Thursday, December 20, 2007


Reading an article on Jalopnik got me thinking about old cars. Not old cars like an '84 Camry with a missing headlight... old cars like my dad's '59 Triumph. For years, I had a Miata, and it was wonderful and I loved it specifically because it reminded me of the Triumph. Sure, it could go, stop, and turn much faster and better than the Triumph; the Miata would start without question when it was below freezing, and you could put the top up with one hand while moving.

But ... and I may lose you here ... there's a primitive charm to old cars. Sure, they're impractical. Could I realistically drive a 50 year old car 300 miles a week through snow, over roads coated with salt? No! But ... browsing mindlessly through Hemmings Motor News made me quietly yearn for a vehicle that requires tinkering, the sort of car you curse because you love; where driving top-down on a beautiful summer evening makes the bloody, grease-crusted knuckles worth it.

So what was I looking at? What brought back these fond memories? Let's take a walk down memory lane. Are any of these practical? No. Could I afford any of them? Maybe. Would I? Not when I'm living in the frozen North.

First, there's the impossibly cute Morgan 3-wheeler. I love Morgans, because the company is, to put it frankly, batshit crazy. They went from building 3-wheel cars to building 4-wheel cars like the rest of the world...only they decided to make the frame out of wood. Hey, it'll never rust... Oh, and you can buy a new Morgan which looks....not very different from what it looked like 50 years ago. Awesome.

Moving along to a vehicle with four real wheels and sometimes a top, the Triumph TR3/TR3A. This a wonderful little devil of a car. The engine was originally designed for use in a tractor, so (for those of you who are interested in such things), it makes GOBS of torque. Unfortunately, it suffers from BCES (British Car Electrics Syndrome) -- if it involves the flow of electrons, you may as well pack it in for the day. Bonus? If it's out of alignment, the wheel bolts break with a disturbing POP. Seriously. BUT.... it's a great way for a 15-year-old kid to learn how to synchronize carburetors, and there's nothing like it on a May afternoon, sunlight splashing through a canopy of green....

Then there's the Talbot-Lago. This car, in good condition, is worth well into the $3,000,000 range (yes, 3 million). But it's effing gorgeous. Sure, the doors open backwards, but it just looks sexy. Worth 3 million? Eh, probably not. Worth the time to ogle one? Yes.

Next is the Jaguar D-Type. This is the rakish older brother to the E-Type that everyone knows as "Austin Powers' Shaguar". Sure, the E-Type was more popular; the E-Type was a consumer model, while the D-Type was really more of a race car. But...oh, to get behind that wheel.

Off to bed. Going home for Christmas tomorrow.

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