Our 1972 TR6 was purchased as a project for my son Michael and I. We purchased the car when my son was 15 and it took us about a year and a half to tear it down to the frame and tub and rebuild it to the condition it is in now. All of the work except for paint and machine work was done in our garage when other activities like school, sports and scouts didn’t take precedence. It was a great way of getting to spend some quality time together and for my son to learn about cars. This contributed to him now pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
I am fortunate to have a son and two daughters that appreciate and enjoy the TR-6. I know the car will live on and provide many memories of the good times we have with it. Michael and I both belong to the local British car club; the North Alabama British Motoring Society (NABMS) and go to the monthly meetings. One of the topics that we always gravitate to at our gatherings is the continuation of the hobby; no one wants it to die with us, so how do we get young people involved and eager to take it on?
One terrific avenue we found to pass along car knowledge and get teens interested in our quirky little cars is open for all who care to volunteer. Michael is an Eagle Scout and I was pretty involved with the local Troop while he was active in scouting. One of the areas I volunteered was as a Merit Badge counselor. The badge that really applies to this story is the Automotive Maintenance Merit Badge. It is a fun one for the boys as their interest in cars ramps up as they near driving age. To obtain the badge, scouts have to demonstrate knowledge in all of the major areas of car maintenance and function; from checking all the fluids and changing filters to explaining how the internal combustion engine works and the role that the cooling, ignition, fuel and drivetrain systems play. They need to explain all of the safety equipment, check the tires and know the warning lights and their operation. They have to show that they can change oil and tires.
Michael and I just did this with the Troop he belonged to. We were scheduled for 4 hours one afternoon after school at a hosting scout’s house and about 20 boys were there with scoutmasters and other parent volunteers. We brought Lilred and went through all of the requirements of the badge which are summarized here: http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges/mb-AUTO.aspx
All of the information needed to fulfill the badge requirement is also explained in detail in the Merit Badge Pamphlet for this badge available through the Troop. The event culminated in an early dinner of hot dogs on the grill, beans, chips and soft drinks and all of the boys were very appreciative of the knowledge that they had just acquired. Most of the boys up until this point had never seen what was under the hood of a car before, much less understood how cars work. From the questions they asked and the smiles on their faces, we could actually see the light bulbs of understanding turning on in their heads.
Having a TR-6 there made a difference. The kids all thought it was cool to see a small red convertible from a car company they had never heard of before that was manufactured forty years ago in England. The adults, too, were impressed at how simple a vintage car is compared to the cars they drive. They were wide-eyed at our ability to do our own service and troubleshooting without a computer or paying a shop $90 an hour.
I encourage you to reach out to a Troop near you and contact the Scoutmaster about volunteering to help with the badge, I am certain that they will welcome the help. You too can grab and fellow British car buddy and volunteer to share your knowledge about how they work. It’s easy to find a local Boy Scout Troop even if you don’t have scout age kids; Troops are usually chartered and meet at local churches. Church staff can usually put you in contact with the Scoutmaster(s). They will welcome the help.
By Luis Mijares