It’s driving season. To keep your car in top shape, get out and go.
By Robert Goldman
On an unassuming street, in a nondescript building, in a suburb of Philadelphia, lurks an incredible private car collection. At the recent Vintage Triumph Register convention at Valley Forge, PA, I happened to be in the right place at the right time, receiving an invitation to visit the collection of Dr. Fred Simeone.
Dr. Simeone, who personally guided us through, explained his collecting philosophy as follows; he collects sports racing cars which have real competition history (either his exact car or other examples of the same model), and he can drive them himself. This last point is important because it dictates the nature and condition of his collection.
In spite of the incredible rarity and value of many of his cars, their mechanical condition and degree of restoration is dictated by the demands of historical preservation and roadworthy condition, not the judging at Pebble Beach. My own extremely modest collection, although never really codified as such, is maintained to the same standard. In other words, given the choice between pursuing a concours restoration, or making the car a reliable driver, I drift into the latter camp.
I took a beating over the driving thing at VTR. We did a presentation on supercharging the TR6, and when someone asked about cold weather testing, I knew I was in trouble. “We leave the cars out overnight and drive them to work.” Giggles ensue. “No really, we get overnight frost.” That did it, the audience busted up laughing. Here on the coast, it’s pretty tough to claim there is such a thing as a driving season. It’s always driving season in CA. It should be, but most of my cars don’t have tops…or heaters. I wimp out when the thermometer says thirty something and I’m facing a 45 minute drive to work.
So, as with those of you who live in true winter climates, I have a limited driving season as well. A good friend of mine, somewhere slightly north of 69 years of age, drove his TR250 from California to Pennsylvania for VTR. It’s not an isolated experience, he has done this for many years. Asked if he is concerned about reliability, Herman would say no, not really. In fact, if a British car is in reasonable shape, and gets regular use, there is no reason it should be at all unreliable.
There is an unfortunate correlation between occasional use and reliability. When taken out for a real stretch, a car which is only idled around town once in a while is often prone to breakdown. Cars which receive regular workouts typically stay in shape. Oddly enough, when it comes to exercise, British cars and their human owners are eerily similar. If Dr. Simeone can get out and exercise his 1959 Aston Martin DBR1, we can all probably afford to do the same in our own cars. It’s driving season folks. Now get out there and give your car the exercise it deserves.