Brimfield Winery.
Show registration opened at 8 a.m. with the public admitted at 10. The lawn was already packed when I arrived at 9:15.
Vehicles were organized in 26 categories with the same model vehicles of a similar vintage parked together. I was directed about two-thirds of the way down the field to join a group of mostly British cars.
A few miscellaneous foreign cars were mixed in with the Brits, and I was parked next to a 1964 Simca Bertone Coupe. Wendy Birchmire’s 1973 Union Jack Mini 1000 was directly behind my Mini Traveller. She and husband Tom trailered “Jack” down from Needham.
‘W’ is for ‘Wolesley’ — namely Ed Collins’ 1958 Six/90.
Photo by David Schwartz
Ultimately, about 600 cars and trucks attended the show. There was a huge variety of makes and models of all ages, ranging from the late 1920s through recent production. American muscle cars from the 1960s and 1970s were heavily represented, and there were numerous hot rods and customs. As usual, I gravitated toward the older American cars, foreign cars, and several unusual trucks.
The British car highlight for me was a 1958 Wolseley Six/90 owned by Ed Collins. According to Ed, his car is one of only two in North America. It was certainly the first I have seen. The Six/90 had luxury features such as a wooden dash, leather seats, and an ornate “W” hood ornament with wings extending back on each side.
Other British cars included a 1960 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite, a 1954 Jaguar XK140, a 1954 MG TF 1500, a 1973 Triumph GT6, a 1993 Land Rover Defender, a 1971 Triumph TR6, a 1983 Jaguar XJ6, several MGBs, and a 1974 MG Midget.
In the “quasi-British” category was a 1948 Grumman Chevy Step Van sporting a large British flag logo with “Triumph” (as in motorcycles) across the middle. The truck had loads of patina, missing paint and a window sticker that read “Shiny paint causes stress.” The van was built on a Chevy chassis and had an aluminum body. Yes, the body was produced by the same company that built the ubiquitous aluminum canoes.
There were three classic VW Beetles, including a custom 1970 “Beetle Vandetta.” The Vandetta looked like the love child of a Beetle and a Citroën 2CV Fourgonette. A pristine 1986 2CV was also in attendance. Other foreign cars of note included a 1966 Amphicar, a 1972 Opel GT, and a Porsche Speedster that may have been a replica.
Grumman-Chevy Step Van in Triumph M/C livery. Patina to spare!
Photo by David Schwartz
The 1964 Simca Bertone Coupe parked beside my Mini was owned by Jim Peeter. The car was rear-engined and was built in France with the body built in Turin by Bertone. Jim’s car was very original, down to the missing paint and shabby interior. He owns another Simca that is not drivable. These are rare cars in the USA.
My favorite American cars included a trio of Chevy Corvettes ranging from 1958 to 1960. Numerous late ’50s Chevy Bel-Airs were on the field, as was a Chevy Nomad station wagon. One 1957 Bel-Air had a carhop tray complete with fake food and glass Coke bottles. A massive 1959 Chevy Impala had large horizontal tail fins, a Continental kit spare tire, and rubber-tipped Dagmars on the front bumpers. A four-door Chevy Corvair with an open bonnet and boot featured a “Visible V8” 1/4-scale engine model under the bonnet where the spare tire normally resides. Corvairs, of course, have their engines in the rear, so the owner had a sense of humor.
Three Model A Fords were present, including a 1931 Depot Hack Woodie Wagon, a 1931 two-door sedan with a modern car seat mounted in the rear, and a 1930 with a Ford airplane radiator cap. The Depot Hack underwent a multi-year restoration when the owner’s son took over a stalled project. A large group of vintage Ford Broncos were parked together near the rear of the field.
A 1952 Cadillac Series 62 featured heavy chrome on the bumpers and had huge front and rear Dagmars. Other notable American cars included a 1940 LaSalle convertible, a 1959 Jeep FC150, and a 1951 Studebaker Commander State Convertible.
Proceeds from the show were donated to the Brimfield Firefighters Association. Two fire trucks were present, one of which needed a complete restoration. The second was a beautifully restored 1940s Dodge, badged for the Wales Fire Department. (Wales is adjacent to Brimfield.)
1970 VW Beetle ‘Vandetta’.
Photos by David Schwartz
A variety of food trucks were present, as was a grill serving burgers and hot dogs. The food lines were quite long, so I was glad to have brought snacks. The Brimfield Winery sold wine by the glass and bottle. Classic rock music was played all day by FM radio DJ Bruce Marshall.
