British Motor Car Day

300 British cars on display in Roswell

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ROSWELL, Ga. — From Buckhead to Buford and Ansley Park to Alpharetta, the British car clubs came to Roswell in their Austin Healeys, their Daimlers and their MGs – even a Morris lorry (that’s truck to you Yanks).

May 4 was British Motor Car Day, and for the second year in a row, they came to Roswell City Hall to welcome all to see and to talk about a Triumph Spitfire or the Jag XKE; it’s easier than asking about their grandkids.

After all, it is a car show.

Take Joe Geracie from Suwanee. He had the only Rolls Royce that day, but it was a sleek 1976 Silver Shadow. He has four or five (he’s not sure) more cars at home including the Ferrari and a Porsche. His everyday car is a Prius.

Lynn Cunningham has an absolute classic Jaguar XK 140 (1956), what he called his “hobby car.”

Larry Crowe has a 1997 Land Rover Defender that not only can go anywhere, it has. Tricked out, it looks like it just drove in off Animal Planet.

Steve Konsin had his 1950 Lester, which was and is a racecar. He bought it in 1984 and has driven it in vintage car races. It most recently ran in the Walter Mitty Rally at Road Atlanta in Braselton.

He has run it on the tracks at Sebring, Virginia International and Lime Rock Park in Connecticut.

Konsin’s Lester is hand-built with an all-aluminum body (copied from a Maserati) and still does 128 mph in the backstretch. The body was 750 pounds in those days (that is the cost, not the weight). Only 35 were made of this model.

How fast do they really try to go on the track though? After all, this is Daddy’s Baby until it hits the wall – then it’s just parts, if you’re lucky.

“We run them as hard as we can,” Konsin said. “You’re not supposed rub [if you’re not rubbin’ you’re not racin’ so the NASCAR jockeys say]. But a lot of guys do it. It is a race after all.”

He bought the Lester when he lived in Pittsburgh from a guy in Connecticut who got it from the guy who brought it over in Canada, Konsin said.

In fact, he knows all the owners. These owners know the lineage of the car’s drivers like a Derby owner knows the bloodlines of his horse.

And loud? It sounds like a car that wants to go somewhere – fast. That is probably why he got his Stroup Road neighbor Jere Wood to drive the Lester over for him. It’s not exactly street legal, but who would stop the mayor?

Meanwhile, I didn’t see the car I was looking for. I wanted to see a Sunbeam-Talbot Alpine Sports Mk I roadster. That was what Grace Kelly squired Cary Grant around in when they made “To Catch a Thief.”

I like to drop a name once in a while myself.

JC 05-08-14