May 2, 2009 at 9:36 pm #232601Rich BellefeuilleParticipant
Ok, this is a little sentimental, but I have to tell it. It’s also a little long winded. Here goes.
In 1977 I bought my second sports car. (my first was a dissapointing Triumph Spitfire). This one was an MG Midget. It was a 1971. It was a decent basket case that sat in my high school music teacher’s back yard. It belonged to his son. All there and basically runnable, but the electric fuel pump was shot. I bought it for I think around $300. I rigged up a gas can under the hood with a siphon feed to the carbs. Got it running and drove it home. Fixed it up, refurbed the body and had it painted a stunning british racing green. The car was OK but never seems to be a smooth ride especially at higher speeds. One day on Rt 128 near Boston, it started wobbling so badly that I barely hobbled home (about 35 miles away) (this is all leading up to something, I think). I took the transmission apart and found that there was a brass bushing that the drive shaft spline fits into that had basically disintegrated so that the spline was oscillating badly making the car undrivable. I went to Foreign Auto parts and bought a replacement bushing (as I recall this thing was several inches long) and brought it home only to find that the bushing diameter was undersized and had to be machined precisely to fit the drive shaft spline. After weeks of searching, I found a local machine shop that was willing to ream the bushing to to the exact diameter. Ok, here goes!
So, one Saturday in 1978, I picked up the piece from the machine shop. It went smoothly in and I worked all afternoon to reassemble the Trans housing and reinstall the transmission. I finally got it all back together in the early evening after dark. It was a warm summer evening, top down, clear skies, 80+ degrees, light breeze, I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was AWESOME! The car ran ubelievably smooth, quiet, shifted perfectly like never before, I was in HEAVEN! I drove anywhere and everywhere and only after I was comletely worn out did I finally pull into the driveway and shut her down.
Anyway, here’s the prologue. Today, I relived that moment. Slightly cooler evening, my Grandsons’s sixth birthday today today so some time has passed, but tonight I took the TD out after dark and really felt like I relived the moment. That car was just unbelievable. I was back in 1978 for a long while and just did not want the day or the ride to end. It was smooth, quiet, (a lot more powerful) but it really took me back. Truely Priceless for me.
So, long winded, but here’s the thing. If you’re young, enjoy the good moments. The not so good moments seem to fade away. And if you’re lucky….really lucky, you may even get to relive them at some point like I did. I hope you all do.
By the way, I’d love to hear any similar stories!May 2, 2009 at 10:14 pm #238798James CochranParticipant
WOW, way cool. I imagined your drives. Wind in your hair, nice engine rumble, on top of the world as the world glided below you. I am about to hit the sack, long day. Your ride has given me some inspiration for a nice evening. Thanks Rich, very nice, I read it twice .
PS My grandfather told me to stop dreaming the dream, live your dream.May 3, 2009 at 1:09 am #238799GeoffreyParticipant
Great story Rich!
I think you missed your calling as a writer! I for one will take your advice and really appreciated the trip back in time. Way cool brother!!May 3, 2009 at 7:09 am #238800Mel ZeigerParticipant
I loved you story
Here’s mine from yesterday (although not a interesting)
After high School (in NYC you can’t drive till your 18) I was a Hot Rod guy but my best friend (Steve)was a sportscar guy. He worked midnight shift for AT&T and I was in College. In the Summer on his days off he would come over to my house at about 11pm to an road trip. He couldn’t sleep like a normal person. We would put the top down on his Sunbeam Alpine and then Fiat 128 and drive. To NYC, To NJ or to Mont auk Point (eastern tip of Long Island) get something to eat and drive home. Talking trash and listing to doo wop on his AM radio.
When it rained we wouldn’t get wet because a pocket of air coming off the windscreen would push the rain behind us.
Yesterday while drive to Britfest we were behind a Morgan with the top down. The skies opened up and I explained to my wife how the drive stayed dry as long as the car was moving. Since I met her on a blind date set up by the very same Steve it brought a flood of old memories back.
Sometime getting old isn’t so bad
BTW My 7 year old grandson has agreed to be my co pilot when they visit us in Florida next month. To generations in a TD, That parenting.May 4, 2009 at 12:53 pm #238801Steve CritesParticipant
The reason I chose to get a replica may have a whole lot to do with my first encounter with the real thing.
It was the late 60’s and most of the guys were getting our first cars. The majority of us, myself included, had VW Beetles. The main reason for my crowd to go with those was the low cost. Muscle cars were always a dream to us,… still are.
So, when my best friend Dave, who’s responsible for my nickname Ringo, showed up with an MGA that he got from his uncle, we were duly impressed. Closer inspection greatly dimmed that first impression, but still, it was a real sports car! A convertible! Who cared that the top had a foot long tear in it and the interior looked like possums had made their home in it for the past 2 years. It was red, it roared, and we begged to drive it.
Dave was smart enough to not entirely trust us or the car, so when someone took a drive, he went along. When it came to the last test drive of the day, Dave wanted to see what it looked and sounded like going down the road. We got in my car and followed Mike.
It did look and sound like a dream. We were talking about the plans for refurbishing it and how much better chance we now had with the girls, when Dave sat upright and said “What the ??……..”
