Dec 14th, 2014No Comments
This 1968 Triumph TR250 has a low production number.

This 1968 Triumph TR250 has a low production number.


The latest British-built car to come into Gunner’s Great Garage ( is a 1968 Triumph TR250 roadster. As you can tell, this is a car that was “driven hard and put away wet.” It was last licensed in illinois in the 1980s.

The owner kept thecar all those years, pushing it from one stoage space to another. Now, he has decided it’s time to get the car going again. He doesn’t want a restored show car — he wants a reliable “driver.”

The car’s in-line six-cylinder engine received good care over the years and it is not stuck so we are hoping the car can be made to run again without a lot of work. However, it will need things like a battery, a clutch and rebuilt brakes.

This car has the serial number 66 andf is believed to be the 66th TR250 made. But we are going to have to do some research to verify that.

GGG Blog 02


Here is the story of the TR250 from my book called The StandardGuide to British Cars.


1968 TRIUMPH TR250/TR5

Adding more power to the TR roadster was accomplished by add­ing two more cylinders to the engine. The appearance was similar to that of the TR4A, except for a new grille. The TR250 did the quarter mile in 18.8 sec. At 74 mph.

The United States Government was largely to blame for the fact that the new six-cylinder Triumph sold here was slower than the previous four-cylinder model. To make the car comply to U.S. pollution laws, the fuel-injection hardware had to be swapped for a pair of standard carburetors tuned to run on the lean side of the scale.

Externally, the grille used on the TR250 varied from the TR4 grille by losing a small, vertical, center bar. This left only a pattern of full-width horizontal bars to fill the opening. The TR250s had reflective racing stripes across the hood and front fenders ahead of the front wheel wells. The standard steel disc wheels came with covers that were designed to resemble “mag” wheels and even had dummy lug nuts. But many of the TR250 convertibles wore optional center-lock wire wheels instead. Radial tires now were standard. A new magnetic gas cap was introduced.

Inside the cars, the TR4 style interior was redone to make in comply with new federal safety regulations. The steering wheel got a leather-and-sponge-rubber rim and had padded spokes. The gearshift lever was also padded. The old toggle switches protruding from the dash were replaced with safer rocker-style switches. A reflective material was sewn into the convertible top to make it more visible at night.

The TR250 engine was an in-line, overhead-valve six-cylinder with a cast-iron block and head. It had a 74.7 x 76-mm bore and stroke and 2498 cc displacement. Four main bearings supported the crank in the solid-lifter power plant. It had two Zenith-Stromberg horizontal carburettors and an 8.5:1 compres­sion ratio. This added up to 111 hp at 4500 rpm and 152 ft.-lbs. of torque at 3000 rpm. Road testers estimated top speed at about 107 mph and 10.6 sec. was required to get from 0-to-60 mph.

The TR250 had ane 88-in. wheelbase and overall length of 153.6 in. They were 50 in. high to the top of its windshield and 58 in. wide. The front tread width was 49.25 in. and the rear tread width was a slightly narrower 48.75 in. The standard disc wheels carried 185HR15 radial tires.

A four-speed manual transmission was standard and overdrive was available. The final drive ratio was lowered to 3.45:1 for the six-cylinder drive train, because it produced more torque than the Four. Rack-and-pinion steering was employed and was significantly redesigned to reduce rear movement of the column in a collision impact. The front suspension relied on unequal-length A-arms with coil springs. The rear independent suspension featured semi-trailing arms and coil springs. For brakes, Triumph used Girling discs up front and Girling drums at the rear.

The TR250 was marketed in two models. The convertible had an East Coast Port-of-Entry price of $3,175 and the coupe version was priced the same. The convertible weighed 2,165 lbs. and the coupe (actually a hardtop with a detachable roof panel) weighed 2,268 lbs. Production lasted less than two years, ceasing before the end of 1968.

About 8,484 TR250s were made, with this figure reflecting a fall off in American interest in the TR series for the first time in seven years. The TR250’s reputation for having less power combined with the negative write ups in car magazines had soured the market here.



