With car shows—as in life and chocolate-filled boxes—you never know what you’re going to get. One of the draws to attending these events is the chance to see the previously unseen or gaze again upon an old favorite from the past. Typically, appreciating truly rare automobiles requires a trip to Pebble Beach or Amelia Island with the weekend gathering for Cars and Coffee able to satisfy my avidity for more prosaic fare. My automotive tastes—like yours—run firmly to British sports cars and there is little that I haven’t seen.
Moss Motorfest is a chance to greet old friends, make new ones, see cars on display, and go on guided tours of the impressively large Virginia facility. Some attendees were eager to see the truly momentous automobiles that are usually on display in the showroom—from the Works MGA Sebring, Triumph Italia, Dove GTR4 Coupe and the TC that started it all with Al Moss behind the wheel—and rightfully so. For many, this was their first chance to see an Italia, Dove or factory racer up close and there were crowds around them all day long. There were rare cars on the grass too, including one of the 25 TDs bodied by the Zeppelin Garage in Stuttgart, Germany and a pair of matched Peerless GTs. My own expectations were different—having seen these special cars before—and lower than most other guests.
For various reasons I have haunted British car shows across the country for some time and have seen almost every color and permutation of Healey, MG or Triumph extant. It has been a long time since a car has surprised me and even longer since one has stopped me in my tracks. Imagine my surprise then at finding out that the finest restoration of a British sports car that I have ever seen was sitting on the grass in front of the Moss warehouse in Petersburg. The 1968 Triumph GT6 owned by Jeff Lampinski is among the best restorations I have encountered, after over 25 years in the hobby, inclusive of the Bugattis, Delahayes and Ferraris that are denizens of most high-end car events. The people at Motorfest agreed with me, voting the car as Best of Show and hovering around it for hours, muttering to themselves with awe. That Jeff trailered the car down from Valley Forge, Pennsylvania to display it with us was my highlight of the weekend.
What else was there? As expected, the Big Three were well represented—Austin-Healey, MG and Triumph—but there were great examples from Austin, Hillman, Jaguar, Lotus, Morgan and Sunbeam too. Who showed up? Of the hundreds of cars there, the majority of them were driven on their own wheels from all over the Eastern Seaboard. I was impressed with the quality of the cars that showed up as well; not in terms of restoration points but in driven miles. There was a Spitfire adorned with memorabilia from almost every state and several Motoring Challenge competitors were there with stories to tell.
There were a handful of cars that were painted by hand or roller and these true drivers appealed to me in ways that many concours cars cannot. There were vehicles adorned with flames, stripes and decals and those painted in factory correct colors as well as some that were more—ahem—original. The best part was that every car there was appreciated by those attending without judgment or admonishment; there were plenty of V-8 engines crammed into small engine bays, more modern transmissions than you could shake a stick shift at and plenty of wheel choices on display. There were interiors trimmed with corduroy, exotic leathers and electrical tape and all had an equal place on the field.
In the end, Motorfest was a celebration about cars and customers that brought in our friends from all over the country—and in some cases across the Atlantic—to remember why we love what we do. Helping you enjoy your sports car is a special calling and no matter whom we talked to the verdict was the same; you love your car—a passion that we share too. Next time we do this we hope to hear more stories and to see more cars on display. Until then, drive safely and we’ll see you soon.
By Johnny Oversteer
P.S. from the editor: After Motorfest, we sent out an email to help return a few lost items. A memorable reply…
I seem to have left my 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk3 Phase 2 (BRG) behind on Saturday—please let me know if any turn up in the weeds. I’ll be back to fetch it in a flash.
Thanks in advance,
(long-time Moss customer)