by Steve Hansen
February ’85, after the decision had been made in favor of Williamsburg, Virginia, as the site for United IX, Joan Farmer and I were sitting at my kitchen table one evening, each of us armed with a calculator, pencils and numerous bits of paper with columns of numbers covering them. How many people might we reasonably expect to attend United IX? The previous year’s International United VIII had drawn a record-breaking crowd of over 200 people–but it had also been a joint production of a talented, multinational crew from both TE/AE arid the Sunbeam Sportscar Owner’s Club of Canada. It didn’t seem reasonable to plan for an equivalent number of people in Williamsburg …and we’d been told that Gatlinburg, Tennessee’s United VII in 1983 attracted just over one hundred participants…so, striking what we hoped was a fine balance between extreme conservatism and wild optimism, we planned for 135 Sunbeamers in Williamsburg. Figuring that about 80% of our registrants would be couples or families, we reserved 75 rooms in the Best Western Patrick Henry Inn and crossed our fingers, hoping for the best!
We needn’t have worried! Our initial estimate of 135 people turned into 207 by the time Saturday night’s Awards Banquet got underway–and the total number of United IX registrants reached 225. Ultimately, we went from one host hotel to three, and the “American Patriot” left its
Newport News moorings on United Friday with one hundred thirty-eight aboard to enjoy the harbor sights and a delicious buffet dinner.
United IX will also be remembered for the largest indoor Parts Swap room in recent memory, ably anchored by Tom Ehrhart and Doug Jennings, and featuring all manner of new (and used) Sunbeam treasures; the historic College of William and Mary providing an appropriate location for this year’s Concours d’Elegance and an overflow crowd of well over 100 attended an SRO Tech Tip Session back at the hotel afterwards.
As mentioned earlier over 200 hungry ‘Beamers convened Saturday evening for the traditional Awards Banquet. Sunday morning’s Autocross held on the oval at Langley Speedway made for close and challenging competition (concours and autocross results appear elsewhere in this special United IX issue of the newsletter).
It’s appropriate here to express thanks to all who attended United IX for helping to make it truly a United to remember; Joan Farmer for her dedicated and painstaking organizational efforts before, during and after United IX; Bud Elliott and Jim D’Amelio for their “on site” coordination; Donna Beier and her efficient and helpful staff at the Patrick Henry Inn; and the many corporate contributors who helped make the door prize portion of the Awards Banquet a success.
If you’re getting the idea that Tigers East/Alpines East Uniteds are pretty special you are absolutely right–as you will be able to tell by examining this special newsletter.
Now, in keeping with a tradition established by my predecessor, Bruce Johnson, I would like to end this column with my highly unofficial list of “Most Surprising Occurrences At United IX”:
- Longest uninterrupted stint at the registration desk: Joan Farmer.
- Best audio/visual program: Dan Hodges’ video tape of Sunbeam appearances on the silver screen.
- Fastest bus boarding at a United: Approximately 6.5 minutes prior to departure for the Friday Harbor Cruise.
- Katie Kathmann’s heartfelt Thank You upon being chosen (with her husband, John) this year’s Lord Rootes Award recipient. Katie favorably compared the ambience and camaraderie of a TE/AE United with that of a High School reunion. This leads me to…
- The 200+ people who made United IX an unforgettable experience. After all, they are the most important part of Tigers East/Alpines East!
by Mike Mooney
Where did I go wrong? I greeted Monday morning and checked to make sure that my feet were on straight, ears–one on each side of the cranium, my name did not grace the obituary column, and I smelled the coffee brewer burping out its computer timed product. Nothing could go awry, could it?
Coffee is especially good on a Monday. I don’t know why, but it is. (Quite the opposite when it comes to a “Monday” car). Sipping my way through the funnies and chuckling at Garfield’s latest buffoonery got the blood circulating.
This was a very special Monday, I did not have to go to work today. I did not have to put up with groping my way through the rush hour traffic in my Tiger and worrying about what idiot would try to dent the front fender or run into my rear end. Why not? ‘Cause I retired last Friday–44 years old and retired.
