All Things British by Tom O'Neill / by Ben Maurice Brown


                              ALL THINGS, BRITISH!

                                   Tom O'Neill

It is of interest to note that British cars have been the object of much critical comment
over the years, boisterous anecdotes, witty sarcasm and the blunt of a lot of humor 
aimed at  certain uniquenesses that can be quite quaint and equally not so quaint. 
To illustrate the latter one has only to recall the often used title, “The Prince of Darkness”, 
bestowed on the Lucas electrical systems and lights used on most British cars. 
Much maligned for their irregularity of performance, Lucas electronics have 
been the grist for British car humor for more than the 5 decades. 

Owning of a British sports car is a life changing experience. The first challenge 
is simply acquiring the nomenclature. Almost nothing is as it seems, or at least 
as it is understood relating to cars produced in most other countries. The thing 
covering the engine, which is not an engine but a motor, is not a hood, but a bonnet. 
The thing that covers you and keeps the rain off your head is not the top but, 
rather, the errant hood. The space in the back that most people call a trunk, 
where you put your suitcase, isn’t a trunk at all, but a boot where you put your valise
rather than your suitcase. On inclement days, you not only put up your hood to keep out 
the weather, but also attach plastic side curtains instead of just rolling up windows. 
Mind you, the hood attaches to the windscreen rather the windshield and, as everyone knows, 
the windscreen is attached to the scuttle. Exhaust runs through a silencer box rather 
than a muffler. And when it came time to replenish the fuel, which wasn’t gasoline 
but petrol, you often times find the filler pipe hidden inside the boot. Of course. 
also in the boot, where normal people carry their valise, it is necessary to carry 
enough tools to qualify you as a mobile mechanic. And, hese aren’t just your average 
run of the mill tools. That would be too simple. They are Whitworth tools!
 

Clever, the British! Who else could come up with a dimensional system that was 
neither metric nor standard? “I say”, said some English noblemen, “Whitworth 
would be a ducky name for a measuring system! Confound the Krauts you know.” 
The theory was that the German’s tools wouldn’t fit the Spitfires that plopped down
on their soil after being shot out of the sky during WWll. It’s possible that 
the Crescent Wrench was invented as a solution to needing the right tool to turn
a Whitworth system nut or bolt. Say what you want about the Italians, but nobody 
beats the Brits for making the simple complex and the complex unthinkable. 
So we have cars with nuts and bolts that require special tools-Whitworth tools. 
And, as any owner of an old British car knows, there is ample opportunity to 
become well acquainted with one’s Whitworth tools. 

So, the Tiburon Classic Car Show salutes all British cars. Frustrating to some, 
British cars bring joy and delight too many more whose fond memories of 
breaking parts, greasy hands, skinned knuckles, non-working lights, cold wet 
rides or just plain wonder at whether the thing will start are the stuff of folklore 
and legend. 

by Tom O’Neill, Director. Tiburon Classic Car Show