Under a typically gray English sky, The Queen’s English British car show in Van Nuys, California enjoyed a tremendous turnout. Legions of Triumphs, Austins, MGs, Lotus, and other English cars descended on Woodley Park in the San Fernando Valley, a suburb of Los Angeles, for what is arguably one of the best car shows in Southern California. Considering it’s free for spectators, there’s not much of a downside to this gathering. Jokingly referred to by locals as “the annual oiling of the lawn,” no one seemed to mind as the crowd continued to swell.
This 1966 Sunbeam Imp Mark 2 just returned to its former home in the San Fernando Valley after 25 years in the Pacific Northwest, where it raced in the SOVREN Series. SOVREN is the Society of Vintage Racing Enthusiasts in the Pacific Northwest.
With its engine upgraded to 998cc, 40 DCOE carbs and straight-cut gears, its new owner (of less than a week) says it’s an absolute blast to drive. It’s estimated there are less than 50 Imps in the United States.
The paint and bright work on this car had me wondering if it wasn’t actually a contemporary kit car. It’s not. It’s 54 years old. A 1958 Berkeley SE328. Berkeley Cars Ltd. of Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, England built “microcars,” essentially motorcycle-engine powered, front wheel drive, tiny cars between 1956 and 1960.
Like any regular car gathering there are the usual attendees, but there are also special surprises each year. This 1967 Triumph 2000 sedan has ample room inside its leather-upholstered, wood-trimmed cabin. While it’s certainly not in any way sexy, it is an unusual sight in Southern California.
This 1934 MG NA Special features a special bungie cord front suspension. Sporting a 1271cc inline 6-cylinder engine fed by a pair of SU carburetors, it produces about 75 HP. Note–the clutch pedal is attached directly to the clutch throwout arm in the bell housing. There were roughly 745 N types built. This includes the NA, NB, ND and NE. This 75-year old survivor was great to see.
Avid car collector and late night television talk show host Jay Leno brings a car to this show each year. Today he brought his 1966 Lotus Elan, 26R Replica, and a mid-fifties Bristol 403 2 Litre. Jay drove the Bristol; the Elan was driven by one of his associates.
This Elan is featured on Jay Leno’s blog at http://www.jaysgarage.com. It’s based on a 1966 Elan. The frame was reinforced and strengthened to withstand the all-aluminum, 2 litre engine and 6-speed sequential shifting transmission. The body is a factory 26R body weighing about 145 pounds. Fit and finish are superb. Many features of this car were hand fabricated such as the exhaust system which is a flattened oval-shaped pipe about an inch and a half tall and 6 inches wide. There simply wasn’t enough room under the car for a standard exhaust pipe after installing the sequential 6-speed transmission.
How can you ruin a replica?
It’s not a replica, it is his “take” on a modified Elan.