Automotive Justice – Or, I Never Should Have Sold It

The 10W-40 Castrol dripping on my sweaty face added yet another dimension to the word “masochism.” I’d been under my ’65 TR-4 for 20 minutes trying to deal with the infamous canister element oil filter. Would the gasket leak? Will I have to spend another five minutes taking the securing nut off that mile-long thread? Did I take the old gasket out?

As I pull my aching, filthy arm out from under the 5″ ground clearance (who said you could do it from inside the engine compartment?), a neighbor pulls into the parking space beside me. 50-ish stockbroker, recently divorced, behind the wheel of a full boot BMW 633i. I waited for the standard fare.

“Hey, guy, you working on that thing because you lost an election bet?”

“It’s my mental hygiene break, keeps me from having all clean clothes.”

“Right. Try driving sometimes, if you can. It’s fun.”

Oh well, I reflect as he goes into his apartment, how many other 2138cc engines take 13.2 pints of oil? Or have refillable rear lever shocks? Or static ignition timing? I look over at the shiny alloy-wheeled, fuel-injected, air conditioned, hi-tech kraut car. Not that beast, for sure!

Several hours later, the clutch slave cylinder has been rebuilt with genuine Girling parts, the Stromberg dashpots topped off, all 18 (count ’em) grease fittings have been lubed. And the owner exhausted.

In the shower I wonder if if s all worth it. What price nostalgia? Spend half a Saturday ministering to the damn thing. How about one of those allegedly bullet-proof Japanese or German sports coupes? Maybe I could actually put some miles on the car.

As the sun sets, my five-year-old returns from play. “Hey, Dad, can we go for a ride the Triumph?”

A ride, not a drive to go someplace. Why not? Only five minutes to stow the removeable top in the boot and the frame under the rear flaps. After firing it up, I watch the temperature gauge (in degrees Centigrade, thank you) move up.

My neighbor is out again, too. He stops by my side and pats the roll bar. Affectionately?

“Mine was a TR-3B. It only ran on good days, like today. But it was worth it, every minute.” He glanced over at the Bimmer. “I never should have let her go. You can’t buy that feeling today, can you?”

I eased the clutch up. “You’re right, you can’t. Thanks for the advice.”

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