Forty-five Years and Still in My Life!

“Merg’s” Story by Al MacIlroy, Winter 2009-2010 – V11.0

It was a warm spring evening as I sat outside my Bachelor Officer’s House on Mather Air Force Base, just east of Sacramento, California. I turned to my friend and fellow officer and said, “Let’s go look at sports cars.” He was shocked and still tells the story.

I was a new U.S. Air Force second lieutenant, with still shiny “brown bars” and navigator wings. Somehow the green VW sitting in the driveway did not fit my image of a young flying officer in Bomb/Nav Upgrade and Combat Crew Training for an assignment to Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-52s in 1964.

As the son of very frugal New Englanders the “beetle” seemed like a good purchase, after graduating from the USAF Aviation Cadet Program at James Connelly Air Force Base in Wace, Texas. It carried me from Texas to Tennessee and New England. Then on to California – over 32,000 miles in less than one year. A “few” other trips on the odometer too. Skiing in the Sierras, plus many trips to San Francisco.

Off we went in the “beetle” to search the town. First stop was the MG dealer. At 6 feet 2 inches, my head hit the roof. The Triumph Dealer was just down the street.

Turner Motors, authorized dealer for Volvo and Triumph, appeared ahead as we drove down Arden Way. Into the dealership we went.

It was love at first sight as “she” sat there that warm evening! “She” had a white top and tonneau cover, wire wheels, white wall tires, black leather seats and painted white. The frugal New Englander kicked in, for just a minute, and told me that the white top and tonneau would be difficult to maintain. So, with the salesman’s help, we took the black top and tonneau from the car beside her on the lot.

“Yes, this fits me,” I thought.

The car salesman asked, “Are you a salesman with all those miles?” I answered, “No, just a single Air Force officer.”

The VW with all the miles got me a $1,600 trade in allowance. However, I still owed $1,050 so only $550 really counted. Total sticker price $3,534.70. It is interesting to note that the heater was considered an “Accessory.”

Thirty minutes or so later I was the proud owner of a 1964 Triumph TR4. I am now $2,984.70 poorer! And, really excited about top down drives in a “foreign” sport’s car in California. Later on I found myself even poorer when my insurance company announced I fit into the top price category: single, military, under 25 years old, sports car and living in California.

With the top down it was back to Mather Air Force Base for one happy second lieutenant. My amazed friend kept asking, “How can you make up your mind so quickly?”

I had some friends with TR3s, with side curtains, who chided me. “That is really not a sports car. It has roll-up windows,” they would say to me. When the “monsoons” hit the area I was the one dry inside my TR.

Her name became Mergatroid, Merg for short. I am not sure of the circumstances of the naming as I look back. I remember it as from a poem “Mehitable and the Cockroach” that I seem to remember from high school or was it from Red Skelton’s exclaiming “Heavens to Mergatroid.” Still searching Google for clues.

According to Merg’s birth certificate, obtained from the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust, she rolled off the assembly-line December 23, 1963 in England. Her “official name:” STC64-CT28591L. She boarded a ship in England bound for California and was off-loaded in San Francisco. Years later I learned the trip included a stop in Los Angeles. I purchased her on tax day, April 15, 1964.

As a side note, Merg “met” one of her sister’s years later at a Triumph Travelers club meeting in Santa Clara California. “Name?” STC 64-CT28595L, who left the ship in Los Angeles Harbor according to her BMIHT document.

Before the days of computers, and all the sophisticated vehicle tracking, on Merg’s hand written registrations, the “L” was changed to a “W.” She was in Massachusetts as I began my assignment to Westover Air Force Base outside of Springfield. The “W” continued when registered in Colorado and was found in error when I moved back to California years later.

She is still in great shape with an estimated 210,000 miles (odometer quit for a few years). The “life-time” warranty has supplied 7 sets of free Midas mufflers (total 14) since her first set of Midas’ mufflers in 1967. Shell supplied four “life-time” warranty batteries until they canceled the program. At an average of 22 miles per gallon of gasoline she has consumed about 9,600 gallons of gasoline and who knows how much oil. Spark plugs would total 80 helping to wear out 20 tires, 3 sets of wire wheels and four tops.

