One Man’s Custom, Rd II

Dodge Dart 1965 Staunton 151024

Out with Gateway VCOA today in our XC90 for their annual fall colors drive, which ran right up old US 66 to Hamel and then back via Country Classic Cars in near Staunton.

This, believe it or not, started out as a 1965 Dodge Dart (note the “roll bar,” formed from the B-pillar and a section of roof).  The interior features a custom wood dash with two gauges (that’s right, only two, and neither is a speedometer or tach) and of course, the highly desirable tiger print seat covers.  And yes, that’s a Firebird nose grafted on the front.

Truly unique…

The Search for the Piasa Bird

151017 Fall-04 151017 Fall-20

Obviously, this time of year, the days are variable where weather’s concerned.  However, last Saturday, following Cars & Coffee, four SLTOA members in three Triumphs (Spitfire, TR6 and TR8) made the most of an incredibly great day to get out, see some scenery and see some fall colors (not too much in the way of the latter; it was still a little early for full color but hey, still nice out there).

Two cars/drivers drove up to Alton from C&C and rendezvoused at McD’s with car No. 3 and event organizers Ed and Mary.  From there we hauled up to Piasa Bird Park, then to the Brussels Ferry and from the opposite bank on up through Calhoun County over some really great roads (several of which recently covered with gravel…ah well, that’s what car washes are for) for lunch at the Barefoot in Hardin. Good food and great location, right on the Illinois River.

From Hardin, back on the Great River Road to Pere Marquette State Park, up the hill to a scenic overlook and then down the hill into Grafton for our final stop, at Aerie’s Winery (more great views!).  I do believe everyone and their brother/sister/uncle/aunt/cousin/dog was out hitting the various wineries, we actually ran into a traffic jam in downtown Grafton…Oh, and while heading down the back side of Pere Marquette, we also were treated to the sight of 25 or so Mazda Miatas/MX5s (presumably from the St Louis Miata Club) heading up the hill on their own drive.  Several of the cars and their passengers were appropriately decorated for Halloween…

Pity we didn’t get more of a turnout, a couple of the regulars came up at the monthly meeting Tuesday night and advised they were out of town over the weekend.  Ah well, one more major drive for SLTOA prior to the end of the year, the 3rd Annual Veterans Day Run on 8 November.  Hopefully we see plenty of cars for that one (and good weather…).

Cars & Coffee 2015 – Finito!

151017 C&C-19  151017 C&C-09

Just another great, fun morning up at Westport at the last Cars & Coffee for 2015.  The weather truly cooperated although it was a mite chilly early on, McD’s and StL Bread Co undoubtedly did a land office business in the coffee part of the proceedings.

As for the cars? Rough estimate of 300 or thereabouts, with good participation by multiple clubs and marques and, as always, several standouts…such as the Studebaker pickemup truck, seen above.

This gathering continues to grow and improve on a yearly basis, guess we’ll have to wait until next April or May to pick it up again.  In the meantime, a major Bravo Zulu to ML Hillard, the participants and all others who contributed in one way or another.

Center Ice Days 6-7: Homeward Bound


No LBCs…but apparently I caught Dr Who getting driving lessons…


Not much to add to the last two days of this road trip: up early on Monday heading up the Oregon coast via US 101, across the Columbia to Raymond/South Bend and then inland to Olympia, a left turn onto I-5 and my last night’s stay at a motel in Beautiful Downtown Federal Way.

I will say this: US 101 from Marin County north to the Olympic Peninsula is justifiably known as one of the most scenic drives on the planet; it’s also one of the most entertaining, with lots of twists and turns.  Once you hit Eureka in northern California, you’re pretty much right on the Pacific Ocean the rest of the way, so you get both the incredible scenery and the great driving, er, experience.

Some portions give you an opportunity to do a few miles on the original US 101 alignment. For example, Mon AM, after joining one of my daughters and her two kids at the schoolbus stop, I jumped on a roughly 10-mile section of the original highway, running from Otis (OR 18, east of Lincoln City; turn north at the Otis Cafe) to the north side of Cascade Head up by Neskowin.  OUTSTANDING!  Even early in the morning in semi-dense fog…this is most definitely sports car country.

Ah, but all good things come to an end.  Once back in Puget Sound I paid a visit to Tahoma National Cemetery and then checked in for a quiet night of working on a newsletter.  The next morning, back to SeaTac for the flight home, via Chicago-Midway (KMDW)…and wouldn’t you know it, game four of the National League Divisional Series, and the plane was half full with Cubs fans. ARRRGHHH…..

Center Ice Days 4-5: LBC Sighting

Y’all know how it goes…take a week or so off to do the important stuff in life like visiting kids/grandkids/exotic locales, etc.  Then you return to work and doggoned if your boss and coworkers present you with a list of demands, ie, stuff that should’ve been taken care of during your absence.  Makes for long days, short evenings and grievous gaps in some of the other important things in like, like maintaining a trip blog.

So that’s where we’re at: five days following the return from the northwest, two newsletters (one for Air Force radar veterans and SLTOA’s “Exhaust Notes” for October) out the door, Cars & Coffee, one SLTOA driving event in the books AND oh by the way, all caught up at work.  Which means we can finally provide the final entries for this last trip. Phew…

Last weekend proved rather quiet, with an early-Saturday run from south Portland to the Oregon Coast for two days with daughter No. 1 and her mob.  Once the coastal weather cleared on Saturday, the rods came out in force, including a rather startling procession of about 20 on US 101 near Lincoln City.  Wasn’t in any position to get photos but the ’49 Ford woodie wagon stood out.  Later, while doing a couple of errands with daughter No. 2, a yellow late-model crash bumper MGB blew by, going in the opposite direction.  Again, no shot, but the siting marked two LBC sightings in two days, not bad.

