Before reviewing Robert Morey’s delightful new book, The Philosophy and Psychology of British Car Restoration, allow me a moment of transparency and honesty: I am a big fan of the Little British Car, henceforth known as LBC. I’ve owned and lovingly cared for several Triumphs (two and four wheel) an MGB and played caretaker to a range of LBCs including an Austin Healey, TVR and even a V12 Jaguar (four carburetors!!) So even if the book were the result of a dozen monkeys pounding keyboards for a month, I am likely to be favorably drawn to any book with the words British Car in the title.
So with that mea culpa out of the way, Morey’s creation is a positive, cheery and satirically refreshing collection of reflections that perfectly mirror the author’s upbeat personality and automotive experience. His use of wry humor and conversational style, combined with a lifetime of experience in the care and feeding of our objects of desire, creates entertaining episodes not unlike having a spirited conversation with an old friend over a couple of chilled adult beverages.
Morey reveals great stories around his early introduction to the wonderful world of British cars, complete with service bay hijinks involving high-pressure grease guns and electrified wrenches (remember, it’s not the voltage that kills, it’s the amps.) And then there is the amazing tale of his first LBC, a $125 TR4 he still owns, accumulating over 600,000 (!!) miles during his lifetime of ownership.
Important to our chosen compulsion is the author’s firm and rational support for preserving these disappearing classics. Use them as they were intended; trailer queens taken out of circulation have a negative effect on the entire hobby by reducing parts production from after-market suppliers. And his reprimand to modification is clear. British engineers were, in his words, “wicked smart.” It was the manufacturing goons that created product deficiencies. So don’t modify your LBC with electronic ignitions, Weber carbs and wider tires; points, condensers, SU carbs and 165/15 Michelin X tires work just fine, thank you. And don’t skimp on repairs with cheap, non-factory parts. Low-cost, in the long run, is rarely the least expensive way to go.
Morey’s book is not a primer on the arcane science of tuning and balancing a trio of SU carbs or rebuilding a Moss gearbox; that’s what YouTube is for. Rather, his compilation of stories and anecdotes is either a trip down memory lane or good preparation for those about to bring home a pristine Austin Healey, MGB or TR6. Whether you are a seasoned LBC owner or considering a plunge into the deep end of the British car pool, Robert Morey’s book will leave you laughing and learning about our odd fascination.
— Bob Seidler, recovering LBC owner
Title: The Philosophy and Psychology of British Car Restoration
Author: Robert Morey
Paperback: 94 pages
Publisher: Palmetto Publishing (June 21, 2017)