When I moved to the Isle of Man in 1994, I bought a copy of The Official Isle of Man Year Book. ? This is not like my high school yearbooks with photos of everyone there, but more of an almanac with 336 pages of statistics, names of government officials, important information about almost everything to do with the Isle, as well as listings of a multitude of Manx clubs and organizations with contact info.? I had shipped over my ’56 T-Bird and my ’63 Vette when we moved there, so one that caught my eye was the Manx Classic Car Club.
Now I have been a car fanatic since I was old enough to push around my toy cars, but I had never joined a car club.? Originally, my cars had not been old enough to be classics, mainly muscle cars that were two to five years old.? However, when I got the T-Bird, it was about 20 years old and the same for when I later got my Vette.? Still, I saw no reason to join a club when I could just hop in and drive them anywhere I wanted to without any formal organization.? But, since we knew no one but our real estate agent and his wife when we moved there, it seemed like one more way to meet people.? When I called the contact number, I found that there were no meetings, the dues were minimal (just enough to cover periodic mailing costs) and the main activities were cruises around the Isle, normally with some sort of food and beverage at the destination.? There were no real qualifications for membership and, although you were expected to take your classic car on the cruises, they did not have a firm definition of “classic.”? It sounded good and I joined.
The way it worked was that I would get a notice in the mail of the next run.? Then I would meet the club on Glencrutchery Road in Douglas, in front of the TT grandstands.? I would get printed instructions with the route and the final destination.? Since the cars had widely varying levels of power and handling, you were not expected to stay behind a slower car if yours were faster.? It was an individualistic cruise rather than a caravan.? One memorable run was when my daughter Noelle and I took the ’56 T-Bird.? There was an optional, more challenging route, which we took.? It became so narrow that I had to crawl out over the trunk lid to get a picture because the brush would have scratched the doors of the T-Bird if I had opened them.? Fortunately, the weather was unusually sunny and I had left the hardtop at home.? When we arrived at our destination, it was well worth the drive.
We had been invited to park our cars on the lawn of a rather impressive house.? Everyone brought a picnic lunch and we all dined with a view of a beautiful lawn and garden that surrounded a quite large house.? Painted white and with castellated walls, it was a bit of Camelot on Man.? Our host collected antique, historic motorcycles and showed them to us as he gave us a tour of the grounds.? It made for a pleasant afternoon, although Noelle and I lunched on sandwiches and Cokes while a few of our group laid out linen, china and crystal as they dined on cold roast beef and champagne for their midday repast.
Although most of the cars in the club were English, ranging from Rolls Royces and XKE’s to TR’s and MG’s, there were also a couple of Porsches and one Citroen.? I had the only American cars in the club.? As far as I know, I had the only T-Bird and one of two Vettes on the Isle, and the other Vette was a late 70’s unrestored one whose owner was not in the club.? It was humbling when club members complimented my cars and even asked if it were okay to take pictures of them when many of theirs were far more impressive than mine.? One of the picture-takers was the owner of the red 30’s Rolls Royce in this photo.? So if you ever get to the Isle of Man and hang out with the Manx Classic Car Club, ask them if they remember the crazy American who used to cruise with them.