The delights of owning an English sports car.

Ian Anderson

Lifetime Supporter
Had a couple of British sports cars

First a Triumph GT6 2 litre straight six in a Spitfire chassis and coupe body making it look like a mini E type for anyone that does not know of the model. Great in a straight line but fold under swing arm suspension Meade it very tail happy. Still holds the record for my top speed on a public road. 6000 rpm on overdrive or about 160 mph but he'll was she floating all over all four lanes-good job the road was deserted and it was3 am

Second was a Ford Capri 1600 GT XLR - I've heard the last bit meant it had a clock in it. Great car and was used to A frame my Formual V around the country many years ago at about 80mph and 35mpg. That said I believe my car may have been assembled in South Africa and would have come off the same production line as the Perana cars.

Mum had the 850 mini which I learnt to drive in
Dad had a Mk2 2.4 Jag rusted so much we could not jack it up when it got a puncture
He also has a Honda S600 coupe. Mad Jap car 4 cylinders 600cc and revved to10000. He blew the engine up twice on that!

Good memories


Brian Stewart
Definitely not a sports car, but my first car was an Austin A30. Tiny machine when you are 6’4” but I managed to court my first wife in it nonetheless… Taught me how to strip down and rebuild engines due to my penchant of trying to keep up with my mates Morris Oxford that was about half a mile per hour quicker. Even with burned out valves and run big end bearings the A30 never failed to get me home, albeit very slowly. It was followed by a Triumph 13/60, a couple of warmed up MKIII Zephyrs, a Triumph 2000, a MKIV Zodiac, and, once again, not really a sports car, but a very quick Rover SD1 Vitesse. My last British car was a Sierra Cosworth (although it was actually Belgian). These last two were the only two that became inexplicably immobile. The Vitesse when its fuel pump failed. However, an hour of searching for the problem and a swift bang with a handy rock had me going again. The Cossie died twice – once due to the location of the distributor low down at the front of the engine – not good in very, very heavy rain…. and the second time when a rock on a gravel road bounced up and tripped the emergency fuel pump cutout switch. This is apparently designed to cut fuel in case of a roll-over and I did not know the car had one. It is cleverly hidden beneath the spare wheel in the boot (trunk) where you won’t find it until you have examined every other square inch of the car. That being said, the British cars I have owned have all had a certain something that Australian and Japanese cars I have owned have never had. French and Italian cars? Well there’s another story….
The verY first car I bought with my own money was a 1969 Austin Healey Sprite - monster 1275cc engine IIRC and BRG in color. It was tits. It was real fun watching the dash go up in smoke.

Ron Earp

Funny that.

I just talked to my dad a few minutes ago who said there was a raffle for an Austin Healey Sprite where he lives in (and where I grew up). I told him to run away and put his money somewhere safe, like in the hands of a meth addict or stockbroker. Even if he won the raffle he'd have a better chance of seeing a return on his investment with the safer havens.


Jeff Young

GT40s Supporter
TR7, TR8, Esprit, Exige and had a "loaner" TR6 for a while.

Best I can say out of that bunch is the TR8 made a pretty decent race car after seven years of work and about $50k.
Having restored (with my own hands) an MGA twin cam, an MGB and MGB-GT, a TR-7 (what was I thinking??) and a '64 E-type drop head, I feel reasonably well qualified to share a nugget or two about Brit sports cars....

1. Everything comes apart and bolts up together pretty well. You don't need hands the size of a toddler to access anything (as you do in most Eyetalian sports cars).
2. After 30+ years, a Lucas wiring harness should be considered just a wiring guide to where real wires should be run......
3. Parts are cheap!
4. A brit car has never, ever left me stranded. I might have had to use a shoe lace for a WP belt, or even two of 'em for a throttle cable...and other similarly funky kluge fixes to get home, but I've always gotten home. Can't say that for several Eyetalian cars I've had in the garage.
5. I've always felt that brit sports cars were good value for money - seem to be made out of something stouter than spit and papermache. Can't say that for many modern cars I've driven.

