Spitty Spitty Bang Bang

With apologies to the Disney corporation and Dick Van Dyke…

I couldn’t help myself when I saw the personal plate on the Triumph at the Hyde Park Motor Show on Monday. It is a free vintage, veteran, and whatever show to celebrate Labour Day. I much prefer the old vehicles to watching political marches.

The Spitfires were the cheaper line of sports cars from Triumph during the time when the TR4, 5, and 6 were made and seem to have been around in various forms from 1962 to 1980 – the green machine seen here is one of the last incarnations – the Spitfire 1500.

I was privileged to drive a Spit 1 in 1964 when we first lived for a few months in Australia. I think my dad was having a mechanical moment when he set out to buy a sports car from the Sunday Times newspaper. We saw a procession of MG’s – TC , TF, MGA, etc. but they were either too expensive or too chatty to consider. The Triumph must have hit the spot for him and I was delighted to get to run it. I’d just got my license and in retrospect I’m surprised at my parents’ calm attitude to a 17-year-old with a sports car. I never raced or rolled it, however, and in the end went back to North America safely.

Years later, in memory of my father, I wanted to buy another little sports car and dived into the Sunday Times again. There were fewer to choose from in 1983, but me and my Mother went out to see a number that were on offer. What a series of revelations…

Note: In the interim, my wife had once bought a brand-new MGB roadster in 1971, and had the fun of driving it for a year. She was not a sports car person but it looked beautiful to her. She had the very best of it, as it did not falter during her ownership…but I got to look carefully at the design and construction of it, and to ponder about the old technology and philosophy that MG loved…

Anyway, back to searching for a used Spitfire – or a used Austin Healey, MG, TR etc. The owners who presented their cars were mostly honest people. They all explained what repairs and restorations had been done to what they were trying to sell. Some had log books, and some had loose-leaf binders of mechanic’s invoices and parts receipts. A number of them had detailed reports from firms that had fabricated new floor pans, wheel arches, and body panels and welded them together. The accumulated histories of the various cars was probably intended to re-assure. It actually horrified. Both me and Mum agreed that buying a used sports car for nostalgia was nothing more than buying expense and trouble…

But I could not help getting a pang when I saw how nice the Spitfire 1500 looked. The colour is defiantly green, which I like, and apart from the side graphics – an affectation of the time – the rest is a delight. I should imagine that it would work, like God, in mysterious ways, and possibly perform wonders – The old Spit 1 certainly had  a multitude of things going on with the body panels whenever it went over the railway crossing. But for a drive on a warm evening after sunset, nothing could be more delightful.

 

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The Little World Week – That That That

When you are showing people your little world you should listen carefully for the use of the word ” that “. It lets you know how the venture is going.

a. ” That ” in the singular is fine. ” That is a model of a Spitfire. ” said at a plastic model expo is perfectly fine, unless it is a model of a Thunderbolt. The person using the singular ” that ” may be explaining the display to his child. This is a good thing – young people need to know about Spitfires, Thunderbolts, and plastic models in general. You have engaged the attention of the masses to a certain extent. Let us hope they continue to take an interest. If Pappa explains the difference between Spitfires and Hurricanes and Typhoons to the youngster and the kid asks for all three kits, we are on a winner!

b. ” That…That ” in frosty tones is not so so good. If it is said by an imperious club committee member as they point to your model, you can take it that there is something they don’t like. Not that you are obliged to do anything about it, mind. Just chill and see where the whole thing is going. You can always bite them if they keep on pointing.

c. ” That…That…That…” on the other hand, is a sign that you have succeeded. If it is accompanied by a squeal and a little dance you know you may have become a legend. It means that the viewer has seen your model and it has stirred up some memory or recognition on their deepest level. They cannot even articulate why they like it, but they do. Now is the time to sidle up to them and suggest they buy it for $ 500. If they press their wallet on you, grasp it and run.

Ya never know yer luck in a big model exhibition…