COMING INTO THE NINETEEN EIGHTIES . . .
Early in the eighties, while European performance automobiles were still my main source of income, to keep the lights on and food on our table, our other new interests began to flourish!
British and Italian motorcycles had clearly demonstrated signs of becoming more than mildly collectible. We saw the same pattern emerging with European antique tin toys, and finally the gas engined miniature race car field.
In spite of the fact that I was only semi-educated on the subjects, I was already dangerous enough to have purchased a few motorcycles and tin toy automobiles and gas engined racers!
And, yes, I made some goofy mistakes. An example: A really clean 1972 Triumph Bonneville motorcycle turned up at what appeared to be a quite reasonable price and I bought it happily.
My friend Dick Miles came by to see it . . .
“Oh, it’s an“oil in frame” Triumph . . .” Dick said in a “let him down easy” way.
I did not know what “oil in frame” meant, nor was I aware of the fact that the desirable Triumph twin motorcycles pretty much ceased with the 1970 TR models. From 1971 onward, Triumph changed a good deal on their larger displacement motorcycles.
The most severe change on the bike I bought was the front fork angle. In certain conditions they could become quite sensitive to steering input. They weren’t sought out by enthusiasts as they simply lacked the handling of the earlier bikes. They further lacked the “tied together” lean appearance of the earlier Triumph twins.
But then, I went on to buy an absolutely perfect British Velocette. It was a knockout. I had only read about the Velocette Thruxton motorcycles, all of it good. They were classic British elegance combined with speed. I was quite proud as the going in price was, I thought quite moderate.
However, I was soon informed that my dazzling bauble was a Velocette Venom, not the sought after Thruxton model! The Venom was a bit more of a touring motorcycle, not a high performance model as the Thruxton was.
But, as things progressed, I was most fortunate to gain the counsel and friendship of a number of special guys with a great deal of motorcycle knowledge.
They included: of course, Dick Miles, Jeff Craig, Somer Hooker, Al Bold, “Dr. John” Wittner, Gene Aucott, Ed LaBelle, to say nothing of the “master,” Manfred Hecht! And, there were a good many more.
They were by and large, very engaging and anxious to give you a hand.
CARLISLE COLLECTOR CAR FALL MEET 1983 & “THE “R” BUILDING.”
Early in the morning, the day the 1983 Carlisle Fall meet opened, I sought out Bill and Chip Miller who were the founders and owners of Carlisle.
I asked them if I might be able to lease some spaces for 1984 and forward. I was astonished when they offered me three “indoor spaces.”
At that point in time there were not very many spaces that were under roof and almost none with overhead, lockable doors. They offered me three spaces in the “R” building which was right smack in the thick of things.
These were three very prime spots.
Just what I planned to fill the R building with was somewhat uncertain. Thankfully no one asked what I planned to do with my new spaces . . .
Late the second morning of the meet, I ventured out to the furthest reaches of the swap meet fields.
OUT THERE WHERE THE BUSES DID RUN . . .
In what had to be the absolute furthest vendor space, I came upon my friend Dick Miles with a couple of tables of some interesting items for sale.
But, talk about “out there where the buses don’t run!” Dick’s merchandise was within a handful of yards from the traffic tearing by on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, including the buses!
I knew that my friend Charlie Schalebaum had extra spaces in the T building right behind ones I had just leased, so I said to Dick:
“Pack up all that gear and we’ll get you indoors in the thick of things near the stadium.”
We really didn’t know each other that well . . .
Dick thought about it for a moment and began packing his gear.
“So, are you going to join me?” I asked.
“No, numbskull, I’m goin’ home! Of course, I’m comin’ up there!”
I had just opened the door to thirty years of this type of dialogue. . .
I gave him a hand and took note of the fact that Miles had some pretty special items he was offering.
Dick set up in the cavernous T building alongside Charlie and Mary Schalebaum. They both found Dick to be quite a colorful character.
Mary seemed to have an unsolvable dilemma. She wanted to loop a rope over one of the rafters supporting the building and couldn’t begin to get it up there.
Dick motioned Mary to hand him the rope, coiled it to a point, stepped back and gave it a simple toss. The rope sailed up well over twenty feet and the tail of the rope came down almost in Mary’s hand.
