Sunday, October 4, 2015

2015 Battle of the Brits: Austin-Healey

It's been a busy couple of weeks, so my 2015 Battle of the Brits photoblogging has lagged. But let's pick it back up with some of the prettiest British sports cars ever made: the Big Healeys of the 1950s and 1960s.

Here's a genuinely early Austin-Healey, a 1954 100 BN1 with only 26,000 miles, still wearing its original paint. The original owner owned it for more than 60 years:

A late Big Healey next to an early Big Healey: a 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III (left) and a 1955 Austin Healey 100-4 (right):

Notice the fold-down windshield on the 100-4? Sporty!

Pretty soon the Big Healeys gained a large 6-cylinder engine and the 100 line morphed into the 3000 line. The 3000s were more powerful and more sophisticated, but every bit as pretty as the early cars:

1962 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk II.

1964 Austin-Healey 3000 MkIII.

1967 Austin Healey 3000 Mk III.

You can see increasing luxury and sophistication in the dashboards, too. Here's the dash from that 1954 100 BN1:

And here are a couple of dashes from later 3000 models:

Alas, I didn't get any good pictures of Austin-Healey Sprites this year, so that's it for Austin-Healey. And since I didn't win the big PowerBall jackpot last weekend, that might be the last batch of Big Healeys in this neighborhood until next year's Battle of the Brits.

Coming next for 2015 Battle of the Brits photos? The Grand Finale: everything else!

P.S. Links to the other Battle of the Brits posts:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2015 Battle of the Brits: Jaguars

Time for another batch o'photos from last weekend's Battle of the Brits. Today we have the Jaguars. We'll set forth in more or less chronological order of manufacture:

A 1953 XK120 next to a 1966 XJ13 ... well, almost certainly an XJ13 replica, since the original one-of-one XJ13 prototype is supposedly still at the Heritage Motor Centre Museum in England. The XJ13 was a mid-engine V12 racing prototype developed in the mid-60s. It never actually raced, but it's still a great-looking car.

XKEs. I still looooove those swoopy E-Types:

There were a couple of great-looking Mark II saloons in the mix:

Also among the saloons, this 1987 XJ6 Series III, forerunner to our own beloved 1999 XJ Vanden Plas Supercharged and still one of the best-looking sedans ever made.

1976 XJ-C: That era of XJ also came as a coupe for a few years. These have really grown on me.

A V12 XJS. The XJS always got a bit of a bad rap because it came in as the successor to the incredibly lovely and successful XKE. But if you take it on its own you realize it's a pretty darn nice car.

Man, that V12 engine looks complicated.

Here's another XJS, this one from the front. They have a really pretty line.

A 2002 XKR convertible. These are pretty crazy cars, since they take the 370-hp supercharged V8 engine from the XJR sedan and cram it into two-door convertible weighing several hundred pounds less.

And hey, there was even a new Jaguar on the field, a 2015 F-Type coupe, here next to a 1994 XJS convertible:

That's a pretty car.

Which was my favorite Jaguar of the day? Well, I have to admit that it was one that wasn't on the field, but was instead parked out in the parking lot: a 1999 Jaguar Vanden Plas Supercharged Saloon.

Even after looking at great Jaguars all day long, Big Smoky still hits the spot.

P.S. Links to the other Battle of the Brits posts:

Thursday, September 17, 2015

2015 Battle of the Brits: Triumph

Yes, it's time for another round of photos from last weekend's Battle of the Brits car show. Today's marque? Triumphs.

For some reason I didn't take a ton of Triumph photos this time around, though they're the second-most common marque at the show. (Trailing the MGs, natch.) Maybe it's because so many of them had their hoods up for display and judging purposes. When I take car photos I usually try to capture the lines of the car. Having the hood up pretty much puts the kibosh on that. In any case here are a few that caught my eye, presented in more or less chronological order of their manufacture.

I liked this unrestored TR3. It looked as if it's been well enjoyed over the years.





Want to own your own British sports car without spending a lot of money? The MGB is usually your best option. (As they once said about Packards, "Ask the man who owns one.") But if you really want to own a Triumph, here's a pretty British racing green TR6 that was for sale for only $6,800. It was pretty worn in places, especially the dash. But at quick glance the body looked pretty solid. I suspect somebody's going to have a lot of inexpensive fun with this one.

Finally, the extremely wedgy TR7s and TR8s.