Manawa Downtown Car Shows Revisited

Dec 9th, 2014No Comments
Some people at the show said it brought back memories to see Gary Heise's Chevelle parked at the old Heise gas station.

Some people at the show said it brought back memories to see Gary Heise’s Chevelle parked at the old Heise gas station.

The other day we stopped into Suehs Motors for an oil change and Jerry Suehs asked if the four downtown car shows held in Manawa last summer had been successful. He said that he wanted to get more involved if there were going to be similar shows in 2015.

We weren’t certain what the plan was for next year, but when we ran into Brenda Vander Zanden at a Manawa Chamber of Commerce meeting we asked. She said it seemed like the downtown car shows will be on the agenda for 2015, although no dates or details have been discussed so far.

A colorful array of cars filled the street by the post office.

A colorful array of cars filled the street by the post office.

There were four shows in 2014 — one on each Friday night in July. The first was actually on the Fourth and therefore it was called the All-American Car Show, although all cars were welcome of course. We had a pretty good turnout of around 30 cars.

The second Friday was the weekend of the Iola Old Car Show, so we decided to call it the Gunner’s Great Garage party and we invited Iola participants from all over the country to attend.

The turnout averaged about 30 cars per weekend and there were many gems.

The turnout averaged about 30 cars per weekend and there were many gems.

The third week we had musical entertainment by Fred Beyers and we had arranged for several VIP’s to sign autographs. The cars came, but there were few requests for autographs. There was one fantastic highlight on Week 3 when Burton Brown of Fremont showed up with his Bonneville Salt Flats racing Streamliner.

The fourth night was the “British Invasion” and thanks to a bunch of my friends and members of the Fox Cities British Car Club we had an excellent turnout of cars made in England including some real rarities like a Turner and an Austin A90 Atlantic Convertible that’s one of only about five in the United States.

While the 2014 downtown car shows brought out a good number of collector cars and their owners, there weren’t as many spectators as the organizers had hoped for. Those who didn’t come missed a chance to see some world-class cars and learn a lot about automotive history.

If you came to the shows last year, why not give us some feedback on what you liked as well as how the shows can be improved? There was a very short planning period for last year’s shows, which is a good reason to start thinking about next year before the calendar flips.


Nov 30th, 2014No Comments


Volunteer firefighters in Bear Creek restored this FWD fire engine as a department project.

The first year or two of my life, my family lived in an apartment over a firehouse. While that led to many sleepless nights for mom and dad, it turned me onto fire engines for life. We don’t own any fire engines, but we should, After all, the collection already has a police car and a tow truck So why not a fire engine?

When we moved to Wisconsin in 1978, it opened up an opportunity to become a volunteer firefighter. That led to some exciting rides hanging off the back of the truck and riding shotgun in a squad truck that clobbered a deer on the way to a blaze.

At that point the Iola Volunteer Fire Dept. still had a monstrous ’57 IHC brush truck and a classic ’69 Chevy pickup that served the same purpose at smaller grass fires. The IHC was a bear to drive, with a shift pattern that defied logic. The Chevy was light and agile and built like a rock, of course.

We had fun when we went on the Great Race in 1984 and hitched a ride on Doc Fuson’s 1912 American La France with Terry and Gene taking turns driving. All of the modern equipment on the truck failed, but we made in from Albuquerque, N.M. to Amarillo, Texas by switching to the old magneto ignition and ditching the electric cooling fan.

At lunch in Tucumcari, N.M., Terry and Gene asked me if quitting was on my mind. “The New York Times reporter quit,” they said. So, I showed them my Wisconsin Volunteer Firefighter Assoc. card and joked, “Now which one of you has really ridden to a real fire?” They were impressed and we never heard another suggestion that we couldn’t handle a fast ride in the hose bed of a fire engine.

We still enjoy seeing old fire engines at car shows. Like modern cars, many modern fire trucks look similar to each other, but years ago there were styling distinctions that set an FWD apart from a Seagrave. Those differences in appearance are what makes antique fire engines interesting to us.




Nov 12th, 2014No Comments


Gunner’s Great Garage ( specializes in the mechanical restoration of old cars. One of the most important mechanical components in any car is its engine and this has been a week of work involving engines.

