This is a tribute site to my parents and their car project of the last decade and a half. In 2018 they celebrated their 50th anniversary together, so 1968 was an important year indeed.
It is also another car restauration success story that I hope will inspire enthusiasts everywhere. Love and patience, my friends, love and patience.
For as long as I remember, my father worked by himself on our cars, from maintenance to little improvements, and as a mechanical engineer it had very little secrets for him. Much later, in the 1990s, he finally bought his first project car. It was a car with a big pedigree in a very diminutive frame since you can hardly go smaller than an 1962 Austin-Healey Sprite Mk. II. The Sprite was a brave little weekend roadster that compensated for its size and performance in charm, quirkiness and fun during countless trips on New-England roads.
Then the unthinkable happened; a reckless driver backing out of a driveway… Thankfully, my parents where not injured. And considering how exposed one is in a tiny Sprite it was nothing short of amazing. Needless to say, the little Austin-Healey was “totaled” and my dad needed a new project car. It was obvious that it would be a British roadster.
If I had to define cars from different cultures in one, simplistic word, I would say American’s are power, Asian’s are reliability, Swede’s are safety, German’s are engineering, French are… hmm, interesting, Russian’s are funny… or sad, Italian’s are performance, but English are character. Character, here, means as much fantastic history, classic lines, driving pleasure as oil spills, random electrical problems and roadside quick fixes. The British roadster is not for everyone; either you really don’t see the point or you really love them. We really love them!
But which one? Which one will be next? There are so many and we want them all: Jaguars, Sunbeams, MGs, Triumphs… To quote Wikipedia, there are over “500 defunct British car manufacturers.” That’s right, the Brits are a nation of DIY car manufacturers, which also guaranties your restauration project will be an adventure.
After a long research process the decision was made to adopt a 1968 Triumph TR-250; a north-american version of the, short lived, TR-5. It assured a one year transition from TR-4 to TR-6, by keeping TR-4 Michelotti styled body and using what will make future TR-6’s internals. The best of both worlds if you ask us.
While the Sprite was restored to stock condition, as it was when it left the factory in ’62, the TR-250 was going to be a resto-mod. A resto-mod is when “you take an old car and modernize it with an updated engine, suspension, brakes, tires and/or electronics. And if you resto-mod the right way, you can revert back to stock at any time.” And it was going to be done right!
For the following fifteen years my father would spend a lot of his free time in a rented garage rebuilding Candy from “scratch” while working on other projects. It didn’t matter how long would be the process, this was going to be his ultimate roadster, where the process was just as important as the result. It was going to be updated in every way to bring it to modern standards by seriously upgrading its handling, performance and security while allowing to return it to stock condition if it was ever desired.
Why the name Candy? Well, when my mom called me after their first trip in the newly registered car, she said: “she’s as beautiful as a little candy in the sun!” (?). Coming from a diabetic, I had to point it out to her, we laughed and… the name stuck.
To everyone out there thinking that by giving it a name and anthropomorphizing the old pile of petrol sucking junk we somehow believe it’s alive. No we don’t! But it has personality, likes to kick and is not always sweet, so try to explain it.