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AHCA Spring ‘Tour de Garage”

Illinois Flat Land British Car Club (IFLBCC) and Austin-Healey (AHCA) Illini Chapter members gathered for a Spring ‘Tour de Garage” meeting on April 11th in Bloomington, IL.  Brian and Angie Davis graciously greeted the Austin-Healey group at their home (aka Paddy’s Garage).  The morning was a bit on the cool side so the coffee and snacks were welcome by all.  

Brian and Angie’s two 1959 Austin-Healey “Bugeye” Sprites were on display and helped set the backdrop for Brian’s British themed  garage “Man Cave”. 

The AHCA Illini Chapter officers, Doug Crew, President, Richard McDonald, Delegate and Brian Davis, Membership-Treasurer were all on hand and held discussions about the Chapter’s involvement in the Austin-Healey Conclave 24 to be held this September at Road America, Elkhart Lake, WI.  All in attendance were planning on attending the event and displaying vehicles.  The Chapter has committed to assisting with the Conclave 24’s banquet.

Also, up for discussion was the IFLBCC’s Champagne British Car Festival ( that will feature all Austin-Healey’s and Aston Martins at the 2024 event.  Hopefully this advance notice will give our members ample time to clean out the winter cobwebs and perform annual spring rituals to get their car roadworthy.  Both the CBCF and the Conclave 24 will provide ample road-trip opportunities and fellowship this Summer. 

Having thoroughly inspected the vehicles, and covered our event topics, we adjourned for lunch at the Barrel House Pub in Bloomington for some traditional Fish ‘n Chips and “Healey” natter ‘n noggin.

Cars & Coffee Features Rare Mini Cooper ‘S’

By Brian Davis

This March, a group of retired members of the Illinois Flat Land British Car Club (IFLBCC) were invited to Fred Bohart’s garage for a Cars & Coffee gathering.  Also in attendance were British car expert Bill Dierker and Fred’s longtime friend Bobby F.

Fred’s garage is a new Morton type building, equipped with a lift, mezzanine and office area.  Our Host treated the group to coffee, rolls and the traditional “Motoring Monday” natter and noggin.

This week, however, we had another “Special Guest” . . . a 1964 Austin Mini Cooper ‘S’ Mark 1 (1071 cc) owned by Bobby F.  Bob has owned this original, unrestored, example of a US spec Mini for the past twenty-four years, and made a special trip from Peoria to Chenoa IL just for us.

Originally purchased from a well-known Mini racer, Don Racine, Bob’s car is a rarity anywhere, but especially in the US.  The first Mini’s were produced in 1959, but it wasn’t until 1963 that the BMC Competition Department recognized the Mini’s potential for racing and rallying.  Their efforts produced the Austin and Morris Cooper ‘S’ models, featuring the specially cast engine block and cylinder head.

Bob’s tells us that he believes his car is a 1963, but not officially registered until January of 1964, making it one of the first Cooper ‘S’ models using the 1071cc motor.

As I walked around this Mini Cooper ‘S’, many of the original features of this very special car became evident. One of the most obvious features of this car is the original Tartan Red and Grey (Gold brocade) interior.  Even the headliner used the brocade pattern.  Some of the Interior 1071cc “S” features that I noted include:

  • Central instrument cluster contains 120MPH speedometer (also containing the fuel gauge), temperature gauge on LHS and oil pressure gauge on RHS.
  • Three-point seatbelts were standard on the front seats only.
  • Carpeted boot board, resting on support brackets

This Mini had just returned from California, following its motor and hydraulic restoration using factory specs.  Fitted with a rare and original 1071 cc motor, Bob’s Mini is believed to be an extremely rare LHD example, still fitted with the original rust-free shell.

While most Mk1 Minis share common external features, some features I noted were specific to Cooper ‘S’ 1071 cc examples.  Here a just a few:

  • Single left hand side fuel tank only (dual tanks were not standard on the 1071 Cooper S, however, many cars have been modified with this feature).
  • Vented 9 slot wheels (10” X 4.5”), painted red on Bob’s car, had a more negative offset than the standard mini and Cooper.
  • Cars specifically delivered to the U.S. market (very few) had all red tail lights, with all other markets receiving amber turn signals.
  • Boot lid internal lining had a hardcover vinyl type lining over the inner boot lid, held in place with small chrome screws and upholstery washers.