With a wry smile, that said: “let’s see if you can do it again . . .” Mary handed him the second rope and he did it again! No one could believe how easily Dick accomplished what Charley and Mary had been attempting since early that morning.
(. . . So, Kirk what’s the point here?? Why are we all being dragged along from a distant, dusty, noisy flea market space into an old tin structure where your new friend gets lucky twice with a rope toss . . . ???)
It’s a fair question, but very rapidly I came to realize that Dick Miles could repair, fabricate or show you how to set virtually anything right. I don’t think I ever heard him say:
“I don’t really know what to do with that . . .” problem, dilemma, broken part, ad infinitum.
Oh, and I nearly forgot, it turned out that Dick Miles, in another recent life, had been an escape artist and magician! He was known worldwide (kind of . . .) as the “Great Newdini”, performing all manner of amazing feats as you can see in the images below. He generally had characters in tow such as the group with shotguns in the image below.
Everybody with Dick had a “handle”, such as “Hankster the Gangster” “Willie from Philly” “Flush Fingers McGrath”. . .
"Newdini" Miles ABout to Defy Death
( Note Howard Stern in background)
Richard NewdiniMiles & Close Friends
"Newdini" Flyer, circulated world wide!!
Richard NewdiniMiles & Close Friends
But, you’re right, enough of the pre-amble . . .
Late in the day I took Dick around to the R building to show him where I’d be located the following year. Each time I looked at the space it seemed bigger and I was concerned about whether or not I’d have enough merchandise to attract interest.
While we were checking out the spaces, I added up everything I’d experienced with Miles in our relationship. He was engaging, had the mind of an engineer, and owned several motorcycles and a substantial inventory of quite good collectible pieces applicable to motorcycles and vintage cars. And, he had both a Porsche and a Bentley!
“Dick, would you be interested in joining me in the R building next year. No cost to you, just give me a hand with set-up, takedown and such. And bring any items you may want to sell . . .”
Dick never asked me qualify the term “and such” . . .
He agreed to join me, and 33 years later, Dick and I could write an amazing volume covering the remarkable adventures that we have lived though together! On occasion just barely lived through!
THE HERSHEY AACA FALL MEET, 1983
The Antique Automobile Club of America’s Hershey region, has hosted their fall swap meet during the first full week of each October, since 1955.
October 8th and 9th, 1955, despite rainy conditions, and without a great deal of notice, 300 antique automobiles came together inside the Hershey Stadium for the regions inaugural antique automobile show.
Spotting a possible opportunity, seven enterprising club members set up folding tables outside the stadium offering an array of their old car parts, literature, etc.
By 1958 the number of “Parts Peddlers,” as they were then known had grown, and it was understood those that had a successful time “peddling parts” at the meet, were expected to make a donation to the region.
By 1965 the number of “Vendors” grew to 336 and then exploded to 3,000 in the seventies.
So, the week after Carlisle, the “Holy Grail” of collector car swap meets took place. All of the vendors at Hershey occupied outdoor spaces on old farm field soil, now grown over with thick and uncut grass.
In 1983 there were three large “fields” of all things automotive. At that time the choicest field seemed to be the Blue Field. It was also the oldest field.
There was also a large “White” field and this year they had opened the “Red” Field.
The event was vast!
I went to Hershey with Marilyn early in the week, to take it all in.
The Blue Field had the bulk of the quality dealers and we anxiously attacked it, searching now for a wide range of items from cars and motorcycles to antique toys, etc.
Wednesday afternoon I was vaguely peering at the wares on someone’s table when Marilyn gave my arm a tug and said:
“There’s someone coming down the aisle with a tether car . . .
I turned, and “Oh Boy” was that ever a race car.
The guy had the car tucked under his right arm. The model race car was dazzling, close to twenty inches in length. It had a model gas engine and it was the spittin’ image of a late thirties, early forties sprint car. It was finished in a light blue with cream and orange highlights. It was a Bremer Whirlwind.
I came close to making a complete fool of myself by running up the aisle. As I drew alongside, I fell into step with him, all but yanking the car away from him. I asked if the car was for sale.
He introduced himself. His name was Walt Petersen. He was collecting the early racers and had been for a few years. He’d come to Hershey all the way from Reno, Nevada.
“It’s not for sale,” Walt said.