390 Photo 01

This FoMoCo 390-cid V-8 “grew” during its rebuild.

Last Friday we got back an engine we have been waiting a long time for another shop to complete. It is a 390-cid Ford engine for a 1967 Cougar XR-7. The owner elected to have this engine built with Edelbrock heads and Super Stock exhausts. We got him a discount of $70 per head direct fron Chrsty Edelbrock. The 390 is a big engine for a sports-compact like the Cougar. With the new heads and big exhaust manifolds the engine is going to be an even tighter fit in the car. In fact, we are going to have to measure very carefully before we go dropping it in. It is a beautiful motor, though.

A second engine for a customer car that we had in another shop also got finished. This is a rare 1948 Chrysler straight eight. The shop has completely rebuilt it, but because of the snow and some personal considerations, we haven’t picked it up yet. We have to figure out how to handle a big straight eight once we get it back in our shop. Modern engine stands aren’t designed for big, long motors.

Stude Six

This Studebaker “Big Six” was formerly a “boat anchor.”

A third engine we have been tinkering with is the one for my son Jesse’s 1949 Studebaker Commander. This is a 245-cid six-cylinder flathead engine known as the “Big Six.” This engine had been stuck for about 30 years. Last week we got it apart and the only special thing we’ll need to do is have the cylinders sleeved. The old pistons were frozen almost solid in the cylinders so liners will be required. The cam, crank and most other internal parts were in good shape. You get a great feeling inside when you think about bringing a 65-year-old engine that was a “boat anchor” back to life. That feeling is one of the reasons people spend more restoring a car than it’s worth when it’s done.





Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals features cool cars

Nov 5th, 2014No Comments

The ’56 Corvette SR2 was one of the rare experimental cars at MCACN.

The Muscle Car & Corvette Nationals ( in Rosemont, Ill., on Nov. 22-23, features many special Corvettes and muscle cars. The show is held at the Donald E. Stephens convention center, close to O’Hare Airport. Each year the attractions the show lines up are impressive.

Car personalities who attended MCACN include Linda Vaughn, Jim Wangers, Mondello and Grumpy Jenkins Joel Rosen of Baldwin-Motion fame has shown up, as has writer Joe Oldham, who penned many muscle car road tests.

Of course, the cars are the big attraction. They have included the Hemi-powered Dodge Diamante dream car, the Hemi Under Glass Barracuda, the 1970 Baldwin-Motion Maco Shark Corvette, the 1969 Mr. Norm’s Garage Mod Top Plymouth Barracuda, the Packer Pontiac 1963 lightweight Super-Duty Catalina, the Oldsmobile “Fournado” and countless other one-of-a-kind cars.

Visitors to the show are extremely impressed when they come upon special exhibits featuring multiple COPO Camaros or row after row of Yenko Camaros, Chevelles and Novas. A display of ’69 Pontiac Trans Am convertibles it included six of the total eight-car production run. That was an exhibit that many muscle car experts thought would be impossible to arrange, but there they were!


The Olds Fournado is a Hurst-built 4-4-2 with a Tornado drive train.


Features lined up for the 2014 Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals include: The First Cobra 427 serial number CSX3002; the 1956 Corvette SR2 roadster; a Chrysler Hemi 50th anniversary exhibit; a “Color My World” grouping featuring mod colored muscle cars; the Buick GSX Invitational; “Real Pace Cars” presented by the Sloane Museum of Transportation; a Mustang Madness Anniversary exhibit; Ford “Cat House” featuring Cobra-Jet cars; Plastic Fantastic real vintage racing cars and the “Class of 1964” invitational. Also, the winner of a giveaway 1970 Oldsmobile Pace Car will be announced on Nov. 23.

The Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals also includes vendors throughout the convention center, plus a swap meet and flea market featuring the real hardware and the research materials that collectors need to restore muscle cars and products to take care of them once the work is done.



Oct 7th, 2014No Comments

GGG Blog 1

Here’s Dinah!