Merg has been registered in California twice and once in Massachusetts, Colorado, Minnesota and now in New Jersey. Yes, it did get cold in Minnesota! She was stored for the winter. It was the first time in 36 years that she had not been driven in the winter. I have driven her in 34 states and three provinces of Canada.

Merg’s list of National Parks and Monuments include: Yosemite, Sequoia, King’s Canyon, Grand Tetons, Dinosaur, Rocky Mountain, Mesa Verde, Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Acadia National Park, Skyline Drive in the Shenandoah National Park, Great Smokey Mountains and what was to become the Cape Cod National Seashore.

The fall of 1964 I drove her from California to Massachusetts via Tennessee which was fun. The most miles completed in one 24 hour period were 765, including a lot of miles on the now Old Route 66. Very few Interstate highways at the time. No top down for that distance. The top speed, as advertised in the marketing brochure, was tested very early one morning on the desert. I was satisfied with the results.

A 1965 Canadian trip included Nova Scotia, The Gaspe, Cape Breton, Prince Edward Island, along the Saint Lawrence River coming back with lots of red dirt on her sides. As we stopped at B&Bs for the night, it was interesting to hear how people felt about the then new maple leaf Canadian Flag.

Other trips found Merg in the White and Green Mountains of New England. Going further south Merg had her first flat tire outside Washington, DC. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and the Blue Ridge Parkway were next.

The USAF, SAC, years found her parked in view of “loaded” B-52s on alert during the Cold War years. Some were painted the sinister looking black camouflage as they were prepared for deployment bombing in Viet Nam. At the same time we traveled New England on rural roads surrounded by the beautiful fall colors or the white snow of winter for skiing.

Winter was greeted with the addition of a ski rack, from the VW, converted and mounted on the TR’s reversed luggage rack. This allowed the skis to go over the top. The luggage rack had been purchase at Sears. “Cost effective.” It has been questioned at car shows many times as to its “authenticity.” I’m convinced car show judges love to deduct “non-original points.”

The New England cold and the factory installed California required emission’s system did not get along. It was a rather crude design. Good intentions though to help the environment, however. Condensation from it dripped into the Zenith-Stromberg carburetors and would freeze. If I was driving at 55 mph and hit freezing temperatures, Merg would only run at 55.

Many times I used “ether spray” to get her started when freezing occurred while parked. One afternoon at a ski area in Vermont the temperature went below freezing. Out came the spray for some “aggressive” spraying. The engine tries to start with a backfire. “Get some snow,” I yell to my helper. Flames are now appearing from the two carburetors. Hand-full’s of snow fly onto the carbs. Fire out! “At least the fuel is flowing,” I think. Another moment and she starts.

The final solution? Take it off, install a hose from the valve cover and let it hang down to the frame. That solved the problem and has hung there for 44 years. Hopefully, not doing too much environmental harm.

Getting married meant a move of my furniture from bachelor living to my new apartment. This was within the same apartment complex so it was relatively easy…how to move the dining room table? Solution: top down and onto the luggage rack it goes. The table, now in Chris and Jim’s garage in Indiana, still shows the dent in the top where I dropped Merg’s distributor during a rebuild in 1966.

After three years in SAC, the next move was to Denver and back to college after fulfilling USAF duties. Fortunately, no tours in Viet Nam. The trip to Denver was via Tennessee and New Orleans to visit family and friends. She was “accompanied” by a VW beetle, not my original one.

Everyone said “the VW will make it and the Lucas Dark Knight will strike the TR.” Well, the TR made it. The VW burned out a generator early one Sunday morning in Amarillo, Texas. In 1967 there were no VW dealers in Amarillo. We tried to find a creative mechanic who would “need time to fix it.” Merg was now loaded with two adults and most of the “stuff” loaded into the VW.