“Besides, this Bremer is a copy!!” At that point I had no idea there were copies.
Walt was serious enough about his collecting that he carried the Bremer copy with him in case someone might stop him and say they had one of those old racers at home . . .”
We talked together for twenty minutes and I was quickly brought up to speed on the collecting of these fabulous model racers by someone who knew what they were doing. It seemed the collecting hobby for the tether cars was well underway out west, particularly in California, and the hobby was actually worldwide, dating back to a period well before World War II!
Walt Petersen went on in the coming years to quietly amass one of the world’s best and most comprehensive model race car collections.
I loved these cars, and went on to be the world’s largest dealer of the fabulous gas engined racers. Ever the merchant, I was responsible for providing many race cars for Walt Petersen’s collection!
WALKING, WALKING, IS THERE EVER AN END TO THESE VENDORS?
Marilyn and I actually trekked all of the fields.
That Saturday morning the weather had turned chilly and spitty rain was all around the Hershey area. It was mid morning when someone hailed me and said there was a guy in the Blue Field that had two really great old Dooling tether racers with him.
“Where in the Blue Field?” I asked.
He wasn’t sure . . . vaguely pointing to the lower portion of the field.
Oh, Boy! The fire began to grow and we covered every square inch of the Blue Field. We looked at every table, under the tables, in the back of the stalls, and finally peered intently through all the windows of dealer’s vehicles. I was shooed off a few times.
The rain was becoming a bit more intense . . .
“Let’s check the Red Field . . .” I said
(. . .Sure Kirk, the guy clearly said “Blue” Field so drag your bride up through that Red Field all the way to hell and gone for the second time. . .)
And now it was simply raining and the end of the day was upon us. Disappointed, we started to cross the lower Blue Field to our car, when I heard someone calling out to me.
“Kirk, they’re over here!” said my original tipster.
He was waving me over to a parked Chevy station wagon. We legged it over and peering through the back side window there were two fabulous nineteen fifties prototype tether cars. They were Dooling Brothers “Arrows!!”
I thanked the “spotter” hugely.
“I’ll wait with ya’ and point the guy out to you if I see him ‘cause the guy said he was headed home.”
More than a little bit of time went by . . .
“He said he’d be here in a minute, he’s headed back to New York.”
The rain continued. . .
Finally, “the guy” returned to his car, stopping a bit short wondering who the group was around his car.. Particularly, the wild eyed pair who looked like soaked desperados!
After stumbling badly through everything I wanted to say, the guy said he might sell one of the cars. The look on his face was one of caution.
I won’t drag you through those following few minutes ‘cause I’m not sure what the hell fell out of my mouth . . .
“If you were to sell both of them, what would you want money-wise?” I asked.
At that point I may as well have had a lit up neon sign across my forehead flashing “Sucker!”
His name was Orrin Becker, from Buffalo, New York, and I came to realize through the years, though thoroughly charming, Orrin didn’t give ice away in the winter.
$700 . . . he said figuring he’d blow the wet kid and his cute girl straight into the weeds!
I looked at Marilyn and her face said do what you think is right . . .
I paid him and we left with the two cars.
A WHOLE NEW ACQUISITION MINDSET . . .
From the time I was told about those race cars in the morning until the moment I put them in our car, I was completely on fire with the absolute necessity of finding them. Hopefully I’d able to buy them, but it was the search that lit the blaze.
This was way beyond putting forth my “extra effort.”
It became a runaway forest fire that was never going to be extinguished till I’d run those race cars down.
It had been an all day, full bore adrenaline blast.
Sure, I’d chased and acquired some incredible automobiles and antiques in my life, but something drew out all the stops in me that day . . .
AND THAT FIRE DIDN’T DIMINISH . . .
From that point on the same voracious mindset would settle on me every time I was chasing a great antique toy, gas engined racer and further on in time, early European toy trains. The fire just propelled me through each acquisition. I became the most tenacious searcher you ever met . . .
We were now active in four collecting, categories!
1.) European high performance automobiles 2.) Antique European Tin transportation toys 3.) Vintage gas engined tether or rail racing cars 4.) Vintage European performance motorcycles
And, I didn’t sit back and wait for any of “it” to fall into view.
