In fact, they came and went. On April Fools Day, we visited the 33rd annual British Car Show at Mead Garden in Winter Park. It’s held every spring, and if you keep an eye on the Mead Garden or Central Florida British Car Club websites, you’ll know when the next one comes up.
New Jaguar, Mini, and Lotus vehicles are still for sale in the US. While MG, Triumph, and Sunbeam haven’t been sold on our shores in over thirty years.
After three decades, these small British sports cars that returning soldiers brought home after World War II have been quietly fading away, lost to old age, neglect, rust, or a combination of all three. They’ve been forgotten by today’s average driver.
When I was in high school, it was common to see one or two British sports cars in the parking lot. They were cheap, and easy to repair. Many young mechanics started their career by keeping their own vehicles running. And others have fond memories of how they attended college in one.
Generally, no special tools were needed to keep them running. If you truly needed something special, you could modify an existing tool or cobble one together to work on these cars. My dad still has an old wooden ammo box filled with home made “special” tools.
As these young mechanics had families, two seats weren’t enough for the family car. Most were replaced by more family-friendly modern vehicles.
It’s rare these days that you see an antique British vehicle on the road. Most are in the loving care of “senior” drivers, re-living their youth in vehicles restored when they retired. These cars are only driven on perfect days.
For this year’s British Car Show, 173 of these vehicles gathered under the ancient oak canopy at Mead Garden. Signs help identify the groupings of vehicles by make and model, but there were a few that stood out as the only one in their class.
For instance, this year there was a lone Marcos. I had seen my first Marcos at this show many years ago. Today there was a couple fellows circling it, trying to decide what it was. After hearing one guess that it must have been a “kit car,” I smiled and said, oh no, it’s one of the most obscure British cars that most Americans have ever heard of. They were sold in the US from the early ’70s to the early ’80s, probably less than ten years.
Seeing all the beautiful cars still puts a smile on my face. Running into old friends who are still driving these cars makes visiting this show even better.
I’ll always have a love for old British sports cars. But after driving a little Mazda Miata for over 15 years of nearly trouble free driving, I can understand how it stole the hearts of American drivers away from the British.