BRUNSWICK, Maine — In the fall of 1978 Jim Begin bought his dream car for $250 — only back then the 1962 Austin Healey Tri-Carb Roadster looked more like a nightmare.
“It was sitting in a backyard in Monmouth for 3 or 4 years, long enough so that bushes were growing out of the front seat,” said Begin, who was showing his car at a small car show in Brunswick on May 19th.
The previous owner was working on the fuel pump when it caught fire. He put it out and just left it there.
Begin first became acquainted with an Austin Healey when he was given a ride in one while hitchhiking home from Boston while in the Navy in the early ’60s. He was working as a machinist at Maine Yankee when he found the neglected sports car. His skill in the machine shop came in handy when he started making parts to restore his little sports car. Many of the engine and cockpit parts have been replaced with polished stainless steel.
“I tried to keep everything on the outside original, but the dash I did to my specs,” said Begin, of Richmond.
A couple years ago Begin decided to enter the Autumn Gold car show in Ellsworth. He had what he thought was the misfortune of being placed next to an expensive red Ferrari. But when the ribbons were awarded Begin’s Bristish import took first and the Italian came in second.
“I felt sorry for that poor guy,” said Begin.