I began to run advertisements everywhere in any publication that even touched the edges of what I was seeking. The ads all started with:
“ABSOLUTELY HIGHEST PRICES PAID” followed by a rolling, generally long description of what I was seeking and at the end, a reiteration of the “highest prices paid” business.
AND THEN WE CHASED “ONE” IN PLAIN SIGHT . . .
Our antique toy “mentors” had told us we simply had to attend the Gaithersburg, Maryland Antique Toy Show!
It was held in the late fall. On a chilly Saturday morning, we got up virtually in the middle of the night and drove to Gaithersburg. As we joined the line to enter the show, the sky was just breaking free of the early dawn’s dark hours.
Directly in front of us in the line was a gent who was pulling a wagon that had two milk crates filled with items that he had brought, presumably to sell. I glanced at his wares and none were appealing.
(. . . Better look again, Kirk . . .)
As the show opened and we began to move forward, I glanced down at the wagon load in front of me again. . .
“WAIT A MINUTE, THAT’S A GORDON BENNETT RACER . . .”
Holy Toledo, right there, three feet in front of me, was one of the rarest and most sought after tin toys, an auto racing clockwork toy, circa 1910.
Excellent Gordon Bennet Racer
It was a fabulous tin toy made in Germany by Gunthermann! You see two examples below, the cobby one on the left is close to the example I was eyeing!
Gordon Bennet near mint example. . .
( . . .Yes, Gunthermann missed the spelling on the car itself omitting the final “t” in Bennett on the hood sides . . .)
When you came upon a Gordon Bennett racing toy you didn’t pass it by just because it needed some help.
I lightly tapped the owner on the shoulder . . .
“Are you selling you’re racing toy?” I inquired.
“I brought it to trade for a comparable cast iron toy . . .”
(In many of these hobbies, there is a lot of trading, which can be frustrating if you happen to be the guy with nothing to trade.)
I certainly didn’t have any cast iron toys of any kind.
“I’m interested in the toy. Maybe you could sell the toy to me and have the cash to buy any of the cast iron items you’re seeking”
“Nah, for now I’ll try to trade it . . .”
A few weeks prior, as we all know, I had spent an entire day wound to the nines looking for a couple of gas engined model racers that were hidden in the back of an automobile at Hershey.
Now, just a short time later, here I was at eight in the morning peering at an extremely rare antique toy and I was going to have to follow this “cast iron Charlie” all day to somehow wrest his racer away from him.
The show was so big that it was likely that I’d lose him in the crowd, I thought. But every little bit of time, I’d check to see if possibly he’d be of a mind to sell the damn thing.
The answer was always the same. He wanted to trade the toy for a similar piece in cast iron!! And I was coming to the realization that his elevator probably didn’t reach the upper floors.
Mid-morning, I unwound my screaming lust a bit and we spent a couple of hours enjoying ourselves. There were some very choice antique toys.
But, of course, it couldn’t last. We could no longer find our boy with the prize!
One of my fears had been that the show was attended by many of the top antique toy dealers, all of whom would know the extreme rarity of the Gordon Bennett racer.
Then, I came around a corner and witnessed Frank Whitson with the Gordon Bennett toy in his hand, and our seller, standing there as Frank looked the Gordon Bennett over.
So, who was Frank Whitson? Frank was the self appointed King of the antique toy dealers, and, in fact, his history lent more than a little credence to that title. And he knew cast iron toys six ways to Sunday!
Well on in years, Frank would tell you he’d seen it all and indeed he’d seen a hell of a lot of it. He was in his seventies, quite tall, bearded, generally a cigarette underway and a voice that stood you up by the scruff of the neck.
He was obviously telling our seller that his toy racer was not worth much, if anything at all . . .
But, . . .
Whitson said, “Leave it with me,” (oh, No!).
“I know someone who might make your “iron deal.” (Oh, No, No, No!!)
Frank put the car back in the beat up old paper bag. From a distance I watched the “pitch” go down and thought that’s the last I’d ever see of that one.
We had lunch and made a few final rounds of the show, still eyeing the Gordon Bennett in its paper bag under Whitson’s table.
To add to our agony, nearby sat Genie and Bob Lowe, two of the very top tin toy dealers in the United States. The suspense was unbearable!
