A Mostly British Obsession

Wish List

InvictaI guess every machinery addict has a wish list of machines they’d like to own. I know I do…I’m a sucker for an old British car in need. I’m trying to temper that a bit, though, as I realize that once you have a certain number of machines, it’s very difficult to get much done on them, and you end up driving only one or two of them with any frequency.

I already own at least two of my dream cars, my 1963 MGB and my 1961 Jaguar E-Type.

MGBs are such nice, pleasant and fun cars to drive. I always seem to come back to them, and the one I have now is a low-mileage, extremely original car that has had nothing but caring owners since new. The color scheme isn’t my favorite, but it’s grown on me. Once the “appliance white” is resprayed to the original olde English white, a mellower color, I think it will look a treat. And while wire wheels would perhaps look sportier, the steel disc wheels are very period and much, much nicer to live with on a daily basis.

The E-Type is one of the world’s great cars, and the flat-floor roadster is perhaps the zenith of purity. One could argue (and wouldn’t find me objecting) that the fixed-head coupe is a prettier car, but the roadster isn’t far behind, and putting the top down is always a blast. Mine is still in the throes of a long, long restoration.

My BSA A10 is a typical and fun early-fifties English motorcycle. By the time mine was built it was a bit dated, but not by much–four years earlier it was the fastest volume production motorcycle tested by one of the magazines. The plunger suspension is interesting to live with and immediately dates the machine, which I like, and the paint scheme is eye-catching and original. I can’t think of a reason I’d sell it–though I think it will be re-restored before another decade passes, just to undo some of my amateur moments.

I also love my old Ford F250. It’s the quintessential pickup, no fripperies or pretending to be something it’s not. If gasoline costs get out of control and bio-diesel seems to be making headway, I may convert it to a diesel engine (tucking the 360 under a bench) and it will continue to be the workhorse that it is.

bentleyWhat would I like to own? I’m trying to be realistic here–I would really love to own an Invicta S-Type Low Chassis Tourer (pictured at top), but unless I win the lottery, I’m not going to be spending $150,000 on a car anytime soon. Same deal on a “WO” Bentley (pictured). Still, it’s fun to dream. My “reality” list:

  • Triumph Monte CarloAn English touring car from before WW2. Perhaps a Riley 9. Triumph Montecarlo (pictured) or similar. Some of these don’t go for much money and I find them all very charming. The biggest pitfall is that some of them have very small engines that would be hard pressed to keep up with today’s hurly burly traffic.
  • MG TCAn MG TC. They are such an icon, and they’d be at home on the roads where I live now. Was there ever a car that in its period screamed “sports car” more than the TC? They aren’t a huge amount of money any longer as they just aren’t all that usable on the highway. They’re all also right-hand drive. This seems significant, somehow.
  • XK-140An XK-120 or XK-140 Jaguar (roadster or the drophead coupe, which was a “fancier” machine if not as sporting–pictured). This is the most tenuous on my list because of the prices they bring these days…but maybe I can find a project at some point. This car was as amazing in 1948 as the E-Type was in 1961.
  • Healey 100A Healey 100. Healeys are great and the 100 four-cylinder is an amazing looking car, that performs well enough, too. The body is pure and unbroken by any adornment except a small flash on the front fender. The windscreen folds down to an impractical but extremely rakish position.
  • Jaguar Mk VI’d like a big English sedan, preferably from the 40’s or 50’s. Something like a Daimler, Jaguar Mk V (pictured), VII, VIII, or IX, Armstrong Siddely Star Sapphire…acres of leather in an upright format. Just the car to waft my bride and a couple of guests a few miles to dinner in.
  • VincentOn to motorcycles, a Vincent twin would be wonderful, but I really can’t justify a Rapide or Black Shadow (and most of the projects have been found). They are, however, a work of art on wheels and their performance wasn’t matched by a production motorcycle until more than 15 years after they ceased production. A Comet would be fun, though.
  • RudgeLikewise, I can’t afford a Brough Superior. But I would like a pre-war English bike. Rudges interest me (pictured is a 500cc Special, which had an interesting four-valve single-cylinder engine), but they’re rare. An older BSA Sloper might be a fun bike to own, and easier to find.

Fortunately, I don’t have money or room for all of those–and thinking about this list some more would undoubtedly see some further additions.

But maybe as time passes I’ll be able to find one or two of the above to see if the reality holds up to the dream!

Images courtesy: Gregor Fiskin and Marreyt Classics. A gift certificate in the amount of $250,000 would do me a treat at either location! The motorcycle photos are courtesy of Super Show Events.

1 Comment

  1. chuck goolsbee

    I want a D-type, and now that I think of it a C-type too. Then I’d have a full set. But like you I already have my hands full… even though I only have ONE (extra) car.

    BTW: Go ahead and do that Diesel swap on your pickup. I have more home-made fuel than I can burn.



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