Meet Peacock

•February 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Imagine, for a moment, leaving your suburban home on a sunny Saturday morning in our family car and seeing a senior member of your workplace driving towards you in his Mercedes. This wasn’t his neighborhood so I slowed, lowered the window, gave a warm greeting and inquired where he was going. “To visit Peacock” was his reply. This wasn’t a singular event. Many times during ownership (i.e.: care and feeding).of Peacock, a 1952 MG TD in BRG, friends would come to my house, open the unlocked garage and visit Peacock. It became clear from the first “visitor” my presence was not required. Peacock had charm.

Just after returning from the South China Seas, courtesy of the Navy, I got a job at Fairchild Electronics in Mountain View which paid a salary which appeared to be excessive to the point of affording a project car. Living in an apartment with a carport was not a deterrent: This was Central California where cold was defined as 60 degrees F.

 

Nearby, I came across an MG-TD for sale all fenders were wrinkled and the grill was pushed in. But the price was right at $500 including a set of Whitworth wrenches. It ran well enough to be a commute car and was a charm from the first day.

 

Saturday was often reserved for doing one step towards a cosmetic restoration. This meant removing one fender, banging it out, using a little filler, coating with Rustoleum, primer and remounting it in time to drive on Monday. A few blocks down the El Camino was a body shop whose manager offered to paint it for the cost of the paint ($32) if I came to work for him. I begged off the employment offer and he painted the car for the price quoted anyway.

 

Moss Motors supplied the door panels, a local car/boat upholsterer recovered the seats and backrest for $50 and a miracle-working chrome shop restored the rusty pretzels of both bumpers to pristine newness. The rest was easy: carpeting, replacement grille from Bonnet MG in San Jose and detailing the engine room.

 

After using it for several years, all without mechanical difficulties, I built a house in the Santa Cruz mountains in a location that would be a challenge for Peacock to reach. I had an AC-Bristol by this time and chose to let Peacock go to another care-giver. The first and only person to test drive it was a fellow from my company who, after the test drive, mentioned he would give one of his body parts to own Peacock. I settled for cash instead. As I handed over the key, I warned him about saying anything negative. within a few hundred feet of Peacock. He laughed.

 

Years later, I got a call from the fellow. He’d gone through quite a lot of trouble tracing my latest phone number. Seems he and his wife were buzzing down the El Camino one night in Peacock and spouted verbiage offensive. resembling:” let’s get rid of this #*&#$%@ old thing”. Not more than two breaths later, the couple spotted a silver wheel passing them and wondered if it had anything to do with the cars’ new riding attitude. A great “I told you so” moment handed over on a silver platter.

 

Owning Peacock was rewarding: it never let me down and on a warm day, putting around with the windscreen lowered, provided a touch of classic motoring that is hard to duplicate any other way…

 

How did the name “Peacock” come about? It came from a vintage David Niven movie.

Here’s the scene: Mr. Nivens’ character strolls up to the front door of a large estate and rings the bell. After a long wait, the butler answers the chimes and is questioned by Niven asking “how long has it been, Peacock?.” The butler answers “Well sir, I came as quickly as I could.” There you go: British, proper and slow.

Relating to British Cars: a Journey

•February 14, 2008 • Leave a Comment

Dad was a hard working musician/conductor/arranger with seven mouths to feed and drove from the San Fernando Valley to Monterey Park four nights a week. He wanted to drive something interesting and a three-year-old MG TD Mk II filled the bill.  This was in 1956 and the car was a ’53 so the parts were still flying in formation. Lucas never became a cuss word in our garage. One day Dad came home with MY CAR. A genuine

Austin A-40 that had absorbed fifty of his hard earned dollars. WOW! A running car

with leather seats and sunroof and it ran!  Before I got my license, I drove it in and out of our carport. This only happened when Mom and Dad went out.

My second British car was a “52 MG TD I got for $500 which ran but every fender was in need of repair. So each weekend one fender would come off and get reshaped on the lawn of my apartment. I drove it a mile down the road and got it painted for the cost of the paint: $32. A TD with new seats and BRG is quite the charm doncha know?

A few years later, a good friend met me at a model plane meet and he in his white AC Bristol roadster. We made a deal for the cost of what he had in it ($2000)  and I restored it (real Connelly hides and Wilton carpeting)  and drove it work from the Los Gatos mountains to the far reaches of the Silicon valley in addition to participating in the early Monterey Vintage races throughout the ‘70’s. At that time it was good cheap fun.

It even got chosen to appear at the Pebble Beach Concourse the day after one of the Historic races.  All of the four invited “racers” were asked to drive over The Ramp and I was asked to transport a passenger. Some old guy named Ansel Adams. Nice guy.

Presently I’m restoring an AC Aceca Bristol that’s coming along slowly. I do have my eye on a running MGB-GT presently coveted by fellow members and dear friends Dave Coon and Jill Jones. I need something to fend off car club members who ask the question:” Don’t you have a British car?”