Now I could devote more time to Tigers #1 and #2 and get both of them running right. I had been looking forward to this day for a long time. Little did I know that the jingling of Ma Bell’s favorite toy would change my life that day.
Phil Perron, an upright nice chap whom I’d met at the Memorial Day IMSA-GT outing at Lime Rock, was calling to make sure that I was going to attend United IX in Williamsburg. Huh? I’d forgotten about it. For almost six years I had owned a Tiger and never joined a Tiger club. Look now, I belonged to other car clubs before and they bored me. I had it up to here with “my car’s better that your car” and all the attendant bat guano of this syndrome.
After a very convincing sell on the TE/AE, and I wasn’t doing anything else the next weekend, I nodded my best Monday morning nod. Y’know, the one when your neck sounds like a creaky door. There was a slight hitch in all of these plans. The engine/trans blob thing was hanging from the garage ceiling due to a very untimely demise of the throw out bearing/clutch blob, and it had to be back in and running by Thursday nine a-yem.
No problem, just call up Bill Dugan (straight line Mopar racer and auto machinist) and Pete Becker (D Sports Racer/Formula Ford racer) and tell them I have the fridge stocked with greenies and I need some help. They could both help me on Wednesday pee-em. A mite tight, but it will do. I took care of the small stuff on Tuesday and started to install the blob and fill the fridge.
Wednesday evening/Thursday morning at 0100 hours saw the whole thing whole and I went to sleep after a hot shower and a Drambuie. I dreamed Tiger dreams that night.
My trip schedule included a meeting with Phil at the southern terminus of the NJ Turnpike, but we failed to hook up missing each other by only five minutes. After a relatively unremarkable trip south, me ‘n the Tiger made it to United IX. Met the workworthy Robyn and John Quieter and siblings and was ushered to the hospitality suite. Wow! Tigers and Tiger people everywhere. It looked like a meeting of Alpines Anonymous.
I waded into a few of the conversations and found this club quite different from the rest. People were honestly interested in me and mine and everyone else’s cars. There was no back biting, so synonymous with “the other clubs.” The TV was alive with videotapes of movies and commercials that included the Tiger/Alpine vehicles. I must have seen Liz Taylor die fourteen times in “Butterfield 8” that night. Her Alpine crash, by the way, was to be the life end of four Alpines required to make that scene (a bit of trivia for you).
My Tiger (in my town, in my driveway) is the best looking one around. At the first dawn’s light the next morning (I think that it was about 9:30. Hey! it was a rough night!), I found that I was facing some rough competition. If I put the car cover on, no one would know how bad it really looked. But no, this time the car will have to be shown. I sure hope that these other guys never come to my town/driveway. Heck, I’ll lose my rep.
Now I thought I’d died and gone to my reward. As the day aged, more and more Tigers/Alpines were arriving and the next was better looking than the last. And they were driven and owned by honest-togoodness people. Down to earth and “c’mon in and have a cuppa coffee” people.
My roomie, Dave Reilly, and I went out Fxiday evening and found out that Williatetsburg has a lotta streets that go the wrong way. It is like a town with signs that say “You can’t get there from here” and we didn’t stumble in until 0455 hours. I’ll tell you that I’m convinced that the three people that we humbly asked directions of that night–none of them knew how to get anywhere but from the stores to their homes. They all got us lost.
The Saturday morning tech session was great. Tiger Tom, Doug Jennings, Dave Reina and everyone kept the audience riveted to their seats. Heck, it turned into a Standing Room Only affair. I did not want it to stogy. Everyone was so helpful. If there was anything wrong with this club, I had not found it yet.
Saturday’s events were topped by the concours at William & Mary College and was spectacular. Of course, my weak specimen was parked between two of the prettiest stock Tigers in the country. It sure didn’t help to give the judges some donuts, etc. I don’t think that a ton of gold would’ve helped my rig. If my statistician was correct, there were 28 Tigers and 52 Alpines in the parking lot–WOW!!
That evening I attended the high point of the weekend, or so I thought (I had not gone to the Autocross yet). The banquet was well attended and the awards and door prizes were great. Although I did not win one, our. table was graced with a “Tiger” blanket winner.
