"Yeoman's Brimfield Midget".
Yeoman is a nickname I acquired in college. While getting shellacked in a game of backgammon by my good friend Jay McGlinchey, I commented on his lucky rolls of the dice and how I was doing "stout yeoman" rolling. I interpret the word as meaning someone who keeps plugging away in an unspectacular manner. I hope I'm close. My name is Mark Allen.
Brimfield is my hometown in Massachusetts, famous for its thrice yearly flea markets. I grew up here and have moved back to the house I grew up in. Fairly rural area in the western part of the state. When I was a kid there were 2500 people here, now there are about 3500.
I call this an Odyssey without having looked up the word. It's been a journey begun without knowing the destination, very exciting, bringing me to new places. There have been long periods where this project has given me great satisfaction. Every time I had a day off from work, or some extra time on my hands, I knew exactly what I wanted to do: whatever was the next step on the Midget. I'd be happy if when I retire I can come up with a project or pastime that has been half as fun and purposeful as this.
Made this site using a free, downloadable version of CoffeeCup HTML Editor. I started it not because I wanted to talk about the Midget but because I wanted to see if I could build a website. Our cable TV company gives 20Mb of free space for a website, and I'm surprised how far that goes. I learned about HTML at a free tutorial on EchoEcho.com. Did I mention I was cheap?
My target audience is me, four years ago, searching the web for information about how to fix up this neat little car. I don't think I'd be a good source of advice, but there are really knowledgeable people on the BBS's I've mentioned. I'm the guy on the BBS that just keeps asking questions.
Midget and Sprite people are wonderful people. I've heard and read that the car is "Cheap and Cheerful". I think that puts the Midget in an interesting place in the heirarchy of collector cars. You go to a car show, and you really can't look down your nose at anybody. Well, maybe a Pinto, or a Chevette, if there are any left. I think that more than any other car the Midget is likely to evoke a smile. And make no mistake about it, these cars have the reputation among those in the know of being the most fun to drive. It's like having a go-kart with a legal license plate. So I'm saying it doesn't have the prestige of a Jaguar or Austin-Healey, but people are more likely to look at your car and appear to be thinking "I could do that. I could fit that car in my garage. I could fix up a car like that. How tough could it be? It probably came in a box to begin with. I could get all the sheet metal I need from a couple of soup cans." It's accessible. And I really like the fact that even after painting it, I don't mind if my boy and his friends play in it. I'm not going to freak out about a fingerprint or a scratch. Well, maybe a deep scratch.
On the road, people react to it in different ways. Young people seem to like it the most. Teenagers. Kids. I think it reminds them of the cars you see in cartoons, where Mickey Mouse's head is a foot above the windshield, and the car looks like it has a face. Then there are the middle-aged men and women like me that all seem to have a British car story: "My dad had a Triumph..." "My uncle restored an MG T-series..." "I had one in college..." They definitely smile when they tell me about it. After they ask me what it is, they usually ask how the heck I fit in it. People used to ask me that about the Karmann Ghia, too.
Of course there are the other people, too. The young men in pick up trucks that want to be sure that I know that they think very little of my little car. Usually by pulling right out in front of me when there really isn't room. Maybe they just don't give it credit for being a "real" car. Maybe they think I'm pedalling it and they've got plenty of time to get out ahead of me. If you know any of these people, please ask them to stop it before they kill me.
The car is not as safe as anything modern. It's quick and stops well but offers very little protection. I do take my now 8 year old son out in it, but not over 40mph. I think he likes it when I pick him up at soccer practice or Cub Scouts in it because it's different and it's cool. Which brings me to a major drawback: I have a wife and a son, and only two people at a time can be in it. I love taking Sue for a drive, but it doesn't happen often that our boy would be elsewhere. We've never all three ridden in it, and never will.
What's next? I have to paint the engine compartment and inside the fenders, and undercoat the underside of the car. I have an oil leak between the head and the block that I need to get rid of because when the car warms up enough it starts to smoke as the leaked oil burns off. I'm sure it's not burning oil, but I don't want to have to convince a police officer of that if he sees me during that 90 seconds when I'm leaving a trail of blue smoke. I'm convinced that my exhaust system is louder than it should be, even though it's all new. I've still never heard another Midget run. Maybe this is how it's supposed to sound. The loudness comes from the tailpipe, not anywhere else. And I think that all the upgrade-type mufflers are designed to improve flow. I don't need flow, I need not to sound like a seventeen year old kid that wants to be sure everyone is looking at him when he drives by. And I'll probably want to do some work on the front suspension: check for wear, replace the rubber bushings with polyurethane. Something like that. Why? Because I need a car? No, because I need something to do.
The Fifth Year: More Paint, Less SmokeBack Home