United V | 1981

Savannah, GA  1981

United V was a success, many thanks to everyone.

by Dave Lawler

Speaking for myself and my family, I would like to express the sincere appreciation we feel for all those who arranged personal time and planning in order to be a part of this year’s United. It seems as though it was regarded as a real success.

After having caught up on some much needed ZZZZzzz’s, it was nice to reflect on all the happenings that took place on that memorable weekend.

I talked with Melissa and Jack Fields after having returned home and they, too, voiced a real need for mega doses of vitamins. What might ordinarily be considered a chore of drudgery — balancing the books, counting heads for the oyster roast, bus tour and banquet until 4 a.m., getting up again at 7 a.m. to open the hospitality suite, going for donuts and making sure the coffee arrives — somehow each of these things now seems to have left only the rewarding feeling of accomplishment..

We were lucky to be able to have the opportunity to continue the spirit of our United for an additional few days after Savannah. We and the Quinters (Robyn and John) spent a stop-over night in Fayetteville, N.C. at Horne’s Motor Lodge.
Speaking of spirit, much can be attributed to the fine turnout of so many varied personalities. We had a wide diversion of professions and occupations which made for quite a crew.

I can’t figure out how Dr. Randall can own a Tiger and work on it on Sundays and be able to get enough grease out from under his fingernails to attack other people’s decays on Monday morning.

Likewise, I would expect our P. Travis Smith, who has put together a beautiful Alpine to have a similar problem, being that he, too, is a physician.
It’s widely rumored that Bill Wells doesn’t have the same problem; the solution has something to do with the stuff that comes out of coils and copper kettles in Black Mountain, N.C. It exhibits miracle traits in dealing with grease under the fingernails, as well as cleaning the engine block of his beautiful Tiger.

In the write-up of this event, you’ll notice there were many firsts which all contributed to making United V a more interesting all-around social event, as well as a car event.

In addition to those who helped formally with the organization of the event, we had many people pitching in and helping wherever they could. People such as Bill “Mountain Man” Wells, Jeanne who quickly became known as the “Ice Lady.” In addition to keeping the hospitality suite in ice, she exhibited the extreme of efforts in rousting Bill out of the sack so he could arrive with donuts in time for Friday’s 8 a.m. coffee and donuts. session.

Our Texan, Tom Trostel, half of our “honeymooning couple,” has to be given credit for rescuing the coffee on the first day from the parking lot and for finding a donut shop on the second.

Tom Hall of STOA, the 1981 California Lord Rootes Trophy winner, not only flew in from California but was pressed into serving as a concours judge and panel member for the tech session.

Comments indicate that Tom Ehrhart’s organization of the tech session made it the best that TE/AE has ever held.

While the concours and tech session were going on, Tom Stanbro, along with Brian Clewer (the English version of Robert Redford and guest speaker at the banquet), were spending their afternoon organizing the “pokes” of parts for door prizes. This was quite a mean feat.

By the time you read this, we’ll be into planning United VI, so don’t feel badly if you didn’t make this event. Start planning for the next one over Columbus Day weekend in October 1982.

Another thing about this United that I’ll always remember was the willingness of people to help promote the event and organize their local Sunbeamites in an attempt to get them to attend. I’m sure the next time a United is held in the south (1983?), it should be easier.

We saw definite contingents from various areas: Bob and Billie Jackson from Miami; the Coffields from Jacksonville; the Bulpitts from Atlanta; Vi and Tom Stanbro from North Carolina; and the Kathmanns and Yates from Indiana. Hopefully, this will have acted as a catalyst towards more local participation in the club. I’m sure any of these people would be glad to hear from you if you’d like to become more involved in their local area gatherings.

In addition to groups, we had some real pioneer types. Consider the “Macintosh Clan,” who braved the crossing of the Appalachian Mountains (west to east) in their trek from Michigan, trailering their Alpine. Somehow, they not only seemed to be terribly lucky at winning door prizes, but they accomplished the near impossible feat of shoehorning three adults into their Alpine for the fun rally ….and then winning it.

Another courageous soul braved nearly 1,000 miles of I-95 in his pick-up truck laden with goodies for the swap meet. If ever there was a modern day equivalent of The Grapes of Wrath trek, Phil Perron and his mother would deserve an Academy Award for their portrayal.

Incidentally, from somewhere in the depths of Phil’s truck, he came up with just what I needed — an early Series I side-opening console box. Larry Thomas came up with an honest-to-goodness real Sunbeam speaker to go with my radio and John MacFarlane popped up with a nice new hood badge to replace the one lost from our 1969 sedan.

