Friday, May 10, 2013

It's In The Genes

Where did my love of microcars come from? Well, part of it definitely came from my father. My father was a long time enthusiast and dealer of European cars. This is a picture of my dad around 1959/60 at a dealership he was working at in Kansas City, MO. Shortly after this photo was taken, he took a job as the general manager of a British Leyland Motors dealership in KC. Suffice to say most of my early youth was spent riding in MG's, Austin Healy's, Jaguar's, and other small British sport cars of the 60's. That might also explain why my first bicycle was an English Penny Farthing. A story my dad likes telling about when he took the job at KC Austin Healey, Jaguar, and MG, is how the British owner hated Germans. My dad was driving a Porsche at the time, and the owner of the dealership told him the only way he could have the job was if he got rid of the Porsche. My dad sold his beloved Porsche to take the job. He eventually replaced the Porsche with a Arnolt Bristol Bolide. I guess the owner of the BLM dealership never realized the Arnolt Bristol had a BMW engine.  He eventually quit his GM job and started hustling cars on his own. He always had a penchant for oddball European cars. It's a little bit of an exaggeration, but it seems like just about any kind of European car that made it to the states spent some time in our garage, driveway, or back yard. The result of this is I'm very good at identifying vintage European cars and not so good at identifying vintage American cars.

Some of my earliest memories are of being in the garage with my dad and handing him tools as he restored this Arnolt Bristol Bolide. The car originally belonged to Hugh Hefner. My dad bought it wrecked, and the story I always heard was that one of the Playboy Bunnies in Chicago had wrecked the car. During this period my dad usually drove a car from the  BLM dealership, but I fondly remember the Sunday drives with my dad in the Arnolt Bristol.

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