Whatever happened to “old Roger” who used to work at that now defunct Electrical Rebuilding shop and was a whiz at Healey regulators? How about “old Bill” at the British shop down the road who could rebuild SU carbs to better than new? And what about “old Charlie” who could tune wire wheels until they sang? Here’s a clue: “old”.
Inevitably those shops, mechanics, suppliers and craftsmen (and women) we have depended on for years to restore and repair our beloved Healeys are fading away. Age takes it toll, as does declining demand for certain parts and skills. Unfortunately, when you need it, you need it.
Much has been written over the years about the future of our hobby. I won’t try to elaborate on that theme, but presuming someone younger than me is eventually interested in my Healey, how will they keep it on the road if all the British Car Magicians are in the wind? I think the answer is straightforward: We need to get younger people interested in our hobby and in the repair and restoration skills needed to sustain it.
Maybe, just maybe, there is a career out there. In an age when a good auto tech can make $100k a year easy, how much is a skilled upholsterer worth? You can’t outsource your engine rebuild to China and Amazon doesn’t do brake jobs (at least not yet).
Of course, the $64 question is, how do we get young people exposed to, and interested in, our LBCs? Well, in small ways. I am pleased to see that the Automobile Driving Museum in El Segundo is doing just that. They have several interesting projects, including a group of high school students restoring an Amphicar. Maybe one or two of those kids may get the bug and will be rebuilding your differential somewhere down the road.
(As you will see elsewhere in this edition, your Club has generously contributed $2000 to the Automobile Driving Museum in support of the Amphicar Restoration project. So, you can feel good that, in a small way, you are helping to preserve our hobby and the skills needed to sustain it.)