A sincere “thank you” to all of you who contributed to the planning, organizing and execution of all the details that made United V work.

United V: what an event…

“the granddaddy of them all,” as one Sunbeam stalwart put it …it was the event that was, to borrow another phrase.

Nearly 120 Sunbeam devotees gathered in Savannah, Georgia for four days of fun, cars, good food and good company. We talked, we laughed, we admired, we ate (did we ever:), we swapped, we raced, we feasted, we watched, we bought, we learned, we listened, we enjoyed, we relished, we applauded …well, you get the picture!

TE/AE’s United V was an event unparalleled in the Tiger/Alpine marque this year, or really, in any preceding year. And, those who enjoyed the gathering in Savannah unanimously agreed, it was a class act… United VI will have a tough act to follow.

The Old South graciously opened its doors of hospitality to Tiger and Alpine fans from throughout the country and we Sunbeamers arrived in high spirits from all over: Kansas, New York, Florida, Massachusetts, Indiana, Texas, North Carolina, California and Tennessee, to name but a few. We left full of trophies, souvenirs, door prizes, presents, Sunbeam talk and fond memories.

Savannah and most of the South have experienced a drought in recent months and, in true United tradition, the arrival of TE/AE folks brought cloudy skies and rain to this water-hungry region. But, the weather certainly didn’t dampen our spirits and hardly interfered with our events. We had indoor parking in a specially designated area for Sunbeams only and an open-air, but under-cover amphitheatre on the riverfront as a setting for the concours.

Fortunately, the weather cleared a bit for the river cruise and oyster roast on Friday evening and for Sunday’s autocross.

Moving southward for this year’s event gave club members the opportunity to see some really beautiful cars, lovingly cared for and in some cases, restored by owners from the warmer climates.

For some of the northern TE/AE folks, the southern Sunbeams were a treat for the eyes. For some of the southern club members, it was a revelation that there are so many NICE cars out there:

This year’s United was notable for ail its “firsts,” such as:

  • the first United to host a honeymooning couple. Newlyweds Mr. and Mrs. Tom Trostel from Arlington, Texas found United V the perfect place to get their Sunbeam-graced marriage off to a roaring start;
  • the first United concours to be videotaped to be presented later that evening in the hospitality suite;
  • the first United to have such a quantity of door prizes that they were bagged in “grab bags” and stacked on a table for the lucky number-holders;
    the first TE/AE club event of any type to draw so many people from such diverse areas of the country; and
  • the first United to host several delightful mothers of club members who came to investigate just what all that commotion and interest in those little cars was all about.

And, not to forget the daring-do of several club members, we have to report:

  • North Carolina’s Paul Morrow, who pulled his Tiger out of three years’ worth of mothballs, found himself near the back-of-the-pack during the high-speed parade lap at the Roebling Road autocross WITHOUT ANY BRAKES!
  • Todd Reid, “Uncle” Wally Swift’s straight-man, who embellished Wally’s hysterical banquet monologue by designating several TE/AE charter members as “old farts;”
  • Fun rally winners the McIntosh Clan, Bill Wells and his Jeannie and Bob and Barb Pennell, who actually stood and counted the 50 glass windows in Svannah’s historic Davenport House (not 51, since one window was boarded up due to the home’s restoration). And, to George and Teannie Steigerwalt, kudos for thinking up such a devilishly enjoyable fun rally.
  • TE/AE president Dave Lawler who appeared at the awards banquet WITHOUT his ever-present army cap, thus confusing potential club members who’d been told, “Go ask the tall guy in the army cap about membership.”
  • And, last but not least, to Scott Woerth for putting his prize-winning Tiger through its paces and coming up with one of the fastest times of the day and the fastest Sunbeam time at Sunday’s autocross. Thats REAL caring-so.
  • But, in case we’ve concentrated too much on the Sunbeam people, let us not forget the beautiful Tigers and Alpines who made all our lives so much more enjoyable. And, in Savannah, United V attracted a bevy of beauties …all in such excellent shape that parts dealers reported slow sales this year.