Its now “Pike’s Peak or Bust,” for the TR now loaded with the VW’s contents and the VW driver. Up the Texas panhandle and across the prairie we go. Night falls and we find ourselves “racing” a freight train to Denver. We keep pace for over an hour. Both slowing as we go through the small towns with their grain elevators reflecting the light of the train’s engine. The lights of Denver show suddenly in front of us in the dark night sky. “We made it!”

While finishing engineering and MBA degrees the TR helped commute when the weather did not permit comfortable bike rides to campus. The altitude did require high altitude needles in the carburetors.

From Denver at a mile high to Loveland Pass at 11,990 feet, she performed admirably for many weekends of camping in good weather and skiing in the winter. The beauty on a sunny winter morning or the Alpine glow of evening was breathtaking. There was no tunnel under the Continental Divide in those days. You drove over it.

The pass was known for its whiteouts of blowing snow and avalanches. One day coming back from skiing at Breckenridge, it was really blowing. I was following a Coor’s Beer truck which kept disappearing in the ground blizzard. The pass did not have guard rails in many places so the snow plows could push the large quantities of snow over “the edge.” It was a long way down. Merg performed admirably and got me home safely.

Colorado’s light, fluffy snow frequently filled the seats, having blown in around the loose fitting top. I still loved my TR, even though I swept snow out of the inside in winter.

Camping was easy with sleeping bags on the luggage rack and the TR stuffed. We never forgot anything since if there was any space we knew we did not have everything. In those days when tents had aluminum frames they just fit beside the passenger’s seat and the passenger’s feet rested on the curved ends.

Racing thunderstorms in the mountains proved a “sport.” “Will the road bend around so we pass the storm’s fury?” I would think. I soon discovered that with the top down, windows rolled up and driving over 70 mph, you didn’t get too wet until you found shelter to get the top up. “Getting the top up quickly is an art and science,” I must say.

One afternoon coming down Garden of the God’s road in Colorado Springs, billowing black clouds were chasing us. Near the end of the road was a Texaco service station. In those days they actually gave service.

It was beginning to rain in torrents. We came around the front looking for shelter as best we could find it. I quickly realized one of the service bay doors was going up. The grease rack was empty. As we clattered up the ramp onto the rack I let out a yell, “THANK YOU!” This was clearly service! The downpour started, thunder rolled and lightning flashed.

Needless to say there are many stories to tell about the Merg’s “adventures.”  The most spectacular was being attacked by a 600 pound female grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. The Park Ranger gave us the details the next morning. The car was parked about 20 feet from the campsite. It was a rude awakening at 2:00AM. We made an instant decision that banging on pots and pans as a scare tactic was not one to try on this very dark night. That was a lesson to read the handouts at the park entrances in the future. Getting the top repaired was an experience in itself.

I have pictures and a piece of the top with the bear claw’ tears. Black foot-prints were on the trunk where she had walked. To this day the bend is still in the luggage rack where one paw rested.

Merg has driven over the old Moffett Road of Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad fame of bygone years. It was a four wheel drive road going through a tunnel at 11,360 feet, the “Needle Eye,” and along some drop-offs I would certainly not attempt these days.

After 3 years in Colorado it was off to sunny southern California to live in Poway and work in Rancho Bernardo, a community within San Diego. We joined the Triumph Sports Car Club of San Diego (TSCCSD).

With 3 years in Massachusetts and 3 years in Colorado, and winter road salt, rust was taking its toll. Driving in the rain created puddles in the trunk. In those days Ralph Nader had “killed” the convertible as I remember looking back. So, I thought “let’s rebuild Merg.”

For the next two years I spent time finding new parts, drilling out spot welds, sand blasting and related activities. All the work done accomplished in the driveway of my house. “Thank you California weather.”

