MAY 8, 2014: HOW NOT TO DRIVE AN OLD RIDE IN A NEW TRAFFIC WORLD

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I spotted a vintage Triumph Spitfire in heavy traffic recently and noticed it immediately for a couple of reasons, some of them good and others not so good.

 

A classic British sports car is always a welcome sight in traffic because they are not common in my town.

 

They do not fare very well in our winters where poor street-cleaning means they will not clear the ruts that pass for car lanes during our snowy months.

 

 

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Plus no drop top import with a heater meant for a milder British climate would stand a chance in the midst of our winter cold snaps.

 

A vintage car with this limited range of months when it can actually be driven in my area will be a rock star every time on our streets because they are rare visitors to our streets.

 

They do not make ’em anymore and not many of them were sold on this side of the pond compared to something like an American sedan of the same vintage.

 

So I was pretty excited when I saw what appeared to be a very stock version of a Triumph Spitfire, baby brother to its larger sibling the Triumph TR model.

 

I was less excited when I watched the little Brit navigate through traffic under the care and control of its current owner. The first thing I noticed is the guy did not want to signal his intentions in relatively heavy traffic-ever.

 

I will concede he may not have enjoyed the luxury of working signal lights in his Spitfire, given the legendary fallibility of British automotive electrical systems, affectionately known as Lucas, Prince of Darkness in car guy circles.

 

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However I would suspect his signal lights worked and, even if they were indeed possessed by unholy British electrical engineering, he could have used hand signals to alert other drivers to his intentions.

 

The streets here are the primary domain of large pickup trucks with massive size and weight. A collision between a Triumph Spitfire and a new age pickup would be the 21st century collision equivalent of Muhammad Ali’s fist with my face when he was a brash young fighter known as Cassius Clay and I was known as Jimmy in elementary school.

 

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This would not be pretty, even in the loosest sense of the concept.

 

So the Spitfire driver was tempting fate in my opinion and I was behind him for many blocks while he dodged in and out of traffic in a tiny car driven in a land of giants.

 

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I also noticed that he over-corrected the car and wandered in his lanes a bit because of an odd combination of a presumably worn-out Spitfire front end with a close ratio steering system. He looked like he was unfamiliar with how to compensate for the two conflicting characteristics of his car.

 

He jitter-bugged his way through traffic in a car that was not easy to spot from the perch of a large diesel powered one ton truck and there were plenty of them on the road.

 

I saw a nifty little Spitfire on the streets but I did not see a smart driver behind the wheel.

 

Jim Sutherland

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