Fifty years ago, Bob Russell was driving home from work when a flashy red sports car caught his eye.
“I had been thinking that we needed a second car, and my wife needed to learn to drive a stick,” Russell, 84, said. “So I just bought it.”
He brought the 1962 Triumph TR3B home and presented it to his wife, Wanda. It has been in their family ever since. He recalled fitting a single seatbelt in the rear to strap in his two daughters, Cindy and Becky, “to keep them safe.”
At the recent All Triumph Drive-In, held on the campus of Pacific University in Forest Grove, OR, I presented the SCM “Spirit of Motoring” award to Bob. As I looked at his car (repainted at least once in the original red, with what appeared to be the original red leather on the seats), I thought about all of the memories this little Triumph had helped create over the past 50 years as a part of Bob’s life.
What a different world it was in 1962, when sports cars were small, nimble alternatives to the American cars of the day. Contrast a 1962 Impala or Galaxie with a same-year Healey BJ7 or Porsche 356B coupe.
Safety wasn’t even an afterthought then; you can imagine the outcry today if someone strapped two kids into the back of their TR3 and drove down the highway.
Bob’s DNA has been passed down to his daughter Becky. Last year, she bought a 1958 Robin’s Egg Blue TR3, which she proudly displayed next to her dad’s car. Chances are she’ll have hers 50 years as well.
Better than ever
Auctions and the market — which are the focus of SCM — are just a small segment of the collector-car hobby. Clubs and the activities they promote are the largest part of our world. In fact, we maintain that the primary reasons to have a collector car are the people it causes you to meet, the things you learn and the paths you take — often ones that you might not even have known existed.
It works that way for us. Last May, we were part of a Pacific Coast Rover Club (www.pcrc.net) five-day, 900-mile safari through central Oregon, starting in Prineville, population 9,192. The bucolic town is best known today for housing a Facebook data center, with another planned by Apple. So finding a Starbucks was not a surprise.
Wendie, five-year-old Bradley and I — and our two dogs Enzo and Teddy — were in our trusty 1989 Range Rover Classic, and good friend and SCM SEO consultant Michael Cottam and his 6-year-old son Benjamin were in our imported-from-England, off-road competition-prepared 1984 RHD diesel Defender 90 200 TDi (another accidental purchase I still don’t completely understand). The trip was put together and stewarded by Oregon’s resident Rover guru, Doug Shipman.
Our days included breaking trail through snow above 6,000 feet in the Ochoco Mountains, and primitive camping at night — in campgrounds with no facilities. I’ll leave it to you to imagine exactly what that means. The children and the dogs found the camping experience somewhat more appealing than Wendie did, although we are still married.
I can say for sure that in my 40-plus years of Alfa Romeo ownership, I’ve never sloshed across a three-foot-deep stream in one — or lugged along a six-person tent, two coolers and cooking equipment. Without our ownership of a Rover (well, two Rovers), we would never have had the chance to be a part of this experience.
On the other hand, we’re still waiting to find local traction for the 1972 Saab Sonett III we bought on BringATrailer.com some months ago. The car has been exactly as we thought it would be: 95% sorted and ready to go. But the installed base of Sonetts and their brethren, 93s and 96s, is small, and consequently, activities seem to be limited. We’ll give ourselves a year to find out just how busy the Saab community is in Portland, and that will determine if the diminutive Swede is a long-term keeper or a short-term visitor.
This brings us back to Bob Russell and his half-century of ownership. I am sure that part of what has kept his love affair with his TR going is all of the things he can do with his car in conjunction with the very active Portland Triumph Owners Association (www.portlandtriumph.org). They are very well organized and offer a variety of ways for like-minded car lovers to get together, kick tires, tell lies and drink warm English beer. I’d like to thank Bob, Wanda, Becky and the entire Portland Triumph community for having us as a part of their Triumph Drive-In. Now, if only we could find a good GT6 or Spitfire Mk I/II to drive to next year’s event, we’d have a place on their lawn.
You vote for the best
Last year marked the first International Historic Motoring Awards, presented by private banking specialists EFG International and Octane magazine. A panel of well-known classic-car enthusiasts and experts chose winners in a variety of categories, such as Museum of the Year, Restoration of the Year, Motoring Event of the Year, Lifetime achievement Award and Car of the Year.
I have been asked to join the judges this year — a group that includes Derek Bell, Simon Kidston, Ed Gilbertson, McKeel Hagerty, Jay Leno, Bruce Meyer and Murray Smith among others — and SCM is an official media partner of the awards. For a complete list of the judges, and more information about the awards, go to www.historicmotoringawards.com.
We need your input. To make suggestions for this year’s awards, please go to www.sportscarmarket.com/IHMA2012, look over the various categories and enter who and what you think should be considered. Your nominations must be received by September 20, and the awards ceremony will be in London on November 29.
Welcome Mr. Simanaitis
You’ll find a new column, “Under the Skin” on p. 60 of this issue. With it, good friend and former Engineering Editor of Road & Track Dennis Simanaitis joins the SCM team. During his 33-year tenure at R&T, Dennis always made mysterious mechanical things comprehensible, and his friendly writing style always brought a smile. We are honored to have him aboard. ©