Written by Jack Collins
This is the first in a series of posts and articles that will hopefully express our thoughts and feelings about the cars we drive and the hobby that has been such an integral part of our lives for so many years. In coming articles we hope to share how we approach the hobby and our philosophy on how the automobile fits into our lives.
For me, automobiles have always been more than just transportation appliances. They have been expressions of style, art, and creativity. Sure, they get me back and forth to my destination, but there has also always been something in the garage that was more than just a ride. I can’t really pinpoint one particular reason for it, but British cars have had a hold on me since the first time I drove an MG.
British cars, in particular, have always held a special appeal to me. From the time you open the door you’re greeted with the smell of English leather, wood, and Wilton wool carpets. Maybe even a little oil and fuel as well! The driving position is usually arms outstretched, clutching a wood or leather wheel, shifter coming readily to hand. First a process of choke and throttle, turn the key and listen for the ticking of the fuel pump. Hit the starter, hear the distinct sound of a Lucas starter motor and the engine springs to motion. With a whiff of exhaust, the pressure, temp, and tach jump to action. It’s at that moment you realize that there is something more going on than just mechanical movements. It’s almost as if the car is alive, begging for you to take it to the road. It’s a silly notion, but you can’t help but feel it in these machines.
I’ve heard all the “Prince of Darkness” electrical jokes, the comments about oil spots, SU carburetors, and how the wiring is only there to contain the smoke. For every story we’ve heard about how someone used to own one, we’ve heard another story of how troublesome the car was. Frankly, there is a kernel of truth in many of these comments and stories. Deserved or not, these cars do have a reputation for being somewhat unreliable. They leak. They have archaic and uncommon systems that require some specialized experience to tune properly. They are very underpowered when compared to modern cars. Even the most entry level (insert Japanese brand and model here) has enough power to easily outrun, out corner, and out stop most British sports cars of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
I can’t remember how many cars I’ve owned over the years. I do remember that some were a joy to own and drive while others were miserable things that made me want to throw wrenches. But thinking back on it, the cars I hated most were not necessarily the most unreliable or uncomfortable ones. They were usually the mundane appliances that just started up and carried me to work without any struggle, but also without any joy.
That brings us to the reason Ceres Motorsports exists. While I love the old-school charm and appeal of the wood, leather, oil, smoke, and noise, I also realize that if we really want to enjoy these cars day to day in modern traffic, at high speeds, great distances, with better reliability, we have to make some changes and improvements to bring these cars into the 21st century. The conundrum is, how do we do that without sacrificing the very soul that makes these vehicles so appealing to us?
What we hope to achieve are distinct improvements that make our vehicles more reliable, easier to maintain and drive, while retaining all those visceral and emotional attachments that make this type of car so much fun. So stay tuned; we have a lot of interesting things planned for 2017 and beyond.
Jack Collins and the Ceres Motorsports team