Finally, we began the trek back to our car for the long drive home. I was bummed about not being able to get the Gunthermann racer and was wondering if, down the road, I would be going through these somewhat immature ups and downs over every antique anything I came across but didn’t get to take home with me!
Marilyn pulled me out of the downhill slide.
“Look, up there ahead, I can see him! The bag is in his wagon!”
I looked, and sure enough, there were those crazy red and green headlamps bouncing along in the wagon.
When I ran him down, he told me that he thought he had made a deal with someone, but the guy never came back.
“Well, I’m right here, and I’d like to buy your toy. If you sell it to me, then you’d be able to buy something you really want!”
Seeing I was pretty much banging up against a wall, I went right on and asked if I could look at the toy. Reluctantly he removed it from the tired old bag.
I went over the racer slowly, feigning an expression of rapidly diminishing interest, appearing to slowly, but assuredly, lose interest the more I examined it. I tediously enumerated everything that it needed, my voice indicating disappointment, but not quite to the point of handing the Gordon Bennett back to him.
“Look, I’m here, ready to pay you in money, which will put you in the “catbird” seat. Just say a figure that will work for you . . .”
(. . . Keeping in mind the huge list of faults that I have just gone over with you . . .)
“A thousand dollars . . .” he said.
“Uh, OK, it’s a lot more than I wanted to spend, but we’ve spent the whole day at it . . .”
( . . . Oh, for God’s sake, cut it out, Kirk! . . .)
Often with these frantic . . . “have to have it ”. . . acquisitions, once you have the toy in your hands, and it is completely yours, unnoticed flaws, missing bits, etc. suddenly surface under the harsh light of day.
So, what did we end up with here?
Well, yes, it was a genuine Gunthermann Gordon Bennett racer, but it had a balky wind-up motor, the seat backs for the driver and riding mechanic, were simply missing, as were both the driver and the mechanic themselves! The ornate horn that should have been on the cowl on the right side was also missing!
PETER CANNER . . . RETURNS!
When I was first starting in with the tether cars and tin toys, through the late Larry Todd, Peter Canner had become my “go to” craftsman wizard!!
The following day, I took the Gordon Bennett car, and David Pressland’s fabulous book, “The Art of the Tin Toy”, somewhat hat in hand, to Peter Canner’s door.
He merely absorbed the shortcomings, and as it was a Sunday, Peter me sent on my way . . .
Maybe three weeks later, Peter called and asked me to come by and take a look at the car. Peter had done some miraculous work on several of my tether cars, but this was a delicate wind-up toy racer manufactured just after the beginning of the 20th century!
“I don’t know if this will be satisfactory for you, Peter said descending the basement stairs. “This is all new “territory” for me,” he said . . .
Entering his shop, I spotted the racer sitting on a white towel. I was thunderstruck! All components of the original Gunthermann racer were made of tin. But, not only did the car now sport proper seat backs, it had two absolutely exquisite figures, both the driver and the mechanic!
I hadn’t even mentioned the figures to Peter, as Gunthermann had done each of the originals in deeply pressed tin, and the halves were joined together by folded over tabs.
In this case, Peter had hand carved two wooden drivers, even creating a seam straight down the middle of each figure, and fitting fold over tin tabs!!
The carved figures were not facsimiles, they were exact replicas! He hand enameled and aged them! I could not believe how accurate they were.
Marilyn and I kept that car for years and years. A great many other collectors who examined the car were equally dumbstruck by the drivers. I went on to buy a number of Gordon Bennett racers through the years, but none were as “special” to us as this example.
1953 JAGUAR XK 120 FIXED HEAD COUPE . . .
Marilyn was fed up with my negativity regarding the car. . .
“That Jaguar is less than five miles from our front door. Please, just call and get over there. I can’t believe you haven’t followed up on that car!”
“Call him now . . .” she said.
I did, and yes, he was at home . . .
The Jag owner had a roomy garage that housed the car. As I walked down the driveway toward the nose of the car, I was just waiting to see which of the “had to be” flaws would hove into my view.
Nothing. I went in the garage and all around the Jag. It certainly was quite nice. The owner pulled the car into the daylight. The engine sounded very healthy, and I noted the owner had fitted a proper dual pipe exhaust system.
What’s a proper XK exhaust system?
