Ginger and I have been traveling the country now for about 18 months (with the exceptions of the few times she’s been at McLeod’s British Cars for repairs) and we’ve had quite a few interesting experiences to say the least.
While we travel we usually encounter people who relate their stories of having once owned a little British car. When John Nikas first set out in Grace, he believed he could get help from the various British car clubs around the country if they broke and he was correct. After all, LBC owners are a community within themselves and they tend to help one another out when possible.
Ginger and I have been stuck in Montrose, Colorado now for two weeks. First, she had a blown head gasket on her newly built motor and then the snow began to fall. Once the weather started warming we lost spark on the distributor. All the while we’ve searched this small town high and low for a fellow LBC owner but no one seemed to know anyone who had “a strange little car”.
When we were finally able to get Ginger motivated enough to break her in again we decided a trip to the hardware store was necessary and when we pulled into the car park, what did our eyes behold? A bright red MG! We completely forgot why we stopped and became solely focused on finding the owner of that pretty LBC glistening in the sunlight like a shiny apple.
We found Gregg Haskell who, upon seeing Ginger, exclaimed, “That’s the car I saw in the MOSS Magazine!” We made an instant friend. We kicked tires in the car park for a little while and Gregg invited us to his home to help us fill Ginger’s leaky transmission before we set out once again to continue our drive.
Gregg’s car, Ian, is a bit of an oddball and although I do not usually like Frankensteined vehicles, Ian is quite a sight. Apart from the added metal to the bonnet and a few slight alterations to the interior, one may not immediately know there has been some very big modifications to Ian. Given the tough look of the bonnet I had to ask, “What ya got under there?”
I expected the usual “Toyota” or similar response but was not prepared for the “Buick V8” that came out of Gregg’s mouth. I know my jaw dropped to the ground. I know because I tasted the dirt. I had to see this monster and Gregg was more than happy to oblige.
The extra hood metal was obviously to make room for the air cleaner and it actually made quite a cool looking addition to the traditional bonnet. Never in my wildest dreams have I ever thought a V8 would fit into the tight space of an MG body.
When Gregg started Ian it sounded like an airplane gearing up. So much so I expected it to sprout wings like a Transformer. Despite changing everything about Ian except for the body, Ian still holds that familiar look and feel of an MG but the throaty sound is certainly not something one would expect with an LBC. The motor, Gregg tells us, is surprisingly lightweight, somewhere around 66 pounds for the block, and it is fast. Too fast. I won’t rat him out on actual speed but there comes a point when sanity finally kicks in and although the speedo may still be climbing, the nerves back down and survival mode kicks in. Gregg does not know Ian’s top speed and I hope he never finds out.
Will Ian change my mind about Frankensteins? Probably not, but Gregg, his wife Bev and Ian have proved once again that even though there may be modifications, we’re all LBC owners at heart and we will help each other out as much as possible.
By Synnova Henthorne