All of us should be so lucky (or so wise)
by Richard Lewis
“I bought us a sports car!” That was the message newly married college student Franz Bachmann breathlessly exclaimed to his wife and fellow student, Monica, while living in Angola, Ind., in 1971.
Paying $200 for the 1960 TR3, which even came with a parts car, and driving it home while sitting on an orange crate and looking at the road through the floor panels, Franz was filled with enthusiasm. Monica was soon filled with apprehension. What in the world were they going to do with a car that looked more suited for the junkyard than their driveway? Monica did what wives have done for generations, sucked in her breath and said, “Wonderful, dear. Just what we needed.”
Perhaps it was not as dire a situation as it first appeared. Franz was no stranger to things mechanical, born into a family involved in auto repairs and having been under the frame of a ’55 Chevy and under the hood of a number of muscle cars, both his and those belonging to friends, and later working in the industry.
Monica, too, was no neophyte to the wonders of all things automotive. Daughter of an auto parts owner, she had grown up paging through the vast catalogues that sat on every parts car shop desk before the advent of computers, and even became expert in installing windshields on a myriad of car models.
Studies occupied the attention of both Franz and Monica in the immediate future, but they still found time to get the TR into better running condition and do some cosmetic upgrades. Still, it was just “a driver” until later, when both felt it was time for a real effort regarding the car, so they both committed themselves to a ground-up restoration.
Everything came off and work started at the basic level. Not only did the body parts and interior get loving attention, but so did upgrades — such as a solid core radiator with an electric fan, halogen headlights, coolant recovery system, electronic ignition, electric fuel pumps, oil cooler, refurbished gauges, and stainless steel exhaust system, just to name a few. The car became a sparkling British Racing Green beauty.
2012 saw the completion of a long and arduous process. There was method behind their madness regarding all these upgrades, because they intended to use their now beautiful, lusty, solid TR3. “Use” is the operative word.
All too many of us finally get a car we prize and — that’s that. The car sits quietly in the garage, brought out for club events and an occasional driving experience. Your Loyal Correspondent (YLC) speaks from bitter experience. Not so the Bachmanns. From the beginning, they intended to do what sports cars were intended to do, use it to go places and do things.
By their own admission, they have put an average of 6,000 miles on the car each year since its restoration. They have driven to Pennsylvania, Kentucky and Wisconsin, to name a few of the states they have visited. They have been to the Vintage Triumph Registry (VTR) meet in Galveston, Tex., the Roadster Factory Summer Party in Pennsylvania, and the Triumph Registry of America (TRA) event in North Carolina.
Recognizing the limitations of the TR regarding luggage space, they created a small trailer to carry all the needed clothes and personal items, as well as an array of hard-to-access parts, which have proved valuable — such as when a brake caliper backed out on the road and a coil died in Lancaster, Pa. A simple thing like a carburetor float failed in Dallas, Tex., with no parts store in sight, but advanced planning saved the day.
They are anything but done with their traveling in the TR. Summer plans include the TRA National Meet in Painesville, Ohio, and the VTR Convention in Lake Texoma, Tex. There may be more.
Monica’s words sum up the Bachmann philosophy: “When we can, we go. I believe it brings us closer as we travel back roads instead of the Interstate, with no radio, no schedule, and few worries. We have made new friends, visited places we might have otherwise never seen, and have seen America in a way that is impossible from an airplane or train. I wouldn’t trade what we have done with this car for anything. It’s not our only sports car, but it has a special place in our heart. We plan to keep it forever and to use it during all that time.”
Wisdom from the mouth of a charming lady and what a lesson for us all! Having said all that, what has happened and what’s up?
March 18-20 — New Orleans was a great success, with four PBCA members enjoying a beautiful city and a wonderful car show.
March 19 — The Fairhope Arts and Crafts Show in Fairhope, Ala. This and New Orleans competed for attendees at the same time and New Orleans won.
March 25 — Fancy Friday at the Blackwater Bistro in Milton saw a dozen members enjoy good food and companionship in a restaurant housed in a historic residence from Milton’s gaudy past.
April 15-16 — PBCA’s Friday events and Red Beans and Rice Party and Saturday’s fabled “Brits on the Bay” Show comprised the premier British car event in Northwest Florida. More next time about the fabulous time participants had.
May 14 — Pensacola Historic Tour and lunch. More via e-mail.
May 21 — Bagdad Riverfront Festival Car Show. This event, along with a myriad of other activities and events, will mark the opening of the 22-acre park, located on the site of the historic Bagdad Mill, once the largest producer of yellow pine lumber in America. The park is situated on the confluence of Pond Creek and the Blackwater River and is a beautiful setting. Come for the car show and lots more.
June 4 — Euro Show at the Naval Aviation Museum, a great gathering of all cars European. This is a wonderful show. More details will follow.
June 25 — The Short and Sweet Rally and Lunch. A new event for us that will prove lots of fun. Join in.
Until next time, let the Bachmanns be your guide.