A Holiday for Four-Wheeled Orphans
This weekend marks the end of Drive Your British Car Week. Yes, that's a thing. And yes, my British car is still broken.
America's British-car culture is an odd beast. Of the major Brit manufacturers to hold sway here -- MG, Triumph, Jaguar, Lotus, Land Rover/Rover, Austin-Healey -- only three are still solvent, and none are sold in America in any significant number. Jaguar and Land Rover and Lotus maintain a presence here, but their sales are low enough as to not be a threat to larger carmakers. Yet the majority of British cars registered here are likely older sports cars -- the MGs and Triumphs and such of yore, cars without parent companies. Maybe it's better to simply call it Orphan Car Week and leave it at that.
Either way, the Elan is on the mend, and that copy of Practical Classics reminded me of something I had forgotten about British cars: To borrow an old phrase, getting there is half the fun. And also, sometimes, getting there involves a whole lot of standing still.
Sam Smith is a journalist, a southerner, and a reformed Alfa Romeo mechanic who spends most of his time mooning over ancient racing cars and small-batch bourbon. A multiple International Automotive Media award-winner, he has written for Automobile Magazine, Car and Driver, and Esquire, among other publications. He once drove 4,000 miles in a weekend for a hamburger and has only been threatened by the German police twice.
Back in the late 70's I owned a '76 TR-7. I was very young and it was a very impulsive purchase. It was fun to drive but the car frightened me from a "cost of ownership" stand point. I sold it after having owned it for only about a month. That has been my only foray into British car ownership.
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