JTC Goes International








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JTC Goes
International!


by Steve Weinstein,
Jaguar Touring Club

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Once
again, a contingent of stalwart JTC members took to the road to prove
that this really IS the Jaguar Touring Club. But this year’s group
was much larger than last year’s troupe of adventurers who meandered
their way down the Blue Ridge Mountains to Tennessee. Including as many
as 18 cars for part of the trip, the travelers headed North, hoping to
find cooler air, colorful countryside and French-Canadian culture and
cuisine. At least part of those hopes were realized, even though the weather
turned out to be sub-tropical for most of the trip.

The first caravan departed Butler, New Jersey on Friday
July 26th. Picking up where they left off last year, Steve Manahan and
brother Ken who flew in from London for the trip delayed their departure
and that of Steve and Judy Ferring because of car repairs that needed
to be completed. Nine cars headed out for Sturbridge Village in south-central
Massachusetts. A relatively uneventful trip brought the group to Sturbridge
before dinner, arriving to find a multitude of Jaguars lined up around
the hotel, along with an unexpected craft show sharing the same venue.
The crowds for the craft show caused parking problems that were compounded
by complaints from the loc local fire marshal who prohibited parking close
to the building. That evening, virtually the entire JTC contingent had
a sumptuous dinner at a landmark local inn.

Saturday, the JANE Concours
was a sight to behold. Well organized and expertly run, the day went off
without a hitch despite the overcast and sometimes misty weather. Several
JTC members
entered the Concours, while the rest put their cars in “display”
class. Unfortunately, because of the craft show crowds, display cars ended
up parked in a lot a distance from the event itself. JTC members Pat Morey
with his 1960 XK150
and Chris Acker with his 1997 XK8 won their respective classes.

Ray Sharp’s recently rebuilt engine had started
acting up on the trip from Jersey. So after the barbeque dinner hosted
by JANE, a group of volunteer mechanics did surgery,
ultimately narrowing the problem to a faulty condenser on Ray’s shiny
new Mallory Dual-Point distributor. Several additional members joined
the trip at this point, including JCNA National President Gary Hagopian
and wife Sue, of New Hampshire, long-time JANE members. They drove their
Concours-winning MkII, a true beauty of a car. JCSNE President Virginia
Raymond and husband Bill Jenkins from Connecticut were added as well,
riding in Bill’s ’86 XJ6.

Sunday brought a long day of driving, punctuated by
the next round of the not entirely unexpected car problems. The day dawned
with a heavy overcast and drizzle, and the group drove in and out of rain,
making multiple stops along the way. New member Dan Kruze and wife Judy
were enjoying the trip until their car, a 1986 XJS Coupe seemingly caught
fire. Dan, a professional Jaguar mechanic with his own shop in Bridgewater,
New Jersey, was undaunted. On the side of a highway in the middle of nowhere
,
Dan, with the help of Steve Ferring, Dick Pedatti and others, isolated
the problem to the wiring to the starter motor. A quick fix and on we
went. Dan’s car acted up several more times that day, leading ultimately
to a major rewiring the following day in the parking lot of a bed and
breakfast.

The
group enjoyed the ride up through Vermont, despite the weather. A stop
in mid-state provided some good shopping and a break from the driving.
Arrival at the evening’s stopover, the Grunberg Haus B&B in Waterbury,
VT was welcome, if not what most expected.

Most of the group headed off to Waterbury for an impromptu
gathering at what turned out to be a nice local bistro.

Early risers had made the run to the local NAPA store
to get parts to rewire Dan Kruze’s car, and at the same time picked
up a couple of condensers for a 350 Chevy V-8 to fix Ray Sharp’s
distributor. After a disappointing breakfast, the group split up for the
day. One contingent headed north to Montreal, while the other took off
for the Shelbourne Museum in Shelbourne, Vermont, just south of Burlington.

The Montreal group arrived at lunchtime and were greeted
by JCNA Vice President and N.E. Regional Director Daniel Thompson, a native
ofthe city. Dan joined in for lunch at a local cafe, and then led a walking
tour of downtown
Montreal, the port
and the Old City.

