- The Washington Times - Friday, January 10, 2003

Pat Thompson has heard all the Lucas electrical system jokes, as well as the disparaging remarks about the questionable reliability of British automobiles. She has ignored them all.
She has always been a 100 percent fan of British sports cars, any British sports car. To that extent she has owned, over the years, several different makes and models of sports cars made in Great Britain.
In 1991 she took her well-worn Austin Healey off the road in order to perform a total restoration. When she learned the anticipated length of time it would be out of commission, she was shocked.
"I couldn't stand the thought of being without a British sports car during the four-year restoration of my Austin Healey," she said.
At that point she began searching for another sports car from the United Kingdom to drive until work on her Austin Healey was completed.
After rejecting several rust-riddled cars, she located in Vienna a 13-1/2-foot-long 1973 Triumph TR6. "I liked that year because it was pre-horrible-emission stuff," she recalls. The only downside was it had 97,000 miles on its odometer and smoked like it was on fire.
Sure enough, three months later, when inspection time was imminent, the TR6, blowing blue smoke out of its twin exhaust pipes, failed to pass the emissions test.
Then, instead of having a second sports car to drive while the first one was in the garage, she had two cars in the garage. The TR6 underwent a three-month rejuvenation with the inline six-cylinder engine rebuild being the heart of the project to get past the emissions test.
While the engine was apart, roller rockers were installed and a third Stromberg carburetor was squeezed in between the original two on the side of the 2.5-liter engine with an aim of boosting the horsepower from 130 up to 150.
Because the TR6 was now more powerful, the owner thought larger, adjustable sway bars would be appropriate. Once the suspension alterations were complete, the car was painted a redder-than-red.
With everything on the 2,390-pound car now bright and shiny, a new black vinyl top was installed with the correct reflective stripe along the base of the top.
In less than three months the TR6 was better than new. A four-speed manual transmission with the optional overdrive was found and installed and the car was soon back in service for the owner who was awaiting the rebirth of her Austin Healey.
Turning the leather-wrapped, three-spoke steering wheel brings a quick response from the nimble car, which rides on an 88-inch wheelbase.
Triumph TR6 models were manufactured from 1969 to 1976. The price of a new 1973 TR6 was in the neighborhood of $4,500.
The car has been driven almost 14,000 miles since the engine was overhauled. "I drive it a lot," the owner reports, "almost daily."
The optimistic speedometer is ready to record speeds up to 140 mph if the 7,000 rpm tachometer will permit. The tachometer has a red line at 5,800 rpm.
With the TR6 once more roadworthy and cosmetically acceptable, she gradually succumbed to its charms while her Austin Healey was being restored.
"It's fun to drive, it's powerful and a very dependable car," she said.
Now that her Austin Healey is in like-new condition, it spends most of the time in the garage while the temporary "stand-in" Triumph TR6 is out most every day massaging the highway.
Top-down motoring is pleasant in the spring and autumn, but summers can get a little too warm for her comfort.
To address the situation, she located and purchased a complete factory air conditioner unit that she hopes will be installed before she needs it.
If you see a woman with a big smile driving a red 1973 Triumph TR6 in the heat of next summer with the top raised and the windows up you'll know the air conditioner is working.

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