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Car History

A tale of two brothers

Once upon a time there were two brothers who were both into cars. One owned a 1960 Austin Healey 3000, the other a 1969 GTO. They both loved and did much work on their respective cars. Being as brothers generally are they were also quite competetive about the relative merits of their vehicles

One evening the brothers decided that they would switch cars for the night. The GTO owner would drive the Healey, and the Healey owner would drive the GTO. The deal was that if the brother broke the vehicle, then he was responsible for fixing it. This was sometime in the early 70's. Both brothers, being young men, took the cars out for an evening on the town.

The brother who owned the GTO really loved the way the Healey drove. But he was used to his big American muscle car. Being a wild young man on an evening out, at some point in the evening it was decided that doing "donuts" in people's front yards would be a good idea. It being California, snow was in short supply and the best place for doing "donuts" was grassy front yards.

All was well and good and for the young man it was great fun, for a while. Then, in the process of "donutting" in one yard the minimal clearance of the Healey was unerappreciated. Mid way though the spin he found himself high and dry on a large artifact in the ground. Considering the force of the impact, the car was seriously damaged. Now, it's not presently known whether the he could get the car out of the yard, or if he was caught there by the yard's owner. What we do know is that the damage to the car was serious enough that it had to be taken off the road. The transmission was damaged as well as a numer of other components on the car.

Now, remember the deal. If you broke it, you fix it. Well, as those sorts of deals go, the Healey sat for a long while. The owning brother bought many parts for the car, and started the repairs. But all things considered, there were any other things these young men needed to focus on. Items like starting careers, and later, families. So, the forlorn Healey sat there, unrepaired and undriven.

Time continues to pass, and the car still continued sit there in the garage at mother's house, both men having moved out and on to their lives. The statement from the owner was thet he'd get to it eventually. Time continues to pass and sadly, the brother who owned the car passes away. Also, mother passes away. The remaining brother holding on to things transports the Healey to where he now lives in Arizona. A storage facility is arranged for and the door shuts on our poor Healey

Years pass, and the door opens periodically, allowing our Healey to see the light. But every time it's only for the sake of adding or removing something else from the storage unit. Kid's items, old household items, and the like are put away next to the car. Our sad old girl starts to settle out on old rotten tires, wasting away in the dark.

Time passes, and as it turns out the brother is a friend and peer of mine at work. As much as I ramble and talk about cars he somehow hadn't ever heard me mention them. That day I happened to drive my current rattletrap Jensen Healey to work, it being a beautiful day, and wanting to drive a fun car. In idle conversation I mentioned driving the "Healey" to work (If I call it the "Jensen" no one ever knows what I'm talking about, but If I reference "Healey" they at least recognize the marque.) At this point he mentions, "Oh, I have an old Austin Healey in storage that I've been meaning to restore for years, but have neither the time or desire to get it out and work on it."

Now, for me, having an Austin Healey is one of my "Holy Grail Cars." I can't count the number of times I've heard my mum talk about her '67 British Racing Green car that she drove for years and then sold. I've grown up hearing stories from both parents about the cars they drove and sold, only to regret it years later: Aston Martins, Jaguar E-Types, Austin Healeys, Mini Coopers, etc, etc. My parents are both car enthusiasts, and have driven many beautiful cars over the years. If I learned only one thing from these stories, it was to grab hold of these cars and never let them go!

Upon hearing about the car I immediately offered to buy it. You don't just stumble across an Austin Healey 3000 every day! (actually this is the second one I've "stumbled" across, but that's another story for another day.) He was quite suprised that I didn't even want to look at it first, and didn't know what sort of price he should ask. He wanted to make sure that I knew what I was in for with the car, so refused to sell it to me until I'd seen it. So we agreed that he'd bring in the keys to the storage unit and we'd go by and take a look at the car. I knew, that regardless of the condition I would buy it from him provided he didn't want some astronomical sum.

The better part of a year passes. He continually forgets to bring in the keys to the unit. In this time we talk often sit and talk about the cars we've owned and restored. It turns out that despite the love of his GTO, he really loved an old MG Midget he owned the most, even though it did things like have the hood fly off one day while he was driving it. I told him about my present projects and process, and about the other cars I'd had and driven over the years. (Speaking of letting a car go, I'm still totally pissed at myself for letting my 1953 Sunbeam Talbot Alpine go. I couln't afford to get it from Texas to Arizona at the time and it eventually was sold to someone local to Texas because it was sitting at my friend's parent's house taking up space.)

Finally, one day, he remembered to bring the keys to the unit. We drive out during lunch to see the car. He opens the unit and all I see is beauty. Mind you my cell phone pictures on the car page show you what was really seen. Then he showed me the piles of parts sitting around ready to go on the car. I'm standing there drooling, just wanting to get my hands on the car. Then, the biggest suprise of all occurs. He says, "You can have the car, I'll give it to you because I know you'll restore it correctly and get it out on the road where it belongs." I couldn't believe it. He wanted to give me the car! At first I countered, offering to pay him for it. I immediately felt guilty about taking such a car for free. But he refused my offers.

So, not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I accepted. We went back to work and he left the unit keys with me so I could pick up the car. I knew the tires were shot when I looked at it. And, having learned the hard way over the years, I knew it would be best to get new tires and tubes on the rims before moving it. We put the car up on stands, knocked off the hubs and pulled the wheels. A couple wheels really didn't want to come off, having been sitting there for over 20 years. Within a week we had fresh tires on the car thanks to the knowledge of Tom at Coventry Motorsports in Phoenix (He's a really nice guy by the way, and has helped me on a nuber of occasions).

Then, it was a matter of a trailer, a lot of pushing and pulling, and then a piling into the truck bed of the parts and we were off. After a quick clean and repacking of the loose parts we had to put her back into storage again (and I feel so bad about having my poor cars sitting in a storage unit). So as soon as my green Jensen Healey and my Lark hot rod are done she'll be in the garage getting the care and restoration she deserves!

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Contents copyright 2008, 2009 - Jody F. Kerr

All references to They Might Be Giants are fan references only. John & John I hope you don't mind! And if you're ever in Phoenix stop by for a visit!

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