He had taken the time to find a factory exhaust system in mild steel which gave the Jaguar its deep, yet mellow, sound.
In the eighties, almost all Jaguars were being restored with the “new” stainless steel systems. They didn’t quite fit, and when a Jaguar XK DOHC six cylinder car was started, the stainless systems were too loud, and worse, there was a real “ring-a-ding” to those stainless systems.
The “stainless” sound simply didn’t fit the era.
Once outside in sunlight, the 1953 Jaguar was absolutely stunning!
Now, I’d have to really go to work to find fault with this car. After a really comprehensive go through, I came up with nothing worth a mention.
“Who did the restoration?” I asked.
“I did it over the course of the last eight years . . .” he said.
I had him start the Jag and open the hood. As he did, I noted the healthy oil pressure.
This story will not demonstrate so much as a trace of the “Extra Effort” that I’ve been bleating about all through these pages!
Sometime in the mid-eighties, during the late summer, I had heard about a Jag 120 coupe in a neighborhood not ten miles from our home. Anyone who mentioned seeing the car to me said it was stunning!
I must have mentioned the Jag to Marilyn more than a few times. On a Sunday afternoon in early November another pal came to the house and began to hail the fine Jaguar 120 coupe. “Outstanding!” he had said.
I went to our car and got my trusty 15 inch Craftsman simple straight blade screwdriver. Why?
( . . .That old, “tall” Sears screwdriver had a nice bit of a “knob” at the top of the handle. Placing it hard up against your ear you could utilize that screwdriver to reveal all manner of audible engine information, coolant flow, induction flow etc . . . ).
Yes, I know, there were “automobile” stethoscopes, but I guess I was an old fashioned guy . . .
Every aspect of that Jag was top-notch. Getting under the car supported the topside view, as did probing through all through the inside, under dash, door hinges, striker plates etc. . .
“How much is this car?” I asked.
$30,000 he said.
At that point in time, he had priced it correctly for the retail market.
With this car, the price was almost academic . . .
I paid him and we took the Jaguar with us. We kept the car for a couple of years. It was one of the most admired cars I ever had, which further pointed to the high level of restoration. The car was never on a trailer. We drove it everywhere, taking it to Hershey for judging. There were people all over the car and it won its award.
Then, down the line in time, a gentleman turned up who offered what was a sensational amount of money for the Jaguar and off it went for a number of years. But as with all of my XK 120’s, I bought it back in 2003 and enjoyed it all over again.
In 2005 were invited by our special friends Harold and Mona Brewer to bring the Jaguar Fixed Head Coupe to the concours at the Ocean Reef Club.
And yes, since it was a five hour drive through the hot south Florida climate, we did put it in a “trusted” commercial trailer.
The Ocean Reef Concours is wonderfully different than any show I have ever attended. Not only do you have a highly select invited group of classic automobiles, but a gathering of some of world’s finest boats, yachts and classic aircraft! The early beautifully designed Trumpy yachts’ were my favorites.
Remarkably, most were available for the concours guests to tour.
The most enjoyable aspect of the show at Ocean Reef was the people. Not just “The People,” but every person you met! I’d done a hell of a lot of shows prior to Ocean Reef. It was simply a wonderful event.
The show judging takes place throughout Friday afternoon and early Saturday morning. It is low key to the point that you are scarcely aware of anyone passing judgment on anything at all.
Saturday morning a set of bleachers is erected by the water’s edge and each car gets to drive past the crowd with a few pertinent and interesting remarks about the automobile given by Mr. Bill Parfet who caught my ear because he wasn’t working from entry sheets, crib sheets or notes scribbled on the back of his hand.
Bill had a succinct and accurate few comments pertaining to each vehicle. I found myself listening and watching him cover the broad selection of cars passing before him.
“How much could he possibly know about that Doble steam car coming around the corner . . .?
But, of course he easily peeled off a few interesting aspects of the Doble . . .
At a number of Concourses, the announcers have not been properly prepared, and stumble over some of the pertinent information as the winning marque approaches the podium.
It was a pleasure to hear Bill Parfet as he was so knowledgeable. . .
Sunday morning Marilyn and I were quietly asked not to leave for home just yet. There was a breakfast where the top awards were given out.
Kirk and Marilyn White won the Best Post-War Sports car!! As you can see in the photograph below, the trophy was a knock out!
