Category Archives: Austin Healey

What should Santa drive?

Santa's 'stang

Santa’s ‘stang

As Boxing Day approaches we were taken with a pristine ’65 Mustang convertible in red with a white top. It struck us as the perfect vehicle for Santa Claus if he were to ever cut that flying sleigh and reindeer loose.  It’s festive, fun and sports the right color combination for the jolly one.

Santa's macho rig

Santa’s macho rig

Then, again, it doesn’t have a huge trunk so the question of where the stash the presents looms.  Perhaps this huge ’63 Dodge Power Wagon would be the right answer to St. Nick’s theoretical quest.  It’s red and white so the color combo fills the bill and the pick up bed would accommodate lots of loot.  It’s a lifted four wheel drive truck which means snow drifts could be successfully challenged.  The fact that it’s a crew cab means he could bring along some staff to help with the schlepping.

Wagoneering at the pole

Wagoneering at the pole

If he were to seek a bit more civilized conveyance he could try this terrific Jeep Wagoneer that dates from the days when Jeep was a product of American Motors.  The same basic truck, produced successively by Willys, Kaiser, American Motors and Chrysler, was introduced in 1962 and continued in production through the 1991 model year.  It certainly has more creature comforts that the Dodge Power Wagon but not quite the payload.  Unlike the Mustang, he wouldn’t be able to take the top down which leads us to this early ’70s International Harvester Scout finished in spruce green .  It’s got four wheel drive and the top comes off and the exterior color offers a nice contrast to Santa’s outfit.

Green machine

Green machine

But what of the little guys?  Yes, the elves need appropriate wheels and we’ve come up with a few suggestions for them.

Elves' pet Met

Elves’ pet Met

What about this Nash Metropolitan convertible we found at a light the other day?  The color combo is right up Santa’s alley and the continental kit means the miniscule trunk has that much more space.

Sprite-o!

Just buggin’

Or what about this Austin-Healey Sprite, a “bug eye” that dates from the late ’50s. It certainly gives the Metropolitan (with which it share the same motor, by the way) a run for the money in the cute department.  It would seem to compliment Santa’s Mustang very nicely.

Mini for the help

Mini for the help

Lastly, for the little folks, we suggest this very original Austin Cooper, the Mini that started it all.  The sliding windows saved British Motors, its manufacturer, money on the mechanics of roll down windows and created a tiny bit more space for stuffing presents in the door shelves.  BMC actually built the Metropolitan for American Motors as well as the Sprite and the Mini.  It’s a wonder they couldn’t stay in business.

Next year if you don’t hear the sound of hooves on your roof but, rather, a Mustang, Power Wagon, Wagoneer, Scout, Metropolitan, Sprite or Mini you’ll know why.

The Bug Eye Guy has lots of Sprites for sale and, yes, they all have human names.  With a face like that it’s only to be expected.

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Gift rack optional

Gift rack optional

 

 

Will of the Triumph

TRiffic!

TRiffic!

Americans post-war love affair with British sports cars opened the door to the idea of imported cars in general and nothing’s been the same since.  The very first name that springs to mind in this regard is MG but Triumph was also a very significant player in this small field.  Its TR3 was a direct competitor to the MG-A and the later TR4 was the firm’s answer to the MG-B.

We encountered a much later TR, this one a TR6, on the mean streets of Palo Alto, CA a few months ago.  Owner Mike Cobb revealed that the car was purchased new in 1974 and he’s been driving it ever since. He’s put 80,000 miles on its odometer that is nestled in a very traditional wood-clad dashboard.

Wood is good

Wood is good

Production of TR6s ceased just two years later as the British auto industry continued its downward spiral towards near-extinction.  As with predecessor TRs, the car’s primary export market was the US.  Did we say “primary export?” Make that just “primary.” Period. We were shocked to read that, of the total of almost 95,000 TR6s produced, more than 86,000 were exported, most to these shores. A paltry 8,400 were sold in the UK.

Union jacks comes standard

Union Jack: ON!

Style-wise, the TR6 was something of an update of the TR4 that had been designed by Giovanni Michelotti who had penned all manner cars for Ferrari, Maserati, Lancia and — though the gang in Munich is loath to admit it — the iconic BMW 1600/2002.  The transformation to TR6  was undertaken by Karmann, as in Karmann-Ghia. That’s right, the look of an iconic British sports car that actually wears a Union Jack on its rear flanks is, in no small measure, the product of Italian and German minds.

"We shall fight them on the beaches.."

“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds.. and in the streets…”

Speaking of the Axis Powers, let’s not forget the Battle of Britain, won in the skies by the RAF’s heroic Spitfires in mortal combat with the Luftwaffe’s Messerchmitts.  That valiant fighter plane lent its name to Triumph’s smaller sport cars, a competitor to MG’s Midget and Austin-Healey’s Sprite. We encountered a ’65 Spitfire Mk 2 in our local supermarket parking lot the other evening and we were impressed by the car’s “as is” condition.  Clearly, this very original roadster has never been restored. In fact, that babied Palo Alto TR6’s little brother seems to have been trashed to some extent.

Bonnet popper

Bonnet popper

Our supermarket Spitfire was sporting a newish soft top, but the rest of the car seemed to not have been messed with all that much over the past 50 years and that’s really not a criticism.  We think it’s a vehicular manifestation of that stiff upper lip ethos which we most heartily applaud.

Black plate special

Black plate special

We dug deep into the massive Feral Cars image bank and found another TR6 which —  taking a wild guess here — seems to have been painted a non-factory stock color.

Purple passion

Purple passion

Lastly, we found this “missing link” between the TR4 and TR6, logically called TR5. It was captured in Philadelphia a while back and happened to be parked just outside a conclave of the Society of Automotive Historians, giving those scholars lots to consider and discuss.  These were sold in the US as TR250 but this example, despite the decorative UK number plate and badged TR5, seems to be a US market car (left hand drive, side markers in compliance with federal regulations) and is equipped with a “Surrey Top,” Triumph’s answer to Porche’s Targa.

Can you surrey?

Can you Surrey?

We found this very presentable and very, very red ’74 TR6 in nearby Beverly, MA for a mere $9300.  In terms of today’s rate of exchange that’s only £6070!  See those rubber bumper extensions on Mike Cobb’s lovely blue TR6 at the top of this post? They were Federally mandated from mid-’74 forward and this US-market TV commercial made tongue-in-cheek reference to them.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.