Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Collectible Car of the Year

NY Times recently had a contest to determine who owned the most collectible car this year. Over 558 contestants entered their cars ranging from muscle cars to Triumphs to in between and after 4500 votes, a black 1959 Triumph TR3A was declared the winner.

Most people my age probably haven't heard of a Triumph, but they hold a special place in my family's hearts.

My parents met on a blind date and had a whirlwind courtship which ended in a proposal a few weeks after meeting. My dad returned to California and made plans to come back in a few months and marry my mom. While he was back in CA, my dad went out and bought a white Triumph TR4 and then called to tell his future bride. (My dad was worried if he didn't get one then he might never get one!) My mom told him he could do what he wanted but she told me that inside she was screaming "Alright!!". That little Triumph provided hours of enjoyment as they attended rallies and motorcrosses throughout Southern California.

When my parents left to go overseas they reluctantly sold their cherished Triumph. Fast forward many years later and four kids, I remember my dad taking us to see a Triumph that was for sale. The woman uncovered a white 1959 TR3A and my dad smiled. Of course he couldn't let on how much he wanted that little car, so he insisted that my brother and little sister and I push it up and down the driveway while we tried to get it running. I don't think we ever did. My dad managed a fair price (after a quick lesson about how the owner made a poor financial decision and it was costing her the car she loved, so we should think carefully before we made every decision involving money) the car was my dad's.
My dad had it restored and painted a fiery red since during the resoration it was found that the original color of the car had been red. (Also my mom's favorite color) My dad joined the Texas Triumph Register where he became involved in many aspects of the car club, with rallies and road trips being his specialty. My Dad would spend hours planning trips with the car club across the United States to attend different car shows and events. He loved that car.

After my dad was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, my siblings and I tried to come up with the perfect Christmas present for him in 2003. After contemplating numerous items we came up with the idea that we should contact Triumph clubs around the world to see if we could buy tshirts or other memorabilia. Using the internet and all the free time I had since my husband was deployed, I set out to find a tshirt or two. I wrote several emails explaining the situation and what my siblings and I were trying to do. The response I got was not what I expected at all. Triumph car clubs around the world sent us tshirts, hats, fleece jackets, bumper stickers, awards, medallions, collectibles and memorabilia without hesitation and at no cost--Georgia, Canada, South Africa, Italy, England, Arizona, California, and many, many, many more. We carefully wrapped each piece individually and my father spent Christmas morning amazed at the gift these people had given him.

Unfortunately as my father fought a battle with cancer, his little Triumph was not driven as often nor as hard as it once had been. I had always wanted to drive it but had never been given the opportunity. One weekend my dad took me out and let me drive. We drove around his retirement community and he kept telling me "Go faster! It's made to drive. Make her go!". I told him after decades of waiting to drive it, I was nervous!! But with the top down and the sun up, my dad and I drove that little red sports car and every care in the world was forgotten.

When my father passed away, his friends showed up in their Triumphs to attend the service. A fitting tribute to my dad.

The legacy of the Triumph in our family lives on as Em plans to be delivered to her college dorm riding inside that little red sports car.


Gypsy at heart said...

It will make an unforgettable entrance and I hope I am the one driving her!

Blogging for Friends said...

That is so awesome. I hope we have experiences like that to cherish throughout our years!

Uncle Dan said...

Wait while I wipe my eyes.

Before your Mom and Dad were married your Mom's brothers wanted to put Limburger Cheese and Sardines in the hub caps and on the engine. Her Dad told them to ask me if it was OK. Naturally I was watching out for your Dad and said a defiant "NO."

I will always miss him.

Tiff said...

WOW what a story! My brother had a blue one that he restored! He loved that car!

Check out my contest at www.theshoppingfund.com

Gunner said...

I once obtained the status that gave me the privilege to drive the Porsche around the block. I hope one day that I can drive the little red car out of the garage.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if you remember or not, but one of my uncles comes from a Triumph family and even used to race them. His father and step-mother eventually moved to Texas and met your parents through Triumph club events. It was very strange when I realized that they knew your parents socially....and totally reinforced what a small world we live in!

Anonymous said...

Wait your turn, Gunner. I've only had the opportunity to press in the clutch and brake while Dad & D worked on it!

This Military Mama said...

your are a great writer. This story is beautiful and very touching. How special to have such a great memory and a great car that reminds you so much of your father.

Sarah said...

Great story! I don't give a fig about cars and I thought it was so touching... :)

Carlo said...

Good Job! :)