The Montreal contingent hit the road at the peak of
the local rush hour. The stop and go traffic in unexpected mid-90 degree
heat took its toll on poor Steve Manahan’s brakes. As we merged from
one interstate onto another, at a crawl, Steve’s brakes seized up
on him, causing a traffic jam within a traffic jam. Gary Hagopian barked
directions to Steve over the walkie-talkies on getting them to release.
Steve got going again, only to seize up less than a quarter mile later,
but this time in a section with some shoulder room. The group pulled off
and, much to everyone’s surprise, the Shelbourne contingent had heard
the radio banter and fortuitously caught up on the side of the road. After
some roadside surgery, Steve’s car moved again and the reunited group
headed off to Mont Gabriel Resort for the evening.

Mont Gabriel turned out to be one of the highlights
of the trip. The resort offered a welcome swimming pool that provided
a much-needed cooling environment after having been baked in the city
and cooked to overdone in the cars in the near-Long-Island-Expressway-like
traffic. After relaxing and refreshing ourselves, the entire entourage
gathered for a private, catered dinner, joined by several members of the
Montreal area Jaguar Club. Unfortunately, Dan Thompson’s fatherly
duties took him off to deliver his son to hockey camp (a very Canadian
thing, it seems), so he was not able to be there. Another traveler, Bonnie
Cook from Albany, New York, caught up with us and joined the group at
dinner
. The food was outstanding, and the evening was capped off by a marvelous
birthday cake in honor of Steve Manahan, one of two birthdays celebrated
on the trip .

After
dinner, while doing a little maintenance on the cars, some of the owners
found themselves in the midst of a celebration by the local Hassidic community
of the graduation of a number of young men from their Yeshiva and their
impending departure for Israel to continue their studies. Young rabbis
and old were captivated by the old cars and had a million and one questions.
Car doors were opened, bonnets were raised, questions were answered, stories
were exchanged and smiles abounded. This rather unexpected encounter brought
an interesting joy and satisfaction to all, Hassidim and Jaguar owners
alike. As the black-robed men and youths danced and sang on into the night,
the weary travelers left them to their festivities.

Tuesday brought a minor respite for part of the group
from the early morning departures. A contingent of undaunted drivers and
passengers took off after breakfast for a drive through the back woods
of the Laurentian Mountains. And back woods it turned out to be. Rather
unexpectedly, they ended up driving over 30 miles through the forests
on dirt roads! Not the thing for older, low-slung Jaguars.

The rest of the group stayed at the resort and took
advantage of the amenities. Several members of the group luxuriated at
the spa, relaxing body, mind and spirit with heavenly massages. Ray Sharp
experienced his first ever, and is now hooked. Four adventurous souls
- Gary Young, Gary Hagopian, Steve Ferring and Steve Weinstein - took
to the links, playing what purported to be a golf course. Apparently designed
for mountain goats, the course was made all the more challenging by the
rental clubs offered by the club pro. More suited for use as garden tools,
the meager offering did not put a damper on the fun, however. All returned
with smiles, laughing off the absurdity of the experience.

In the early afternoon, the now rested contingent mounted up and left
Mont Gabriel ready for the road. A scenic ride to Trois Rivieres, about
two-thirds of the way to Quebec, was enjoyable. A one night stay at the
Hotel des Gouverneurs would have been uneventful but for the luck of the
Manahans (if this is what they mean by “the luck of the Irish,”
they can keep it!). The hotel suggested that the group park in the underground
garage. As “luck” would have it, the ramp down to the garage
dropped off just quickly enough to place the edge where sidewalk and driveway
met right square at the front of Steve’s mufflers. The car proceeded
down the ramp, but the entire exhaust system stayed behind. The next morning,
Steve drove his car, sans exhaust system, to a local muffler shop, while
his mufflers and pipes road on Steve Ferring’s car being cradled
by brother Ken. Quite a sight.

In the meantime, Steve Weinstein and Carol McKenzie’s
V-12 E-type had started acting up, burbling and backfiring, and generally
running rough. The consensus diagnosis was a failed gulp valve. So the
morning brought a quick fix - disconnect the gulp valve. A golf tee left
over from Mont Gabriel and a cork scrounged from the bar at the hotel
did the job, along with the universal fix-all - duct tape! (After getting
home, Steve diagnosed the real problem as a leaking grosse jet in one
of the carbs causing flooding, along with some fouled spark plugs.)