A few that were in the Savannah spotlight:

  • Jim and Becky Snyder’s beautiful black Tiger with its electric windows, nice flares and lively interior was a real crowd pleaser!
  • The backyard restoration project of Travis Smith landed him a first place trophy for his lovely Alpine series V!
  • Special Interest Autos featured an article on Atlantan Bill Bulpitts beautiful red Tiger…it was a feast for the eyes;
  • “Mountain Man” Bill Wells descended from the North Carolina mountains to share his super sharp Tiger with TE/AE folks;
  • This year’s quintessential Alpine from Larry and Sandra Thomas: a series II with a V-6 engine and Michelin TRX wheels;
  • John MacFarlane’s “screw-it-together quick” project that became a Tiger right before our very eyes and just in time for the concours;
  • Scott Woerth’s beautiful black stock Tiger Mark I that scored the same as Bo Derek: “10” both with the judges and the crowd;
  • the Alpine from Michigan’s McIntosh clan that was so carefully trailered to Savannah to prevent any damage which promptly fell off the trailer while being unloaded, damaging its front valance;
  • Dennis and Becky Rathburn’s lovely modifed Tiger with its flares, pin stripes, nifty interior and friendly owners that just about stole the show; and
  • the several Tigers and Alpines that were not entered in the concours or that didn’t even make it to Savannah, but have brought a lot of Sunbeams and smiles into TE/AE members’ lives.

Oyster Roast

“The Waving Girl” set sail from the dock at the Hyatt Regency, full of TE/AE folks and bound for an interesting and unique evening. The fun started with a cruise around Savannah harbor and ended with a delicious southern buffet at historic old Fort Jackson.

Twilight on the river is a beautiful time of day and enhanced the interesting sites along. the waterfront. Savannah boasts a cosmopolitan mixture of old and new and this can be seen along the river. Old, historic homes, built in the 18th-century, perch next to newer additions to the downtown region, such as the Hyatt Regency. Farther up the river is an area of heavy industry, shipping and ship building which made for interesting viewing.

Music and a cash bar on board soon gave the cruise a party atmosphere and before long, dancing inside the cabin, led by Larry Thomas and kids, had many people moving.

Then, it was off to Old Fort Jackson, built in the early 19th century, where oysters, roasted over an open fire awaited hungry TE/AE’ers. The oysters were followed by a “Low Country” buffet, featuring southern coastal delicacies like shrimp, Brunswick stew, corn and barbecued chicken.

The fort is one of the oldest in the area and members of the historic preservation society not only handled the buffet, but also showed off their period costumes and fired up their muskets and cannon to close the evening with a ‘bang.’

And, for enjoying such a fun and unique event, which contributes to the society’s efforts, TE/AE has been honored with membership in the society. TE/AE president Dave Lawler accepted a certificate from the group, designating the club as “official members.”

Concours

by Mike Smith

The Old South, Savannah, with its historic homes, quaint pubs and shops; an open air amphitheater on the riverfront, complete with tourists strolling along cobblestone streets; and the beautiful cars from Tigers East/Alpines East members — these all seem to be synonymous with Contours de Elegance.
And, an elegant contours it was, too, with 26 of the finest examples of the marque one would ever see. It was like something from a storybook.

The United V contours had more than just a perfect setting and beautiful cars. It had the support and enthusiastic participation of Tigers East/Alpines East members from all over the United States.

As was acknowledged at the awards banquet, each organization has its share of members with special talents and our club is no exception.

The following people gave of their time and talents to judge each car in six categories.

Our special thanks to them:

  • Barry Schonberger from Evansville, Indiana;
  • Bill Miller from Waverly, Tennessee:
  • Tom Hall from Pleasanton, California;
  • Scott Woerth from Christiana, Pennsylvania;
  • Maurice Del Prado from West New York, New Jersey
  • Lisa Lawler from Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

Thanks again to Wally Swift of Beltsville, Maryland for assistance in setting up the concours area and acting as adviser to the judges.

While the weather on concours day proved rainy and chilly (in keeping with TE/AE tradition), the sight of the beautiful cars was enough to warm any Sunbeam-lover’s soul — especially some of the cars from our southern members and friends who were making their first appearances in TE/AE competitions.

Stock Tiger

  • First – Scott and Bobbi Woerth Christiana, Pa. Mark I
  • Second – George and Jeannie Steigerwalt Audubon, Pa. Mark II
  • Third – Jerry and Kim Bandy Christiana, Pa. Mark I

Personalized Tiger

  • First — Bill Wells, Black, Mountain, N.C., Mark I
  • Second — Bill Bulpitt Atlanta, Ga. Mark IA
  • Third — Clark Vegazo, Hollywood, Fla., Mark II
  • First — Travis Smith Gainesville, Florida series V
  • Second — John McIntosh Birmingham, Michigan series IV

