Panhandle British Car Association: May 2002 Newsletter




May 2002

As published in the May 2002 edition of the "British Marque" newspaper.
President: Ron Newman
Contributing Editor: Tom Schmitz (251)961-7171

New Venue in New Orleans

The new venue for the New Orleans British Car Show at Delgato College worked very well and the eight PBCA cars represented us quite well. Most of our group attended the Friday evening party at the host hotel and stayed for the Awards dinner Saturday evening, enjoying a great meal prepared by the college's culinary arts school.

Those making the trip were Keith and Nelda Sanders with their MGC-GT which took 2nd in Class. Bob and Margaret Henson took their E-type and entered it in both the regular show, winning a 3rd place, and the Jaguar Concours, taking 1st place. Go figure that one....peoples choice vs judged.

Bill and Melissa Silhan took the 49 Triumph 2000 and received a 1st. Additional Triumphs, were well represented by Pete and Norma Peterson whose Spitfire took 1st, Mike and Cherie Japp's Spitfire took 3rd and Ron and Sylvia Newman's TR8 took 2nd in their class.

Tom and Jeanne Schmitz brought the 71 MGB GT that he bought for his sister and will be delivering to her in Wisconsin after the Pensacola Beach Show. It will take a 1st place trophy with it when it goes to north.

This was another excellent New Orleans Show and everyone voiced their opinions that the new location worked well and should become permanent.

Bellingrath Camellia Car Show Biggest Ever

Bellingrath Gardens hosted 317 collector cars April 6 for the largest car show in the Mobile, Alabama, area ever. While PBCA was only a very small part of that attendance, we still enjoyed the beautiful day, the pleasant drive to the Gardens and the opportunity to see some very nice cars. Bill and Melissa Silhan took his Aston Martin and brought home a Third in the British Class, Dieter and Inge Bruening took Second. Pete and Norma Peterson came with their Triumph motorcycle and brought home a trophy. Also, caravaning over were Bill Moseley, TR8 Ron and Sylvia Newman, TR8, Tom Schmitz, MGA Coupe.

Fly In Picnic Windy But Fun

Lay out a good picnic spread, an interesting location and beautiful weather, except for a stiff wind all day, and you have the ingredients which made for a most enjoyable day April 7. Twenty seven members with their LBCs and several BBCs (Jag XJ6s) drove to Chumuckla, Florida, to the air field where Dick and Mitzi Maddux keep their airplane. The stiff cross wind which blew all day kept us on the ground and thwarted our desires to take rides in a 1939 Stearman biplane but we still had a fun time seeing other planes there and talking with a number of Dick's pilot friends, some of whom have both their hangers and homes next to the airstrip. We received quite an education from a gentleman who is in the business of rebuilding, certifying and selling British Bulldog airplanes. They are small two place planes previously used for flight training by the British Air Force but now replaced by newer models and being sold to the public.

Making the trip were (please forgive errors as your editor is doing this from memory): Ron Newman and Pepe in the TR8; Keith, Nelda and Bill Sanders, MGCs; Tom and Jeanne Schmitz, Austin Mini Cooper S; Fred and Susan Morgan; Frank and Pat Hubbard; Gus and Ann Fell, XJ6; Dieter and Inge Bruening, XJ6; Bill and Elaine Cornacchione, Morgan; Wally and Sue Lord, MGB; Bill and Gail Snyder; Jeff and Marie Olive; Craig Hurt; Joe Hajcak; and, of course, our hosts, Dick and Mitzi Maddux with their TR3.

This was a very nice day, gave our cars an easy work out and hopefully will be repeated in the future and even more PBCA members can join the fun.

(Third in the PBCA "Members' Cars Series")

Twenty Years With My Spitfire!

by Mike Japp, PBCA webmaster

Others may have had their Spitfires longer than I have, but it's hard to believe that twenty years has gone by since my Dad bought for me a 1977 Triumph Spitfire from the original owner. I have enjoyed my twenty years with the car. Not many can say they still have their first car, twenty years later?

In 1981 when my Dad showed me this yellow sports car convertible. I was 15 and a month from my birthday. The block was cracked so Dad located a replacement engine, installed it and rebuilt the carburetor. He then taught me how to drive a standard-shift. For the next six years I drove the car to high school and college, to beaches and even delivered pizzas part-time. I drove it to Cape Canaveral, FL to watch the second space shuttle launch. The water pump blew there and had to be replaced to drive back. We paid a mechanic for the job that I later learned how to do myself. Later on I did replace the rear leaf spring and differential myself.

It was impressed upon me forever to never, ever sell the Spitfire when I was 20-years old and working at a gas station. During a year's time, about 20 different men in their 40's, 50's, and 60's would notice my Spitfire on the side of the building and ask about it. They would say that they had one when they were my age or that they had an Austin Healey, or an MGB, or TR6 or etc. But they always ended their story with this: "... but I sold it when I was in my 20's and I have regretted it ever since." If it had been only one or two men that said this to me, no big deal. But it was about 20 different men who told me that they had "regretted it ever since." I did not want that regret, so I vowed to always keep my Spitfire no matter what.

In 1987 I joined the US Navy and stored my Spitfire in Mom's garage for a year, then towed the Spitfire 500 miles to Jacksonville, FL and used a 24-hour storage unit as my garage because I was living in the barracks. On weekends I would repair, improve, and drive the car around Jacksonville. One side of the front hubs began sqeaking badly, so I ordered new inner and outer wheel bearings and replaced them following the instructions in the Haynes manual. My barracks roommate used to love the times that I let him drive the flashy yellow convertible and he said it was a blast.

The next year I moved into a house with two other Navy guys and they let me use the garage for my Spitfire. When I replaced the carpet, I discovered the floor pans were quite rusted on the surface. So I sanded all the rust and old paint, spray it with a rust-prevention treatment, and then sealed it with undercoating compound because I knew that water would once again find it's way into the car. Then the new carpet went in.

The day before I started my Christmas leave in 1989, the carb of my Toyota broke and I could not fix it in time to travel to drive home, so I drove the Spitfire. Unfortunately it didn't make the return trip. About an hour into the return trip, the engine started banging loudly. So I had have it towed back to Mom's house where it sat in her garage for a year until I switched to the Naval Reserves. That was when my friend Tom and I were finally able to pull the engine and remove the oil pan. We discovered a damanaged rod bearing.We took the engine to a professional who only charged me $150 for labor in addition to the parts and machine shop cost, for a total of total $930. After installing the repaired engine, I was back in the Spitfire's saddle.

I moved to Pensacola, FL and the Spitfire went back into Mom's garage for a few years while I attended classes, worked part-time, and fullfilled my Navy Reserve obligation. But I never gave up on my Spitfire!

After I graduated, I finally got my Spitfire to Pensacola. There I worked on rebuilding the brakes, fuel pump, and worked on the electronics. I joined a local club, the Panhandle British Car Association, and had fun going to shows and learning from the experienced guys.

The shows made me realize that my car was due for bodywork and paint. So I bought a house with a large shop and took the Spitfire apart. I removed the engine, transmission, bumpers, tail lights, turn signals, door handles, the interior and all devices from the engine compartment firewall. Then rolled the body onto a trailer to take it to the body shop. I have a personal Spitfire website with pictures of my car's restoration along the way.

Other Triumphs may come and go in my life, but I will never give up on my first car, my Triumph Spitfire 1500. Happy motoring and stay safe!

Mike A. Japp

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