Motoring Monday get-togethers are always a great time, but as a life-long fan of Mini Coopers, this one was a VERY special occasion for me.

Restore or Let It Die a Peaceful Death? Part 2

By Mike Shuck

When I retired from a career in manufacturing management (three different companies), it was time to choose a spot to retire.  It would be our 13th move, and I asked my wife –  “Where do you want to go?”  as jobs had always dictated our new location. Our two kids had both graduated from ISU and stayed in the community after graduation.  Soon our grandchildren arrived, and my wife said she wanted to be “GrandMa” for those two kids.    She picked Bloomington/Normal.  I commented that they had an airport and a Harley dealer, so it met all my requirements.  Harley would shut down 6 years later.  After settling into a new home in Normal, I set off to find out what car club activities there were and soon found the Flat Landers British Car Club. I eventually figured out why the Champaign Car Festival was held in Bloomington, IL. 

I was soon attending Natter N’ Noggin and various other activities.  I always said the MGB  looked good at 100 feet.  At 10 feet, the rust on every fender, cracked paint, and door cracks at the mirrors were typical for a 50-year-old British classic.  The dilemma was, to restore or let it die a peaceful death, and I was retired with no winter project.  For some unknown reason, I decided to start the restoration myself, knowing I was only a rattle can painter and maybe MAACO could paint it after I completed the bodywork, which I did have some limited experience with. 

While in the Navy, I bought a 305 Honda Scrambler and soon wanted to convert the gas tank into an Easy Rider peanut style tank.  A neighbor introduced me to Bondo, and away I went.  After three days of sanding, he introduced me to the cheese grater and said you don’t have to do all that sanding.  I can also install drywall, but I soon learned I am not a drywall finisher.  I actually found out that O’Reilly’s in Decatur, IL would put any color you wanted in a spray can.  That was my plan D… 12 rattle cans would get’er done.  One way or another, this car was going to get painted. So away I went, stripped the car completely, and started the bodywork.  Thinking a front fender was ready to paint, I had some friends from Flat Landers critique my work, and they politely said I was nowhere close to painting, as the panels were “a lil rough.” 

They did have a suggestion as to who might assist me, and this is where Sam Latimer, of Sam’s Auto Body in Shirley, IL, enters the scene.  His 40 years of experience and recent retirement matched my quest.  I invited him over and felt like I was trying to get my kids into college, convincing him the car and I were worthy.  Someone said if Sam does your car, his name will be on it and he’ll care more about it than you do, and he’ll treat you fair.  I’d soon find out. I invited him over for a look see and begged him to help me, as my MGB was an ideal candidate for restoration…. we’ll sort of.  He looked it over and pointed out things I had never considered in a restoration, and I was immediately impressed with his knowledge, yet he was not degrading the car. . . just pointing out the facts.  We agreed that I would put in some sweat equity, I would pull the engine, and he would paint the car and the engine bay with me assisting anywhere he would allow me.  We shook hands and started at Sam’s on November 13th, knowing that someday I would drive it home.  

I worked every day with Sam, logging in my sweat equity credits.  Each day, we would start with a goal and what tasks each of us had.  His patience and expertise took us forward every day as I learned how to “properly” sand, grind, and prep with every tool that Sam had available, and he has them all.  As Sam was helping me pull the motor, it was just about free but a little something was holding it back.  I had forgotten to unhook the throttle and choke cables.  What a rookie mistake.  

Some rust spots needed brushing, and Sam would turn me loose with an electric wire wheel. He always thought I went too far, as I would leave him a giant hole to weld up.  So, from then on, he was very cautious when he gave me assignments involving any type of abrasive tool.  It became a common joke that I wanted to take a wire wheel to it. 

Donor doors and hinges were acquired, and four days later they were perfectly fitted. We took them on and off at least a dozen times.  Clearly, Sam cared more about the fit than I did.   I was happy with them after day two.  