Many memories were found during the disassembly…a dented rocker panel from fording a Rocky Mountain stream on the dirt road to the old marble quarry where stone for the Lincoln Memorial was quarried, a deep grove in the rear fender created by a falling ski, rock dings from many dirt roads, dent in passenger door when a VW van backed into her…

As parts lay strewn about in the garage my family kept asking “how will you put it back together?”

With confidence I replied, “I will weld it back together.” This triggered the response, “you do not know how to weld!” Again, with confidence I reply, “I will take a welding class.” So it was off to night school, at the local high school, to take the class. I completed the course.

My life-long rule is that no project should be undertaken unless it justifies new tools. The local welding supply dealer makes another sale and I am ready to weld and braze. “Hmm, I need welding clamps, a sand blaster, masks…”

I now have a lot of tools, so it takes some creativity to find a new project that “needs” a new tool.

Lesson learned? Simple dust masks do not help someone with allergies. “Achooo!” One ton or so of sand later the rust is gone and new primer applied. Yes, all in the driveway. Oh, lots of Kleenex too.

Another lesson learned was a much greater appreciation for automobile body alignment. A few mistakes on my part still show today. “Oh well, still fun to drive!”

I got to become a familiar voice to the secretary of the British Leyland North American parts manager. Tracking down parts with this company was an interesting experience. No Moss Motors in those days with the parts I needed. Need I say more about the survivability of these two companies? I am thankful Moss Motors, and others like them, are still in business today...

A fender from Florida…a part from New York. One from San Francisco…outer fenders, inner fenders…Tracking a shipment? “Forget it!” I finally realized it would arrive someday. “Just cool it,” I groused to myself.

I learned that the leaks of the TR had preserved Merg’s frame and undersides very well. I call it my “British blessing.”

At one point I gave up for 6 months. However, the call of the wind in my hair, the smell of hot oil and the California sun brought the project to completion.

My daughters, then 3 and 5 years old, watched the process and rode their Big Wheel through the sand scattered around the rusty shell. One named the ratchet wrench the “doll baby.” This was the beginning of me sharing the mechanical and home project world with them.

I got to make some parts at the Hewlett-Packard Model Shop in the same building where my office, or I should say cubicle, was located. HP had a policy in those days that you could use the shop and bar-stock for personal purposes, as long it was reasonable. I am sure that is very different today.

The shop night shift thought it was wonderful that a “marketing type” would get his hands dirty and want to learn metal turning and sheet metal bending. I turned parts, such as the “packing piece,” Moss Motors part number 400-305, which I call a “domed” washer. It was turned of some esoteric nickel alloy; I am sure archeologists will find these turned parts thousands of years from now in perfect shape wondering what they are. The same holds true for the channel that holds the door weather seal.

I learned making compound bends for the radiator duct, replacing the fiberboard duct that spread paper-mache looking stuff all over the engine when steam cleaned.

Parts that needed to be painted were either HP stipple black or gray. They still look like new after thirty plus years. Great paint!

Merg is now back together so off to the paint shop owned by a Harley rider who does custom painting. Excellent results…mostly. She looks great. So, it’s back into the garage and off on a business trip.

I get a call from my then wife. “I had a little accident in the garage” she tells me. “Oh, what kind of accident” I reply. “I hit the TR,” was the answer. I pause. The conversation continues. I complete my trip and head home. I call the insurance company, USAA, who thinks it rather unusual for two insured cars to have an accident in the home garage. They waved the deductable since both cars are insured by USAA. Back to the paint shop. Nice match. Between the Volvo wagon and the TR it is a few thousand dollars to fix them.

When my two daughters approached age 16 they wanted to drive Merg. To qualify they had to learn stick shift on the second family Volvo wagon, affectionately known as the “Twinkie.” Its gold color reminded us of the highly calorific Twinkie snack food. As of March 2009, it is still on the road with over 300,000 miles on its odometer.