Steve
Manahan’s car was fixed by 10 a.m. and the groups mounted up again.
Pat Morey took off with group 1, but member Carol McKenzie, now driving
the yellow ’72 E type, got left behind, Steve having traded places
for a chance to drive Wendy and Gary Young’s Porsche Boxster. In
an effort to catch up, Carol was on the way to setting a new Canadian
land speed record, until the local gendarmes intervened. Radar clocked
herat 120 kph (about 80 mph) in a 40 kph (about 25 mph) zone. The officers
were ready to throw Carol in the clink, until Wendy Young who was riding
shotgun with Carol stepped in. Not only is Wendy an attorney, but also
she speaks French reasonably well. Which was fortunate, as the policemen
spoke virtually no English. After much discussion, the officers reduced
the ticket about ten categories and issued Carol a ticket for a mere $250CDN
(@$180 US). Unbeknownst to Carol and Wendy, the rest of the first group
had stopped about a mile ahead to get gas and to wait for them. Upon catching
up (we all knew what had happened, as group 2 had seen it), their comment??
“Boy, those Canadian policemen are really cute!”

Getting to the hotel just west of Quebec City in the
early afternoon, the group checked in and almost everyone immediately
dashed for the local bus and made a beeline for the Old City. Quebec has
to be one of the most charming places in North America. Feeling more like
old Paris than modern Canada, Quebec captivated and thrilled everyone.
After an unscheduled, merely coincidental gathering in an authentic local
Irish pub (complete with shamrocks drawn in the foam on the pints of Guinness),
the club split up with couples and small groups heading in every direction.
Much shopping was done and the evening for most was topped off with wonderful
local French cuisine. Just before sundown, about ten of the group found
themselves, coincidentally, sitting on the terrace of the Chateau Frontenac

overlooking the St. Lawrence river and the countryside, as a balloon-fest
launched and drifted lazily across the skyline on the opposite shore.

The next day, Thursday, was a non-travel day, and everyone
was thankful to have another day and evening to explore Quebec. That evening,
thirteen members headed for the restaurant at the Chateau Frontenac, one
of the most outstanding French restaurants this side of the Atlantic.
Carol McKenzie, a French-trained professional chef, had been looking forward
to sampling the best of Quebec’s cuisine, so she had scoped out the
Chateau as one of the very best and arranged the dinner. She and the rest
of those that joined her were not disappointed, as the food and wine were
nothing short of Magnifique!! And the ambience and service were impeccable.

But those who didn’t go were not disappointed either.
Marty and Deborah Maloy had spoken to the staff at the hotel and been
told about the local French cooking school that itself had a wonderful
restaurant. Best of all, it was just around the corner from the hotel.
Those who joined them dined to their hearts’ delight and reported
that the food there too was exceptional.

Friday dawned overcast and wet. The departure from Quebec
would have been uneventful, but for Steve Manahan. Shortly before leaving,
Steve made what turned out to be a fateful pitstop. Pulling up to the
gas pump, one of Steve’s tires found the only nail laying on the
ground in the entire province of Quebec and impaled itself on that wayward
metal object. Bringing back memories of the Franklin trip of the summer
before, Steve found himself changing a flat tire.

A wet ride through the Quebec countryside was filled
with the provincial flavor of this heavily French-influenced region. The
one thing that made the entire Canadian leg of the trip, but especially
Quebec City and this last day through the countryside, so memorable and
thoroughly enjoyable was the people. Although many, surprisingly, spoke
little English, there was no problem communicating. These have to be the
friendliest people anywhere. At several stops, French speaking locals
came up to admire the cars and somehow both they and we understood exactly
what each other were saying. The love of these cars and the interest they
draw is almost universal.

