A car for all seasons
by Richard Lewis
How many of us buy a British car, perhaps do some work on it, drive it to car club meetings and events, rarely drive it any real distance, and allow it to rest and recover in a garage for the vast majority of the time? How many of us? Not so with a couple of PBCA car owners!
Franz Bachman, always assisted, encouraged and accompanied by wife Monica, is one of those people. Allow Your Loyal Correspondent (YLC) to spin a tale.
Franz developed an early affinity for cars, first buying a 1957 Simca and then a ’55 Chevy, a stunningly beautiful car, and always doing the repairs himself, having started working as a 15- year-old apprentice mechanic with his father. He then bought another one of the iconic ’50s Chevrolets, a ’57, perhaps even more beautiful than the ’55. However, love intruded when he met Monica, and he sold the Chevy in order to purchase an engagement ring (wisdom, at an early age!). Along the way he did a stint in the Navy, serving as an engine room technician, servicing and repairing diesel engines, air conditioning equipment, small boat engines, and whatever needed to be done.
After leaving the Navy Franz enrolled in college, earning a business degree. Then came a series of jobs, all related to the repair and transportation industries, working as a manager for North American Van Lines, Reed Lines, and even operating his own small van line. He also spent time as a mechanic and supervisor for repair shops.
It was during this time that he bought his first British car, a 1960 TR3B, for the princely sum of $200 and he got a parts car to boot. The TR was not yet drivable, but he applied all his magic to it and soon had it serviceable, driving it for a few years and then parking it in his garage where it sat for a long time.
Don’t neglect the power of going to car shows, for it was at the South Alabama British Car Club (SABCC) show in Fairhope that he saw a gorgeous TR3 and was inspired to go back to his TR and make it likewise. Soon began a full ground-up restoration with body-part replacements and an engine rebuild. He also decided to make his TR better than the ones that came off the assembly line in Coventry. The list of upgrades he did is a lengthy one, including a conversion to negative ground, a one-wire self-exciting alternator (sounds sexy, yes?), a five-slot fuse block to handle the upgrades, LED lights for the turn and brake lights, halogen headlights, an electric cooling fan with manual override, a coolant recovery system, an additional electric fuel pump in case of mechanical pump failure, an electronic ignition system, a TR4 overdrive, a spin-on oil filter, an oil cooler, and better MGB wipers for greater efficiency.
Now he and Monica had a car that could go anywhere — and anywhere is where they would go. Soon they were off to shows and events over much of America, including Galveston and Amarillo, Tex., Scranton, Edinburg, and Armgh, Pa., Geneva, Wisc., Detroit, Mich., Key West, Fla., and several others, all on back roads when possible. Finding the TR cramped for luggage space, they constructed a trailer in 2012 to tow behind it.
They estimate they have driven the TR 25,000 miles. These are serious travelers, getting the most out of their car. Is Monica happy about all this? According to her, “Tell me where we’re going and I will be packed in 15 minutes!”
These two free-range travelers have done what most of us wish we might have done — take to the open, back roads with brio and verve and see America. And it ain’t over. There’s more to come. Happy trails to you, Monica and Franz.
Let’s see what else is going on. Recently:
September 22 — Fancy Friday on the Town found a group of fourteen merrymakers at the Bonefish Grill for good conversation, libations and food. Tim Maynard kindly took on all responsibilities for this fun event while YLC went gallivanting. Thanks, Tim.
September 23 — Dog Days Rally. Once again, YLC avoided his responsibilities when Bob Manske kindly took over while YLC continued to gallivant. This event is one in which we all can take pride, as PBCA members and friends donated pet food and cash to assist the fine work done by the Pensacola Humane Society. Thanks, Bob, and thanks to all who contributed.
September 30 — Ice Cream Social, hosted by the SABCC at the Cunninghams’ Garagemahal. Always a great event, with a big turnout of about 80 gluttons. Thanks to all.
October 3 — Breakfast at the Grand, followed by the Brits on the Bay Show Committee. Work progresses towards the premier car show in Northwest Florida.
October 11 — PBCA Executive Board meeting, chaired by Tim Maynard in President Paul Salm’s absence. Planning on Club activities continues.
October 13-14 — SABCC Welcoming Party & Show. This always draws a good crowd from area car clubs, with PBCA sending quite a delegation. Thanks, SABCC, for another fine showing. Upcoming (as of this writing):
October 21 — At the First City Arts Center at 5 p.m., Henry Hensen’s Halloween Celebration of Life. We still mourn the loss of our good friend and PBCA member Henry. As he would have wished, his friends will be with him as all remember him fondly and raise a glass in his honor. Details via e-mail.
November 4 — Tour of Bob Manske’s garage, a peek at the cleanest (and most wonderfully laid-out) garage you might see this decade (excepting that of Taber Tompkins). Details via e-mail. Thanks, Bob and Risa, for allowing us to come.
November 7 — Breakfast at the Grand, followed by the Show Committee meeting. All are welcome and will receive details via e-mail.
November 11 — Cunningham’s Garage Swap Meet, where you can sell and swap parts. Details via e-mail.
November 11 — Movie Under the Stars, 5 p.m. Hosted by Marc Cherry, with details to follow.
November 12 — Executive Board planning session at Lewis residence, 5 to 7 p.m., to plan for 2018 club activities. All are welcome. Details via e-mail. November 17 — Fancy Friday on the Town, 6 p.m. Details via e-mail.
November 18 — Hurricane Relief Fundraiser Car Show. Mike King is the lead on this and details will follow via e-mail.
November 20 — PBCA monthly meeting at Sonny’s BBQ. Dinner at 6 p.m., meeting at 7 p.m. Details via e-mail.
Until we meet again, never try to light your cigar on the spark from your LBC.
The Bachmans restore their TR3. From top: Monica jumping the gun.
Franz knowing there’s lots more to follow.
Observing that restoration is sometimes untidy work!
The Bachman TR3 and trailer out West.
Even the Bachman cat admires the finished product.