February 15, 2021
By Arthur H. Gunther III
I recall a particularly down day way, way back when a combination of disappointment, inaction, frustration and inertia had me idling in neutral. Could not see the road ahead. It would normally be one of those times when you just didn’t get out of bed. But fortune stepped in. I had to go with a friend to pick up his 1959 Austin Healey 3000 from a great mechanic on East Willow Tree Road in what was then rural Pomona, N.Y. I was to drive the sports car home. It took my moment out of neutral.
My own car was a staid and unreliable VW beetle, though most of that make were OK. This one had an inherently bad engine that kept blowing valves. Lack of maintenance did not help.
In contrast, the friend’s white Healey was in great tune, and I wasn’t going to spend enough time to change its image. Yet it changed my day.
When I left the shop, revving the 3-litre BMC C-Series motor a bit in first gear, clutch down, clear country road ahead, bright day, whatever mood I was stuck in vanished in tailpipe smoke between shifts. Had it to 60 mph in 11 seconds on the straight Pomona Road run, not fast by today’s standards, but it felt as if I were driving Mr. G at Daytona.
Left on Route 306, back to East Willow Tree to McNamara, the twists and turns conquered in numerous shifting and downshifting, gripped steering wheel aiming the vehicle along the crest of the road (best place to be), that fine machine, its finicky carbs newly ear-tuned by a master in sync like a full orchestra as we revved our way through those great turns. Nothing else mattered. It turned out to be a good day.
The writer is a retired newspaperman.