Tigers United XXII
The After-glow (Installment Three)

By 10:00 AM, all was ready for the dash from Long Beach harbor via the 405, to anything that would connect us with the Pacific Coast Highway, north of Venice Beach. Not so fast. Even before watching the hull of the Queen Mary vanish from the rear view mirror, we had to clear the parking lot attendant. Somehow arrangements with the 'super', didn't get passed on to the worker bees, causing an immediate snag behind the "go, no-go" arm. With the Le Mans coupe at idle, my attempts to yell across the passenger seat to the attendant, on what should be the proper side of the car, were hopeless. After getting out of the car and promising to pay for everyone, documents from my briefcase quickly put things in order (no charge for Sunbeam owners), so I probably owe a couple of people who ponied up the money, $5.00. At last we could move off on the caravan. Dan Walters had the lead, with me tucked in right behind. Dan knew where he was going, so everyone parroted his movements to the tee. They tell me I was nearly squashed a number of times as we merged and were merged with from all sides. Talk about getting quickly orientated to RHD, just jump into the deep end and see what happens. I found myself not looking anywhere but forward. As long as I could see Dan, the world was a happy place. However, just before we left the "Mary", Ms. Smith had questioned whether the 2 gallons of petrol showing would be enough to reach the first stop on the coastal highway. Mr. 'optimistic', of course replied, "no problem, the gage reads low". After driving for what seemed an eternity, our convoy finally touched the pavement along the ocean, but Dan, to my amazement, drove past the first refueling station. When I collected my thoughts, a glance to the rear revealed none of the familiar images of Sunbeams. Eyes to the front caught the back end of the blue trailered Tiger heading for a Shell sign on the right - thank you very much.

Awaiting their pilots, all but the MK II would be driven on the northward journey to Eureka. Left to right, the coaches were reserved for Rosemary and Ian, NCM in the coupe, Mr. Duncanson with the rally ride and joiners from Las Vegas, Cullen Bennett, and his soon-to-be Mrs., Bobbie.

Ian and Rosemary would have much rather had the fuel supply aboard the Le Mans coupe for the first part of their drive. Instead they stretched fumes to all but the last 30 feet from the pump.

As we pulled in and parked, I looked for the rest of the group to no avail. Dan walked over and informed me that he had seen the others peel off at the first opportunity, a ways back. We were briefly distracted by groaning sounds coming from the coupe's cooling system and a display of liquid being pushed from the overflow. Nothing major, but enough to prompt opening the hood. With that maneuver, in drove Rosemary and Ian, all in a dither. Ian blurted out that, "we had to push her". Rosemary glared and mouthed, "we ran out of petrol". I turned deep red and began stammering apologies, which were waved off with a wink and a smile - what a woman. Fueled to the brim, the others queued up, one by one, until all were ready for the next leg of the adventure. In short order we were buzzing down open road, playing leapfrog, so each constituent could snap pictures of the unbelievable assemblage.

The drive continued without mishap, until the last day. We left Santa Rosa on schedule, with a caravan that had grown to well over a dozen Tigers. Tony Eckford made good on his promise to rejoin the festivities just in time to watch his green machine blow its top radiator hose, not once, but two glorious, coolant-coating times within the first fifteen miles. The second occasion prompted a roughening up of a chrome thermostat housing to give the hose half a chance of staying put. Admittedly, I had been pushing the revs a little to catch the leaders, but I suspect our on-again-off-again exercise with an inline cooling system filter, might have had something to do with compromising adhesion. With everything cleaned off and back together, the road to Eureka started rolling by like clockwork. Whenever possible, the coupe and I were using the entire roadway, making the drive through the big trees like something out of the pages of a Walter Mitty story. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted the black and white of a CHP rig sitting perpendicular to the freeway on the opposite side of the road. As soon as I was past him, it was obvious he couldn't resist. A big cloud of dust marked his former parking position and within minutes, all of the special equipment that my tax dollars helped to purchase for his four-wheel drive bronco was operational. There were more lights spinning, flashing, pulsing and blinking than I remembered from most laser light shows. For a moment we were the only ones on the side of the road. I could tell right from the start, we were not going to be friends. "What the heck is this thing?" "Where's the bumpers?" "You can't have them plastic windows back there!" "You wanna take that out of your wallet?" I'm sure you know the routine. This guy was going to write me up for something and that was that. He spent a lot of time checking the abbreviated vehicle code printed on the back of his citation book. During his review, caravan members continued pulling off to see what was happening. Each new arrival required a proper peace officer once-over of course, and in the long run, this impromptu gathering might have had a sobering impact on the patrolman, pressuring him to finish his work quickly, so that we could continue on our journey of fun.

We had to drive all the way to Leggett to find a CHP officer with a big enough ego to ticket the coupe for non compliance with California vehicle code.

Journey of fun was an understatement. Once clear of the "long arm", it was non-stop to Eureka and non-stop until Sunday night after the awards banquet. I know I will never forget driving ADU 179B. I also know, I would do it again in a minute. Opportunities like that come along so rarely, to not have tried would have been a crime. Making the trip from the Queen Mary, to the Eureka Inn, was just the beginning of Tigers United XXII. I'll continue the recap in the next installment.

1997 After-glow Series

Installment One

Installment Two

Installment Four

Installment Five

Installment Six

Installment Seven

Installment Eight

Installment Nine

Rootes One Home