BOB AVERY'S CAR #44/#55 - BY IAN SPENCER

 

 
 

 This car has been given a replacement body. I know this because I was consulting with Bob Avery during the time he was restoring this car and he told me he had done so. I had just completed the restoration of my Harrington Alpine and he and I owned the only examples known in the US at that time. He and I became friends and he consulted with me on many issues he had with the project. The original body was far too rusty for Bob to restore, so he opted to replace the body with a rust free southern car he found. Unfortunately, the replacement body wasn't of the same production period and had minor variances from the works prepped body his car originally had. Bob gave me the left over parts from the replacement body and the original that he didn't need at the Sunbeam Invasion II in 2002.


Steve S and I have often thought about searching the wrecking yards near Glasgow KY to see if the original body isn't still sitting there... I'm sure it would have been crushed and melted down by now. In those days, there was little interest in Harringtons and the thought of replacing a rusty body on an Alpine wasn't frowned upon. (Had it been a Tiger it might have ended up a different story!) It wasn't until later years when talk of high value, and Bob's poor health came about that he started to deny replacing the body. I remained silent about this out of respect for Bob until sometime after he passed away. But now, I'm comfortable with sharing the truth. Sadly, the only thing that went around the track at Sebring on that car was the fiberglass roof. All of the special works body mods and high performance racing parts were long lost when D&H converted it back to a street car, and when Bob scrapped the original body. I even loaned the original pewter Harrington rear deck script from my car to Bob so that he could hand cut a copy of it out of a flat piece of brass for his car. He even gave me the left over sheet of brass he used! As a matter of fact, I also have the original short deck lid that was on the Sebring body. It was really rusty, so Bob fabricated one from a standard Alpine deck lid, much like Harrington Ltd would have done I'm sure.


Bob was a good person and very hands on. He even handmade the Weber DCOE intake manifold. Steve Silverstein can verify that Bob had a hell of a time getting that thing to work properly! Everything that Bob did was in the best interest of the car. To him, this was a spiritual connection between he and his son, who had been killed in a motorcycle accident. Bob had actually given the car to his son, then got it back after his death. It was never really about the value of the car, not until Bob's health got bad and he started to sort out his estate. It was about his son.

 

 The sad thing is that I think the original body really wasn't that bad. I wish I had been able to get the body before he had it scrapped. I did manage to get a few bits off of it though, like the original bonnet and the little modified Harrington boot prop. Interesting tidbit: Bob hand cut the Harrington boot lid script out of a piece of brass. I gave him the real script from my Harrington Alpine to use as a pattern and he cut a new one with a jewelers saw by hand. Bob was a very talented guy, but I wish he had paid more attention to detail when he did the body conversion. The original body had many little works details that are now lost forever.


Bob and I talked a lot back when he was restoring that car. To him it was an emotional journey to connect with his son who had passed away in a motorcycle accident Bob had given the car to his son. Somewhere I have pictures of it before the restoration.

 

 
 

 1971 - 1988
 

 Ive not talked openly about this stuff until now, but it seems the cat is out of the bag, and Bob has passed away. Bob talked very openly about the re-body with me. It wasn't until the end when his health started to diminish that he got funny about it. He even started to deny re-bodying the car with me, which I contributed to his poor health and values starting to climb. He had become so emotional about the car that it seemed as if his son had become the car to him, so it was no point discussing it with him or challenging him over it. I had a lot of respect for Bob. He was a brilliant person and had an amazing life. Back in those days, Alpines and yes, even Harringtons, were not very valuable and the people in the clubs here in America were all about Tigers. I remember explaining to Tiger Tom about Alpine racing history and how rich it was compared with the Tiger. They had never considered that sort of thought For Bob at the time, re-bodying it was not a concern. It saved him time and a solid Alpine body was cheap to buy. I wish I had become involved a little sooner because the original body had been scrapped by the time I became involved. Had it been around / would have taken it. Yes, it's too bad really. The only thing left of that car is the roof and glass. All of the Sebring bits were removed from the dealership right after the race. They put it back to street trim and parked it by the road. Bob drove by and bought it on the spot.


Hope this helps to shed some light on the subject.


Ian Spencer

 

 

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1971 1988