The other twist was they had to take the driving test with the Volvo stick shift. This included the days when you had to parallel park. They passed. Now, for the Merg qualification with the “tricky” clutch, and the use of the choke. Merg did not “like” the choke in or out when “cold.” They passed that too with a few stalls early on. Fortunately, there were new housing developments nearby with all the streets and a few residents for the practice.

The final test was changing a tire. Need I say more to those who own Triumphs? Passed that too with questions such as, “why is the car jack inside the car?” Of course part of the instruction included how to hit the knock offs so as to minimize the damage to the “ears.”

The main ground rule was “no friends are to drive and only you are to be found at the wheel.” The other was if you have problems call Dad first. I was Merg’s AAA.

My two daughters drove her to high school. One day the TR decided to “die” on the way home from high school. Parked in a Bike Lane beside the main road, she received a parking ticket. We found out that if you show the Sheriff the towing and repair invoice they waive the ticket. Nice!

On a Southwest Airline flight from Phoenix back home to San Diego, I had the ticket in my computer bag. In classic Southwest style they had contests, with various awards, for things such as someone having a hole in their sock and would show it to all.

The grand prize was a weekend trip to San Diego’s Sea World, if you had an unpaid parking ticket with you. I WON! Thankfully, Southwest was flexible since I already lived in San Diego where the prize would take me. Off to San Antonio’s Sea World my wife and I went a few weekends later.

I worked at HP and lots of people there saw Merg in the parking lot over a number of years. I was privileged to have a company car later on so my daughters could take the TR to high school. I soon found that I would get reports of where HPers had seen the car. Ohh, did I get that message quickly conveyed.

One sunny day it was a call from a Mission Bay payphone. Before cell phone days. “Dad, the red light came on. I remembered you telling me to stop if that happens. I stopped. "Now, what?”

So, AAA Dad says, “raise the hood and look at the fan belt.” A few minutes pass and I hear “it is just hanging in front of the engine in one piece.” “Hmmm, not broken?” I say to myself.

“Look for the generator” which I describe. The answer: “it is not there on the side of the engine.”

“Not there!!” I exclaim. “Not there” comes the reply in a tentative voice. Guess AAA Dad was sounding frustrated.

“Ok, I will be there in about 30 minutes,” I say. Off to the garage for the tool box including the spanners, wrench for those non-British car owners

Sure enough the generator brackets had broken and it was resting peacefully on the TR’s frame. Now, a call to the real AAA. Flatbed shows up, at extra change, since the TR cannot be towed due to its gound clearance and definitely not backwards with wire wheels and knock off hubs.

Another AAA Dad call came one evening. “Dad I need to go to Susan’s house for homework.”

“Ok I say.” Off she goes as I hear the low purr from the exhaust going down the driveway. What I did not think about was she was wearing Baylor University “bear slippers” with fuzzy claws and her pajamas under her coat. Yes, a while later the phone rings.

“Dad, I was part way home and the lights went out.” This time I knew the problem. It was the fuses that need to be cleaned every now and then. “Are you at Susan’s?” I ask.

“No, I had to knock on someone’s door in the neighborhood and ask to use their phone.”

Off, I go in the trusty old Volvo with a small piece of sand paper in hand. Needless to say this has become a favorite story over the years. Imagine walking up to a door in your fuzzy bear slippers in the dark and asking to use their telephone.

Under daily use Merg seems to “eat” a battery about every three or four years. So, you guessed it the battery dies at high school one day. Jumper cables in hand my daughter looks for a car with a good battery.

Positive ground was part of the training for my fortunately more technically minded daughters. Now the macho teenage guys appear. Off course they know how to jump start a car.

Merg still wears the small hole along the inside of the fender where the sparks flew. I think to myself as the story is told, “a lesson to the machos, may they remember in the future when talking to other women.”

Merg journeyed to the Senior Prom held at Miramar Naval Air Station, known for its Top Gun Program. Imagine the band set up between two F-14’s and dancing in the hanger?!