The aluminum block, eight-cylinder, 3.5L Rover V8 in a TR8.

British Leyland introduced the TR7 1974 with the expectation that it would eventually replace both the TR6 and the MGB. The TR7 line ran from 1974 to 1981. The V8-powered TR8 was introduced in 1979 as a more powerful option and also was manufactured until 1981. Since British Leyland put the development money to create a new car into the more upscale Triumph line instead of replacing the 11-year-old MGB, the MGB was updated with several much-less expensive design changes in 1974, including the much maligned rubber bumpers and smog equipment to handle changing US impact and air-pollution regulations. MGB production then continued until 1980, nearly outlasting the car that was supposed to replace it, a point of pride among MGB owners across the globe.

That's it for the Triumphs this year. There were lots and lots of other pretty Triumphs at the show, but I just didn't get many good pictures. Oh well. Next up? Jaguars.

P.S. Links to the other Battle of the Brits posts:

Sunday, September 13, 2015

2015 Battle of the Brits: MGs

This year's Battle of the Brits took place Sunday, September 13, at Camp Dearborn in Milford, Michigan. As usual, I took way too many pictures. I could try culling that big pile to the best half-dozen, one for each marque or somesuch, but part of what makes the Battle of the Brits great is the sheer quantity of cool old British cars.

So, I'm just going to divide them up into a few big posts:

The biggest pile belongs, of course, to the MGs. So let's get started.

The FUN MG and I pulled into our spot around 9:30. A big show like this takes a lot of coordination, and the Detroit Triumph Sports Car Club does a great job of running the car side of the show each year. (The Metro Triumph Riders run the motorcycle side of the show. Sorry British bike fans, but it's pretty much all car photos from here out. I walked through the bikes and enjoyed the sights, but there's just too much on display to take photos of everything.)

The FUN MG was looking its shiniest after a Saturday night wash and wax:

Any suspense about whether the FUN MG could repeat its unlikely first-in-class from last year (when dubious weather kept all the really nice 74-1/2 to '76 rubber-bumper Bs at home) was short-lived. The Black '75 B at the top of the photo above just completed an unbelievably nice three-year restoration.

Check out its engine bay:

There are lots of great details in there, but I think my favorite thing is the little rack with four extra spark plugs. You know ... in case you're driving along and decide to pull over on the shoulder and do a quick tune up.

After conceding this year's title and giving the FUN MG a few last-minute buffs it was time to wander around the show and take some pictures.

Let's start with some MGTs:

How about some MGAs? These are about as pretty a car as has ever been made anywhere.

This is an MGA Coupe, the hard-top version of the MGA. You don't see a lot of them around, but they've got a great rounded look.


Let's take another quick swing by the FUN MG, now in full sunlight:

Holy cow, it's in the middle of a veritable swarm of black rubber-bumper MGBs!

And now, off to see the rest of the MGBs:

When cars win their class three times they get promoted to the "Preservation Class," a group of cars that are really the best of the best in Metro Detroit. Here are a few of the best:

A 1980 MGB Limited Edition.

An MGC and that same MGB LE.



Uh-oh. Back at the FUN MG the judges stopped by for a look.

They even wanted to see under the hood, which really made me wish I'd opened the hood and washed the bugs off the radiator when I was washing and waxing the night before.

Judging complete, it was time to wander back out among the MGs. Let's take a look at some of the zippier MGs.

This is an MGC. It came from the factory with a 2.9L straight-six engine that produced 50% more power than the four-cylinder engine in MGBs.

What's that you say? Six cylinders isn't enough? I've got a deal for you. Only a very few factory-made MGB V8s ever made it to America, but that hasn't stopped folks from going down Carroll Shelby's path and shoving a big V8 in a little British sports car.

Here's a B with a 5.0L Ford Mustang engine:

And here's one with a Buick 300 V8:

I reckon those two cars would get you to the grocery store promptly.

Today's final MG? A rare sight in the US, a 1996 MGF. These were built by the Rover Group from 1995 until the MG Rover Group went under in 2005. They were never cleared for US regulations or sold new in the US, which means that they can't be imported to the States until they are at least 25 years old. However, some of them have made it to Canada, and the Battle of the Brits was just a quick hop across the Detroit River away.

And that's about it for MGs at this year's Battle of the Brits. 

The FUN MG and I had a great time at the show, and a great time taking the scenic route home.

Next marque? Triumphs!