Leaving Los Angeles up the 101 North freeway to Monterey, CA is an adventured welcomed by any european car staffer. The 6.5-hour anxiety driven journey to what can simply be described as the Comic Con for automotive nerds is filled with picturesque California vineyards and the occasional glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.
For myself, Monterey is a sanctuary that provides enough inspiration for me to hunt for those perfect feature cars that give me a high as an automotive journalist. This trip, however, would provide something I've always wanted to experience. This year I was hunting for hidden gems along my route.
Clearing out of Los Angeles traffic, road trip partner, RJ De Vera from Meguiar's, would handle the first three-hour stint. Sure the 405 and 101 North freeways had their "OH SHIT" moments but we made it out the other side clean.
Our destination was San Luis Obispo. Where just a few weeks before, while attending a friends wedding, my girlfriend and I stumbled upon a small restoration shop - British Sports Car. Once we entered I knew I had found a diamond in the ruff.
Justin Jurgens, I later found out to be the co-owner, called over to us and said, "Feel free to roam around. If you have any questions just ask."
This was just the invitation I needed. I felt like Willie Wonka had just tumbled across the catwalk and gracefully bowed to me, "Charlie", and given permission to explore the chocolate factory.
That's when I found it, a 1961 Triumph Italia 2000 Coupe. I had never seen one in my life, let alone even knew of their existence. According to Justin, 350 were created during the early late 50s early 60s but in 1980 a formal registry was created and a little over 50 were known to still exist. Many of which were in an un-repairable state.
Since my first encounter with the car was far to brief, remember, I had a wedding to attend that afternoon. RJ and I made a brief (2 hour) lunch stop to revisit the Italia 2000 Coupe before we would have to fight the crowds at the Concorso Italiano.
Once Justin and I reacquainted we poured over the details of the car. First was the Vignale hammered body. The Italia 2000 was based on the Triumph TR3 chassis and was designed by famed Italian designer, Giovanni Michelotti. Who, apparently, drew it's inspiration from Michelotti's previous iconic design, the Maserati 3500.
Justin located this particular car for a client in Washington D.C. who bought the car sight unseen. The customer heard about the car, saw one and had to have one. One phone call to British Sports Car and the two-and-a-half year project was underway.
The driver's side body panels from the headlights to the taillights had to be completely junked. The car had previously been through a very bad side impact collision. So with photographs in hand, and luckily the mirrored side undamaged, new panels were created from scratch.
Even the badges on the car are "new". Seeing as you can't simply call Triumph or any vintage parts dealer for a pair of Italia 2000 badges, Justin had snapped a photo of the badges he had seen on a car at a car show at the infant stage of the project. When the time came a local water jet company took Justin's photos and recreated the badges perfectly, they even reproduced the unique rectangular mesh grill.
Today the car is finished in stunning Porsche Bali Blue with contrasting ivory leather interior. Equipped with a four-speed manual transmission, with overdrive, the four-cylinder purrs delightfully down the road as it nearly floats on a cloud of air. Sure the roofline and foot wells make for a cramped driving style, it's the looks from pedestrians in their minivans and pickup trucks that keep the driver looking for that extra mile to their destination.
The triple bulges, two fenders and a teardrop bulge to clear the intake manifold thanks to the cars diving hood line, gobble up roadways as you peer out over the horizon.
Since the car was set to make it's debut at the famed Concorso Italiano, taking place Friday the 15th I might add, I began to ask Justin what it took to get a car like this ready for such a big show.
"Its all in the paint work. We laid this paint down a year ago and let it set up to get nice and hard. Once we know the paint is cured properly, we begin the painstaking work of color sanding and buffing to cut in nice and deep to pull out the true depth of the paint. After all, this is the judge's first experience with the car when they approach it.", Justin explained. "After they approve of the paint, we can then go into details about how the car was brought back to life."