Mustn't Complain

No Senior Citizens were harmed in the making of this article.
I want you to take a good hard look at this nice old couple. On the face of it, they would appear to be the two most idiotically optimistic persons on the face of the Earth, with their tropical-themed thatched beach umbrella and deck chairs. However, if you look a little closer, you will notice that both are warmly dressed, with Gore-Tex and a tray of hot coffee to keep the chill at bay. They knew the weather might not cooperate and they prepared for the worst.
Granted, the background of Morris Minors and Rovers gives the plot away a little but if I actually knew how to use Photoshop to cut away all their surroundings, anyone with half a brain could take one look at the pair of them and immediately infer what sort of car they owned. “Aha!” you might say, “Those people are driving something British.”
It’s technically late spring in British Columbia, and I am at the Van Dusen gardens in central Vancouver for their annual All-British Field Meet. As such, I am surrounded by lunatics. Let me explain.
We’ve had a trio of British vehicles in the family for decades and, thus, I grew up around (and underneath) enough cantankerous machinery to set me up for a lifetime of psychotherapy. One Land Rover is essentially a rolling shed/compost-heap, the other has a dicky driver’s door that doesn’t line up after we did a full frame-off restoration and it was just discovered that the pride of the bunch – a ’67 MGB that’s also been fully restored – had its front brake callipers installed upside-down at the factory.
I drove the Landie for many of my formative years and it tried to kill me several times. The throttle linkage would fall apart at stop signs, the brakes were about as effective at stopping you as Neville Chamberlain was at stopping the Germans, and it accelerated about as briskly as Prince Phillip. It had about seventeen horsepower and all the horses had three legs and rickets and emphysema and were heavy smokers.
“But British cars have such a lot of character!” you cry. Poppycock. Excusing the numerous ‘orrible faults of a Brit-built crap-can because of so-called “character” is like letting Slobodan Milosevic off the hook for being a good dancer. Face it, these cars could only every appeal to the sort of people who can look at a huge, glistening, semi-translucent suet pudding with the appearance of a grade 4 science project on the Pacific Northwest Banana Slug and with a name out of a urologist’s medical textbook, and think, “Ooh lovely, I’ll have a slice of that then.”
British cars are for masochists and people who thought the Blitz was a minor inconvenience. “Yes, me leg’s off, but musn’t complain; merely a flesh-wound.” To be honest, I was wandering around like I had a visitors pass at Bedlam: observing the owners as much as the cars. I actually saw someone wearing a deerstalker.
Surely, this teal Aston-Martin Lagonda is the height of bad taste. I am careful not to look directly at it, lest it damage my retina like a partial eclipse or melt my face off like the Ark of the Covenant.
And yet…
Something funny is beginning to happen.
I’m starting to enjoy myself.
Just look at this thing.
It’s a stick-shift V8 Vantage, and it is absolutely spectacular. It looks like it wants to wander down to Weissach and start nutting Caymans and kicking them in the cobblers when they’re rolling around on the ground.
Then there’s this.
A Sunbeam Tiger, but with a 302 swapped in. It might not have the “look-at-me” lairy-ness of a 427 Cobra, but that’s certainly a hell of a lot of tempest for a single teapot. I’m even beginning to warm up to this row of Frog-Eye sprites.
Aw, they’re sweeeeet!
Good heavens. I actually Get It: the English Disease (no, not syphillis).
None of these cars is what you’d call reliable, but then, neither is that new Kia you’re eyeing. It’s all full of fancy whizz-dads and gizmos and whatsits, and while none of them are produced by the legendarily hamfisted Lucas, they’re still going to break. It’s the difference between a high-tech laptop with the latest edition of Windows and a wonky abacus where the beads occasionally fall off. Thing is, you can put the beads back yourself, with a bit of know-how.
It’s the old truth all gearheads know about all old cars: they’re simultaneously much much better and much much worse. Still, mustn’t complain.

