British Invasion comes to Mercer
Photos and story by John Pacheco, Editor
British roadsters invaded Mercer Street last week as the Vintage Triumph Register (VTR), the North American Triumph car club, held its annual convention in Dripping Springs last week.
“VTR Nationals are the largest gathering of Triumph cars in the US and with over 150 cars this year. Each year we honor one specific car at the convention, and this year we are honoring the 1969 TR6,” Don Couch, President of the Hill Country Triumph Club, said.
The event was coordinated by the Visitors Bureau. “We really appreciate the work Pam Owens of your Visitors Bureau did for us,” Triumph owner Bob Skewis said. “She was able to convince your city council to close down Mercer Street for the car show portion of our convention. She also took care of a lot of the backroom stuff that has to be taken care of for a convention of this size, and made things run smoothly for us.”
Skewis entry was among the rarer of entries, a 1968 Triumph 250. There were only two in the show. The TR250 was a one year production car of approximately 8,000 units. It was the transition between what was considered the under-powered four cylindered TR4 and the peppier TR6. It was Triumph’s response to the Ford Mustang. The TR250 was the first Triumph with an in-line six cylinder engine, growling dual carburetors, a steel body over a steel frame with cruciform brace (heavy H-frame) and 15 inch Michelins to hug the road as you accelerated. No spoiler needed to keep the car’s butt down on fast turns. The fact that it was a convertible only added to the fun.
For the time it was dynamic—overhead valves and two Stromberg carburetors delivering unique torque that accelerated it from zero to 60 mph in ten seconds, and zero to 100 mph in 39 seconds. By contrast the average car of the period would take a full 16 seconds to reach 60 mph. In 1968, the car would have set you back a cool $3,400.
Even today, with most cars being over 50 years old, enthusiasts love the cars as much for their design as for their unique driving experience. “You will feel every bump on the road,” Skewis said. “You are not removed from the driving experience. You can be going forty miles per hour and feel like you’re going 80.”
Of course every car at the show came with its own unique history. “This car belonged to my late wife,” Skewis said. “She bought it used in 1972. Her brother saw a classified ad for it and she went with him to look at it. After seeing the car, he said to her, ‘If you don’t buy it, I will.’ So she bought it. After we were married, we brought it with us when we moved to Austin. It was her daily car up until about 1980 or so. We started raising a family, so the car kind of went by the wayside, but we decided to restore it in 1999.”
It was a unique day on Mercer Street, as every car owner had their own similar family story to tell.
The Holiday Inn Express served as the host hotel for the convention and the basecamp for Hill Country drives and excursions as Triumph owners visited different areas wineries, breweries, distilleries, and other area sites. The schedule of events included rallies, autocross, autojumble, parts vendor sales and a “judged concours d’elegance” for the car show portion.