My love affair with imports and sports cars began in 1964 with the purchase of a used black 1958 Volvo 444 sedan. This was back in Volvo’s “Drive’em like you hate’em” days and before they became luxury cars. You should have seen my dad’s expression when I brought the Volvo home. He was a staunch union man, a steelworker, and it was inconceivable to him that anybody would buy anything but an American Car. He was upset about it for a long time but gradually became interested in the imported cars I drove.

1958 Volvo 444Next, I went through a series of uninteresting and interesting automobiles including two different Fiat 850’s— a coupe and an (undependable) Spider. When I tell people about the Fiats most always ask “You bought a second Fiat?” The truth is that my red 1968 850 Coupe was a great car. The successor to that car, a pumpkin colored 850 Spider, was the one of the most undependable cars I’ve ever owned. OK, my Mini Cooper Clubman is a close second.

I switched to Porsches and bought a brand-new 1971 Irish Green 914. After a drunk driver totaled it while the car was parked in front of my house, the 914 was replaced with a blue 1968 912 that I miss to this day. Much later and after I moved to Colorado, I purchased a 1977 Euro-spec 924 that was nice but mostly undependable and, I’m guessing, had a hard life before coming into my garage. Like my wife’s original VW Cabriolet, it was a money pit. Nevertheless, she loved that car too.

One of the most interesting cars in my life was a 1961 Arnolt-Bristol. (I’m the young guy at left in the below photo.) The chassis and engines—double overhead camshaft, straight six with three Solex carbswere built by Bristol cars in England and shipped to Turin Italy, where Pininfarina fashioned the body before shipping to Warsaw Indiana, home of Arnolt Enterprises, where the cars were painted, finished and delivered to customers.

Restoring an Arnolt-Bristol It was Arnolt’s idea to deliver a ready-to-race version; so the car was available in two models: The Bolide with competition windscreen and seat belts and the Custom, a street version with windshield, bumpers, and a more finished interior.

My Arnolt-Bristol was originally a Bolide but with help from friends, including co-owner Ron (at right,) went through a frame-on restoration converting it into a Custom by the addition of a real windshield, front and rear bumpers, and convertible top. We did, however, follow the Arnolt factory racing team paint scheme using the official American racing colors of white with a wide blue racing stripe.

After restoration the car won awards at many shows, including every show that it entered, and was sold ultimately finding it’s way into the hands of an accomplished vintage racer who then later sold it to a collector in the UK who contacted me and is currently restoring it…again.

Along the way, I’ve owned and driven lots of different cars including some Detroit Iron and you can read about some of them on the “favorite cars” series on this site. Just use “Search This Site” under the Tomas the Turtle logo for Tortuga Racing.