Tigers United XXII
The After-glow (Installment One)

Fresh from the ship and in need of very little attention before hitting the byways.

United '97 has come and gone, leaving countless stories in its wake. Few will know that the 22nd gathering of Sunbeam Tigers (with all of its significant "factory" relics) transpired, due in large part, to a failed attempt for a similar celebration at the 20th reunion back in 1995. It seems that good ideas have a way of not going away and the evidence of that truth was displayed across the breadth of California from June 15th, thorough the 22nd, of 1997. The launch to the festivities was accomplished by a small band of 'ne'r-do-wells' made up from a cross-section of STOA, CAT and STOC faithful. Early on a Thursday morning the entourage of Dan Walters, David Duncanson, Graham Vickery and yours truly traced a part of the Pacific Coast highway that would be used as the caravan route three days later, ending at the ex-Navy base harbor of Port Hueneme (pronounced why-ne-me).

After the normal, "well I'll be damned, the cars are in perfect condition", the Le Mans coupe was loaded aboard an enclosed trailer (loaned to the project by Steven Alcala). All of the visitors, except for the last Tiger produced, started on the first tick. The sound of the Lister machine coming to life could be heard above the diesel clatter of several big rigs idling by the customs gate. Mr. Vickery's MK II received a loaner battery (another forethought of the Southland contingent) to replace a flattened unit which could only have resulted from a shipboard prank. Once the fresh charge was attached, the lights flashed on to reveal the childish deed. Attention soon shifted to the Duncanson treasure. Passing the checkup with nearly perfect marks, the hardy band made for the freeways and a return trip to our temporary base camp - Alcala Restorations, in El Segundo, CA.

That's me working the screw driver while Dan Walters messes with the ever popular Holley.

Seems like more trouble than it was worth. This familiar carpenters piece lasted the entire voyage, but was discarded within minutes of its arrival.

What some would call an amazing bit of hardware did get left behind, but it's not likely anyone will miss having it around. One of the hood hold-down pin safeties turned out to be a nicely bent, six-inch nail that we just couldn't stomach any longer than it took to hit the nearest hardware store. How could a bunch of Tiger nuts put up with this sort of embarrassment?

Once inside the confines of a friendly garage, all sorts of magic could be performed. On one outing, Mr. Duncanson attempted the now famous pedal to the metal maneuver resulting in a broken throttle cable. After a quick phone call to Jan Harde, we secured the necessary replacement (Jan dropped everything and made a personal delivery). Now I had done it -who else but the event coordinator would be forced into a very embarrassing position to accomplish the repair. Other sleight-of-hand involved fixing a leaking thermostat housing, pulling a radiator for a good power flush , swapping-out a set of mismatched sparking plugs, attacking some very expensive wheels with a grinder to insure a proper fit and the list goes on.

But, what does "Special Section" mean?

Mornings found our little group of soon-to-be-travelers pulled into the front parking area of Alcala's hang out. One by one, the British machines had their innards inspected in preparation for a once-in-a-lifetime caravan. Nearly every step of the process was captured on film by the marauding D.S. Duncanson and so far, he walks off with all the photo credits. Plans called for an unforgettable try at driving the Le Mans coupe from the Queen Mary departure point, to the front doorstep of event headquarters in Eureka. More about that in my second installment.

1997 After-glow Series

Installment Two

Installment Three

Installment Four

Installment Five

Installment Six

Installment Seven

Installment Eight

Installment Nine

Rootes One Home