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LBC magic

To: "spridgets@autox. team. net" <>,
Subject: LBC magic
From: "Phil Vanner" <>
Date: Wed, 11 Sep 2002 12:49:22 -0500
For some time now, my Midget has been off the road for an extensive rebuild.
Of course it is taking longer than expected, and I have developed a
near-terminal case of "while I'm at it."

So, I haven't had an LBC to drive for quite a while. This past Thursday, I
got a call from my friend Jim. Saturday was "Wheels and Wings," the big car
show/fly-in at Classic Motorbooks in Osceola Wisconsin. The whole town turns
into a carnival for this event. He was unable to go because he had to be out
of town. So, knowing that I didn't have a car to bring, and having a car he
was trying to sell, he wondered if I would drive his Mini Cooper to the
show, so it would get some exposure, and I'd have a car to drive.

Yeah, he really had to twist my arm.

I'd never seen this particular car, (Jim has a revolving garage door) so I
walked over to his house to check it out and pick up the keys.  There was a
very clean, black Mini Cooper, 13 inch wheels, fuel injected, LHD. Very
nice. I took it for a drive; tight as a drum. I immediately cleared my
schedule for the day.

Unfortunately my wife could not. So it was going to be Lily, my two year old
daughter, and I. We strapped in the booster seat and right away she liked
the fact that unlike mom's Volvo, she could see where we were going. She
thought it was cute.

6:45 Saturday morning we were off. On the way, there's 25 minutes of boring
suburb to drive through before we get to the fun roads north of St. Paul.
I'm tooling along enjoying every minute when I spot a Traction Avant fueling
up at a station on Hwy 96. I zip in to say hello and see if he's going to
the show. Funny thing: when I ask if he's going to Osceola, he answers, by
instinct, "It's a Citroen" before he realizes that's not what I asked. We
both laughed. He must get that a lot. He was going to St. Paul to pick up a
passenger before the show, so I headed off alone.

Lily dozed off as I reach County Road 7, one of my favorites. With a willing
little A-series pulling me through the curves, go-kart handling and an
exhaust that has just enough of that anti-social buzz, I realized it has
been WAY too long since I did this. The car ran perfectly. As we approached
the St. Croix Trail, I saw an unmistakably vintage shape flash by, then
another.  When I reached the trail I fell in at the end of a line of
classics, led by a trailered Isetta. Directly in front of me was a 55
Chevrolet, then a pair of late 50's Corvettes, and assorted big American
50's rigs. Soon a late 50's Plymouth Belvedere fell in behind me. Then we
passed a big Healey on another tributary, waiting for his turn to merge into
the stream.

Right from the start the show was great, lots of LBCs, and The Minnesota MG
Group had coffee and doughnuts waiting for us. I was the first Mini there
and was directed to a spot right at the entrance on a little hill where the
organizers decided to put the Minis. As the rest of them showed up, I was
between a wonderfully patinated dead-original '67 MkII Cooper S (with John
Cooper's signature in the boot) and a restored to better-than-new early
non-S Cooper.

We wandered the field, looked at many hundreds of cars of every sort, then
Lily started to get bored at about noon. They were giving free train rides
on old Great Northern passenger coaches so I took her for a short run. We
had the entire train to ourselves. The engineer let Lily sound the whistle
at a road crossing and ring the bell. She was grinning from ear to ear.

Then we went for ice cream. I drove the car into town and stopped at a
little sweets shop, and immediately drew a crowd. A few places over was a
red Ferrari 328 that seemed to go unnoticed. (sorry Rick.) Lily patted the
Minis flank and said "Papa's car." I had to remind her that it wasn't mine,
and she asked when we had to give it back. "Not for a little while," I said.
The rest of the afternoon was hers. We drove around town smiling, and she
went on the carousel, rode a pony, visited the balloon vendor and petting
zoo, and was generally spoiled by dad. We had an absolutely smashing time,
me and my little girl, in that little car.

On the way home she slept again and I took the long way, deliberately using
some of the lesser traveled back roads. Just me, and the curves and the
sweet little Cooper.

I got home and carried my sleeping child to her bedroom. I came back in to
tie her balloon to the bed frame so it would be there when she awoke. She
opened her eyes briefly, looked up at the balloon and beamed. I kissed her
and she looked at me and asked "We can't keep the little car?"

I thought about the day we had and, well, Jim's car isn't for sale anymore.

Phil Vanner
'61 Midget
and a four seat LBC

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