The hood was twisted and had numerous surface paint cracks, and I decided it was more productive to find a new/used hood.  We purchased one in Decatur but closer examination revealed that after removing the underside insulation, the adhesive would be a major effort to remove, and I wanted an underside painted without insulation.  Another hood was obtained, and it was a new / aftermarket product from Tiwan.  Some small dings, which is typical after shipping but otherwise perfect. . . hoping it would fit.  We put it on just to see how it fit and after a couple of adjustments by Sam, we both gave it a thumbs up.  Sam had forewarned me about after-market versus OEM.  Sometimes that stuff just doesn’t fit.  

My rattle can experience graduated to spray gun epoxy primer.  Why did we have to put on gray primer AND red primer?  I would soon find out.  I would look at a panel I had just completed, feeling pretty proud of myself, and then Sam would take a look at it, and I knew I was going to be applying more Bondo.  Wax on, wax off, had a whole new meaning.  

Getting Sam’s approval was tantamount, and I felt like I had really accomplished something when it was a thumbs up.  Sam even let me spray on a good portion of the Red primer, which was applied over the grey primer.  As I was sanding the red primer, it was very important not to go too far, as you didn’t want to get down to metal.  Ah . . . good thing we put on that grey AND red primer.  Once the base coat had been applied, three coats of clear were applied, and I thought it looked pretty good after that, but I knew Sam would wet sand the clear and polish it, making it even better.  

The next morning, I entered the shop, and Sam had already started to wet sand the clear coat, and I was just devastated as it looked so good yesterday and now it was all scratched up.  I joined in on the wet sanding, after Sam told me the “proper” way to do it, and I’m glad he did.  The next morning, he had it buffed and polished, and it was amazing with a gloss to knock your eyes out.  

Most days were steps forward, but there were days when there were steps backwards.  Alan Kleinschmidt and Dick Brown came over to help us sort out electrical issues.  I had marked all the wires with painter’s tape and code, but when you primer over them, they are impossible to read.  Nigel Keen showed me his laminated electrical schematic, and creating that for my car would be a good place to start.  Alan and Dick spoke in a language that was foreign to me, and little by little, lights and indicators would start to work.  The only problem was that once you accidentally moved some wires, things didn’t work. It was time to replace all the connectors and clean the bullet tips.  

The battery would not last very long, and I agreed to replace it.  I took a picture of it outside the compartment, as that gave an indication of how it went back in.  The mind does funny things.  When you look at a red battery cable, you automatically think positive, and black means negative.  We would all agree on that.  That’s how I hooked it up and luckily Alan was at the front of the vehicle, as after my connection, smoke was rolling out of the alternator, and “that smell” was very evident.  My negative ground car had a red cable going to the negative battery post.  Why the PO did that, I don’t know.  Thinking this could be a major setback, as in, a new wiring harness, we said the logical thing was to replace the alternator, and overnight O’Reilly’s had one there the next morning.  After checking everything out, the battery was not charging.  I noticed a wire had come out of the connector at the alternator.  This had happened before.  Gotta fix that thing.  Everything was checking out, and I had dogged a massive bullet.  The wiring continued as Alan was figuring things out, and pretty soon he had everything except right turn signals and four-way flashers, which was probably more than what I came in with.


At last, we were ready to start putting things back on the car.  I was amazed at how careful you had to be, as just the handling of tools and parts, you could be bumping things up against fresh paint, if you were not truly aware of what you were doing and how you were moving around the new piece of art.  Slowly, it all went back together.  Many days we spent time looking for a tool we just used and put down “somewhere.”  Luckily, most parts were in plastic bags and could be obtained easily.  

The best part of the day was lunch.  Sam has a gas grill outside, and we heated things up and had picnics every day inside the shop, where conversation would solve issues like world hunger and such.  The weather was starting to turn slightly, and the hopes were that I would be able to drive it home on a warm day, and Valentine’s Day it was.  14 weeks, and it was finally finished.  

Sam and I agreed early on that this was a MGB to enjoy and drive.  Local car shows were anxiously waiting to see the transformation, but I was not going to be taking it to any concourse events. however, it would stand its own ground in any setting.  