[A special thanks to Guest Contributor Boosted Lego Wagon, of Yet Another Damn Beer Blog! He’s got an awesome site, and is one of the OG crew from Way Back When. Check out his site, and welcome him aboard. We’d love more articles like this, and I’d sure like more Canadians on the team! Got a topic you’re passionate about? Want to write for Hooniverse? Be like Boosted, and send a sample submission to submissions@hooniverse.info!]

0 Comments

  1. I'm pretty sure that thatched umbrella actually offers more weather protection than most British convertibles.
    Great pictures. I really need to get a British car someday.

  2. I don't buy that "real petrol heads must own an Alfa" nonsense. You have to own and love a British car to really prove your love of driving, because every mile will take so much out of you.

        1. HA! You can have Sharon and all 3 of my British cars.
          This "really prove my love of driving" business infers the damn things would have to be occasionally drive-able, which just depressed the hell out of me.
          Hell, I'd take a bicycle at this point.

          1. Sorry man, I didn't mean to pile on. But 3 Brit cars? And you want an Alpha too? Your threshold of pain is impressive.
            If I had a bicycle, I'd mail it to you.

          2. I have a British car.
            And I've been taking my bicycle to work an awful lot lately…

    1. Did you really say "You have to own and love a British car to really prove your love of driving" without adding "any other type of car because the Brit car is always in bits in the garage"? For shame…

  3. I made it to last year's show
    <img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3340/4631767772_84c636a2a6.jpg&quot; width="320">
    but not this time around. VanDusen Botanical Garden is a great setting.
    Last year, sensing a mutual interest in angular green cars, I spoke with the owner of that Lagonda. The most astonishing thing about it is that everything works, even the dash.
    <img src="http://hooniverse.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/090622-04-Aston_Martin_Lagonda_Interior-320×193.jpg&quot; width="320">
    *Image shamelessly lifted from Hooniverse.

        1. It's British, so from context it should be inferred that what I meant was that the owner claimed everything worked, on that day, last year. All I can directly verify is that I saw it remain in one place for several hours without catching fire, then exit the grounds under its own power (twin victories in themselves). My original choice of wording was merely an attempt to extend the same courtesy I would wish to receive when I make similarly implausible claims about my own cars in public.

  4. I'd be in heaven. Mostly because I don't know any better. Also, because the pure evil wrapped in tin that is the British motoring industry holds tight to my wants and desires like Mike Tyson on Holyfield's ear.

  5. Honestly, it was pretty cool. There was a Europa and everything. My fav was a MGB GT with mini-liltes and miata running gear. Mini-lites are the greatest wheel ever.

  6. Had they had been driving an MGBGT, their legs would be soaking wet.
    Funny, how their fixed-roof cars leak even worse than their convertibles.

  7. Is it just me, or do most of those cars look better in rain? Lotsa beauties there, for sure. Thanks Boost.

  8. English cars do best in a damp, cool environment. Too much sunlight causes fender curling.

  9. While I do think some of them are indeed visually challenging, it's difficult to argue that the early e-type Roadsters (series 1) are considered by most to be one of the most beautiful and sexy cars ever built, Period.
    Total Car Porn at its best.
    The TR3's are very cool also, as are the Austin Healy 3000 MK1's.

  10. The comments above made a rousing good read, which I perused while enjoying a glass or two of Chateau Thames Embankment. I was reminded why I no longer own the two XK Jaguars and more than a dozen Series Land Rovers I pretended to love, all those years ago. I also love Minilites but, I'm sorry: They are nothing to a nice set of chromed, triple-laced Dunlop wires. Why would you want strong, light-weight wheels that require no routine truing?

  11. It occurs to me, the last British Car Day I attended, I arrived in a late-model Toyota Corolla. I realize now, that was a personal fail on many levels.

    1. That's funny, but I had 2 land rovers in the drive, and had to walk to my last Field Day.

  12. Psychotherapy is a broad field that calls upon a variety of professional services. Among the general public, some confusion still exists as to the functions and legal status of the various kinds of practitioners who treat mental disorders. Here we shall consider the psychiatrist, the neurologist, the clinical psychologist, the psychoanalyst, and the psychiatric social worker.
    Source page; http://behaviouralsciences.net

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