Early to bed for an early rise Sunday for the trip to Langley AFB near Norfolk and the Autocross. This event was held on a quarter mile banked oval track just across the street from two NASA wind tunnels. All of the Tiger/Alpines that attended were treated to a parade lap led by the official track pace car.
By the time that the club cars started to run, the sun had done its chore and heated the tarmac on the track. It was so bad that Tiger Tom’s racing Tiger made some very interesting “drunkin’ donuts” on the back straight during two of his three runs. There was a great showing by the entire group. Wally Swift and his Alpine put on a show and it looked like he was out for a Sunday drive. Lord, he made it look easy.
Sunday was just about shot and it was back to the hotel for farewells and viewing of the videotapes of the day’s racing. A good dinner out capped off the .evening, and we all retired to our respective rooms for some R & R.
Six a-yem on Monday came early for checkout and with my overnight roomies, Phil & Bob Perron in Phil’s Harrington LeMans, left in a three car caravan with a second Tiger up north. I had to leave the group at Springfield, VA, where I stopped to visit some cuzzins there.
I still have not come down off the cloud called “United IX,” I am now planning for the trip to United X at Indianapolis. Can’t wait …just can’t wait.
by Gary T. Hellings
Well, here it is the winter of ’86 with snow on the ground and temperatures in the teens. Despite all of that I can still warm up the inners of my soul by thinking back to United IX in Williamsburg, VA. I can still see the glitter of chrome and gleaming paint as the cars lined up at the Concours d’Elegance. Some of the engine compartments and trunks were so clean you could eat off them, but that would be risking sure death to think about even putting a fingerprint on one of those rare beauties until at least after the judging. I almost break into a sweat recalling how everyone prepared their cars for the show down to the finest detail.
This year was a special time for me, being chosen to be a judge, what a chore! If I looked calm, cool, and collected, then you were fooled. Boy, was I ever on edge! With all the events I have attended, I never fully realized just how hard it is to judge someone else’s car–their pride and joy. Oh, how I remember standing by my own Tiger with the judge looking on, hoping that my polished chrome may blind him just a little so he might overlook a small flaw in the paint; or ask him a quick, distracting question when he’s close to looking at that item I just glued back in place :30 minutes ago.
While writing some letters to some prospective new members, I learned some more about my own feeling for the club. We are a very select breed of people who have chosen to take a part of our lives and devote it to the preservation of the Sunbeam car. We are more than just a club, but a family (perhaps a little crazy) a camaraderie, who have as a link the Rootes Group, Sunbeams, binding us in a special friendship.
by T. T. Cantwin
If there is ever an occasion that gets all Alpine/Tiger owners together, it’s a tech tip session. If you want to clear the parking lot, brothels, bars or just empty the town, announce a tech tip session and say you’ll come. And they do. Every year, every United, every owner within earshot. United IX was no exception. Seems at each United the sessions get bigger ‘n better ‘n longer. Does this mean more Sunbeams need repaired?
This year’s session was coordinated by Doug Jennings of Tiger Auto, Dayton, OH, Tom Ehrhart AKA Tiger Tom and Dave Reina, New Jersey. As an assist to these guys, the club provided an overhead projector to review tech tips and a United Tech Tip Manual was passed out to all. in attendance-about 125 owners and hired mechanics. (NOTE: All the United Tech Tip Manuals were ‘passed out and additional copies are not available. However, a request to Tiger Tom for a specific tech tip article can be reproduced and forwarded if a SASE –probably 39c postage–is supplied) In addition, working models were brought in for demonstration purposes. Carburetors, servos, rack & pinion, wheel cylinders, convertible top frames, dashes fir recovering, tech calibration–all were part of the “hands on” tech session.
Aside from the usual discussions and questions about keeping English cars together, special emphasis was directed in three areas never before addressed at a United meet. One of the more popular was Dave Reina’s presentation on ragtop installation. Dave had documented and photographed the highlights of top installation and presented it as a special hand out at the tech tip session. Copies axe available by sending a SASE to Tiger Tom. Dave went through all the motions of installation of a new ragtop on an actual frame. Many owners learned a lot with this combination tech tip, exercise.