Thank you, Sam and family, for letting me pursue this dream.  Someone advised me early on when I was considering a restoration.  You’ll never get your money back out of it, that’s not the point. The point is that you’ll enjoy it soooooooo much more.

Restore or Let It Die a Peaceful Death? Part 1

By Mike Shuck


Thirty years ago, I purchased a 1973 MGB with 85,000 miles on it, in Chicago.  My heart was seeking an MGA, but after months of searching, decided to get something in the garage that I could always upgrade.  A couple months later, I moved to Birmingham, AL and joined the Birmingham British Car Club.  My first trip with the club was a 145-mile excursion to Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg, TN and I convinced my wife it was a couple of hours up and back.  

Leaving at 7 AM, we returned promptly at 8 PM, an exhausting day full of lunch, tours, and sampling.  Fearful I had given my wife a bad taste of car club excursions, she was a good sport about it and we enjoyed many events with the club.  A few years later, a new job took us to Hopkinsville, KY (hop town) where the closest club activities were in Nashville, and I was content to just drive it around on weekends.  Another new job in Plainfield, IL  saw me changing the plugs every 100 miles, and after pulling the head, I discovered the cylinders were scored.  

Over the years, most major components were replaced, but now a complete engine rebuild is in order.  I had once pulled an engine on a Toyota Celica with a friend, a 2 X 4 and a chain, but decided to purchase the engine hoist and stand.  I took it to the machine shop and said to bore it out and do a valve job.  I put it back together, and I had no compression.  I took it all back to the machine shop and said, I’m not sure what’s going on, but please fix it.  I put it back in, and now I had compression.  I started it up and had no oil pressure. 

I called John Twist at his noon technical hour, and he said it could be one of three things.  When he got to the second one, I knew my problem.  Gasket kits are for two main AND three main bearing engines.  There are two different oil pump gaskets, and of course I installed the wrong one.  Switch gaskets, and I had 50 pounds of pressure.  

Several years were spent in Plainfield, and the Chicagoland MG Club was just up the road.  A very active club with events throughout the driving months.  They had tech sessions where they would go out on a Saturday and perform various maintenance tasks at members request.  Leaning over a bunch of guys who knew what they were doing, one could learn a lot.  

When my windshield broke, it was time to put in a request.  Barney Gaylord (The MGA Guru) led the team, and sandwiches and drinks for all, got my installation complete.  To my heartbreak, when I went into the garage the next morning, it had cracked in the corner for some reason.  It was time to call the insurance company, who assured me their installer knew all about MG’s.  They did it in my garage, and after returning from an appointment, they were pumping black caulk around the windshield.  They were embarrassed, as I had caught them in the act and sent them off to the specialist in Naperville, IL who did it right and sent the invoice to the insurance company.  That is the windshield I have to this day.

I took my wife to see the movie Wild Hogs and suggested I could bond with my two brothers, who had motorcycles.  She verbally signed the permission slip and I already knew I wanted a Fatboy Harley, so I took the 3-day riding course within weeks.  Now, time had to be divided between the “B” and the “BIKE.”  Me and my two brothers did get together for a ride one summer, and soon the Three Brothers Ride was an annual summer event that lasted 7 days through the twisty roads of various southern states.  We went on to enjoy 7 Three Brothers Rides until cardiac issues took both of them from me.  I think of them every time the top is down with four or two wheels.

Click here so continue reading the rest of Mike’s MGB adventure

Remembering CBCF 2022

Highlights for 2023? IFLBCC sponsored Friday Night Welcome, Saturday rally to historic Pontiac, IL, Sat. Banquet with John Twist as Honorary Chairman, Sunday Car Show with John Twist’s Rolling Tech Sessions!

Take a peek at last year’s CBCF Weekend. Then try to imagine even MORE fun in 2023!

Music: The Intro we have been waiting for

Artist: Kevin Shrout


Licence: Unminus License

NEW All-British Car Show Page

Looking for other All-British car show venues to visit this year? Check out IFLBCC’s newest page – Other British Car Shows!

Chuck Ladwig, of the British Car Union Board of Directors, contacted us with a proposition for a mutual partnership in advertising each others’ British Car Festivals. This was a FANTASTIC idea!