This was a great multi-marque show. I will try to organize a group of Minis to arrive together for the October 12, 2024 event. The Winery also runs Friday car cruise nights from May through the fall. See their website for details: https://brimfieldwinery.com/events/.
NEMO Adopts 621 AOK!
It’s official: New England Mini Owners has adopted 621 AOK, Morris Mini-Minor number one.
It all started with an e-mail from Dave Newman to the NEMO Google Group about a program at the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, England, where individuals or organizations could support the Museum by making a donation to “adopt” one of the cars in their collection. One reply led to another, and when we found out that the 1959 Mini was available the decision was easy.
Treasurer Dave Black completed all the necessary paperwork to make the donation (a modest £100), and we soon were sent a “Certificate of Adoption” from the Museum with a photo and additional information about the car.
“Thank you for your support,” the Museum stated. “It will help us to collect, conserve, share and inspire, now and into the future.”
A photo of NEMO’s latest addition (for the period of 12 months, anyway) will be posted in the Gallery on the NEMO website.
Other clubs looking to support a charity related to our hobby might want to look into this as there are dozens of cars and marques available in the program. Contact email@example.com.
The gang’s all here!
Photo courtesy NEMO
Fun at the NEMO Holiday Party
by David Schwartz
PUTNAM, Conn. — The NEMO Holiday Party was held on December 9th at the Black Dog Bar & Grille in Putnam. With COVID somewhat under control, turnout was good with 22 members in attendance. Lorine and Derick Karabec traveled the furthest distance, driving in from New York state.
Yours truly carpooled down from Framingham, Mass., with Ken Lemoine and John Gallagher. It was a good opportunity to hear details from Ken about the inaugural Bay State Motor Festival that will be held in June 2024 (see the Events Calendar for more about that). I hadn’t seen John since the “before times,” and he always tells lots of good stories.
A leisurely cocktail hour gave us plenty of time to catch up with old friends. We ordered lunch off the menu, instead of having a buffet as had been done for many years. Our waitress deserves an award for keeping the orders straight and providing individual checks. I hope everyone tipped generously.
After lunch we held a brief business meeting. Dave Black provided details on NEMO finances, which are healthy. The current membership is stable at 62, with couples counted as a single member. Faith Lamprey discussed hiring a web developer to create a new NEMO website using modern tooling. Members approved Faith’s proposal. Ken Lemoine promoted the Bay State Motor Festival, which will have a dedicated British car area. I put in a request for additional events for the NEMO calendar.
The meeting was followed by a Yankee Swap. There were several hot gifts this year, with some items changing hands many times. I believe Iain Barker had his gifts stolen more than anyone else, with Jean Icaza a close second. Popular gifts included a British flag blanket, a clock with an image of a classic Mini, a bright red MINI travel bag full of detailing supplies, and a MINI logo flag.
Foolishly, I stole a nice 1:18-scale diecast Austin Countryman from Iain, only to have it stolen from me by Dave Icaza. The car was green, and matched Dave’s classic Mini (though he will need to find a tiny surfboard for the roof).
It was great to see so many members in person. Be sure to check the NEMO website and Facebook page for more photos of the guests and the Yankee Swap.
Classics at LAAM attract a ‘mini’ crowd.
Photo by Wendy Birchmire
MINIs on the Lawn
by Wendy Birchmire
BROOKLINE, Mass., Oct. 26 — The Larz Anderson Auto Museum featured an evening of “MINIs on the Lawn” as part of their Community Speaker Series. I didn’t mind paying to attend since “every dollar received for these presentations helps to defray the cost of providing outstanding community programming.” Anyway, who can resist showing off their Minis and mingling with other enthusiasts?
The event started at 5 p.m., and late afternoon was a perfect, cool time to park our cars on the upper show field. Owners chatted with each other and the spectators who came to admire the vehicles. There were at least 12 modern MINIs in attendance, but only three classic Minis: my 1993 Mini Mayfair, William Ellis’ Innocenti Mini, and a car I had not seen before owned by Pia Rogers. The drivers of the modern MINIs appeared to appreciate the classics and vice versa.
As darkness fell, the crowd moved inside the Museum, where the participants were treated to sandwiches, chips and water. Soon, Nick from The MINI Vlog YouTube channel presented a video account on the history of Minis.
In 1956, record high petrol prices caused a slump in big car sales and an increase in sales of economical, German-designed bubble cars. Leonard Lord, President of British Motor Corporation (BMC), disliked bubble cars and wanted a new, “proper” small car designed. His requirements were that the car get good gas mileage, seat four adults, and use an existing BMC engine. Lord tasked Alec Issigonis with designing ADO15 (Austin Design Office 15), the designated Mini project name.