The family cats enjoyed the TR too. One cat had black and white markings that looked like a turban. “Sinbad” loved to stretch out and sleep on the drive shaft tunnel between the seats. It was always warm after a drive. Another cat had her kittens one afternoon on the hood of the covered TR in the garage. I thought to myself, “I guess the warmth of the recently driven engine must feel welcoming to a mother to be.”

When the family car was not available, the daughter with the horse used the luggage rack which fit a 120 pound bale of hay perfectly. It was as wide as the car.  While she was in high school she only bought hay one bale at a time. She would stop by the feed store to pick up a bale. The bungee cords always held, although she did figure out that the drive was much “cleaner” with the top up or the tonneau cover on before driving. Somewhere in Merg I am sure there are still some pieces of straw. She got a lot of funny looks with a small convertible and a bale of hay on it!

 

Merg became a loaner car for one of my daughters and her husband who needed a second car. They soon discovered that she was not an inexpensive car to maintain. But, they did take good care of her.

 

When three of us started a software company one of them had his very old Honda Civic die. He even left it in a parking lot for week with the keys left in it. Sadly, no one wanted to steel it. Merg became this guy’s transportation for a while. At about 6 feet 5 inches tall he had to “fold up” to get in.

 

After 26 years in sunny southern California it was time for the entrepreneurial spirit to send us to the southern San Francisco Bay area. Santa Clara was our new home. It is the heart of Silicon Valley. This move was Merg’s first trip in an 18 wheeler moving van. I considered a trip through LA. Decided it was not fun driving.

We joined Triumph Travelers, attending their meetings and other events. A trip south found us at Triumphest in San Luis Obispo with Merg’s sister TR joining in. The return trip back was up Coastal Route 1 through Monterey. What a beautiful crisp, blue sky day with the top down and heater blasting. As we drove the curvy road the blue Pacific Ocean sparkled and seemed to greet us each time the road came back high above the ocean below.

The 3 years in this area led to a lot of fun driving through the Santa Cruz’ mountains and along the curvy, tree lined Skyline Boulevard west of Silicon Valley. There are so many fun winding and hilly back roads away from nearby Silicon Valley and the hustle of Route 101.

Merg and I would start out driving through Los Gatos in hot, heavy stop and go traffic on Route 17. “Will we make it to cooler temps before we boil over?” Sure enough the next turn is away from the jam. “Free at last.” Up over the hills to Pescadero and cool weather. “Time for the windbreaker.” We stop. Windows up and heater on and off to Monterey.

Merg was purchased with gray painted wire wheels. I had always dreamed of chrome wire wheels, especially when I would see a classic Jag. I did it and the local Goodyear dealer convinced me to add new wider, better roadability tires to these new shiny wheels. I have enjoyed them ever since. “Wow, what handling in this corner,” I find myself thinking frequently as I am out for a drive.

West Bloomington, Minnesota became our next home with an invitation to join a friend’s technology company. As another 18 wheeler’s doors opened Merg’s “face” appeared from behind some of my furniture. She was totally surrounded. After some unpacking she rolls down the two creaking ramps. “One, two, three – LIFT!” We groan as we lifted the back to clear the tailpipe from dragging as she rolled onto the pavement.

The summer in Minnesota was delightful with warm evenings for a drive after work. Weekends found many drives around the many lakes of the towns and cities. Truly, the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

Of course, there has to be an “incident” to share. A local shop was recommended to do some work on Merg. After the work was finished we drove down the Interstate for an early evening ride through a local park. The daylight hours are long there.

As we entered the park I thought I heard a rock clicking away in a tire. I stopped, looked and could not find a rock. “That is strange,” was my thinking as I got back into the car. Back on the road. “The sound is still there,” runs through my mind.

In an instant there is a shudder, the car drops to the pavement and sparks fly out from the left rear. The wire wheel goes cruising by me at what seems like the speed of light…down the street a short distance…over the curb...through a stand of trees…into Minnehaha Creek. It is not amusing as I sit there in wonder on the edge of the road. “Nice way to end a workday” I say out loud.