We’ve agreed to cross-post our events through social media, websites, and direct email. Our events will also provide flyers that can be included in our welcome packet and in their direct-mailed news letter.

If you plan on attending any of of these events, let the organizers know that you “Saw It HERE” – IFLBCC Other British Car Shows

CBCF’s Route 66 Rally to Pontiac, IL

The 2023 Champagne British Car Festival (CBCF) will be featuring a self-guided rally, on Saturday morning, June 3, to Historic Pontiac, IL where the city parking lot will be reserved for our use. City representatives will welcome us with information packets and souvenir Route 66 pin. Arrangements have been made with Pontiac’s Tourism Department to provide us with special access to the Route 66 Hall of Fame exhibits & Museum and Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum. More Information.

Block 59 (the block south of the historic courthouse) will be blocked off exclusively for our group.  The City will have staff there to greet and pull barricades to let our cars in.  They will also have goodie bags for attendees that will include a VIP button (our Visitor in Pontiac program which lists discounts at various downtown retails and restaurants), a downtown map and a current list of restaurants in the area that will be open that day for lunch.

Currently, the restaurants that will be open within walking distance are listed below. The Welcome Staff will provide an up-to-date list the day of our arrival. The list will include restaurants, addresses and type of food

Tim Dye of the Pontiac / Oakland Automobile Museum is happy to offer special “Behind the Scenes” tours for CBCF ralliers.  The first tour will be from 12:00-1:00 and the 2nd tour from 1:00 to 2:00.  These tours are usually $5/person but he will offer them to our group for $3/person.  A sign-up sheet will be available to limit tour groups to 15 people per tour. 

We’re also working with the City to set up a time for drivers to pull their cars in front of the iconic Pontiac Route 66 Shield Mural on their way out of town.  We will have someone there to help facilitate that.

You’ll want to be sure to visit the Route 66 Museum’s first floor to see Bob Waldmire’s famous VW van and a mural he painted over several years.  Behind the museum, we’ve arranged for CBCF folks to tour his renovated 1966 school bus, commonly referred to as his “Road Yacht.” This is open only by special arrangement. The Welcome Staff will provide us with the exact time Staff will have it available for touring.

Don’t miss out on this GREAT RALLY! Register for CBCF TODAY!

IFLBCC’s 3rd Annual Harvest Days Cruise-in & Picnic – British Marque

IFLBCC’s 3rd Annual Harvest Days Cruise-in & Picnic to be published in the November issued of British Marque Car Club News. By Brian Davis

Temperatures were inching their way down into the mid-fifties and the leaves were starting to turn brilliant red, yellow and orange as the Illinois Flat Land British Car Club members gathered for their 3rd Annual Harvest Days Cruise-in & Picnic.

Each year the Club sponsors the cookout at the Sugar Grove Nature Center’s (SGNC) firepit and pavilion.  Alan Kleinschmidt made all of the arrangements and somehow even managed to reserve a perfect evening for sitting around the blazing oak fire.

The SGNC is in a beautiful sugar grove, near Funks Grove, IL, off historic Route 66.   The Grounds, Trails, and Imagination Grove are open daily from dawn until dusk, as are the Picnic Shelter, Corn Crib, and Privies.

The Flatlander’s arrived around 4:00 in a nice collection of LBCs including MGBs, Jaguars, an Aston Martin and a Mini.  Alan already had the firepit blazing as folks started catching up and finding seats on the stone ring that borders the firepit. 

Everyone brought their favorite cookout goodies and plenty to share.  Jane Chamberlain came prepared with a “boxed beverage” and Denny Elimon provided all of the Smore’s fixings.

As the fire started to die down around 7:00 we made our plans to meet again in a couple of weeks for the 8th Annual Halloween “Mystery” Cruise on Saturday, October 29.  This year we’ll be visiting Haynes on Main, 108 S. Main St., Mackinaw, IL for lunch. The group will also caravan to the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard for a glass of wine and excellent views from the veranda. Along the way, that MYSTERIOUS private collection they do NOT want to miss!

Upcoming Events

October 29 – 8th Annual Halloween Cruise. Details at

November 8 – IFLBCC Natter ‘n Noggin. Details at