Can a Healey guy get along with a TR bloke?
I can’t get the yellow TR6 out of my head. The car screamed seventies’ 8-tracks and shag carpet. It was an unusual shade of color and I’m surprised I liked it as well as I did. I wouldn’t have thought a car could pull it off. The bigger surprise, however, was meeting the driver, Bryan Passman.
As I stood staring at the car, a gruff, grizzly man with huge shoulders and a big grin approached me. “That’s Colonel Mustard,” Bryan said proudly. “He’s my daily driver.” He walked me around the car and with only the slightest provocation a friendly debate ensued about whose straight six was the best. An utterly pointless yet endlessly entertaining argument that would spawn a great friendship.
The Six is the kind of car that’s owned by bare knuckle boxers and folks with handle bar mustaches. It’s at home parked in front of the local pub or barber shop. Driving a TR6 is akin to receiving a right cross to the jaw and asking, “Please sir, may I have another?” You’ll find yourself in a world of scotch and cigars, inappropriate hand gestures and open challenges of all sorts. Restraint is the exception not the standard, and your imagination explodes with images of bar room brawls the world over started by blokes trying to match the sheer masculinity of their cars. Folks who drive this TR are most certainly a breed apart. They have five o’clock shadows shortly after breakfast, and above all, enjoy seeing Big Healeys in their rear view instead of in front of them. At least Bryan does.
Bryan said half jokingly, “When I got my car I added another tattoo, when you got your Healey you most likely bought another derby hat.” He was right, of course. I have many at this point. Like myself, Bryan is the second generation owner of The Colonel and by naming his son Preston Maxwell he has ensured that the car will see a third generation inside The Family. He remembers fondly the day his uncle Corey showed up with the TR and a cigar. “I always wanted a muscle car right up to the point I heard that straight six rumbling towards me with plumes of smoke streaming from the driver.” Bryan instantly grew a beard at the sight of Colonel Mustard and his wife Jessica was elated they finally had an old car in the family. Uncle Corey restored the car and couldn’t think of anyone more deserving, or manly, to give this British street fighter to. The Passmans joined their uncle’s British car club and soon became key players in planning events and keeping the tradition of British motoring strong in the community.
Driving in The Colonel with Bryan is a firm reminder of how to drive a proper British Sports car.
Bryan pushes the car hard into the twisties, braking late and getting on the gas early. I said out loud, “A little aggressive today, eh Bryan?” He gave me a wry smile and said, “A Healey man would say that.” The TR6 screams down the tree-laced roads, the overhead valve symphony loudly proclaiming “British or die!” and the six is hungry for some action. The gearbox, in classic British fashion, has just the right amount of throw and the gearing suits Bryan’s driving style. We finally reach a stoplight, and after a few moments of silence Bryan simply states, “Fuel injection is garbage.” Definitely my kind of guy.
Now the TR spirit is taking over me and I can finally see the single malt man emerging. This car grabs you in a primal way.
“I love the smell of exhaust in the morning,” Bryan says. “Why wake up and drive a computer when you have to sit in front of one all day?” He explains his reluctance of having Jessica drive the TR6 for fear of her growing chest hair, and beating him to death with a Maglite upon returning from her drive. Still, he wisely relents to her requests. The car has affected everyone in one way or another. Murphy, the family dog used to be a sweetheart, but now if a stranger approaches the Triumph he starts to growl and foam at the mouth. A proper British sports car dog!
Bryan tried to explain how “the car knows when I need it to brake.” A concept I don’t yet fully understand; it must be a Triumph thing. As we arrive at our destination, I’m grateful I’m still in one piece and Bryan has thoroughly put my driving habits to shame. He lights his cigar and says in reflection, “The only problem I have with this car is I was hoping to buy something to work on, but nothing on this car likes to break.”
There are many more granite-jawed TR guys like him who uphold the proud tradition, but this one is my friend and I shall keep fiddling with my Healey until one day Colonel Mustard is in my rearview.
But now, every morning, most likely on purpose, I am startled from my sleep by a faint echo that grows into a cacophonous howl. The Colonel’s route to work passes my house and has made itself my alarm clock. I am reminded of what my dad used to say—“If you ever need a dose of manliness, get yourself a TR, that should fix it relatively quickly.”
By David Allen Prado
Photos by Andy Medina