Panhandle British Car Association: March 2011 Newsletter

PBCA masthead from British Marque




March 2011

Contributing Editor: Richard Lewis
President: Bob Manske

My E-type gets lucky

by Vince Cooke

This is a short story about getting my Series-II E-type Jag's parking brake fixed. Sounds simple, doesn't it? Not quite. First, for those of you who don't own an E-Type, the parking brake assembly is mounted on top of the rear end differential, in the most awkward position possible. Isn't that so typically Jaguar? So off to my favorite Pensacola Jaguar expert, Ian Brown. In a prior life, Ian was Jaguar's North American tech rep. There was nothing about an E-type that got by Ian. And Ian only 18 months prior had totally overhauled and completely rebuilt my engine.

That was another story that began with my master brake cylinder, but after driving the car into his garage, one thing led to another, and not unexpectedly, I might add.

But getting back to the parking brake... when Ian put the car on his lift in February 2010, he informed me that the rear end had other issues of more significance than the parking brake. Of course, since he was going to have to take the entire rear end down to renew the parking brake assembly, it made sense to attend to the other issues as well, and so began my rear end odyssey.

You have to also understand that Ian was not in the best of health and thus it was that not until the end of April 2010 had Ian completely removed and disassembled the rear end from the car, removed the car from his lift, and placed it on jacks under his shed roof. He then proceeded to order every part he found to require replacement, and in the meantime he was in and out of the hospital with one ailment or another. Finally, in June after being unable to contact him, I learned from a PBCA club associate that Ian was extremely ill in the hospital where he had been for some time. A few days later, I was informed that Ian had died. I thought what a tragic loss had occurred to the Jaguar community in Pensacola, and of course, my next thought was how I was going to get the rear end of my E-type together since my wife and I were then in Colorado Springs spending the summer with our two children and three of our grandchildren. I expected to have to remove the car somehow and get all of the parts strewn about his garage together and get it all shipped to someone else, provided I could find someone competent enough to pick up where Ian had left off.

I was in the midst of making arrangements with one of the PBCA club members, Mike Darby, who agreed to take on the project and work out the shipping arrangements, when as luck would have it I came upon another club member, Michael Bamford, who was assisting Ian's estate executor in selling off Ian's cars and locating the owners of the work that Ian had in progress. When I informed Michael of my plans to get the car moved from Pensacola to Robertsdale, Alabama, he informed me that he had been working with Ian in the disassembly of my rear end and that he could put it all back together. He went on to state that the only reason he had avoided Jaguars was that he and Ian had mutually agreed, rather informally, that Michael would look after all high-end marques and all British cars except Jaguars and Ian would stick almost completely with Jaguars.

And so it was that Michael, an angel if there ever was one, assisted by Keith Barber, stepped up and took on the project. Of course it took up a lot of his time, as well as a fair piece of change from my pocket (as expected), but Michael made great progress as he went on to discover new issues with the rear end assembly that might have been passable for a while. But as I said to Michael, "Repair this as though it was your own," and he did. Some parts were replaced, but almost all of the rear end parts had to be hand-massaged to eliminate the years of road crud and just age acting on the metal. All was back together in remarkable condition by mid-December when I was able to show it off in the Lillian, Alabama Christmas parade.

I have nothing but the most profound and admiration for Michael's professionalism and attention to detail in completing this project. I am delighted with how my E-type performs, and it alternates with my '91 Corvette in being driven around town on routine errands catching quite a few admiring glances and comments.

Thanks Michael and Keith.

PBCA members brave chilly Florida weather for annual event

by Richard Lewis

Fast cars, loose women, flowing champagne---alas, none of these were present at the second annual Slow Race, sponsored by the Panhandle British Car Association on January 22, Drawing six racers, the Slow Race, held in rural Allentown, Florida on a beautiful 22 mile country road course, is conducted with strict rules which, we are happy to say, all participants obeyed with Prussian-like rigor.

The rules are simple, yet demanding. They require that each car have a working speedometer and both a driver and a navigator, who are provided with a course map and a written copy of the guidelines, for ready reference. Neither GPS’s nor cruise control devices are permitted. All racers are limited to a maximum speed of 45 mph at any time and must obey all traffic rules and speed limits, which ranged over this course from 15 mph to 55.

Penalties of one minute of additional time are added to the over-the-course time for any and each infractions, which are recorded and reported to the judges by the navigator. Confidence was high that all violations would be rigorously reported, because, in every case save one, the driver’s wife served as navigator.

Additionally, racers were invited to pick up a playing card cached at three locations, which would be combined into a three-card Poker Hand at the end of the race.

Despite the cold weather and stiff winds (well, 38 degrees and a breeze-remember, this is Florida, not Minnesota), drivers were in place at starting time and left at two minute intervals.

There was great weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth when all the racers except two failed to stop at the stop sign located a few feet from the starting line. Despite intense murmuring, the judges were unmoved by cries of “foul.”

Speeding over the course in a record-breaking 47:27 time, Darla and Rich Willows drove their Austin Healey 100 to a first place victory, with PBCA President Bob Manske and wife Risa close behind in their MCTD, with a 49:56 time for second. Coming in third with a respectable 52:12 was Gordon and Diana Levy in their Jaguar XJ8, last year’s winner.

No doubt due to the inadequacies of military cartographer Mickey McNair’s map, Don and Marion Warneke finally arrived, with a time of 67:26, for a last place posting.

The entire group, including organizers and judges Richard Lewis and Mickey McNair, adjourned to David’s Catfish House for some great seafood, where all the Poker Hand cards were carefully examined for authenticity and the winning hand awarded to Gordon and Diane Levy, for a double victory. The awarding of appropriate prizes followed.

A number of events are planned for the upcoming months and we especially invite everyone to mark his or her calendars for our Saturday, April 16 “Brits on the Bay” car show, to be held in Pensacola. We hope to even exceed the excellent turnout we enjoyed last year.

Happy almost Spring.