by Terry Trovato in the May 1999 RootesReview
Last summer in Mississippi it was hot. Real hot. And since those blokes in the mother country designed the cooling systems of our cars for a 45-degree Fahrenheit rainy day in London town, it’s no wonder when driving in 95 degree F+ air, accompanied by a 105 degree F heat index, the cars run so hot they’ll fry the soles off of your Topsiders. After one particularly scorching ride in our Sunbeam Alpine, I’d had it.
Harking back to my younger days I fondly remembered one of my Healeys that sported a louvered hood. Setting at a stop light in the Healey you could see the hot air from the engine compartment escaping quietly and efficiently through the louvers, so I thought ” … why not do the same thing for the Sunbeam?”
I located a spare hood through “The RootesReview” but subsequently contacting local sources could not find anyone with louvering ability close by. Not to worry, I mused, it’s time to try Cyberspace. Opening the search engine “Yahoo!” I typed “louvered hood” and much to my amazement, up popped “The Sports Car Factory,” 10489 Kerr’s Ridge Road, RR 2 Mountain, Hallville, Ontario KOE ISO, Canada, Tel. (613) 989-2171!
The SCF is a father/sons garage that specializes in British car restorations, and a nicer group of folks you’ll never meet. They have a louver-cutting machine which can cut each louver individually to any width the customer desires. Mark Mcllquham is the louver-cutting expert, and he assured me over the phone they could handle the assignment with ease. Not only that, but before Mark began cutting the louvers for me, he made a template of what he planned to do and posted it on SCF’s Internet web site for my review and approval. It’s like he was just a few doors down the block! Wow, what service, all thanks to the magic of Cyberspace.
I modeled my custom louvering job after an Austin-Healey 100-M, but designated my louvers be 3-1/4″ wide, 16 per side. Mark completed the job then built me a terrific crate to house the louvered hood and shipped it to me in tiny Natchez, Mississippi some 1,500 miles via Purolator trucking. It arrived in great shape and fellow Mississippi English Motoring Club member Chuck Daniels, one of our local club’s most talented technicians, was kind enough to sand, primer, and paint it for me.
Now it’s on the car with my traditional original hood safely stored in Mark’s custom crate. “At speed” the new hood lowers the operating temperature some 10 degrees and, as with my former Healey, while setting at a stop light the hot air efficiently escapes from the engine compartment nullifying heat buildup.
I know the purists at Pebble Beach would most likely be aghast at spotting a pedestrian Sunbeam Alpine sporting an Austin-Healey 100-M look-alike louvered hood, but it least for now the soles will stay on my Topsiders!