Now Mike, the current driver, was no rocket surgeon but he was a good driver and not given to panic. When Dave noticed Mike jumping from side to side and beating on the dash, he had no idea that Mike was reacting to a series of sparks coming from under and around the dash. Mike later told us he thought the car was on fire and that death was eminent. We later learned that it was just part of the Lucas system doing it’s thing.
Mike, now given to panic, opened the door and dived out at 25 MPH!!! The screams were deafening. Mike may have screamed too, but we couldn’t hear him over us. Mike jumped up unhurt and turned to watch the car continue without a driver down the street.
We passed by Mike (after all he was all ready standing) and continued to follow the MG down the street. It didn’t slow a bit, in fact it seemed to speed up for about 25 yards. It veered to the right and jumped a mild curb and went into a park that was miraculously empty that day. We stopped screaming, thinking that it would surely stop against a tree or something else without doing damage to person, car, or house. We kept pretty close behind, amazed that it missed every tree, every swing set, every merry go ’round and picnic table in that park! Just as Dave managed to say “what are we going to do?” the damn thing finally hit a bush that slowed it to about 10 MPH. Unfortunately, it also changed its course just enough to miss a fence and head out across the street again.
It T-boned one of our teachers nearly new Buick!…… Thankfully, he was one of the cool ones and was glad no one was hurt.
Dave sold the car for scrap. Mike earned the nickname “Joey Chitwood”. We never loaned another car to anyone. Still don’t.
I’m not so sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing as Mike, so I promised myself I’d never get a British car. So far I haven’t.
Long Live Replicas!!!
RingoMay 4, 2009 at 2:48 pm #238802James CochranParticipant
WOW, I could see the panic in your eyes. That would have been great for Funniest Home Videos or Youtube. A buddy of mine was joy riding his MG thru a field and the hot exhaust set the field on fire. He was leaving a path of fire. I wasn’t there, just heard about it. I could imagine your thoughts as the driver-less car was weaving around the countryside. . Thanks for sharing, that was great.
JamesMay 4, 2009 at 4:19 pm #238803William J CollinsParticipant
Ringo ..You mentioned Joey Chitwood … In the early 70s i owned a few
concessions in the Amusements of America Carnival and when we played
Fair dates where there was a Auto race track …Joey would join up with his
Hell drivers…A great bunch of guys … geez those were the days I enjoyed
OH I also had a MGA then Had bought it New …Wish I had that car nowMay 4, 2009 at 4:56 pm #238804Mark HendricksonParticipant
Man it’s scary how alike we are…almost all eligible for Social Security and now recalling days when we could fit in British sports cars…let alone jump out of one while it was moving!
My first car was a ’59 Beetle that I paid $40 for. The 36hp engine was seized. I bought a rebuild kit that included the bearings, gaskets and a set of barrels with Mahle pistons and rings already fitted for about $100 from JC Whitney. My now deceased buddy and I pulled the motor and took it into my parent’s basement. It was a blustery and cold January day. About another $100 at the local machine shop yeilded rebuilt heads, acid boiled parts, turned crank journals, re-sized rods, center main bearing installation and a resurfaced flywheel. A few more dollars (literally) and I had a Jiffy carb rebuild kit, new points, plugs, condenser, rotor and cap. Luckily it had a new muffler and the heater boxes were good.
I drove it for a year while I skrimped and saved to buy a new Datsun Fairlady. I drove that for a year and then bought a brand new Triumph Spitfire ($2,350). I should have kept the Datsun! I only drove the Truimph for a few months and sold it to go away to college in a ’55 Chevy 2 door/210 that I put a 283, 4 speed and 4.11 posi unit into. My first real “hot rod”. I later traded my drum set for a 409 Chevy engine to put in that car.
In the ensuing years (just before Woodstock) I was a hardcore Chevy man, buying and selling Tri-5 Chevies like they were slot cars. One exception was my ’63 Vette Split Window (destroyed by a snow plow while parked) and a 1962 Triumph TR-3B, still my favorite British Roadster next to the MG-TF.
Just after returning from Woodstock, I started my govenment career and went back to new and used Chevy muscle cars…Chevelles, El Caminos, Camaros and the like. I always had “project” cars that would get completed and sold soon after I drove them a few months. There were VW Beetles, several pre-war street rods, a 1970 Vette Roadster that was show quality and various other cars like a Volvo B-18 with a 289 Ford V8 in it.
I built and drove Go-Karts, Midgets, Sprint Cars, Late Models and Modifieds for a while from the late 60’s to the late 70’s. Cars were always easy to come by and I always had a place to build them and the help to do so.
I lost count of how many cars I’ve had, but did try to construct a list once. My memory is shot and I could only list just over 70 cars chronologically from the first ’59 Beetle to today. I’m sure I missed some too. That’s not counting the race cars I actually owned, not just drove.
So, those flashback moments come often today…there are many triggers. As Rich said, now they actually get triggered by more than just seeing something, but hearing, smelling or feeling something. Weird, but true. I stay as young as I can. I have to, my son is only 17.
Pink MG39938.4488310185May 4, 2009 at 4:57 pm #238805Rich BellefeuilleParticipant
Wow, looks like I started something. Good Stuff! Who says nostalgia isn’t what it used to be
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