Its funny how a song, a smell and in this instance, a car can bring you back 44 years as if it were yesterday. Last week a TR3 entered the Sports Car Factory to have some repairs done. Steve mentioned he was working on a TR3 and like an instant flash, a warp field appeared and brought me back 44 years in time.
I had a 1959 Triumph TR-3A (green) and it was one of my favorite cars to drive. At that time, I worked as a Lab Technologist and was responsible for testing incoming materials, steel, rubber, paints and such. I now remember my first interview at Aviation Electric which later became Bendix. The HR Manager sent me up to the head of engineering who asked me to sit in this chair facing him while he sat at his big desk. He was a big man, overweight and had a very straight face. As I sat down, he proceeded to ask me three questions. The first was, “what is the voltage in that wall plug?” and I proceeded to say 110/120.
He then asked, “What does a float do in a carburetor?” and that got me talking because I had just finished tuning the two SU Carburetors in my TR3A which included cleaning the float bowls. I honestly cannot remember the third question but after I answered it he sent me back down to the HR department and they had me fill out a job form and I started the following Monday. This was me back in the day and yes, I probably walked into the interview with a similar shirt, hair blown dry with “men’s” holding spray, a beard and a smile. This is how my career began.
This car in The Sports Factory brought all this back to mind. I took some pictures for those who do not know what a Triumph TR3A looks like.
But this story is about the girl or at least the 1959 Triumph TR3A. Aviation Electric was a secured work site because of its affiliation with the US Airforce. The parking lot was fenced and there were guards to sign you in and out every day. One day at 4:30 when work was finished, I started up the car in the parking lot by pushing the start button. I did on the occasion risk destroying my wrist and started the car using the crank in the trunk, but that too was only to show off.
The engine warmed up nicely that day and she had that exhaust node that stood out from the American cars, Hondas, and such. Mind you my friends Pontiac GTO was so loud with such a rumble that my car would be silent next to his. I started to leave the parking lot and it was a huge parking lot. As I drove down one row of cars, I notice this girl that I had being eying who working in accounting. Back then, they would have two security guards and three people from accounting stop by your work area every Friday afternoon and give you your pay, cash in an envelope attached to a pay stub.
She was with five elderly ladies (well elderly to me at that time) and she was trying to squish into the back with three of them. As I drove by, I stopped. She heard the exhaust or smelled the gas. She turned and smiled, and my response was, “I have an empty seat that seems more comfortable, interested?”. She told me where she lived, and I had no problems driving her home. In fact, we sat in that TR3A in front of her house until 10:00 that evening, just talking.
Needless to say, our lengthily conversation led to a second date. This is when the TR3A exposed her true character. It was a rainy day. The problem with my TR3A at the time was that the rubber seal along the bottom of the windshield was dried out. You could remove the complete windshield with two bolts on either side. This allowed you to drive with out the windshield wearing goggles and that famous aviators white silk scarf blowing in the wind.
The problem with a dried seal was that it leaked water in the rain. My quick solution was to stuff a plastic garbage bag on the inside between the seal and that dash where it was known to leak. Also worth mentioning is that back then, we dressed up for dates and this one was no exception. I picked her up and eventually we ended up on the Trans Canada freeway heading to Hudson, Quebec for dinner. The TR3A was know for speed (110 Miles/Hour) and I certainly kept up with the traffic.
The water was racing in between the bag, the seal and the dash. However, that plastic bag was doing its job. Only a few drips to the side were noticeable. But suddenly, out of nowhere, the bag just blew up like a big balloon inside the car. Its probably how the air bag came to be. I failed to mention that the leak was on the passenger side, so this wet bag full of water just exploded into her face and poured water all over her lap. The conversation about how much she adored my cute little British sports car took a180 degree turn.
I eventually sold that car and moved on to another. The girl? That’s a long story for another day. I guess the whole point of this story is that cars, like music and smells can bring you back to a special place, even if its just for one tiny moment in time.