ADO15 maximized interior space by using front-wheel drive, turning the engine and radiator sideways, using rubber cones instead of springs for shock absorption, placing the panel seams on the outside of the vehicle, and pushing the Dunlop-designed 10” wheels and tires to the corners. Sliding windows were used to allow large door pockets for storage, and a hinged license plate holder was used on the boot lid so the boot could be opened for transporting large items.
The Mini prototype was named the “Orange Box” due to its color. The prototype originally had a 948cc A Series engine, but the car was too fast for the price BMC wanted to charge, so they reduced the engine to an 848cc.
The mechanically identical, badge engineered Austin Se7en (pronounced “Seven”) and Morris Mini Minor were introduced in August 1959.
Nick’s video also provided information about events around the country, including MINIs at the Glen, MINIs Take Route 66, MINIs Take the States, and others.
After the presentation, we got to take a look at Nick’s MINI GP3 and learn how he was able to get serial number #0001. It turns out he won a video contest that required submitting a 30.1-second video (to match the 301 horsepower of the car). The video is lots of fun and can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwRq_tPnp8A.
Of course this car was there...
Photo by David Schwartz
Viewing ‘Bond in Motion’
by David Schwartz
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y., Sept. 15 — At the end of a two-week driving trip from Massachusetts through New York State, Ohio, Michigan, and back through New York, I talked my wife, Betty Lehrman, into stopping at the Saratoga Automobile Museum. The Museum had a special exhibit (cue the James Bond theme song) called “Bond in Motion” that brought together vehicles from many of the James Bond movies over the 60-year history of the franchise. In appreciation for her humoring me, I made a reservation at a historic hotel in Saratoga Springs that I knew Betty would enjoy.
The exhibit featured more than 12 cars, a submarine, a Tuk Tuk (three-wheel motorized rickshaw), motorcycles and other vehicles. There were displays of movie posters and signs with detailed information about each car. Best of all, long video clips showed each car’s most famous movie scene.
Being of a certain age, my favorite Bond is Sean Connery. Naturally, I made a beeline for the iconic 1964 Aston Martin DB5 first used in Goldfinger, then backtracked to the start of the exhibit.
Two American cars opened the exhibit: the 1969 Mercury Cougar XR-7 featured in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the 1974 AMC Hornet X used in The Man with the Golden Gun. The scene where Roger Moore s a 360° spiral jump across a river in the Hornet is one of my all-time favorite stunts.
The 1977 Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me is another favorite car. The Esprit was one of Q’s finer efforts. Once underwater, the car converts to a submarine with a variety of high-tech weaponry. There were seven submersibles built for filming, each representing different stages of the Lotus’ transformation.
Aston Martins from newer Bond movies were well represented: a 1985 Aston Martin V8, a 2002 Aston Martin V12 Vanquish, a 2006 Aston Martin DBS, a 2008 Aston Martin DBS, and a 2015 Aston Martin DB10. Other Bond cars included a 1997 BMW 750LI, a 1999 BMW Z8, and a 2002 Jaguar XKR convertible.
And so was this, the Lotus Esprit submersible.
Photo by David Schwartz
The Aston Martin V8 was driven by Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights and was displayed with its hydraulic outrigger skis deployed. The car featured spiked ice tires, a rear jet engine booster, lasers and missiles.
The Vanquish was driven by Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day and was nicknamed “The Vanish” due to Q’s adaptive camouflage feature that rendered the car nearly invisible. The Aston Martin DB10 was created specifically for the Daniel Craig film Spectre. Only 10 examples were built, eight of which were used in the film.
The 2008 Aston Martin DBS was one of seven used in Quantum of Solace, and the display car was replete with stunt damage. One does not expect to see a partially destroyed car in a museum.
“Bond in Motion” occupied the Museum’s entire first floor. The second floor contained additional special exhibits and several ongoing exhibits. There were a variety of race cars, luxury cars built by small companies, and a few truly unusual cars.
The curvaceous 1947 Cisitalia 202 MM was the most attractive race car on display. I favor sleek, smooth lines over the bumps, angles, and spoilers of modern race cars. My favorite vehicle, however, was the psychedelic “Light” VW Hippie Bus. The Bus was originally displayed as an art exhibit at the Woodstock music festival and restored for Woodstock’s 50th anniversary. For details, see the bus website, https://lightvwbus.com/.
The Saratoga Automobile Museum is well worth a visit. “Bond in Motion” runs through January 31, 2024, and free docent-led tours are available on select days and times. See the Museum website, (https://www.saratogaautomuseum.org/), for additional information.