Granite State getaway: The British Reliability Run invades New England

Natural beauty meets its man-made equivalent as the teams sweep up into Franconia Notch at the end of the first day of the British Reliability Run.

“I’ve never seen one of these before. What kind of car is it?” the police officer asked, his cruiser parked behind us on Massachusetts’ Route 13 to provide some protection against the stream of commuter traffic rushing north, toward the New Hampshire border. “It’s a Rover,” I replied. “An SD1. It’s a British car.”

“Rover, huh? Never heard of those,” he said. This didn’t surprise me, given that he probably had not yet been born when Rover made its last stab at selling cars in the U.S. in 1980. “You know Land Rover and Range Rover?” I asked, employing my standard response. He nodded. “Well, the same company that made those built cars, too, going all the way back to the early 1900s.” He found this surprising. People always do.

The car’s owner, my friend Dirk Burrowes, is far more qualified than I am to talk about Rover’s long history, but he was busy crawling under the car, looking for the cause of our fuel starvation issue. This, fortunately, turned out to be nothing more serious than a rust-clogged fuel filter, but it did force us to limp the Rover back to Dirk’s shop for a repair, making us late for the start of the September 8-10 New England British Reliability Run.

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Lime Rock Park, June 3, 2017

Saturday, June 3, started out with persistent showers, but the arrival of noon brought sunny skies. This two-day VSCCA event, now known as The Empire Cup, has been run since 1993 as the Jag Club Event. According to the club, it’s the only VSCCA event at bucolic Lime Rock that allows unmuffled exhausts. The hills were ringing with some beautiful sounds that afternoon.


A long drive to see some little cars


Why was I doing this again? Here I was, on a mostly deserted Interstate in the smallest hour of the morning, one fading radio station as my only companion, headed for a too-short night’s sleep in a motel bed with none of the comforts of home. What, you may ask, would lead anyone to put himself out like this?

Well, the short answer is that I wanted to spend time with the cars and people at the Carlisle Import & Performance Nationals – and, since they were unlikely to drive the 350 miles to come to my house in Massachusetts, I had to go to them. Logical enough. But why I – and you, too, probably – feel a need to keep going back to the same car shows, year after year, was a question worth contemplating.

Bud Cadwallader of the Central Pennsylvania Triumph Club showed his 1958 Triumph TR3.

The show that I refer to as Import Carlisle, mainly because I usually can’t recall its most recent official rebranding, has been written on my calendar more often than not over the past decade. It’s one of the earlier shows in the season, taking place in mid-May, and it’s also one of the few big multi-marque shows devoted to imported cars. Those are reason enough for anyone’s interest.

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