Another popular session was the recovering of the dash using conventional materials costing less than $10.00. In this case an actual cross section of a dash was used for a demonstration model. Although not specifically part of the tech tip session, a tack accuracy survey was conducted during the entire United weekend. The survey (conducted by Doug Pruitt) is reported on elsewhere in this issue.
In conclusion, United IX had the most sophisticated and professionally presented tech session to date as the largest group ever of owners can attest. And there’s United X, INDY. ..BE THERE! ! C.U.
CONCOURS D’ ELEGANCE
by Mike Smith
I am quite sure that by now everyone in TE/AE is about to send a nasty letter to our newsletter editor because the United issue is so late in arriving. The blame rests squarely on my shoulders as I failed to write the concours story; and since I have all the necessary data that is required to put it together, it was impossible for anyone else to write it. I am sorry for this delay and I promise that next year, if our Tiger transports us home safely as it has done for the past nine Uniteds, I will put the old typewriter in gear the very next day.
The few months following the United were not too pleasant for us here as “The West Virginia Flood of ’85 transformed our beautiful valley into what appeared to be a war zone. I suppose that business commitments and the flood are my only excuse for fouling the deadline on the newsletter.
Every year, some of us that have been fortunate enough to attend all of our annual events find ourselves commenting on all the new faces and the different Sunbeams we see each year. Well, this year was certainly no different! I do not remember the exact count, but it seemed that at least half of those, in attendance were joining us for the very first time, and when asked at the banquet if they would come back again answered with a great round of applause.
Now, for the main event on Saturday morning …. From time to time the concours is held at some scenic location several miles away from the convention centers and this year we journeyed some two and one half miles to William & Mary College to judge seventy-four Sunbeams for awards that were presented at the banquet that evening. As usual, everything worked like a well oiled machine because in that distance of 2.5 miles only a dozen or so drivers turned the short trip into a full scale rallye. A navigator was immediately dispatched to guide all of the lost souls back to the staging area and judging began pretty much on time. Jack Fields recorded most of this event on video; and since we were gracious enough this year to present him with the coveted Tacky Tiger (or as it were this year: The Outhouse Award), it has been rumored that he plans to send each and every member of TE/AE a tape of United IX–free of charge, of course! Thanks, Jack, for showing your appreciation in such a generous manner. Of course, this is also hearsay, but I understand that if anyone does not receive their two hour United tape, they are to call Jack at home, midnight to six a.m. Monday thru Friday.
Now for the results of the concours judging:
Popular Vote Alpine:
- Bert & Cindy Szulc, Bordentown, NJ
- Roy & Kati Ramsey, Stillwater, NY
- Rick & Trish Klose, Tonawanda, NY
Popular Vote Tiger
- Tom Stoyle, Mentor, OH
- Jim Morrison, Huntsville, AL
- Gary & Andrea Hellings, Warrington, PA
Something I feel is noteworthy concerning the popular vote competition: these ballots are the result of our members looking at all the cars and voting for the one they would most like to own. Tom Stoyle’s Tiger received the all time record number of votes cast for any car in popular vote in the history of TE/AE–sixty-six people chose his Tiger as their favorite.
Jim Morrison’s Tiger was almost disqualified after several Sunbeam owners reported to me that he transported his Tiger in a trailer, which had “Corvette” obscenities painted on each side. Some felt that it was in bad taste, but most agreed that it was just an error in judgment. We later learned that all the Sunbeam Tiger trailers in Huntsville were rented out for the week, and all was forgiven.
