For sure as Americans we have all had a love affair with a car. I did but the bigger story is how often life has a way of sneaking up on you and reminding you of the heights of stupidity you have reached in your past. My car was a Belgium Racing Yellow Triumph TR6.
I had traveled to Rochester, NY for a job interview with Kodak and saw the car in a driveway with a For Sale sign on it. No chance I wasn’t going to stop and when I did, I found a car brought here from England by a relocated doctor who decided to sell. It had less than 3,000 miles on it, a removable hardtop, electric overdrive……..I put a deposit on it and when I got back home, got a bank loan OK-ed the same day. I cannot remember who drove me back to Rochester but I had the car parked in front of my parent’s house within 48 hours.
I loved that car and kept it washed and waxed, chrome polished, to the point that it hurt your eyes to look at it in bright sunlight. Nothing like a convertible in the summer and even today, when I see a TR6, or hear one, which is a rare occurrence, I still love the body style and remember vividly what a joy to drive it was. With the hardtop on, it looked like a 2 seater Mercedes and I drove it in winter too. It was rear wheel drive and the gas tank was right above the rear axle so if you kept the tank full, it would make any hill in my hometown during the winter. Honestly, I think if I had put a plow on it I could have pushed snow. Oh, the stories I could tell where my TR played an integral role but maybe those will come at a future date.
Now jump ahead a few years. I had two payments left to hold the title clear and found myself in the throes of love gone awry. Enough said. I decided to buy a new car one Saturday and drove to a local Nissan dealer to look at a 280ZX. I bought one and the dealer actually offered me $2,000 more in trade than I had paid for the TR6. I didn’t need to trade it and could have easily swung the Nissan but, in a universal sized brain fart, I traded it in. By the next day, I was feeling sick to my stomach at abandoning my old friend. On Monday morning, I called the dealer and said I wanted to buy the Triumph back. I was informed that the car didn’t sit on the lot for two hours as someone stopped and bought it almost as soon as they put it out. I was devastated but had no choice but to face up to my stupidity and move on.
A few more years. The 280ZX is long gone. I hated it. After a brief foray into racing go karts, I was now driving an El Camino which I had bought to haul the kart and parts, etc. It had gotten to far to drive to race and, honestly, I was not very good at it. I sold the kart and started looking for a sports car again. One day, I see an ad in the Syracuse paper for a ’76 Triumph TR6 with a factory hard top, electric overdrive………I immediately called and made an appointment to see the car. Now, the only blemish on my car had been a tiny dent, about the size of the head of a nail, in the rear bumper. I get to the house and the guy comes out and raises the garage door and…..BAM…..there is the tiny dent in the rear bumper. The car is now purple. Fucking PURPLE!!! I get the keys, get in the car, and it barely starts and runs like a $69 lawnmower. I back it out and the brakes screech. So, I pulled the car back in, got out and flipped the keys back to the guy as I say, “that was my car and you fucking ruined it.”
At the point I left, I knew that I had absolutely let down an old friend and I was almost physically sick as the world reinforced to me the height of my stupidity in getting rid of a car that I essentially owned outright. A classic. A treasure. Like all losses we have in life, you move on and although you certainly experience pangs of “I wish”, or “I shoulda”, life continued to roll along and I healed.
Now, roll ahead more than 20 years. I am with my son in Concord, Massachusetts picking up my daughter after a hockey tournament. We had parked and were walking to the hotel to meet Kathryn, we turn a corner and…….life delivers just one more swift kick in the ass. There sits the twin of my Belgium Racing Yellow Triumph TR6. Top down. My son raves, “Dad, look at that car! What kind of car is it???!!!!” Yup, life forces me to expose my idiocy to a son who, like all good sons, thinks his Dad is a combo of Archimedes, Newton and Plato. Instead, after explaining that I once owned that identical car, life left me feeling much more like Ralph Kramden. My son asks me why I got rid of it and my thoughts don’t match my words. Answer? Like Ralph, “BECAUSE I’M AN IDIOT!” Or, now, a Loonatic.