After
discussing the cars, they told us that just a few miles before the boarder
crossing was the biggest "magnetic hill" in this hemisphere

. Accepting the description as a prideful exaggeration of a local phenomenon,
we nonetheless stopped to give it a try. Pat Morey and Gary Young tried
first, seemingly giving up after just a few feet. Not accepting that the
locals could be that wrong, Steve Weinstein pulled the E-type out into
the middle of the totally vacant roadway, put the car in neutral, and
started rolling backwards. It was true! The magnetic hill pulled the car
backwards uphill for what seemed to be almost half a mile. An amazing
optical illusion! Larry and Shola Ficks followed in their '91 XJS convertible
as did Chris Acker in the XK8. The locals had not exaggerated.

After an uneventful boarder crossing ,
the New Hampshire mountains and vistas were captivating, but for the huge
"Brake for Moose - hundreds of collisions" signs
.
By mid-afternoon, most of the group arrived at the foot of Mt. Washington,
the highest peak in the Northeast. Known for its unpredictable and highly
changeable weather, the mountain did not disappoint us. Oddly, the older
cars had no problem getting past the gate to make the climb, despite the
fact that most were 30 years or older. But Chris Acker, in his 1997 XK8
was denied the right to drive up, as his transmission could not be locked
into 1st gear. So up went the oldies, while the XK8 with traction control,
anti-lock brakes, computer controlled transmission, and all the modern
bells and whistles got left behind.

The climb up, and more so the trip down, were not easy
on the cars and some of the passengers. No guard rails, some major cliffs
going straight down, steep inclines, slippery dirt roads, and the top
of the mountain shrouded in clouds and mist made for an interesting ride.
The five mile drive at an average 12% grade tested the cars in both directions.
Yet those who braved the ride enjoyed it, despite the top of the mountain
being in a cloud that obscured the entire view.

After that harrowing but fun side-trip, it was a short
jaunt down to North Conway, NH, our Friday night stopover. There, Bruce
and Donna Cunningham of Burlington, VT, caught up with us. Bruce drives
a wonderful black 1952 XK120 which was the subject of a "My Turn"
piece in Newsweek, written by Donna. The Cunninghams had joined the JTC
contingent last summer on the run to Tennessee and back, and are regular
corner workers at the annual Jaguar weekend at Lime Rock, among other
events.

Weary travelers were immediately welcomed by the hospitality
of The Cranmore Inn ,
a wonderful old house that had been converted to a bed and breakfast,
updated with modern amenities. The club split up in small groups and headed
in various directions, finding wonderful fare for dinner. Most retired
early after a long day of driving.

The
next morning the sun was out and the heat that had cooked us in Canada
seemed to be returning. But the departure from North Conway turned into
a “happening.” Bruce Cunningham was talked into leading an ad
hoc parade out of town with nothing less than his bagpipes. An avid piper,
Bruce sat on the rear deck of the XK120, feet in the passenger’s
seat, while Steve Weinstein drove. This being Steve’s first time
behind the wheel of that car, and having no experience with the XK’s
clutch and syncho-less transmission, made for an interesting ride for
Bruce, who tried to keep his balance while at the same time keeping the
pipes a pipin’. The sight and sound of a bagpiper on an old car,
followed by a parade of other old and new Jags brought people scurrying
out of buildings and running across lawns, many with cameras in hand.

As the day warmed, the two groups wound their way down
the Kancamagus Highway, over the mountains and on to Lake Winnipesaukee.
There, a ride up a several mile long driveway brought the group to Castle
in the Clouds
.
An interesting country stone mansion built atop a mountain overlooking
the lake, the oddity of the story of the owner and his wives, and their
relationship with Teddy Roosevelt, a “frequent” visitor, did
not escape those with inquiring minds. Not many missed the fact that husband
and considerably younger second wife had bedrooms on opposite ends of
the house. More curious still was that Teddy Roosevelt’s bedroom
was adjacent to the lady of the house’s bedroom, and that a door
from the back of her bathroom led directly into Teddy’s bedchamber.
Hmmm???? Where was it exactly that he got the nickname “Rough Rider”
anyway? Talk softly and carry a big … what?

Back on the road, the convoys hit the highways trying
to make time on down to Manchester. There, SNG Barratt USA
opened its doors to the club ,
welcoming us with chips, dips and soda, as well as some bargains and much-needed
spares for several in the group. A short ride from Barratt’s, our
last overnight stop awaited.