Personalized Alpine

  • First — George Matthis, Jr. Kinston, N.C. series V

Modified Sunbeam

  • First — Dennis and Becky Rathburn Sarasota, Fla. Tiger Mark I
  • Second — Tom and Joanne Ehrhart Harrisburg, Pa. rotary-powered Alpine GT
  • Third — Joe and Gloria Wells Jacksonville, Fla. Tigerized Alpine V-8

Most popular Tiger

  • First — Scott and Bobbi Woerth, Christiana, Pa., Mark Z
  • Second — Jerry and Kim Bandy Christiana, Pa. Mark I
  • Third — Dennis and Becky Rathburn, Sarasota, Fla., Mark I

Most popular Alpine

  • First — George Matthis, Jr. Kinston, N.C. series V
  • Second –Travis Smith Gainesville, Fla . series V
  • Third — Larry and Sandra Thomas Atlanta, Ga. series II V-6

Tom Ehrhart Lord Rootes trophy winner

Wally Swift, the 1980 Lord Rootes Trophy winner, circled the banquet room, tossing out a string of one-liners that kept the audience in hysterics, before walking to a nearby table and pronouncing “Tiger Tom” Ehrhart as the unanimous choice to receive the 1981 award.

Tom’s selection was a popular choice, not only with the committee of former winners and charter club members, but also with the audience who gave him a standing ovation.

TE/AE’s rules for awarding the prestigious trophy were changed two years ago and the award now honors those with exemplary cars who have worked to promote the marque and club.

In the early 1970s, Tom was instrumental in the formation of TE/AE, having collected East Coast people and cars for several years. He carries the membership #2 in TE/AE.

During the past 10 years, he’s been a tireless supporter of the club and the marque, giving of his time and energy to promote TE/AE, the marque and Sunbeam events. He’s contributed to the newsletter, autocrossed very successfully, hosted club events, drawn new members to the club and improved the breed of car, as well as operating a remarkable parts business.

Tom’s owned six Tigers and three Alpines through the years, including the lowest mileage Tiger on record at 2,800 miles. He admits he’s always been a sports car freak and started his collection with a TR-3. Shortly after he and Joanne were married, they were looking for a sports car with a hardtop and overdrive for Joanne. They came across their first Alpine and the Sunbeam love affair was launched. That Alpine, which brought Tom two first place awards for autocrossing, was retired two years ago with 176,000 miles.

To keep that beloved Alpine on the road, a search for cars and parts was launched and through those contacts, Sunbeam people were found. All of that led to the parts business and the formation of TE/AE.

Tom’s favorite cars, of the many he’s owned, are that now-retired Alpine; his low mileage Tiger, which lives with him and Joanne and kids Melanie and Valerie in Harrisburg, Pa.; and his Roto-Rooter, an Alpine GT which last summer gained a Mazda RX-7 rotary engine, along with air-conditioning and television.

One of his big kicks, he admits, is towing one Tiger with another and watching the reactions. He arrived this way at an SCCA show in Maryland a couple of years ago and brought the place to a standstill when he pulled into the lot.

In receiving the Lord Rootes Trophy at United V, Tom acknowledged the help and support Joanne has offered through the years in tolerating his love affair with Sunbeams.

Joanne, in speaking to the banquet audience, confessed that sharing her husband with his Sunbeam mistress hasn’t always been easy. But, she did find a solution to getting Tom’s attention several years ago: she went to where he’d parking the Alpine at work and stole the car, then called up asking how he planned to get home that evening.

Awards Banquet

Even the rainy, chilly weather that forced the United V awards banquet indoors couldn’t dampen the spirits of a TE/AE fun-loving crowd. With several Sunbeam touches, the festive evening capped off many United events.
A scrumptious buffet from the Hyatt featured an incredible selection of salads, fresh veggies, seafood, barbecued ribs, beef stroganoff, and other delicacies. Then, TE/AE folks attacked the hotel’s famous dessert bar where the chocolate mousse and mocha layer cake did a fast disappearing act.

Brian Clever, from the California travel agency handling next year’s Sunbeam tour of England, flew in just to speak at our banquet. His topics the September 1982 England LOGE Tiger/Alpine International meet.

Brian expounded on the talents of British Sunbeam-owners at crawling from pub to pub, as well as other notable subjects, such as pirates, rallies, social events and other activities planned for the tour. As one TE/AE notable said, it was enough to either challenge us into going on the tour or scare us to death.

Awards and door prizes abounded; so many door prizes, in fact that some were put in “grab bags” to keep the evening from becoming an all-night give-away. TE/AE vice president Jack Fields, attending his fourth United sans Tiger, walked away with a bottle of Tiger ginger ale, the closest he got all weekend to the real thing.

