A quartet of British automobiles: Rover, Triumph, Jaguar, Austin Healey
The Triumph TR-7 and TR-8 - the last and best of the Triumph sports cars
A rare Elva Courier, named for the French "elle va" - she goes!
The 19th annual British Invasion weekend took over Stowe, VT, during September 17-20, 2009. Over 500 British cars ran up and down the Mt. Mansfield mountain road day and night, their sights and sounds thrilling British car enthusiasts the entire weekend.
My TR-7 Spider, with 110,000 miles on the odometer and a gentle worn out appearance, shared the limelight with a spectacular collection of British cars representing most of the classic marques: MG, Triumph, Austin Healey, Sunbeam, Jaguar, Rover, Land Rover, Rolls Royce, Bentley, Morgan, Lotus, and even some Elvas. Enthusiasts drove from all the northeastern states and Canada to enjoy the weekend.
The best moments for me came with the drives from Maine to Vermont, all on two-lane roads, many of which were devoid of other cars. The TR-7 handled itself brilliantly and its unusual interior creature comforts kept me comfortable even with the top down on chilly days. I heartily recommend Rte. 2 in NH, and Maine, for high speed two lane drives, and Rte. 2 in VT for windy roads, hill ascents and descents, and spectacular mountain vistas.
A ride up Stowe's Mountain Road trailing a host of TR-8's on Saturday sunset won't be forgotten soon. While their V-8's growled, my OHC 4 hit 5000 rpm on every shift and kept pace with the higher powered TR-8's. At the top of the mountain on Rte. 108 you enter Smuggler's Notch and its S-curves, barely wide enough for two cars in each direction. We paused as a group on the downhill side so one TR-8 could turn back to retrieve a lost fan belt.
As I waited in the off road parking area, I noted an Elva Courier turning in and its friendly occupants - a man, woman and dog wedged into the narrow car - waving at my TR-7. They headed back through the Notch towards Stowe and I gave chase. Keeping up with the narrower, lighter Elva demonstrated the trade-off required by the wider TR-7. I could see the Elva's driver cranking his large wheel side to side as he swept around sharp corners; I really had to wrench the tiny Momo wheel on my Spider and heave the added bulk of the TR-7 around each corner. The car took it all in stride and demanded the requisite strength that separated this 70's sports car from the pretenders such as the Datsun 240 Z.
Exhilarated from the sunset drive, I took a longer top down ride on a moonless, starlit night along Rte. 100 heading north from Stowe village. The heater kept some warmth on the near-freezing night, the old tape deck cranked out Al Green and Aaron Neville, the stars shone brilliantly, framed by the mountains to the west and the corn fields to the east, and the sound of my engine resonated through the valley. Cold as it was, I could not have been happier that night.
The British Invasion has a tireless group of organizers who attract genuine enthusiasts to return each year, and the town of Stowe and its residents and workers roll out a fine welcome mat. The cars bring out the best in most of their owners, and that's something you don't want to miss next year.
Oh, yes, on the 6 hour drive home, just as I entered Maine, I came across a convoy on Rte. 2 of New Brunswick enthusiasts, in 2 Austin Healey's, an MGB, and a Triumph TR-3. I honked and raised the headlights, got a nice wave, and joined their lineup for 40 miles until I had to head SE on Rte. 17 towards Augusta. It provided a capstone to a great weekend - as did the empty stretch of Rte. 17 from Canton - Manchester, ME.
The Rover P5, a most proper saloon car
A unique SAS conversion Land Rover
"The Land Rover is not a vehicle, it's a way of life."