That said, I don't currently have a brit sports car in my garage....and I was just thinking why is that? Is it because most of the brit sports cars I've had have been lacking something? Perhaps it's that little bit of that exotic tempermental element?

Ron Earp

TR7, TR8, Esprit, Exige and had a "loaner" TR6 for a while.

Best I can say out of that bunch is the TR8 made a pretty decent race car after seven years of work and about $50k.
You really think $50k is all?

The only British cars I've had were a Spitfire and an Esprit Turbo. The Spitfire was in bad shape when I had it and I didn't improve its lot in life by any measurable means. But it mostly ran. The Espirt was a pretty decent car.

Jeff Young

GT40s Supporter
No, it was more. I'm just trying to make myself feel better.

Esprits aren't the horrible cars some make them out to be. I did enjoy mine, as you know, and yours was a hoot. However, they are like a hot potato hand grenade. You keep passing it around and unfortunately it then blows up and kills some one. You and I were lucky enough to have passed the potato.
My first car (and some might consider it a sports car given its results in the Monte Carlo Rally) was a 1967 Mini 850 that was quickly upgraded in the early 70's with a 1275 Cooper S engine and gearbox, dual petrol tanks, John Player Special black & gold paint job, black tinted windows (very unique in those days), 7" wide wheels, wider wheel arches, a Weber Carb replaced the 2 SU's (the velocity stacks actually intruded into the speedo housing causing the speedo to be moved) etc. etc. I loved that car and spent many a Saturday heading to football matches with my mates stuck in the back. When arrving at the football pitch we'd often find no changing facilities so we'd actually change in the car. (Picture that!) It was a great car and the memories I have of my time in her are priceless to me. I could pick up the birds (girls) all day (and night) long in her and around Ipswich she became quite well known especially to the police. This simple car made me a car fanatic to this day. Its odd the things one recalls with certain things. I can even recall the registration plate. LKJ 432F. I wonder where she is now? A delight for sure.

Ron Earp

However, they are like a hot potato hand grenade. You keep passing it around and unfortunately it then blows up and kills some one. You and I were lucky enough to have passed the potato.
Very accurate description. It was quite alarming to sit at traffic lights and watch the oil pressure gauge drop to 0-5 psi while idling. Only a matter of time.....

Howard Jones

1958 TR-3 my junior/senior year in high school, First car sex. Sold that car to leave for collage. Bought a really F'ed up XK120 with only 2nd gear and no windshield for 50 bucks. Drove it for about a year in school until it died of a terminial gearbox. No way to afford to fix it working at jack in the box (collage job). Did it in that one too.

Drove a borrowed TR4 for several months after that. No luck with that one. No $ = No Girlfriend.

Then went into the military (drafted) bought a Spitfire brand new. Fixed it all up with a twin webers, shaved head and cam, headers, konis, sway bars, shorter springs, roll bar, and wider wheels. First wife was almost 6 foot tall, but I'm Italian and was a salior at the time. Left the top up. It rains a LOT in Washington. That one died in a BIG storm. The Pacific ocean got it in the parking lot of the Coast Guard station Willapa Bay Washington. When I got back it had sea weed in the front seat. Traded it for a pickup truck.

After I got out of the military, I ran accross a TR250 in the 80's. pretty good shape but kinda worn out. Replaced shocks, springs, new anti roll bars, wider wheels, Nice car and fun to drive in California. Girls like to do it in sports cars for some reason. Broke that front seat in too.

Then I got old and fat. Bought a GT40 and second wife thinks it's too loud and hot inside.

I still would like to restore a TR4 some day. Maybe a IRS version.

Second honeymoon?

Rick Muck- Mark IV

GT40s Sponsor
Never really owned one myself, but helped a good friend "restore" a 62 MGA MK II in 1969. We didn't have a welder so the new rocker panels were screwed in and bondo'ed over. A garage spray of BRG and it was off to cruise for chicks. that never really worked as four don't fit well in an "A".

