Keep new friends close, old friends closer
by Richard Lewis
True friends are rare. All of us have friends and acquaintances with whom we share good times and pleasant memories, but true friends are much rarer and deserve to be bound to us with hoops of steel. Such was the case with PBCA members Werner Kettelhack and Henry Hensel. They had forged a companionship with which they shared interests, details of their lives, and countless good times and adventures.
Henry was a vibrant person interested in all things mechanical, plus he had an eye for the arcane. He was constantly buying, repairing (sometimes), and selling cars, which you might expect from a person with his interests, but he was also an avid collector of anything and everything, from pinball machines to vintage clothing with which he posed mannequins, to unusual furniture, mirrors, gadgets, and indeed everything that caught his eye. And he was always on the lookout for a bargain.
Raised in Wisconsin, he was friends with a farm family whose patriarch was a collector of cars, most of which he stored in one of his barns. These cars covered the full range of British and Italian vehicles, most of which he did not drive on any regular schedule. Soon they were covered with dust. As he was not one to sell these cars, they rested over the years until almost fifty had passed.
Always interested in perhaps purchasing one or more of these cars, Henry met a stone wall until 2017, when the son of the patriarch decided to sell some of them and mentioned this new development to Henry. Henry shared this information with only two persons, one of whom was Werner. Plots immediately began to hatch.
Henry was no flying enthusiast, so they decided to make the drive, pulling a trailer, from Florida to Wisconsin. Bold, stout fellows. the night of June 23, 2017 was the targeted date -- until tragedy struck.
After they shared a cheerful dinner with their significant others, Alicia Bergeron and Ingrid Candelaria, Henry experienced a massive heart attack and died. His unexpected death devastated them all.
After Henry's death, Werner gave little thought to the cars until deciding that moving forward would be a fitting tribute to him. After contacting Butch, the patriarch's son, he made plans to purchase one of the cars, a 1957 Jaguar XK140.
Butch asked if he was interested in any of the others. A resounding "Yes!" followed and, despite a tight business schedule involving travel and having just become engaged to Alicia, Werner and his friend Jeff Martin jaunted off for Wisconsin. Towing a trailer and driving straight through with only an hour's rest, they arrived at Butch's house at 2:30 p.m.
Opening the old barn's doors revealed a treasure trove of cars -- not only the Jaguar, but Austin-Healeys, MGs, and myriad other cars, all British and Italian except for one Saab Sonett.
Werner's eye soon caught the prize of them all, a 1932 Lancia Artena Spider, with a four-cylinder engine, folding windscreen, usable convertible top, and a sliding pillar-type front suspension. By far the rarest of the cars present, Werner was immediately enthralled.
Although someone else had expressed interest in the car, Werner figured the quick draw of his checkbook would settle the deal. But Butch wanted cash and it was Saturday, with all banks closed. By the time dealing was over, Werner had bought not only the Jaguar, his intended original purchase, but the Lancia, the Saab Sonett, an Alfa Romeo GTV and two Healeys, a 4 and a 6.
What a barn find. Costly but worth it!
And all these added to his stable that already included a 1954 Jaguar XK120 and a 1969 Jaguar E-type. He was going to have to find a bigger storage space.
Having room for only one car in the trailer, Werner and Jeff took the Jaguar to Werner's sister's home a few hours away, grabbed some much-needed rest, and returned with a cashier's check for all the cars, which pleased Butch very much. They then brought the Lancia home to Pensacola and made plans for the transportation of the other cars, some of which are still to arrive.
Due to the very good state of the automobile, plans were made to preserve it in its original state, sans mechanical repair. Werner knew he had a gem in his possession, so he sought a spot at the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance in the "Pre-War European" category and showed his car at the 2019 event, where it drew a great deal of attention.
Henry would have been pleased.
April 2 - Breakfast at the Grand followed by Show and Executive Committees meeting to plan for the Brits on the Bay show and club activities.
April 13 - PBCA member Fred Veenshoten put- together a great event called a Ride Share, where everyone brought his/her car to be swapped and driven by everyone else. Franz Bachman's TR3 was there to share, as was Bob Manske's Jaguar XKR, Marc Cherry's E-type, Bill Moseley's TR8, and Fred's Morgan 3-wheeler. President Paul Salm drove almost all. Diner lunch followed, making it a great day.
April 15 - PBCA's monthly meeting focused on the upcoming show and especially stuffing the goody bags. All was ready for the premier Gulf Coast British car show, April 26-27.
April 26-27 - Brits on the Bay Welcoming Party and Show. Details next month.
May 4 - Brits on the Bay wrap-up. Details next month.
May 7 - Breakfast at the Grand and Executive Board meeting to follow in order to plan for club events, 10 a.m.
May 11 - Pensacola Cruisers Car Show at 5 Flags Speedway. Details via e-mail.
May 20 - PBCA monthly meeting at Sonny's BBQ, 7 p.m. Details via e-mail.
May 20-24 - TRA National Meet at Dillard, Ga. Details via e-mail.
May 31 - Fancy Friday on the Town, 6 p.m. Details
A lovely array of Triumph Spitfires and GT6s at our 2018 show. Hope you weren't one of the absentees at this year's 2019 Brits on the Bay, held April 26-27! Photo by Mike Japp
The barn find was all British and Italian cars, including this 1956 Jaguar XK140 FHC. - Photos by Werner Kettelhack
One of the Healeys Werner purchased, a 100-4, sees the light of day.
The Lancia: Buried under tarps for who knows how long;
The cockpit after a little cleaning;
The engine after some cleaning. Not a powerhouse, but a sturdy, reliable one.
Not only did Werner find a beautiful car, but much of the provenance with the car, such as this Artena Spider manual.
The Lancia, cleaned but unrestored, on its Amelia Island drive.