By Eric Davison
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read ‘Marquis of Mystery.’ Imagine, a French car that wouldn’t start: not until you blew in its ear and doused it with expensive champagne.
I can top a car that wouldn’t start. I once had an English car that would not only not start, it would not stop.
It did start some of the time on very cold mornings but there came a time when the local road aid garages would no longer answer my SOS calls. My calls were too regular and they were outside the bounds of their regular services. I had over-used my reservoir of good will.
So, I came up with a scheme. There was a high side to our parking lot and I figured that if I backed into a spot on the high side I could push the car down the slope. The plan was to turn the key and let the battery warm up for a few seconds. Then pull out the choke, put the car in neutral, give a mighty push to get it moving, lean in and flick it into top gear and quickly put it back in neutral as soon as the engine turned over. Remember that it was winter and the top was up, making my acrobatics even loonier.
It was a great plan and it worked on one cold morning. Brave me, I decided to try it again. I was, at the time about 22 and each morning I dressed to impress: suit, tie, good shoes, hat; all the trimmings.
So, on this particular morning I went through my routine. I got into position, turned on the key, pulled the choke and gave the Healy a mighty shove down the parking lot. It fired on schedule but as I tried to dive in and take it out of gear, I slipped. I was still hanging on but my toes were pointed backward my coat was caught in the door and the Healey chugged its way down the parking lot and lodged itself in a snow bank.
The humiliation of it all.
The no stopping part was equally ridiculous: pull into the parking lot and turn off the key. It would diesel and there seemed to be no way to stop it. The solution to that problem was to try to park in front of a post. When Mr. Healey wouldn’t stop, just put it in gear and let out the clutch and let it stall itself against the post.
Lest you think the Healey was all bad, Healeys (the BN 1s and 2s) were beautiful and we had some really great times when the weather was appropriate.
My wife, being the invincible Mary, never complained. I made the decision to sell it when the Prince of Darkness left us stalled at midnight on suburban Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak, Michigan in a rain storm. Mary was about five months pregnant and the car’s top had been removed and stored in our locker in the apartment. There she was in the pouring rain; beautiful, pregnant and not complaining.
I couldn’t bring myself to torture her anymore and the Healey went and a good old, reliable VW took its place.