He impressed his prom date greatly when the oil pressure guage feed line ruptured and sprayed his date with hot Castrol.


Lifetime Supporter
TMI :love:

My nephew and I restored a 78 MGB a couple years ago. I though I was working on a car from 1962. Lever shocks in 78? Kinda like the hot chick with the bod, butter face...
I started to give thought to starting a thread (since the salty sailor (Howard)) brought the issue up....about who would admit to having sex in their 40 or if its even possible. But then I thought not a good idea since most of us could never have owned a 40 back in the days when we could actually attempt it and now having the means to buy one how many would actually admit to doing it without the wife knowing about it. I'm sure the wife or girlfriend would not appreciate the idea of being the topic of a global forum. Something for the Paddock maybe but then again maybe not. :thumbsdown:
One of the great things about the TR-3 was its seat belts. In '64 they were rare, and the girls thought driving a sports car must be a very dangerous thing requiring skill and courage. It leveled the playing field for a science nerd competing with lettermen.
In a Jag, the way to impress a girl was to start it up after dark with her sitting beside you. You'd pull the choke, crank the engine, switch on the headlamps, slowly bring up the panel lights, flip the Lucas paddle switches up and down a few times, and after making sure the engine was making the right noises, turn to her and say: "Make that seatbelt is good and snug...just in case...." Absolutely the best way to begin a first date! Unfortunately, while you could initiate your approach across the gearshift, trying to consummate anything could lead to bruising and considerable embarrassment.


Jim Rosenthal

My first car was an Austin-Healey Sprite- not the Bugeye, but the one that came after it. Mine was a 1969 model. It was actually a fairly reliable little car, just a tiny little roller skate of a thing, but it started and ran reliably in a horrible climate (central IL) so really no complaints there. I traded it on my first Mercedes-Benz. Later on I had an E-type which was pretty far gone when I got it and got worse- sold it along cheap, I don't know what happened to that one. I got the Sprite in 1971, or something like that. Really it was not a bad little car and I didn't have any of the usual headaches people complain of.

I've had two Minis; the first was a 70s one from Canada, with those disgusting front bumpers etc, which I removed and replaced with proper Mini bumpers (the ones that look good but don't protect the car at all)- also fiddled with the carbs etc trying to make it go faster. Again, this was a very reliable car, but its curse was the most uncomfortable seats I've ever seen- good for a nearly instant backache which made driving it miserable. I bought a second Mini- a very late German-spec car with a good heater, twin-point EFI, very comfortable seats, etc. I still have it. I love it. It is the most fun to drive of any car I've ever owned, and it's handling is so good it makes me think I actually know how to drive fast. Which I clearly do not.

I don't know if you can call the GT40 a British car. I suppose so, if so, it would make five. It certainly feels British, with the RHD and all. Frankly I haven't got enough seat time in it to tell whether I know what I am doing, but we'll see.

British cars get a bad rap. Anyone who's ever owned an Italian car, especially a Ferrari, will tell you that the only thing worse for stealth attacks on your bank account than an Italian car is a boat, or a racehorse, or multiple mistresses. British cars are wonderful by comparison. There was a video on the internet of a Lambo being smashed to pieces by thugs hired by its irate owner. I totally understand this, although I wouldn't have done it. I'd have sold it on to the next unfortunate, and changed my address and phone number.
I completely agree that British cars get a bad rap Christmas break, the winter of '68-69 (God, that sounds like what an old man would say) the Jag made it from Denver to Wichita on black ice, and neither my TR-3 or either of the Jags ever failed to get me home. I can't say that about the Chevy pickup I owned a few years back. After 75K miles, parts literally began to fall off -- mirrors, knobs, a sun visor-- the A/C compressor died a noisy death at about 85K and the U-joints, transmission, and alternator soon after.