The concours trophies were presented to the following in their respective classes:
- Ken & Cindy Bishop, Wauwatosa, WI
- Gary & Julia Ballard, Indianapolis, IN
- Dennis & Connie Dawson, Oakley, KS
- Roy & Kati Ramsey, Stillwater, NY
- Rick & Trish Klose, Tonawanda, NY
- Steve Finberg, Cambridge, MA
- Tom Stoyle, Mentor, Oil
- Ron Heinz, Jamestown, OH
- John Engle, Kettering, OH
- Gordon Holsinger, Annandale, VA
- James Winde, Lancaster, NY
- Travis & Gayle Smith, Durham, NC
- Bob Yurasits, Northampton, PA
- Bil & Toni Haley, Kents Store, VA
- Bill & Shirley Randall, Liberal, KS
The highlight of the evening was, of course, the presentation of the Lord Rootes Trophy to John and Katie Kathmann. I suppose highlight is a poor choice of words–as the award and receiving it is much more than that. It is a people award, a service award; and you just had to be there to experience the feeling. Someone else is going to write a story about the United IX presentation, so I will stop.
Again as in years past, I would like to thank all the people who gave of their time and talents to help me pull this event off smoothly.. The following TE/AE members were your judges this year, and they did one terrific job:
- Dave Reina – Chassis
- Phil Perron – Engine
- Steve Finberg – Interior
- Bert Szulc – Trunk
- Gordon Holsinger – Body
- Dan Cameron – Engine
- Andy Suniega -Trunk
- Gary Hellings – Body
- Stuart Brennan – Chassis
- Jim Morrison – Interior
Thanks to Steve Hansen and Bud Elliott for setting location before I arrived. A big thank you to Dan Cameron for supplying me
with new, simplified judging sheets. They were a big help. Again, thanks to Wally Swift (Tiger) and Dave Lawler (Alpine), who every year assist judges when a hair splitting decision has to be made. Last, but not least, thanks and a big hug for Andrea Hellings who helped me with the terrible job of tallying the scores.
Looking forward to seeing all of you at INDY!
Although Tommy Stanbro had decided long before the United autocross that he was not going to join the crazy people on the track, he had no way of knowing that he and his grandchild were destined to have the wildest ride of the day.
While motoring down I64 in his Tiger followed by the Mrs. and daughter in their Americanized Alpine, a rear tire self-destructed on the Tiger. The Alpine occupants (heartbeats dropping to zero) watched helplessly as the Tiger, up on two wheels in the median strip, struggled with gravity at 70 MPH to finally settle right-side-up in a cloud of dust.
Final score: One nervous and thankful Vi, one nervous and thankful mother/ daughter, one excited child, one VERY thankful Tommy, one worthless tire, one lesson learned about the Blue Laws in some parts of VA which force you to buy tires from gas stations on Sundays.
A special thanks for the photographic efforts of Kenny Locklear, John Shoaf, the Kathmanns, the Hellings, Steve Hansen, Dave Reina, and Curt Hoffman. Another thank you goes to those contributing the articles in this issue. It took a while to get all the loose ends tied together; we hope the result of much work by many Sunbeam lovin’ members is worth the wait (maybe this will get you out for INDY ’86!). Thanks for your patience and support.
A Kim & Wendy Hoffman (Curt & Linda’s twin daughters) while away time waiting for the bus to the Harbor Cruise by admiring the multiple Sunbeams.
B George Coleman, Bob Grubbs, the Hellings family plus 3 busloads of Beamers rode to the
C dockside berths.
D Steve Hansen & Joan Farmer relaxed and took a break from their busy weekend–they even got a chance to have leisurely chats in deck chairs!
A Autocross lap on Sunday featured many little (but mighty) Sunbeams.
B Tiger Tom, with pylons flying, demonstrates Tiger maneuverability on off road driving.
C John Kathmann, Kenny Locklear, Tom Ehrhart and Tom Stole get together after the fun and compare notes-congrats on some good runs, folks !
A Concours Time! Everyone scrambles for their cars for trip to William & Mary College.
B Dave Johnson waits in line for tbe signal and
C they’re off! (Wonder what the guy in the truck thought as all those little cars zipped past!)
D All arrived A-okay and the concours begins.
A TE/AE banners show the takeover of Patrick Henry Best Western Inn for our United IX.
B Bert & Cindy Szulc show how to “spit ‘n polish” for concours preparation.
C Geoff & Penny Bird’s Tiger showed its stripes (and more!).
D Tom Stoyle (in cap) discusses some fine points with Bob Grubbs.
