2010 Nashville British Car Club Show
In Athens, Greece, high atop the Acropolis, stands the remains of the Parthenon. It was completed somewhere around 438 BC, and destroyed on Sept. 26, 1687 AD. Doing the math, the building stood strong and proud for about 2,125 years before facing its early, violent demise.
The only full-sized replica of the Parthenon in the world is in Nashville, Tenn., and it recently served as the background for an amazing presentation of British cars, motorcycles, a truck or two, and an armoured scout vehicle.
And yes, that's a real 1966 Shelby Cobra, says its windscreen informational paper.
The date of this dashing display was Oct. 9, 2010, which coincidentally was John Lennon's 70th birthday. So what better way to celebrate British heritage and peace on earth than to observe both events on the same crystal-clear, warm autumn day?
I don't have a British car, but Car Lust readers know how I've fancied one for decades. The closest I have yet to come is a British Racing Green Mazda Miata SE that I've had for a bit over four years now.
In no order, here are my picks for some jovial "Best-In-Class" vehicles. Regardless of my phony awards, every vehicle at the show was First Class, as well as the owners who stood proudly beside them.
First, the 1962 Bentley S2 to the left gets my nod as "Most Likely Car In Show To Be In A Grey Poupon commercial." But of course. Posh (Port out, starboard home, an old British trans-Atlantic sailing term) barely begins to describe the appointments of this car. Fine woods and leather filled its interior.
"The Car I Wanted The Most In High School" prize goes to this 1976 British Racing Green Triumph Spitfire. It had a tan interior, wood dash, and wood steering wheel. This car was the inspiration for my present sports car some 35 years later.
I think I'd still like to have a Spitfire. There are still plenty running around, parts seem easy enough to get, and they are a timeless classic. The reasons I've always wanted one are still there, and like acreage, they don't make them any more. I just need a closed-in garage somewhere to be able to work on the delicate thing.
The "MG," or rather, "My Goodness, There Sure Are A Lot Of These Cars Here Today" achievement was shared by this lineup of MGBs and MGCs, including a very rare 6-cylinder coupé!
I didn't see an MGB in the colour of our 1973 car--I wish I had. It was either orange or terracotta, depending on your eyesight, I suppose. But they are out there, and I hope to see one again some day.
Just a short walk away was a display of MG Midgets. One was parked directly beside a bug-eyed Sprite, and I finally could compare the similarities (and the differences) between the two.
Now, originally, a shooting brake was a wagon pulled by a horse. The wagon contained firearms for estate hunters, and it "broke" the horse that was pulling it because of the heavy weight. The configuration of the rear of the wagon for hauling items translated over into the automotive world, thus giving vehicles like this their name.
Maybe somewhere between a hatchback and station wagon lies the shooting brake.
This 1993 Jaguar XJ 200 wins the awards for both "Most Gawked-Over Car" and "Best Deja-Vu Car," as folks, especially youngsters, swooned all over this cat. The owner fired it up several times for the fans, and the kitty purred quite well... after all, it only has 1,600 miles on it.
This is the second time I've seen this car, thus garnering the second award. The first time was on Father's Day, 2009, at the Kemp Auto Museum in St. Louis (Chesterfield), Missouri, where it was proudly poised in a corner inside the building.
When the owner produced documentation that this was the last XJ 200 built, I immediately recognized it from the St. Louis show. I have since sent him images of his car in the Kemp Museum, as he did not own the car when it was in Chesterfield.
The car's owner asked me to take his picture in front of the car, dropping the bonnet for the pose, with the Parthenon behind him. He said he saw me squinting, squirming, and contorting to take pictures of other cars, and thought I was a photographer. The poor chap. But I was more than happy to oblige his request, using his camera.
If you look close, you can see the three gleaming MGAs in the show, directly behind the TVR.
The "They Can't Arrest Me For A DUI If I'm Flying" prize was received by this 1932 Helicron. It was discovered in a barn in France in 2000, and was restored that year. Later in 2000, it passed all safety inspections and is legal on French roads. I don't know if it's legal to drive the Helicron on the Autobahn or not.
What's a French car doing in a British car show? I have no idea. But I wish I could have heard it run, especially since the propeller is connected directly to the crankshaft. I'll bet toupée glue was a popular option on this roadster.
Assembled in Weybridge, England, they used several Ford engines, from a 1.6-liter I-4 to 2.9-liter V-6. The lightweight aluminium body was placed over a purpose-built steel frame. Thanks, Wiki.
Parked very close to the Kallista was a 1957 model hot-rod Jaguar MkVII. It was silver and black with red and orange flames, and was lowered way down. The car was unique, to say the least. Also very fast.
The coveted "Coolest Car Not In The Show, But Out In The Parking Lot Area" mention went to this spotless Lotus 7. Or was it a Caterham... I still have trouble telling them apart. If anybody can tell me which one this car is, I'll give you four free tickets to next year's car show.
Also seen motoring on West End Avenue, probably driving to the event, was a cherry red right-hand-drive MG F (Possibly an MG TF), a pristine white late 1950s/early 1960s Rolls-Royce that looked like it could have just came from a wedding, and a dark blue, spotless Jaguar XK.
In the "I'll HUMMER You!" category, the title goes to this well-armed (at one time) traffic buster, a FV701H Ferret Armoured Scout Car. It once held a crew of three--a driver, radio operator, and a commander.
Armament included a .30 caliber Browning machine gun with 5,000 rounds, and two 9mm Sten guns, with 2,000 bullets at the ready. Communication devices included both HF and VHF radios, so the crew could talk to aircraft and infantry radio networks. I suppose the flashing amber light could be used, were the car to be placed into service as a rural postal delivery vehicle.
This Scout Car saw service in Malaysia, Europe, and Northern Ireland, and was retired in 1995. And, at a reported 9,688 pounds, it probably weighed more than all of the Lotuses (Loti?) that were there.
Our "You Shouldn't Be Here Because You're Not A British Car" acclaim was shared by these two upstarts. This brand new black Ferrari 612 Scaglietti had dealer tags, and was spoiled only by a greasy hand print on the highly-polished passenger's door.
There also seems to be a BRG Miata SE lurking in the background. Such a poseur. Indeed. Just who do these people think they are?
But seriously, everybody was welcomed at the show. On foot or in stroller, with or without pets, the crowd was completely behaved, and there was not a ruffian or scofflaw in the bunch.
Dear readers, this is not half of the cars I could have featured. There may be a sequel coming here; there certainly should be. Space limitations did not allow the bug-eyed Sprite, a 1924 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, a few Sunbeam Alpines, the Land Rovers, more Triumphs, a Honda Civic-powered Mini Cooper, a 1938 Morgan ... and many other examples of splendid automobilia.
And on this perfect day in Nashville, you could tell people that you were going to put your boots in the boot, fold back your hood, or polish your wings, and they would understand exactly what you were saying.
Thanks again to all the nice folks connected with the event, especially the Nashville British Car Club. They let me take these pictures and chat their ears off, and I can't wait to see them again. Cheers!
--That Car Guy (Chuck)