In starched button-down collared shirt, khakis and my dress leather boots, I start my mechanical duties. To the trunk I go…flashing emergency light out…it works. “Yes!” Jack out…over the bank…down to the creek to recover the wayward wheel. I sigh in relief, when I find the creek is shallow. There sits the wheel center stream.

“This is weird” I say out loud, now not afraid to have a conversation with myself. The boots and sox come off. The knockoff and hub are still attached. “Hmmmm”

Up the bank rolling the wheel, boots in the other hand…I hear the clicking sound…”Lug nuts, not rocks” I think…traffic goes around me as I sit jacking up the car. Working the handle of the jack Merg slowly rises from death’s door.

It then hits me that this highly recommended shop of mechanics for British cars just worked on my brakes. Expletive!! “The nuts were not tightened on the hub” flashes through my mind. Another expletive!! Probably more, but it has been almost a decade since it happened.

As I completed the reassembly, on that warm evening, I finally get amused at the image of me rolling this wet chrome wire wheel up the bank…“baptized in Minnehaha Creek” rolls through my mind and makes me laugh out loud.

Needless to say, there was a telephone call the next morning. The good news was only the shackles had to be replaced. Free of course. I really got great service after that. Scratches on the tailpipe extension still show today as a reminder of the “Baptism.”

Fall drives were beautiful with the different varieties of trees. The fields of corn were harvested and the stocks turned brown. Winter is on its way. This is the first year, after 35 years, Merg spends in winter storage. It was difficult leaving her.

The year 2000 brought us to New Jersey, finding a new love after being single for over six years after a divorce. “Hmmm, back to the rust belt.”

I was able to get the same driver and 18 wheeler for the move to New Jersey as had moved me from California. The same set up as before with Merg tucked in with all the furniture. Yes, the same creaking ramps, and the same, “one, two, three – LIFT!”

Merg now spends winters in “the bubble” or officially The Car Capsule. Amazing how something this simple really keeps the musty smell and rust away while in storage.

Over the years both daughters have received, from me, TR sweatshirts and T-shirts. A few years ago an “older man” stopped one of them saying, “Young lady you are much too young to know what a Triumph is.” A conversation ensued. He walked away understanding she certainly does know what a Triumph is…and has personal experiences and stories to back it up.

Merg has won car show awards every now & then even though she is a driver and not a show car. I am a life member of the TSCCSD. I have been a member of the Triumph Travelers Sports Car Club (TTSCC) in Sunnyvale, California and Minnesota Triumphs in the Minneapolis area.

Currently my only car club memberships are TSCCSD and the Vintage Triumph Register (VTR), since the other clubs in the area are about an hour drive in various directions. I am one of the TSOA people who in 1974 quickly signed up for VTR. My member number is 76. I still have my original TSOA badge from when I bought my TR-4 in 1964 and joined TSOA.

The winter of 2007-2008 found her with Lance Tegeder of Exceptional Finish Works. She looks better than new in her white paint. The clarity of the finish and reflections of Merg’s surroundings are amazing

Next it was Ragtops & Roadsters for some much needed mechanical work. The steering and braking are so responsive. With the two rebuilt carburetors she feels much better about her environment when I hit the road.

Both Lance and Ragtops are in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.

Moss Motors had the needed parts for most of the reassembly after the new paint and some of the mechanical work. Thanks to all involved. Merg seems better than new!

With all this work completed I decided it was time to remove the old cassette player. Prior to the cassette Merg previously had an 8-track player. The original installations of these two were a challenge since they were based negative grounds. The original AM radio is still installed. Will an iPod be next?

Merg continues to be driven in New Jersey. No winter driving. We wait until at least three rain storms wash away winter residue from the roads. She is enjoying a much more “relaxed” life being driven only during warm, rainless top down weather through the winding, hilly back roads of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

As I look back, and forward to another year on the road with Merg, I think “the wind in my hair, a tanned face and arms, and the smell of oil is still appealing after all these years!”