Class is dismissed just as the sun breaks through cloud cover and begins to dry out the sodden morning. With a blatting of vintage engines, the convoy begins trickling out of town, headed up the Hope-Princeton highway, in search of the really twisty stuff. Helpfully, the route book is filled with distance markings in both miles and kilometres. Unhelpfully, the MGB’s odometer is out to lunch.
Off we buzz, following and soon passing a 2CV and a Traction-Avant, right back into the pouring rain. Miraculously, the MG’s roof holds off the deluge, but as we march up the pass towards Manning Park, the snow-line starts looking closer and closer.
When we get to Allison Pass, the snow is flying, but it’s oddly warm out. I grab a couple of shots and we head out again – a few of the cars are experiencing teething troubles in the first going, and we’re treated to the sight of the big Ford truck surrounded by a pack of Minis, looking like some kind of mother hen.
The route today has a side trip up to Tullameen, an old mining town Northwest of Princeton. The run is a there-and-back, and that means we run into a few of our co-adventurers returning the other way. It’s pretty thrilling to see and hear them fizzing along the road, a parade of yesteryear’s delights.
On the way back down the mountain, I swap into the driver’s seat and we head east on the side-road to Hedley. The MGB is running beautifully, a perfectly syncopated tickata-tickata-tickata of valves and pistons, with plenty of power. Dad’s been working like a madman to get the car ready for this trip, and she’s got new hubs, new rear brakes, fresh wire-wheels, and countless other improvements and upgrades.
Unfortunately, the Brit-built MGB apparently doesn’t like the sight of two Irishmen having this much fun, so she begins spluttering like an indignant maiden aunt. Cough-splutter-dead-coast. I get her over to the side of the road and we sit in silence.
Almost immediately, an Alfa Romeo Giulietta Speciale pulls over to check on us – there are two of these rare beauties here on the trail, one the same car that sat at the Alfa booth at the 1957 Geneva motor show. “Are you all right?” they ask. We’ve got the hood up: is it electrical? Fuel? Nothing seems loose or looks wrong.
“What should we do, Dad?” My father sits silently. I can feel the disappointment radiating off him, the heartsink and the frustration. He turns the key and the MGB fires to life. Great, a mystery problem.
We drive on, heading for Penticton. The roads continue to unfold in beauty, but we’re on the edge of our seats, waiting, listening, can’t relax. As it turns out, the MGB will die twice more before we get to the night’s hotel, but we make it.