Bits & Pieces Sixteen


There are days when it just doesn’t pay to acknowledge the sunrise.  If someone had suggested that the firestorm depicted in my last addition to “Bits & Pieces”, would have been repeated before those frightening images had a chance to become old hat, well, you can imagine the response.  Yet, here I am pecking away to “lay one on you” with equally chilling reality.  What follows shouldn’t happen to even a worst enemy and hopefully, this will be my last opportunity to report such a disaster.

B382002652 LRXFE the way it looked after an exhaustive refurbishing.

Walnut, Wilton, Wheel & Hides.

Some will remember that the rebirth story of this fabulous Tiger occupied many months of discussion on the British car mailing list - -
From its discovery behind a Texas machine shop, to the final reassembly after a complete repaint, nearly every detail of the process was reviewed, evaluated, documented and displayed by a very proud rescuer, Dan Eiland.

Few survivors could match the list of extras uncovered with this relic.  The paperwork bundle included every scrap of dealer paraphernalia issued with the original package.  And, as it happens, that dealership was none other than Larry Reed Sports Cars, of Los Angeles.  Even the trunk delivered a full, unmolested tool roll and a never used, English-made Goodyear “Roadway Speed” spare.  With such beginnings, the desirability of the final package was completely understandable.

Hidden and unused for nearly 40 years - the lesser known "Roadway Speed" by Goodyear of England.

Just prior to starting its second cross-county journey.
For certain, Ithaca, New York’s Greg Shaw, could appreciate the uniqueness of what Mr. Eiland offered to sell in June of 2000.  In short order B382002652 LRXFE had traversed the country to find a fresh enthusiast and wide open garage.  After an all too fleeting engagement, another classified heralded the call for a new champion.  The signal made it all the way to the Northwest and a former Tiger owner on the outskirts of Portland.
Our new player, Phil Hulse, was understandably cautious about a long-distance purchase, but quickly hurdled all fears to settle on owning one of the nicest MK IA’s to hit the market in moons. All that was left was to arrange the transport.  Experience had taught to cut no corners when trusting valuables to strangers and thus, Passport Transport was tapped for the job.  With the details handled, it was time to get excited about owning a Tiger again after so many years.
A final New York portrait to insure bragging rights for a former owner.

These boys know the drill.  Passport Transport gets nothing but high marks when it comes to care and feeding of fine machines. 
In a scene very similar to the one on the left, B382002652 LRXFE would have been loaded aboard one of Passport's tidy semi's and secured for what should have been a routine east/west jaunt.  But, what happen next was by no means ordinary.  They tell us there was a short in the trailer wiring.  Once ignited, the fire traveled quickly up the wall and in no time had fully engulfed the fiberglass roof.  
I'm sure you don't need help visualizing the affect of hot, melting, flaming rain covering everything on its downward path.  The trapped travelers below, didn't have had a chance.  While exact details of what transpired are still up for interpretation, the first aftermath glimpses are irrefutably devastating.   Imagery of this sort suggests a fresh magnitude to legends of "burnings" at the stake.
Burned to the bone. 

One amazing paper trail. 
As evidenced by these ghastly snaps, adding a blaze to one of these enclosed boxes is equivalent to transforming the space to a fairly efficient crematorium. Even with what appears to be nearly total incineration, what circumstances can you imagine would spare the small collection of documents displayed in the photo next door, or for that matter any of the bits that managed to survive Armageddon?  
Once the restitution haggling was out of the way, the planned trip to the Northwest was completed, albeit to a significantly different destination.  The entrails of this forlorn Tiger were deposited at the doorstep of none other than the Pacific Tiger Club's, Larry Atkisson. For those with no clue, Larry is one of the West Coast's most knowledgeable Sunbeam artisans and until his final "not-a-chance-in-hell", Mr. Hulse was still hoping for gifts from above.  
Single-eyed, severely-singed, cat. 
A mystery cell mate was an equally special 356 Porsche belonging to Bill Pass, founder of Passport Transportation.  Short of divine intervention, the only rebirth from this calamity will be the possible salvage of a few pieces and they won't be easy to resurrect.  For my money, damage by fire tops the list of invasive misfortune.  But, regardless of cause, coping with any disaster that strips away treasured belongings, requires seldom called on strengths.  The dream seemed simple and well thought out.  After many years of self punishment for having ever sold a first Tiger, why not remedy the mistake by finding and purchasing a suitable replacement?  
  With that goal met, all that remained was awaiting delivery and the first opportunity to slip behind the wheel of a never forgotten experience. What was delivered instead, was notification of a dreadful tragedy and the abrupt termination of a joyful flight of fancy.  What will follow is anyone's guess, but when last discussed, one of Larry's recent restoration projects could be heard tugging relentlessly at the memory cells of an admitted terminal dreamer.      
Pele's final statement. I have a photo of a truck caught in an Hawaiian lava flow that looks for all the world exactly like this. 

Happy Tigering


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