My friend Ralph Kramer, who was Chevrolet’s Director of Public Reklations for many, many years, grew up as an Indiana farm boy. In 1955, when he was about 12 years old, he and his friends decided to spend the Memorial Day weekend at the Indianaolis 500 Mile Race.

They traveled to the “Brickyard” — the Indianapolis Motor Speedway — and found a spot around the track where they coud stand and watch the race. (I guess the track was a little less built up back then).

Prior to the start of the race, the Official Pace Cars circled the track. The pace car for 1955 was a red and white Chevrolet Bel Air convertible.  The man driving the actual pace car was wearing a white blazer and red tie. Sitting on the rear deck was entertainer Dinah Shore dressed in a white skirt and red top. She was holding a bouquet of flowers and waving to the crowd.”There we were,” said Ralph. “A pack of impressionable young hids standing there in our jeans and T-shirts and we just knew that Dinah Shore was waving right at us!”

GGG Blog 2

Bring your vintage racing car to Iola!

My reason for telling this story is to announce that the theme for next year’s 2015 Iola Old Car Show will be “Race Cars & Pace Cars.” The car show committee is getting together this week to lock in this exciting concept and to start looking for vintage Race Cars and Pace Cars to put in the spotlight at Iola. If you know of someone who has such a car and would like to exhibit it at the Midwest’s largest old car show, please tell them to get in touch with the Iola Car Show office. Here’s the info:

Four Days of Exciting Family Fun – IOLA ’15

Featuring Pace and Race Cars!

Email your “PACE” cars to

Email your “RACE” cars to

Include your car info and

contact information for

consideration for IOLA ’15.

From July 9-12, Iola becomes home to the Midwest’s Greatest Old Car Show and Swap Meet!

Call now: 715.445.4000


Visiting LMC Truck

Oct 5th, 2014No Comments

LMC Truck Photo 01

Long Motor Corp. is headquartered in Lenexa, Kan.

Back in June I was traveling to the Pontiac club ( convention in Wichita, Kan. and noticed that we would be passing by LMC Truck Parts ( in Lenexa, Kan.. We decided to stop and tour the LMC Truck division.

We got there at 4:30 in the afternoon and thought everyone would be leaving. Then we found out that the company has over 400 employees working split shifts until 11 pm at might. Holy cow!

LMC is a company that can supply reproduction parts and accessories for a variety of cars and trucks very quickly and efficiently. Truck parts are the biggest piece of the company’s pie.

Long Motor Corp. has been around 30 years and currently stocks 30,000 truck components. Parts for 1947-2013 trucks are carried in inventory. LMC Truck has 24 separate catalogs for different years and models of GMC, Chevrolet, Ford and Dodge trucks.

The inventory includes body replacement panels, chrome bumpers, replacement gas tanks, chrome replacement grilles, steering wheels, seat belts, upholstery and trim items and more. The company also sells accessories such as LED light bars and some custom-designed parts that improve original equipment parts that had quality issues.

The LMC Truck operation that started in 1993 is the largest part of the company. Pallet racking filled with parts stretches up towards the ceiling and the ceiling was higher than we ever want to climb inside a building. Special electronic “tracks” guide forklifts down very narrow aisles without hitting the racking to allow more parts to be stored in a certain space.

The headquarters in Lenexa (a western suburb of Kansas City) also has two “factory outlet” stores where visitors or local enthusiasts can buy parts over the counters and save shipping costs. Since the company also sells parts for British and Japanese sports cars, there is a separate store for those niches. And since the truck parts are the biggest branch of the company, they have their own store. Both of these outlets are well stocked with both parts and catalogs.

LMC Truck Photo 02

Vehicles in storage range from new to old and restored to parts trucks.

 LMC Truck Photo 03

Warehouse organization is well planned to use space efficiently.

LMC Truck Photo 04

 Truck in HQ’s store is flanked by 24 different LMC Truck parts catalogs.

LMC Truck Photo 05

You could practically build some trucks with available repro parts.

 LMC Truck Photo 06

Parts include body panels, upholstery and mechanical items.