Today an invitation to the Ocean Reef event is one of the most sought after among car collectors and well it should be!
“SWINGING FOR THE FENCES”- HERSHEY FALL MEET 2005 . . .
In the fall of 2005, it was time to put on my “Merchant” pants again and move the Jaguar FHC along to a new custodian!.
By 2005 we were well established on Hershey’s Red field. I decided to take the Jaguar Fixed Head Coupe that we had enjoyed and a really superb Jaguar XKC that had been built by a well known gentleman in New Zealand. Every aspect of the C Type was correct, save the dry sump oiling system.
I have a very clear memory of our arrival on the Red Field that year.
It was a perfect, warm October afternoon, and we had just pulled back the tent flaps and we’re “open for business.”
At the end 0f our aisle sat a glittering Inter City Lines eighteen wheeler it had already offloaded the Jaguar XK 120 FHC which I brought up to our spaces, parking it alongside our tent.
As I got up to go back to the truck and collect the XKC I could see quite a crowd had gathered around the big fancy Inter-City eighteen wheeler.
Just as I left the tent I saw a couple with a small white dog honing straight in on the 120.
I collected the C Jag and drove it into the tent, spotted where I thought it may be best viewed and as I got out of the car I noticed the couple with the little dog was still eyeing the Black Jag coupe.
Then they wandered off.
Not ten minutes later, as I was surveying our entire layout with the C Jag and thinking it was as good as any we’d ever had at Hershey, a voice said:
“Is this car for sale?”
. . . With all the self accolades I was heaping on myself, one had to be reminded of the dry comedian Steven Wright’s line when someone asked him if he had the time . . .
“. . . Yes, but not right now . . .”
It was the couple with the little white dog.
I broke out of my “self adoration” trance and answered: “Yes, it is . . .”
“Can you tell me about the car?”
And, I proceeded to glide over the highlights. I was certain that he was not going to be buying the Jaguar as he was easily 6’ 2-3” inches tall and 240 plus in weight. Then he asked:
“How much is the car?
“$120,000.” I said, not even rising from my chair. I was simply waiting for this whole skit to end . .
However, his inspection continued and became more intense and he appeared to know what he was doing. The wife and the small dog opened the passenger door and got in.
Then the husband said: Would you take $100,000 for the car?
So, at that point my rational business sense left the planet. That $100,000 would have been over the fences and outta’ here in 2005, but I was so enamored with my knockout tent display, and all the admirerers, I was simply ignoring the fact that 99.9% of the “stop-bys” were not interested in, or in any way near buying either Jaguar!
“NOW LOOKING TO SIMPLY KNOCK THE FENCES DOWN!! . . .
At that point what bit of “the merchant’s” brain was taken over by a complete bozo who replied:
“Thanks for your offer, but I have a long time customer and friend who I have to show the Jag to at the $120,000 . . .”
As soon as the words were out my mouth, my mottled brain turned back on me:
(. . .Oh, really Kirk, and who the hell might that be?? You’ve always loved to dance with the Devil! You in fact did have a customer who had shown a mild interest in the Jag and wasn’t at all sure he’d get to Hershey at all!! This time I think you may have danced yourself straight into the Devil’s furnace. . .)
UNDESERVEDLY SAVED!! . . .
Well let me ask you, Mr. White would you sell the car right now at the $120,000?
You don’t deserve this one, Kirk . . .
Returning to planet earth, I go through a bit of “deep consideration” and then smile. These were really very nice people that appeared to be great custodians for the Jaguar.
“You’ve really been terrific about this, I said; I’ll find another car for my friend . . . you just bought a sensational Jaguar!”
They said they’d be back the next morning with a check. Well after they were gone, as I was placing the SOLD ticket on the Jaguar, I realized that all I knew was that their name was Jones, and they hailed from somewhere in the state of Texas!! No phone number, no way of contacting them. . .nada! A real businessman you are, Kirk. Of all the stupid things!
A bolt of lightning should have evaporated me on the spot!
NEWS RE: FUTURE “CHAPTERS”
Now that we are into the summer months “Chapters” will come at least once a month.
I don’t want to lose any of you, so the handful of photos below shows a bit of the places we’ll visit in the next one or two chapters.