By Ken Smith
British Extravaganza Turns 10 In 2005
Moss Motors and VARA will team up for the tenth year running for the 2005 British Extravaganza. Held at Buttonwillow Raceway near Bakersfield, California, the anniversary bash will happen May 14-15, 2005.
In addition to the usual VARA vintage races, Moss car show, and barbecue followed by a no-holds-barred karaoke spectacle, the 2005 British Extravaganza will have several special features. For one, 2005 will be the 50th anniversary of the MGA, so that model will be honored accordingly.
As a special treat, John Sprinzel will make a rare guest appearance at the Extravaganza. Vintage rally fans know Sprinzel as one of the sport’s true legends. Trained as an RAF pilot, Sprinzel began racing motocross and crewed for ocean-racing sailboats before taking up rallying in 1955. He formed the tuning firm Speedwell in 1957, then joined the BMC Abingdon works rally team. Sprinzel tied for first place in the 1958 BTCC (Touring Car Championships) and won the British Rally Championship and the British Trials and Rally Drivers Gold Star Championship in 1959.
In 1960, Sprinzel joined the Donald Healey Motors Company and formed their London-based tuning division. Next, he prepared and campaigned a Sprite in the European Rally Championship, the forerunner of today’s WRC. Sprinzel also won his class at Sebring in a Sprite. Other career highlights include driving for the Triumph TR3 works team, captaining the TR4 team, and competing in international rallys in MGs, Rovers, Fords (UK and USA), Peugeots and Saabs.
In the UK, Sprinzel Racing expanded to 14 car dealerships, selling a variety of British, German, Italian, French, and Swedish cars. Upon retiring from competitive motorsports, Sprinzel worked as a TV commentator, author, and even as a professional wind-surfer. He currently lives in Hawaii and still owns a Frog-Eye Sprite. We encourage all British sportscar and rally fans to meet John Sprinzel in person at Buttonwillow this coming May
20 Years Ago In Moss Motoring
The Winter 1984 edition of Moss Motoring featured the new Custom Deluxe seat kits that Moss manufactured in our upholstery facility for the MGB and the Triumph TR6. An inside page feature depicted step-by-step instruction for fitting these fine products, and a related article covered the care and maintenance of leather. Tech tips addressed such diverse yet timeless topics as wire wheels, cylinder head studs, and toggle switches.
In “Club Corner,” Lawrie Alexander gave a comprehensive schedule for organizing a British Car Club in your area. These suggestions are still valid today, and reprints of this article are available for those of you wishing to get British car enthusiasts together in your particular area.
Finally, how about an Austin-Healey 100-6 for $5,500? Or a ‘59 MGA roadster for $4,500 or a fine ‘67 MGB roadster with hardtop at 2,500 bucks? These were just a few of the many cars offered in the “classic-fied” advert section twenty years ago!
News From The UK British Car Scene
TVR Goes Red! Well-respected company TVR based in Blackpool, England, was sold to Russian sportscar enthusiast Nikolai Smolenski. TVR has been struggling with high engine-production costs and build-quality problems, delaying the intended launch of the brand in the lucrative American market. Former owner Peter Wheeler, who bought TVR in 1982, will remain on the board.
Bentley Blows Up Sales! Bentley sales experienced a staggering rise last summer. In June 2004, the company sold 311 vehicles–compared to just 14 cars in June ‘03. Credit goes to the Bentley GT Coupe, which is still changing hands at a premium.
MG/Rover–”Soy Sauce With That?” Still troubled by financial problems and possible labor disputes, MG/Rover held talks with the creditors of the formerly Korean-owned Daewoo FSO, before embarking on partnership discussions with Proton and the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Shanghai is reportedly interested in buying a major stake in MG/Rover, which the MGR directors vehemently deny. A possible deal with China Brilliance collapsed last year after internal problems. Rover has been seeking international partners for some time to help it bear the cost of developing new models. (Reminds us of baseball owners who vehemently deny that they are about to fire the manager– then he’s gone!)
Mini Sells Half A Million!
Last August, Mini achieved a milestone as the half-millionth car left the production plant at Oxford. The 500,000th car, a dark silver Cooper S bound for the USA (Mini’s second-biggest market after the UK), was the latest in a total of 375,000 that have been exported. The historical production figure was achieved in half the time that BMW thought possible. That same day saw the launch of the Cooper “S” convertible. Just shows what can be achieved if you have the courage to export a popular brand to the States. How about it, MG/Rover?
All Roads Lead To Atlanta In April
For the second consecutive year, Moss Motors will co-sponsor HSR’s Walter Mitty Weekend at Road Atlanta April 28-May 1. In conjunction with Classic Motorsports magazine, Moss will host the event’s MG-Triumph Challenge as vintage racers vie to see who’s the best of the Brits. This year, both MG and Triumph racers have chosen this to be their focus event, so the competition will be hot.
“Moss Motors is honored to be involved with the Mitty again this year,” says marketing manager Kelvin Dodd. “We got a taste of the event last year and had a great time, despite very British weather. This year, we look forward to seeing a record number of competitors on the track and the support of local British owners and clubs.”
Road Atlanta is a 2.54-mile course set in the rolling red clay hills of Georgia, about 40 miles northeast of Atlanta. It features 12 challenging turns, including its famous “esses” and the tricky Turn 10. SVRA used to hold the MG Safety Fast Championship at Road Atlanta in the 1980s. Camping is available at the track.
In addition to the vintage races, the Classic Motorsports Autofest will include a car show, an autocross, and tech seminars. “This event is a great way for us to meet our customers and distributors in the Southeast,” Moss man Kelvin Dodd states. “It should be a hectic weekend, but we still plan to enjoy a Newkie Brun or two with old and new friends in Atlanta.” For more information and registration forms, visit www.classicmotorsports.com and www.roadatlanta.com.
10,000-Mile TD Trek
Moss Motors was proud to sponsor MG owner Rick Malsed on his three-month North American tour. Departing on July 12, 2004 from his hometown of Magnolia, Washington, Rick set out to visit 40 states and Canada. The trip included stops at several high-profile British car events en route: GOF West in British Columbia, the MG Summer Party in Grand Rapids (see coverage in this issue), the T-Register’s GOF at Watkins Glen, New York, and Al Moss’s High Country Tour of Sedona, Arizona, to name a few. new axles, TF rear shocks, and negative-ground electronics.
Following the MG is Rick’s “TD-BT” Rick’s car is a ‘52 MG-TD that he calls MaGgie (after his hometown, Magnolia). It’s painted Austin-Healey silver blue-gray with black wings and has been updated with a 1,500cc engine, a 5-speed gearbox bedroom trailer. He custom-built the MG-ified 260-pound tag-along with a pop-up tent, 12” wheels, 11” “sideboards,” TD wings, taillights, bumper and MG insignia, and custom tonneau cover.
The Milwaukee and Great Lakes MG Motorcar Group gave enthusiasts frequent updates through the “Rick On The Road” column on its website (www.mg3club.org). Rick’s hometown paper, The Magnolia News, also followed Rick’s exploits in a “Travels With Maggie” series of articles.
In addition to sponsorship from Moss Motors, Magellan also assisted Rick with its RoadMate 700 GPS navigation system. Look for a feature article on this trip in the next issue of British Motoring.