Center Ice Day 3: VICTORY!

All American Classics VCR 151010

After a rather long day on both sides of the Columbia River, I was all prepared to run the photo above, make a comment of “neat/interesting American heavy metal parts/car dealership in Vancouver” and move on to day four of the search for Northwestern LBCs.

Then, much to my surprise, at the corner of WA 500/NE Padden Parkway and WA 503/NE 117th St, northeast Vancouver, while I sat at the light, a maroonish TR6 barreled through the intersection northbound.  The chase was on…took me about eight or so miles, but the Triumph driver finally pulled off into a driveway and I followed him, MUCH to his surprise. I identified myself, he agreed to a photo and I counted coup for the first time on this extended patrol.

Triumph TR6 1971 VCR 151009

Allow me to introduce Randy and his recently acquired 1971 TR6, complete with newly upgraded exhaust system (looked good, sounded great!).  We talked for a good 15 minutes and no, he wasn’t a member of the Portland Triumphs (at least, yet) as he’d just bought the car and cleaned it up.  Hopefully he’ll see fit to join but in the meantime, I certainly enjoyed talking with him and seeing his car.

So, victory in the LBC search, followed by another victory back home (Cards 4, Cubs 0, NLDS game 1) and yet another victory: the mighty Portland Winterhawks bested the Spokane Chiefs 5-0.  Great night with another branch of the family and a great night for hockey.

To the coast tomorrow.

And yes, the search will continue…

Center Ice Day 2: Doing That Clackamas Thing

Model A 1929 Clackamas 151008

Pulled a 20-hour day yesterday followed by 10 hours of sleep, therefore YFE was somewhat lucid when he pulled out this AM to check in with daughter No. 2 and her family down in Wilsonville.   Stopped at a mini-mart to get the morning Diet Pepsi, looked across the street (OR 204/212) and saw a business named “Get Bent” (I’m not making this up), complete with several old Buicks parked out front.

Turns out the company is the only mandrel bending facility in greater Portland, specializing in custom exhaust systems for all types of cars with emphasis on street rods.  Owner Steve gave me the quick grand tour (hmmm…this would be the perfect place to get an exhaust system for the TR8, once I put headers on the engine).   The projects included the car seen above: a somewhat kit-bashed 1929 Ford Model A which is undergoing conversion to a hearse.  The power plant is a 502ci Buick (!).

Good day overall with the grandkids, the search for LBCs continues.

Center Ice Day 1: Back on the Road

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No, not British, but rather unique and rare: a Datsun 510 wagon, seen in Woodland, WA.  Didn’t get the camera unlimbered in time to shoot the front of the car; a Japanese flag dominates the hood.


Wednesday, 7 October: started the day in St Louis with an oh-dark-thirty drive to Lambert, spent the middle part of the day in Seattle and McChord AFB and finished it in Clackamas, Oregon, on the southeast side of Portland.   Yup, on the road again, in search of LBCs in and around spending some quality time with the kids and grandkids, including the one-month-old newest addition to the family.

Both Seattle and Portland are home to very strong, active Triumph clubs.   The Seattle group is Tyee Triumph, one of the oldest of the TR organizations which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year (Tyee started out as one of the Triumph Sports Owners Association component clubs); great bunch of people who regularly hold an extensive number of events.   You can look them up at   Further south in the Rose City, the Portland Triumph Owners Association holds forth, also quite active; their web page is at

Per usual for the recent road trips, haven’t seen Triumphs or other LBCs yet, but then again, most of the initial patrols have taken place on weekdays, I might get lucky this weekend in and around a run to the coast and phase II of this particular excursion.

Oh, and “Center Ice?”   Tomorrow night’s main activity, with oldest son and his mob: hockey night in Portland, where the mighty Winterhawks take on the hated Spokane Chiefs in Western Hockey League action.   I attended a lot of Seattle Thunderbirds games while I lived in Puget Sound from 1996-2005, it’s great hockey and should be quite a night.

More to follow…


Fulton Overnighter

151003 Fulton-21

Hoo-hah, great weekend trip, even if YFE had to depart early Saturday afternoon while the rest of the crew spent the night in Fulton.  From all reports, those who stayed that evening, had dinner together and breakfast the next AM prior to the return to St Louis had a seriously large time.

We (the Kressers, Paurs, Moores, Masseys) mustered in Marthasville with three Triumphs (two TR6s and the HSD), two BMWs (Z3 and Z4) and rendezvoused with drive organizers Jack and Bonnie David at a Casey’s on the south side of Fulton.  In true SLTOA fashion, we actually came into Fulton from three different directions: Jack and Bonnie from the north, having driven directly from St Charles County; YFE, from the southeast, via MO Hwy C; and the main body – the other four couples – came in from the south-southwest via US 54…Steve Moore was quick to note that apparently they’d taken the scenic route, as they’d seen the Missouri State Capitol.

Anyway, great lunch at Beks downtown, followed by a look at Westminster College, the Chapel, the Churchill statue, the section of the Berlin Wall (yup, we made the BMWs park in front of it; the LBCs parked in front of Churchill) and the Churchill Museum. M ade for some great conversation and some great photos.

Great drive in absolutely perfect weather, thanks to Bonnie and Jack for setting it up.

Sunday’s Autocross

151004 BSCC-02 Fox

I’ve lost track of which autocross this actually was in the Boeing Sports Car Club series BUT, despite the solid overcast and cool temps, a good number of drivers and cars turned out for the 4 October event.  John Maneke and Creig Houghtaling carried the flag for SLTOA in their, well, ‘Vettes but Lee Fox did make an appearance, thus putting one Triumph on the field of valor.

Next autocross, Family Arena in St Charles, 18 October.  Last event for the season is in November.