Friday, December 22, 2017

Danville Street Sighting - 1957 Austin-Healey 100-6 Roadster

December is almost over and we're still doing red British roadsters. Might as well finish the set with the one I most enjoyed photographing. This is a 1957 Austin-Healey 100-6.
As sports cars go, it's not too difficult to find an Austin-Healey in my area. The trouble is, they're all being driven around on nice days. Not many actually stop long enough for me to do a photo shoot. This one has made a couple of appearances over the past year in downtown Danville.

The 100-6 was an important stepping stone in the evolution of the "Big Healey" roadsters. The Austin-Healey 100 was built on the Austin A90 chassis with a much better looking roadster body. It was called the Big Healey because it was a larger stablemate to the diminutive "Bugeye/Frogeye" Sprite. The 100 name came from the car's ability to hit 100 mph speeds. The 100 was campaigned in racing and was continuously improved. Big changes came in 1956 when the wheelbase was stretched, allowing for a small back seat. The body gained a new grille and windshield, and most importantly a new six-cylinder engine borrowed from the Austin Westminster. Enter the 100-6.

The Healey 100-6 was sold from 1956 to 1959, when it was replaced by the 3000 model. Most of the Austin-Healeys I see are 3000s, which makes sense given that they represent nearly three times more cars (42,926 produced versus the 100-6 at 14,418). Most Healeys were exported to the U.S. and many are still here.

(One minor note to make. See that brown and white Dodge van in the background of the high front view shot? I see it all the time, and you'll be seeing it here at a later date.)

This car is a fine example of a nice driver. It looks gorgeous yet shows signs that the gentleman who owns it has taken it out on touring rallies, car club events and possibly a bit of motorsport for good measure! The race number almost certainly refers to the model year. I question the Harley Davidson sideview mirrors, but that may reflect the owner's other motoring passion. It is otherwise a very beautiful and proper looking little British sports car and a true classic in my opinion.
This is definitely on my short list of favorite street photo shoots in recent memory.

Photographed March 2016

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Danville Street Sighting - 1968 Triumph TR 250 Roadster

My theme of features for late November was red British roadsters. So here we are halfway through December on the cusp of the winter solstice, and I've been remiss. Here's a 1968 Triumph TR 250.

The TR 250 was offered for only a year or two in the United States. Readers across the pond may recognize it as roughly equivalent to a TR5. The TR 250 enjoyed relative popularity in the States and sold at least triple as many copies as the Euro-spec TR5, over 8400 cars. I have seen at least four of them around Northern California. Where the TR5 was available with Lucas fuel injection and made 140 horsepower, the U.S. market TR 250 came with twin carburetors and was detuned to 111 horsepower.

This is a well equipped example of the TR 250. It features the optional wire wheels, overdrive and the so-called Surrey Top. The Surrey Top is a multi-piece roof comprised of a removable hard rear section and a separate hard or soft center section. An interesting feature of the standard convertible top was a reflective stripe around the side and rear window edges. It was advertised as being a safety item for added visibility to other drivers at night. The interior features a traditional walnut veneer dashboard, full carpeting and leather upholstery. This one may also have optional factory air conditioning.

This car has been around the block a few times. It's in fairly good driver condition though, rust free and solid. Looks snappy with a white stripe on the hood and fenders, and red line tires on the wire wheels with spinner hubcaps. It also has some of the most interesting side marker lights I've seen on a car. The interior has aged a bit and I'd say the dash wood could use a good sanding and new coat of varnish. The radio is also missing. The trunk lid has mounting bolts that suggest it once held a luggage rack. It looks like the sort of little car you can hop in, thrash it on a winding road until something starts to leak, go home and tinker with it and then do it all over again the following weekend.

Photographed September 2016

Monday, November 27, 2017

Emeryville Street Sighting - 1969 Lotus Elan S4 S/E Drophead Coupe

Any of my readers remember the Lotus Elite I featured in 2016? That wasn't the only car parked on that block that day. I left the Laney College flea market in Oakland on a Sunday morning and cruised over to Emeryville. I found two classic Lotus sports cars and a small warehouse with the roll-up door open. The owner was going to take one of the cars for a drive and needed to move the other in order to get it outside. Here is the Lotus Elan SE roadster.

The first-generation Lotus Elan was produced from 1962 to 1973. Five iterations were built; the 1500, 1600, S2, S3 and S4. All were visually similar with changes mostly under the skin and under the hood. I believe this car to be the later S4 model judging by the shape of its taillights. It is the S/E model indicating Special Equipment. That meant more power and additional comfort options at a small weight penalty. The Elan featured a double overhead cam four cylinder displacing 1.6 liters. All Elans received disc brakes all around, four-wheel independent suspension and rack and pinion steering. The result was a very light, tossable car with balanced handling and a tight turning circle. Bodywork was fiberglass over a light steel central backbone chassis.

This particular car appears to have the smooth hood from a Sprint model Elan; regular cars have a hood bulge on the right side to clear the carburetors. This car may have been upgraded to Sprint spec. I'm not sure what the difference in dimensions is for the Sprint's Weber carbs versus the standard Strombergs, but apparently the Webers clear the lower hood line.

The interior of this car is one of my favorite details. It's nicely trimmed in black leatherette with a walnut veneer dashboard and wooden shift knob. It may be a European-spec car since it is 1968 or later and has no federal side marker lights. The padded roll bar is an aftermarket addition that leads me to believe the owner probably races or otherwise tracks the car.

I know of at least two Elans in my area but this is the only one I've found parked on the street. It's a lovely Lotus.

Photographed July 2015