This Bird Has Flown

Sep 30th, 2014No Comments

OC Blog 105 Photo 01

Last winter the red Fox Valley Technical College Firebird became the “Silver Streak” with a new paint job.

The Firebird you see in these pictures has flown to a speed of 193 mph over the salt flats at Bonneville, Utah. That was back in 2011, when the car was painted red and we took it to Bonneville Speedway with a student team from Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis.

Things have changed a bit since that time. Driver Dave Sarna traded another car the Fox Valley Tech and took possession of this one. Most or all of the young guys have bowed out of the project. Bonneville was a bit grueling for many of them. They’d rather drag race on Friday nights at Wisconsin International Speedway with their friends watching. As a result, the Bonneville team dwindled down to the veterans who were advisors in 2011.

OC Blog 105 Photo 02

Despite some intensive work sessions in Tom Ale’s garage, the car wasn’t ready in time for the September event at Bonneville.

Plans to return to Bonneville in 2012 failed to gel. In fact, very little got done to the car that year. This turned out to be a good thing, since the weather at Bonneville that fall was bad and the “World of Speed” event that we ran in was affected. Chance are the long haul to Utah would have been a wasted effort.

In 2014, a lot of work was done to the car—including the new “Silver Streak” paint job—but as fall approached we began to realize that we were not going to join the Utah Salt Flats Racing Assoc. ( at the “World of Speed” for the second year in a row. Despite all the efforts put into the car and the engine, our low-budget project did not come together on time.

Too bad! From what we hear, the 2014 “World of Speed” was an outstanding event. Motorcycle racer and team owner, Valerie Thompson, set her 7th land speed record on her CTEK sponsored BMW S 1000 RR. Thompson made her first pass at 209.85 mph and the return run was 207.71 mph for an average speed of 208.81 mph, high enough to take the record in the MPS-6-1000 class and put her in the 200 mph class. Another record was set by a race team closer to home, on Sept. 7, when Milwaukee Midget Racing’s MG Midget established a new course record of 122.539 mph for the I/GT class. This was the oldest standing record in the GT category. It stood unbeaten for over 22 years.

Work on the “Silver Streak” Firebird is continuing, with hopes of taking the car back to the “World of Speed” in 2015.




Looking For Something Different

Sep 25th, 2014No Comments


It’s a good thing we’re filled up with cars at Gunner’s Great Garage or I might be tempted to take a serious look at an unusual car one of my friends is selling. The car is a 1946 Armstrong-Siddeley Hurricane drophead coupe. That’s the British term for convertible and there’s no doubt that Armstrong-Siddeley sounds like a rightious British name.


As you can tell in the photos, the car is a classic in the rough. Everything is there and there are many great parts that don’t need replacement. But the car does need a bit of restoration work in order to be really nice.


With a $25,000 asking price, the car is pretty affordable for what it is. It has a genuine classic look to it and it’s rare. It’s the kind of car that can appreciate overnight, especially if it gets restored. Want to bet I’ll be kicking myself someday for not buying it? Do you know how many good deals I passed up over the years? I’d be a millionaire if I had followed my instincts a couple of times.


1 of 4 Made Nova in Milwaukee

Sep 23rd, 2014No Comments

If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted new blogs here, it’s because I got sick in July, went to the hospital for a month and then went into a recouperation mode. The doc’s say it will take me a year to recover 100 percent, but I think I am doing OK so far. Now, I am getting back to posting blogs.

Before I got sick I was working in the archives at Gunner’s Great Garage and came across a flyer for a Chevrolet Monte Carlo special edition that Jim Wangers–the godfather of the GTO–sold when he had a Chevy dealership in Milwaukee. It was called the “Milwaukee Classic” Monte Carlo and it had a few special trim features that Wanger’s dealership added.

I did a story about the car that appeared in OLD CARS WEEKLY and a little while later I got an email from a man named Larry in Milwaukee. He had a “Milwaukee Classic” Chevy Nova. This was a car I had not found any flyer on. He said that as far as he knew, Wanger’s Chevy dealership made only four of these cars.

I am trying to research the Nova “Milwaukee Classic” now. If anyone has information please email me at




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