Start with a legendary British sports car, probably best known for the low-slung two-seat models with v-shape slanted doors. Add monthly tech sessions and members who know how to fix a particular model. Mix in friendly people who like to drive their cars together - or celebrate a "high tea" - and you have the Minnesota Triumphs Sports Car Club's winning recipe.
Founded in 1983, Minnesota Triumphs is a chapter of the national Vintage Triumph Register. Most of the 100-plus chapter members are fans of the Triumph cars, including some sedans, that were made after World War II. The Triumph name dates to bicycles and motorcycles of a century ago and to Triumph cars made in the 1920s and '30s, but the TR2 through the TR8 (died 1981) are the models most members favor.
Greg Gelhar, who's been in the club for 20 years and owns a 1958 TR3 (which has a hand crank as a backup to the electric starter), joined the club to learn more about the car. "It was affordable then and still is," he notes. "They don't look or drive much differently than other British cars of that era," he adds, " but parts are affordable and readily available."
Gelhar says members can "pick and choose" what they want from club activities, which include monthly tech sessions, car show outings, social events (like the annual high tea) and driving tours. He likes how supportive and knowledgeable club members are. "People know what they're talking about and really support each other," he says.
Jo Ann Broom also appreciates those aspects of the club. She drives her 1975 TR6 because she likes the way it corners and handles and thinks driving with other Triumphs is fun. But she's glad that "someone knows what to do when a car breaks down on a tour" and values the generosity of members who have helped fix her car.
Club president Phil Ethier, who drives his 1962 TR4 in autocrosses, says a modern Miata most closely captures the feel of old British sports cars. While he calls Triumphs "primitive" (some come without side windows), he says that also makes them easy to work on. He believes that anyone who buys an old car like a Triumph needs to be in the appropriate car club to understand how to work on and fix their vehicle. "If you're on your own, you're just making it harder than it needs to be," he explains.