Bits & Pieces Seventeen


Every once in awhile you hear a story that is so unlikely you just have to laugh out loud.  Now I don't want to pick on anyone, but when I received the following report of ownership (redacted to protect the sensitive elements) what do you think I did?

First Name = #####
Last Name = #######
VIN = B948####
JAL = Not sure what this is ?
Engine = ##########
Color Code = ##
Current Color = White
License number = ########
State and Country = Johannesburg, RSA
UserComments = It is a 1966 Mk1 Tiger. From what we can establish it is the last one built in South Africa, as no later VIN numbers can be traced.  I have heard that the ship that brought spares over for the last 9 went down, therefore they were never completed. (snip-snip-snip)

Just in case you're thinking the car pictured at the right might be the subject of the above missive, let me assure you it is not.  Let me also comfort you that no Rootes shipments went missing during the transport of CKD Tigers to South Africa.

B382001833 LRXFE -  This example of the breed was once safely the possession of someone in California.  Through processes "unknown", it managed a far-flung migration that paused for a brief period in Naaldwijk, Holland. 

In May of 2002, the owner of this fine machine, Hans Lichtendahl, went public with a sales pitch offering, what he first described as a MK II for a mere $21, 500.  After a flurry of emails, the true '66 nature of its chassis number was announced.  Trying to make the most of a 289 transplant, shouldn't have surprised anyone.

The connection between the Johannesburg account and happenings surrounding our main exhibit, turns out to be an unimaginable twist of fortune.  I first heard about B382001833 LRXFE via a number of emails requesting verification of the seller's claims:

I live in Brussels Belgium and am searching for a Tiger.  The following car is advertised for sale by a  gentleman in the Netherlands.  Before looking I wish to know if any information exists on this example.

The owner claims it is a late 1A with an original 289.  He indicates that this is at odds with what is expected but believes it to be accurate.

Any information you can provide regarding this particular car and the engine issue above would be appreciated.

In spite of my repeated attempts to insure no one would purchase this car under the allusion it was anything other than a run-of-the-mill 1966 Sunbeam Tiger with an engine upgrade, that's exactly what happened.

Hearing about the change in ownership, however, wouldn't happen for many months.  Something that did find the public blotter, was an account of a disastrous shipping accident in the English Channel:

The ship ( Norwegian-registered Tricolor) carrying hundreds of luxury cars sank in the North Sea on Saturday December 14, 2002 after a collision with a Bahamas-registered Kariba container ship in thick fog.  All 24 crew members were rescued before the cargo ship Tricolor sank at the entrance of the Dover Strait between England and France.

The Tricolor was bound for the English port of Southampton and then on to the United States.  Its cargo consisted of 2,862 new BMWs, Volvos and Saabs, as well as 77 containers, which had been loaded at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge. 

The Norwegian cargo ship Tricolor.  This type of vessel is used for "roll on-roll off" transport of all sorts of vehicles.

The Kariba managed a limp to security.  Dockside at the Belgian port of Antwerp, a broken nose seems far the better of the encounter.

The great feature of modern car carriers is also their greatest weakness - the single car deck.  Having no bulkheads, allows for large numbers of vehicles to be accommodated, but... should this deck ever be exposed to the sea, there is nothing to stop water entering and very quickly destabilizing the whole vessel.  When the fully loaded container ship Kariba, struck the Tricolor, it breached the car deck.  Within ninety minutes the purpose built transporter had keeled over and bottomed on her port side.  The site of this episode was fully within French jurisdiction.  The warship Geranium, was sent along side to alert other ships to the wreck.  By Sunday morning the Tricolor, resting in a little less than 100 feet of water and poking through the surface at low tide, was reported to have been marked out with beacons to warn shipping traffic. 


But then, as chronicled in The Guardian, 12/17/2002 (The UK's most popular newspaper website):

One might imagine that an enormous, 50,000 ton hull, beached on its side and painted blood red for good measure, might be a reasonably straightforward landmark to avoid. Unfortunately for the captain of the Nicola, a German vessel steaming north-east on the French side of the channel, it was not straightforward enough. Early on Monday morning, to complete what had become a rather farcical multi-vessel pile-up, it ploughed straight on to the hull of the Tricolor, and spent seven ignominious hours perched on top of it before being freed by two tugs and the rising tide.

And, if you think two collisions should have been enough to awaken the troops plying the channel byways, you'd be as wrong as the day is long.

A spokesman for Norwegian shipping company, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Linesworth, estimated the value of the cars at  $40 to $50 million.  Industry experts were quick to point out the those numbers did not reflect retail prices.

With most of the cargo written off, elaborate salvage plans are in place awaiting favorable weather.  The Tricolor itself carries a $48 million value, some of which could certainly be re-floated if she were raised.

The January 3rd, 2003 issue of Insurance Journal carried the following report:

Despite every precaution they’ve taken and warnings they’ve put in place, British, French and Belgian maritime authorities were trying to figure out how the Vicky, a Turkish oil tanker, carrying 70,000 tons of kerosene, ran into the sunken hull of the Tricolor in the English Channel on Wednesday night.

The Vicky was the second ship to run over the wreck since it sank three weeks ago following a collision with a container ship. The vessel lies in shallow water – its hull is above sea level at low tide – in one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, and authorities have placed a number of warning buoys and taken other measures to avoid collisions, but apparently not enough.


On top of the actual calamities, there have also been several near misses.  Officialdom is making every effort to remedy what some are beginning to call "an English Channel so full of floating metal that it is in danger of reaching gridlock". 

But, apart from the foolishness and preposterous nature of these accidents, I'm sure you suspect a more evocative tie to the narrative Tiger.  Have a look at part of an email I received on 2/27/03.  The subject was a recent purchase of a car out of Florida:

Thanks for the response...I did buy it from Joe Kohler.  Time will tell as to whether I made the right choice. The decision to buy his car was a knee jerk desperation move on my part. I had purchased another one that I was having shipped from Europe and the cargo ship sank in the English Channel.  How often does that happen?...

Yep, B382001833 LRXFE is sitting on the single car deck of the Norwegian Tricolor on the very bottom of the English Channel. How often does that happen?

B382001833 LRXFE as it will never be seen again.

Happy Tigering


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