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Easy Riders

Local couple’s Triumphs are joyful labors of love.

photos by Matt Rose

Despite living year-round in Mark and Teresa Farver’s Hendersonville garage, Margo and Goldie — sisters of a certain age — haven’t lost a bit of their sparkle or drive.

Margo, the elder of the two, took up residence ten years ago. Goldie is younger, and, with her more flamboyant coloring, perhaps a bit flashier — but she definitely owes her sleek lines to her older sibling.

No, this isn’t some sort of grim Grey Gardens-type scenario. Goldie is a 1980 Midas Gold Triumph TR8, usually driven by Teresa. And Margo is a 1971 Laurel Green TR6, the favored child of Mark, who’s been a Triumph enthusiast practically since Margo first took to the asphalt after rolling off the assembly line in her native Britain.

“When I was growing up in Florida, there was one neighbor who had a Triumph, and I fell in love with it,” says Mark. “It was unique and not like your standard big, American family car.” But Mark had to wait until 1991, by which time he and Teresa were married and living in Tampa, before Margo entered his life. Even then, he wasn’t able to show her off.

“She wasn’t in drivable condition at that point,” says Mark. Over the next eight years, he carefully collected the parts needed to bring Margo back to life, often by poring over catalogs with Teresa, who presented him with the various necessities as holiday or birthday gifts. “For a while, practically the entire car was in bits and pieces in boxes in our attic,” recalls Teresa. “But that was OK, because we were still raising our two children and the Triumph was too small for a family car.”

When the Farvers moved to Hendersonville in 1997 — Mark took a position in Arden as quality assurance manager for the Williams Plating Company — Margo was fit enough to accomplish the journey north under her own power. Once fully restored, she made her debut at the British Car Club of North Carolina’s “Autumn in the Mountains” exhibition. By this time, Mark had resurrected his TR6 down to the smallest detail of its 2.5-liter engine and its lustrous green body.

Proudly displayed in Mark and Teresa’s garage are half-a-dozen first-place awards from a variety of car shows. Goldie arrived later, mostly intact except for some work needed on her interior.

The Farvers’ pampered beauties are representatives of a storied history, beginning with the first Triumphs manufactured in Britain in the 1920s. Originally introduced as a standard touring car, the first sports model appeared in the ’50s, by which time the original Triumph Motor Company had been absorbed by the Standard Motor Company. The TR2 appeared in 1953, numerically followed over the next 30 years up to the TR8 despite the brand being shifted through a bewildering succession of owners. In 1984, Triumph was discontinued by its then-owner, Rover.

“In Britain, the Triumph and the MG were always in competition in terms of price range and performance statistics,” explains Mark. “MGs only had a couple of body styles through the years, but Triumph was always known for the variety in design.” Mark’s TR6 model first appeared in 1969, with a body styled by the storied German design firm Karmann, most famous for Volkswagen’s Karmann Ghia. The TR6 had a more angular look than its predecessors, with a vertically abbreviated rear end and a longer hood, and became Triumph’s most successful model until it was retired in 1976.

In 1969, a standard-equipped TR6 would have sold for about $3,400, far less than its more exalted cousins such as Aston Martin or Alfa Romeo. “It’s still an affordable car for a collector,” says Mark, “and it’s a size you can deal with. You can have one in your garage.”

Beyond the high style and the pure joy of driving a Triumph, Mark and Teresa have found an even more important benefit in the company of their fellow British-sports-car enthusiasts. “Once you start going to shows, it grows on you,” says Teresa. Her husband agrees: “It’s a social avenue for us.”

The British Car Club not only organizes and promotes its shows, it also uses them as a vehicle for charitable causes, raising money for such outreach programs as (appropriately enough) Meals On Wheels.

But what’s most appealing for the Farvers is the hands-on intimacy of a car born from a collection of parts. Mark insists: “If I had $100,000 to spend on cars, I wouldn’t buy one car for that price. I’d buy 10 cars at $10,000 each and spend the rest of my life restoring them. That would make me happy.”

Visit www.bccwnc.org for info on the British Car Club of Western North Carolina.

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