By Jerry Logan
The ad read, British sports car meet at Mission Valley park. Welcome all makes. Intriguing, since I have a British sports car. I restored an original1964 Sunbeam four years ago and never took it out to show off the best paint job I had done in thirty years. A moment of thought about the wonderful weather we were having in August. And I took a small risk to ask my wife, Hey you want to go for a ride tomorrow morning? She loves to go out for a ride and this lucky moment was no exception. After a bit of battery charging, some valve adjustment, and fluid checks we were ready for the adventure to our first British sports car meet.
The car was running pretty well for being garaged over a year. I shouldnt have been so neglectful, but my work has taken a serious toll on my sports car hobby. Oh well, we were cruising through the countryside on our way to the gathering. Laughing with joy at the sound and feel of our red beauty, we slipped through the curves and over the hill to the valley below. A right onto Mission, a few blocks and we were at the park. I could see some of the typical marquees: Triumph, Jaguar, Mini, MG and Austin Healy underneath the trees, lined up displaying sparkling chrome and paint. It was a wonderful sight.
We pulled into the parking lot. I felt timid about entering the same display arena as all those magnificent cars, so we cruised slowly through the area as I thought about the next move.
All of a sudden an anxious gentleman came up to the passenger window and shouted, Where are the SUNBEAMS! I understood. I hadnt seen a single Sunbeam in the park.
Hi, my name is Rich and youre the only Sunbeam Ive seen here.
There arent to many in our area, I replied.
Thats too bad. I wanted to give out this flyer. (My wife graciously took the flyer not knowing what it was or why she would want this solicitation.) As she gripped the flyer I noticed the outline of a Harrington LeMans. There are moments when one wonders if they can begin breathing again.
This was one of those moments. Rich went on to say, If you know anyone who might be interested in buying this car Im ready to sell it. (Did I do something really good lately to deserve this gift?)
A voice in my head interrupted, This is a Sunbeam Harrington LeMans. He wants to sell. Dont analyze, intellectualize or formulize just listen to what the man has to say. After a short discussion, I had to proceed forward so as not to block traffic any more. Dont they understand what is happening here? (Honk honk)
Still light headed over this gift from the car gods, I eased into a parking spot. As we looked through the fence at all the other British sports cars my thoughts turned to questions about the flyer and the Harrington LeMans. I extracted myself from my comfortable Sunbeam GT; I looked around to find Rich had disappeared. Darn! We should have talked more. There should have been more than a flyer to appease this now whetted appetite.
Not even the walk past the many awe-inspiring restored cars at this meet could stop my hunger. I needed to get home to research my small library and the internet. (This was when I found the fabulous SOACA website.) I needed to learn more about the Harrington LeMans and to phone the number on the flyer.
Hi, Rich? Jerry, the fellow at the Sport Car meet with the 64 Sunbeam GT. I see you have had the Harrington Lemans for 37 years. Does it really only have 57,000 miles? Has it been wrecked? Where did you get it? Does it run? Is the car here in town? May I come and see it?
Jerry, Jerry, Rich said. Slow down partner
let me take one question at a time. Sorry Rich I
guess Im excited.
I hooked up the trailer Friday, and off I went to the West Coast. My thoughts about the Harrington LeMans swirled around the devastating possibility the car would turn out to be a rusted out hulk. This has happened to me before, but my letdown on this pursuit would be tough to endure. Saturday morning came with a renewed belief that the car would be true to Richs description. I followed the directions exactly. I couldnt believe I was actually going to see and maybe purchase a Harrington LeMans.
As I approached the address, my scanning eye saw the little beauty sitting in the sunlight with its distinctive rear end and flowing fiberglass rooflines. My zeal for restoring cars was revitalized immediately as I saw the straight lines down both sides of the moonstone colored body and the red vinyl interior still in supple condition with no tears or cracks. The dash and all instruments were exactly as they left the factory. I was amazed at the workmanship and the design put into this Sunbeam Alpine transformation to a Harrington LeMans.
Do you still have the original engine?
Yes and a few other parts. Over here is another overdrive for parts. These are all the papers on the car I kept and collected over the years. Always wanted to restore this little baby, but, arthritis has set in and I dont think Im up to the task anymore.
What is the least you will take for it Rich?
What I told you already.
You wont take anything less.
Nope, I will just push her back into the garage for anything less.
Hmmm, well I will take it if you can bring over the engine and other items you have.
Very well, Jerry, its yours.
My heart stopped again. An immediate cardiac arrest. I had purchased an exquisite original Harrington LeMans ready for a complete restoration. The remedy for my heart condition was to have a few pictures taken and begin loading procedures.
Rich did deliver the engine and other parts and he has told me more history about this car. I found that the original engine block was caste on June 7, 1961 three days before the 24 hours of LeMans race and four days before Sunbeam won the Index of Thermal Efficiency Cup.
The car is now being completely restored and will hopefully be ready for the SUNY IV if I can get my wife to ride with me to Park City for our first Sunbeam British Sports Car Meet. Of course you know how she likes to ride with me in a sports car.