You’ve probably seen the little yellow car tooling around C’Town on warm, sunny mornings. Or maybe you’ve seen it parked on Cross Street in front of Play It Again Sam’s or the Chester River Wine and Cheese Shop. It usually is accompanied by some “oldies” music – The Drifters, The Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, The Rolling Stones – even when parked. The little yellow car attracts a lot of attention and comments like, “I used to have one of those,” Brings back memories,” “Cool car,” and so on. Lots of pictures taken and many thumbs up.
The little yellow car is a 1968 Triumph Spitfire Mk3. It’s owned by Bill, a retired banker and boatbuilder living in Chestertown. The Spitfire is identical to the one Bill owned in college, bought new. Even the same color: Jasmine Yellow. “I found her in southern Virginia where she had been stored away in a shipping container since 1978. She only had 28,000 original miles. I bought her sight-unseen,” Bill relates. (As a retired boatbuilder, Bill naturally refers to his Spitfire using the feminine gender, just as he would with his boats). When the Spitfire arrived, Bill handed her off to his friend George Hazzard at WoodenBoat Restoration in Millington, to get her back on the road. And after about a year in George’s shop, the Spitfire was driving again after a 35-year sleep.
Driving a classic British sports car is a singularly delightful experience for people who love to drive. It’s noisy, it’s bumpy, there is no GPS, no automatic transmission, no power windows, no power steering, no power brakes, no AC. With the top down, you are always at risk of losing your ballcap. But the car goes where you point it instantaneously. The engine gives you a musical note. You smell the newly mowed grass when you pass by. It’s a very sensual experience, one that very few younger drivers today have today, and indeed not a great many Baby Boomers have had.
For many folks, their cars were the markers of major milestones in life: your parents’ car that you took your first driver’s test in (freedom!); your own first car.; that great car you wish you had never gotten rid of. Rightly or not, so much of our lives, for many of us was defined or at least delineated by our cars. Our cars symbolized freedom, accomplishment, fun, success, whatever. That’s probably why many of us reach back to re-connect with those good times through our cars. We can’t turn back the clock, but we can recapture some of those good old days behind the wheels of our favorite old cars.
The little yellow car isn’t the only classic sports car in Chestertown. There are plenty…Morgans, MGs, Jaguars, Austin Healys, Lotus…and many more, classic American cars,…Chevys, Fords, Chryslers, etc. You can come and see many of them at Cars on High Street, at Fountain Park from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. the third Thursday of every month.
And if you ever meet Bill and his little yellow Spitfire, say hello. He might even offer to take you for a ride while listening to Wilson Pickett or the Four Seasons.