That evening, most of the group attended a farewell
dinner at a local restaurant. Between courses, one by one each member
spoke about his or her personal highlights of the trip. For many Quebec
stood out, while other events, some funny, some not so funny, stood out.
Steve Manahan’s disembodied tail pipes. Dinner at the Chateau Frontenac.
Mt. Washington hill climb. The massages at Mont Gabriel. The reminiscences
brought back great feeling to everyone, and brought on many a hearty laugh.
Best of all, for everyone, was the camaraderie that had grown and the
friendships, new and old, that had been nurtured by the trip.

The dinner
was capped off with yet another birthday celebration. This time it was
Carol McKenzie’s turn to be the birthday girl. The surprise birthday
cake ended up providing a sweet ending to the evening and what was a fabulous
trip for all.

But
the trip turned out to be far from over, at least for some. Sunday morning,
another hot day, and time to head for home. Part of the group took off
early, led by Steve and Judy Ferring. They beat a hasty retreat to New
Jersey with an uneventful downhill run. The Manahans headed back north
to visit an uncle at Lake Winnipesaukee. The Ficks were heading to Martha’s
Vineyard for a few days, and the Cunninghams headed off to their beloved
Vermont. Gary and Sue Hagopian were already home, being natives of New
Hampshire.

Getting away was not that easy for some, though. As
we were about to depart, Pat Morey noticed the smell of gas leaking from
his car. A quick inspection revealed a leak from or near the carburetors
under the bonnet. The Sharps, Steve and Carol, the Ficks, Chris Acker
and the Manahans stuck around to help Pat make the needed repairs. The
intended 9:00 a.m. departure stretched out to noon, and the heat of the
day. The Manahans headed north, and the rest headed south. Just east of
Worchester, Mass., Chris split for Albany and the Ficks took off for the
Vineyard, leaving three cars with the Moreys, the Sharps, and Carol and
Steve to convoy to New Jersey.

Pat Morey set the pace in his XK150, the Sharps ’71
E-type OTS and Steve and Carol’s ’72 E-type in hot pursuit.
A stop at the world famous Rein’s Deli, just east of Hartford, was
a welcome break from the heat. With only two and a half hours to go to
home, this seemed to be a piece of cake. But something took a wrong turn
here. Pat’s car had been burning oil most of the trip. Gary Hagopian
had suggested that Pat add Rislone to his crankcase to try to get seals
and piston rings to close up a bit. So at the lunch break, Pat put a quart
in.

Now one thing may have nothing to do with the other,
but about an hour later, just west of Waterbury, CT, Pat slowed down a
bit. Steve and Ray shot ahead, taking the lead for a while, until suddenly,
the cell phone rang in Steve and Carol’s car. It was Pat. He was
on the side of the road. “I think I may be throwing a rod.”
Steve immediately pulled off, followed by Ray. They waited a good while
until Pat and Jackie limped down the shoulder to them. The engine sounded
horrible. Pat was able to nurse the car off the next exit ramp that was
thankfully only half a mile away, and into the gas station at the end
of the ramp .
The diagnosis was that the car, obviously, could not be driven. So AAA
was called and almost three hours later,
the tow truck showed up. Pat was devastated watching his pride and joy
being hauled up onto the flatbed
. Carol, Steve, Ray and Julia waved as the truck took off with Pat and
Jackie and their car, and then again as the two XKE’s sped past the
truck back on Rt. 84.

This trip turned out to be, for most of us, far better
than we had ever imagined. No one viewed the car problems as a negative
- rather they added the spice. The places we went were each one better
than the last, and the crown jewel of the lot was unquestionably Quebec
City.

Special thanks goes to the Moreys, the Ferrings and the Sharps for the
effort they put into planning the trip, plotting out the routes and organizing
all of the accommodations. Pat Morey went above and beyond, coordinating
and spearheading the planning efforts and then taking on the thankless
task of making sure we actually got on the road each day and got where
we were suppose to be going. Thanks, Pat.

Even before the trip was over, planning had begun for
next summer’s expedition. Some early suggestions include a little
less driving, more multiple night stays, and optional side tours that
cater to varied interests. How does the Adirondacks, Lake George and Tanglewood
sound? Join us. It will be another trip to remember! After all, we ARE
the Jaguar Touring Club!!

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