By Rick Feibusch
The Brisbane meet, though greeted by thunder and lightening the night
before, was quite a success, despite gloomy skies. The British Car
gods were looking out for the Sons (and Daughters) of Lucas with clear
skies and mild temperatures during the events on both days.
We were awakened by thunder early Saturday morn, followed by a light
but continuous English-style rain. As the cars started to arrive for
the Saturday tour, we watched as participants assembled their hoods
and fitted side curtains, that is, the people who had brought them. It
never rains in California in September!
Others were getting out or borrowing warm clothing for the soggy trip
to the sea. We all laughed at the weather, kicked tyres and had a sort
of pre-meet, meet until the skies opened up and we retreated to our
respective cars. Then at exactly 9:00AM, the rain went away as
quickly as it came and stayed away until an hour after the meet was
over on Sunday.
The cars left in groups of eight or so on two possible routes. There
was a large group of Jags, mostly E-Types, and a fair number of
Healeys, both Big and little. We had a few Minis and Minors as well as
John Quilter’s Austin America. Other Britiron of interest was a
Ginetta roadster, some Morgans and Lotus (Loti?).
Biggest car on the tour was Bob Nicholson’s two-tone blue 1953 Bentley
that performed flawlessly. Bob, always the Southern gentleman, offered
to let two women riding in a four-place Morgan (you know, the kind
with “theater seating” where the rear seat passenger’s faces stand
proud of the windscreen), but they declined saying that their husbands
would consider them “weens.” Euro machinery was represented by an
older Audi Quatro, Bugeye owner Nancy McCrosky’s Dad in a Lancia and a
fellow who made the run in a late model Maserati roadster.
Some elected to make the shorter and more direct route directly to
Cameron’s Pub, but others braved the weather and back roads and took
the longer sightseeing route with stops in the hills. Nancy McCrosky
was the only causality on the tour, losing her clutch hydraulics in
the mountains and having to wait for the flatbed to pick up her Sprite
and haul it to the shop down below. Lucky she had her dad along for
the ride home. About 50 cars did the tour and took up much of the car
park at Cameron’s into the afternoon.
The Sunday show was a blast. Even though we planned on random
parking, one of each marque seemed to arrive early, so we spread them
out and the cars and clubs “clumped” in a way that seemed to work out
like we intended it that way. Brunch was available from the Sierra
Point Yacht Club all morning and a swell BBQ was organized by the
Brisbane Loins for the afternoon. The Herb Gibson band, regularly
featured at Brannon’s up in Calistoga, played ‘till 2:00PM.
There was a large contingency of Jags, a bunch of Morgans, lots of
Loti, Triumphs for days, Healeys galore, and the MG Clubs came in
force. There were more Morris Minors than last year and the Arcane
Car guys brought some wonderful examples of odd, including a pair of
really rare Austins owned by their fearless leader, Byron Brill. The
A70 Hereford woody, imported and restored by Randy Williams in LA, was
left outside for years by a subsequent owner and needs to be restored
again, despite its low mileage. I once drove this beastie from LA to
San Diego and back for the British Meet down there – a smooth runner
that just hummed at 65 mph – it has a single carb version of the
Austin Healey 100/4 engine.
Star car of the meet had to be Anthony Martinis’ polished alloy Allard
roadster. The car seemed to have a crowd around it all day. Built
over a seventeen year period on an original chassis, Tony built the
car to his own taste with a NASCAR Ford V8 and automatic transmission
and a number of other modifications including headrest nacelles fitted
with radio speakers and shrouded sidemount tyres. AMAZING!
Other cars of note were the Rover 3 liter Coupe’ (actually a 4-door
saloon with a lower “chopped” top like one of those new Mercedes with
the low top), and the mid-1950s Vauxhall PA Cresta saloon, a car that
brought “fresh American styling” to the UK at the time – Hmmmmmmm.