The Naming of a TVR

After I bought my TVR 2500 some two years ago, I started to cast about for an appropriate name for it. Then one fateful day it acquired a name—easily!

The Carlisle Import Auto Show in May is a favorite event of mine to attend. As I drove out the 132 miles from Philadelphia to Carlisle, I was keeping a steady eye on the temperature gauge, for only three weeks earlier the TVR had overheated three times in 25 miles.

Turning for home was another story! From the moment I approached the Turnpike, the temperature was rising. The first exit was coming up after only 10 miles, and I opted to exit the highway and look for a gas station, since at 210° on the gauge I knew the car wouldn’t make it to the next rest area.

As I approached the toll plaza, I heard a heavy and slow “bing” from the left front of the car. I hurriedly paid my toll, and then pulled up on the hard shoulder some 100 feet further on. Popping the bonnet, I was dismayed when I observed that the front arm of the lower control wishbone had snapped in two and pulled about one inch apart!

You always try to pack for emergencies—belts, condenser, fuses, plugs. However, you always wonder what happens if something you don’t carry goes bad, because you can’t carry spares for every eventuality. Then I realized that I was in better shape than if, say, a wheel bearing went sour—a quick weld was all I needed and I’d be on my way.

I must have called 10 welding shops, or employees of welding shops, before I got a prospect at the Carlisle Truck Plaza, 12 miles down the road. They had a welder, it was portable, and they could do it. “Be there in 45 minutes,” I was told. An hour later I called to confirm whether they were coming. “Oh yeah, I’m leaving now,” said Ken.

Ken came, we assessed the situation, and maneuvered the jack and crowbar till we could get the control arm pieces to fit. Ken sparked up the torch for about 10 seconds, then emerging from under the car, he said, “Well that didn’t work.” Truer words were never spoken. “Metal’s too soft,” he said, as I looked at the bent, curled, smoking control arm tubes that used to be a clean break of about one inch!

I suggested getting some iron to make a sleeve, to at least give the A-arm some stiffness, if not lateral support. Ken left for Carlisle and then returned, an hour later, empty-handed, saying he had no metal with which to fabricate a sleeve. I handed over my Mastercard, which got over $70 added onto it. (“It’s the mileage that killed ya—I won’t charge you much for labor ‘cos I couldn’t help ya.” Yeah…thanks!)

Well, decision time arrived. It was 8:30 p.m., dark, getting chilly, and I really didn’t want to leave the TVR there, even if the toll plaza was a relatively safe hangout. The logistics of finding my way home on a Saturday night only to have to return for the car—fixed or not fixed—were unappealing. My wife was away at a convention and the dog would be needing his walk…decisions, decisions…why not? I’d be careful—I’d go real slow—I’d keep my flashers on.

As I had pulled into the toll plaza, I learned that braking threw—I mean THREW—the car to the left. So I resolved not to brake. As I got onto the on-ramp, I learned that any hard turning would make it difficult to decipher skittish overcorrection from A-arm breakdown.

As I slipped the car into fourth at about 30 mph, I started talking to my TVR. I periodically told my car how we were doing, how many miles we had covered, and—oh man!—how many more miles there were still to go. The ride was actually comfortable, but I was ever-mindful that just one extra twist could cause the other part of the arm to collapse, the left front would go down, the tire would scuff under the bonnet, misaligning it, and the tube frame would drop and screech against the asphalt till the car stopped or was hit from behind!

The car and I approached home ever so slowly, mile by agonizing mile. The last 20 miles on the ‘pike were riddled with potholes, loose expansion joints, poor patch jobs, and huge asphalt bumps. I was getting scared. I wasn’t even talking to the car now, just cursing the road surface!

As my exit approached, I steered slowly and went down through the gears slowly, braking lightly the last 30 feet to the toll booth. 10 miles later I got off the expressway, just a mile from my house, onto one of the worst stretches of asphalt you could ever drive over, and the reason why I did a complete front suspension overhaul over the winter.

So I went sloooowly, and three minutes and three turns later, I was in my driveway having driven 117 miles on a broken control arm.

I had been thinking of a name for my car for at least 90 miles, hoping I’d get a chance to name it in some private, silent, little ceremony. For service and courage, and strength beyond the call of duty, my TVR is now called HERCULES.

A name for me? Probably some thing a little less complimentary!

—Bob Rothstein

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