Wesley Gabbard, Alex’s son, did his share of the duties by picking door prize-winning numbers. No one’s sure they want to ever to face Wesley at a poker table: he drew a winning streak of 53, 54 and 55, right in a row.

Stalwart Maurice Del Prado, who’s attended every United and has yet to win a door prize, kept up his streak and again walked away empty-handed.

Local events, club history and Sunbeam lore were chronicled in a superb slide show, compiled by Matthis Productions of Kinston, N.C. George, Millie and George, Jr. put together a beautiful show, complete with music and narration, from slides submitted by club members and other Sunbeam fans. It was a lovely tribute to the marque and to those who love their cars.

“The Tiger Unleashes Its Claws,” an original Rootes Group public relations film, captivated the audience with the power and performance of the Tiger.

But, the star of the show, was “Uncle” Wally Swift, who kept the audience laughing hysterically with a string of one-liners that could never be duplicated. Wally has since blamed his funny monologue on some California Cellar named Taylor or something, but we think he was “just inspired.”

In all, a fun evening with a fun crowd.

Rally Winners

  • First — the McIntosh clan, Brimingham, Mich.
  • Second — Bill Wells and his Jeannie Black Mountain, N.C.
  • Third — Hob and Barbara Pennell , Poland, Ohio

Longest Distance Awards

  • Tiger — Duane Odle Bloomington, Ind.
  • Alpine — Bruce, John and Peg McIntosh Birmingham, Mich.

Autocross

When the South opened its doors for our United weekend, they probably didn’t expect us to blow the autocross wide open, but that’s just what the TE/AE folks did.Now, we’re all familiar with the autocrosses held on some sort of parking lot or airfield, complete with pylons sprinkled about like pepperoni on a pizza.

But, that’s not exactly the style at the Roebling Road track, about 15 miles west of Savannah, where TE/AE folks joined the SCCA Buccaneers on Sunday, Oct. 12.

What a pleasant surprise to arrive to find not the classic little lot where you’re lucky to get out of first gear, but a full fledged road race course where everyone could run W.O.T. in top gear. (That’s Tiger talk for wide open throttle.)

Harold Coffield sure knew how to end a United in grand style. We greatly appreciate his efforts, along with the assistance of Tom Harris of the SCCA Buccaneers. It was the best autocross ever at any United and we’ll never be able to match it as a fun-filled and exciting event.

As you might have guessed by now, this was not an autocross in the real sense of the word. What it really was, was the equivalent of an SCCA Solo I event, although better. No official SCCA harassment and the Southern hospitality of Tom Harris and his Buccaneers made us feel very welcome.

When we arrived the locals willingly took a break to let the Tigers and Alpines run. Harris’ crew very efficiently ran us through the course, complete with a preliminary high-speed parade lap.

The course has a straight-away of about 4,000 feet, which you approach at about 90 mph. That’s plenty of room to see what the cars would do at W.O.T. And, everyone did!

For the real racers, there was a series of high-speed turns in the backstretch where, if you had the guts, you put the car into four-wheel drifts.

There was only one accident. A driver did a couple of flips when he slid off course in one of those four-wheel drifts. However, it wasn’t a Sunbeam, but a brand new BMW 3201 with only 4,000 miles on the odometer. It was a nice car.

We’ve printed the autocross trophy winners and their best times here.

Stock Tiger
First Scott Woerth Christiana, Pa. Mark I best lap: 98.325
Second Joe Wells Jacksonville, Fla. Tigerized Alpine V-8 best lap: 103.960
Third Doug Pruitt Frederick, Md. Mark IA best lap: 104.384
Modified Sunbeam
First John Kathmann Evansville, Ind. Tiger best lap: 99.456
Second Tom Ehrhart Harrisburg, Pa. rotary-powered Alpine GT best lap: 104.376
Third Barry Schonberger Evansville, Ind. Tiger best lap: 104.533
Alpine
First George Matthis, Jr. Kinston, N.C. Series V best lap: 112.740
Other Sunbeam competitors and their times were:
Katie Kathmann Evansville, Ind. Tiger best lap: 110.909
George Steigerwalt Audubon, Pa. Tiger Mark II best lap: 113.575

In all, the day’s event was best summed up by Sunbeam winner Scott Woerth: “I never had so much fun having the s— scared out of me. It was worth the trip.”

Again, our thanks to Howard Coffield, Tom Harris and the SCCA Buccaneer region.

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