A Craig & Esther Hanna drove their Tiger from Vestal, NY, to compete and enjoy the weekend.
B Mr. Long Distance (aka Dr. Bill Randall) reflects on the drive from Liberal, IBS.
C This very clean Series 3 belongs to Gary & Rebecca Fuller, Romney, WV.
D Bil & Toni Haley arrived in their very stock Series 2–sharp & complete.
A Everyone enjoyed the Concours lineup (as usual).
B John Engle’s engine compartment was polished and ready for the judges.
C Joanne Ehrhart drove her pride ‘n joy from Harrisburg, PA.
D Tom Ehrhart got his race Tiger out of mothballs and towed it down (Ala twin Tiger trailer) for Sunday autocross fun and games.
A The Awards Banquet was a hit- good food, good friends–what more could one ask for… Rita & Ruedi Kuhn & Geraldrine Turdo & Armin Urban relax over dinner.
B Roy Ramsey proudly displays his 1st place, Stock Alpine Award (or was it his 2nd Most Popular Alpine?).
C Tom Stoyle made two trips to receive 1st Place, Most Popular Tiger and 1st Place, Personalized Tiger awards (& D).
D Little Sunbeam enthusiasts love the excitement of Uniteds, too.
A Bob Yurasits picks up 1st Place, Modified to add to his collection.
B Ken Bishop smiles pleasantly for our cameras as he accepts, 1st Place, Stock Tiger.
C Gordon Holsinger is happy to accept his 1st for Personalized Alpine.
D Katie and John Kathmann were awarded the Lord Rootes Trophy this United–the many long and demanding hours put into TE/AE don’t seem as tiring at a time like this! Our congratulations and the best–a tip of our Sunbeam bonnets.
by Bud Elliott
In what has become the TE/AE tradition, Sunday morning saw the autocross faithfuls and the uninitiated first timers along with the curious spectator corps forming the convoy which would take them to Langley Speedway in Hampton, VA, to test their tires, skill and nerve. Lady Luck was with us and the group made the trip without incident and with losing any Sunbeams enroute.
The entrance to the speedway was a sight to behold as we invaded the pit area which was already half full of the Tidewater Sports Car Club autocrossing regulars. After the usual tire pumping, trunk emptying and technical inspection, the whole group took some parade laps around the speedway led first by the Langley Speedway Official Pace Car (a slow Chevy) and than by the event OD, Mustang Sally, i.e. a borrowed Tiger.
The real fun was, just about to start. The course was a real thriller with banked turns and fast straights (for those who were not afraid of the very difficult offset gates at the end of each straight).
Tiger Tom and Harry Elam gave exhibitions of the Tigers off road handling capabilities by taking unscheduled short cuts across the infield. Tom Calvert went up in a cloud of smoke (thankfully it was just a heater hose), and Phil Perron and Gordon Holsinger demonstrated the durability of the Alpine and the dramatic deceleration achieved by ruthless third to first down shifts. Uncle Wally (Swift) didn’t have a lot to say about the course, but his smoking Yokohamas and ear-to-ear grin after each run told the whole story. For a form of auto racing that has never been a spectator sport, we managed to thrill a crowd with our machines and reckless abandon regarding the unforgiving retaining wall.
A good time was had by all (even yours truly who chickened out at the last minute and didn’t run). The survivors beat feet back to the hotel to watch themselves on video tape.
Never fear–if you missed it, all you have to do is be in Indianapolis October 9-12, 1986, for United X!
Tigers: of 3 runs
- Tom Ehrhart 81.994
- Kenneth Locklear 85.570
- John Kathmann 85.988
- Tom Calvert 87.500
- Mike Mooney 89.385
- Harry Elam 89.969
- Katie Kathmann 93.143
- Wally Swift 82.398
- Phil Perron 91.767
- Gordon Holsinger 97.054
- Steve Finberg 100.198
- Mike Swope (Mustang GT) 85.970
- Steve Edwards (Thunderbird) 89.348
- Gary Rannigan (Chevelle) 92.829
- Larry Cheesemau (Olds 442) 993.304