British cars visit Lewisburg

Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Owner Chris Winfree opened both the hood and the trunk of his 1974 Lotus Europa Special so people could see the rear engine, and the small front storage area.

By Karen Hall


People in Marshall County have had plenty of exposure to old American cars, thanks to monthly Cruise-Ins on the Lewisburg square, and other events around the county.

Foreign cars, specifically British ones, however, have hardly been seen here.

That all changed Saturday, when the Nashville British Car Club made Lewisburg the destination of their monthly drive. The NBCC is a non-profit mutual-benefit corporation devoted to the restoration, preservation and enjoyment of British cars, according to their website.

The cars which came to Lewisburg included a 1949 Triumph, a Sunbeam Alpine, a Jensen Healey, a Mini Cooper, and several Lotuses. Some had the steering wheel on the left, showing they were made for drivers outside Britain, while others had the wheel on the right and were thus genuine imports.

The most interesting Lotus was an eye-catching 1974 Europa Special, owned by 19-year-old Chris Winfree of Franklin. He and his father have spent the past three years restoring the car, after finding it outside Pittsburgh, Pa. in much-less-than-perfect condition. What was left of the car's original paint was Regency Red, but Winfree decided to change it to Lagoon Blue.

Parts for the restoration came from all over the United States and Canada.

"I found everything," Winfree said. "It was an adventure. I learned so much, it was ridiculous," he exclaimed.

He regards the Special as his "weekend car." His "daily driver" is another Lotus, a 1991 Elan. Winfree said his next Lotus will be a "Seven," a model the company made from 1957 to 1970, which Wikipedia describes as a "minimalist open sports car designed to manoeuvre a racing circuit."

What attracted Winfree and his father to Lotus cars?

The answer is simple: "the handling." Winfree said when he was younger, he rode back with his father from Atlanta in a Lotus and was so impressed he said, "I'm going to get a Lotus when I'm old enough to drive!"

Now he has two.

Winfree only knows of two other Europas in the Nashville area, one at the Lane Motor Museum, and another owned by a person who works at the museum.

His father, a member of the NBCC, drove a much newer Lotus to Lewisburg. A car doesn't have to be a certain age for its owner to belong to the NBCC, it just has to be British.

Judging from the club's website, their drives usually involve scenic back roads, several stops for refreshments (or repairs!), and a quiz to keep the teams busy as they go. By 2 p.m. cars were leaving the square to make their way home, having had the pleasure of introducing a new group of people to their shared obsession.