SUNDAY: Langley owner’s connection to car spans 42 years

A woman behind the wheel of an SUV gave Ed Cowx a thumbs up sign as he cruised past her in his 1968 Triumph TR250.

“Do you know her?” he was asked as he eased to a stop at a signal light.

“No,” the 62-year-old Cowx responded, adding with a smile, “but I get that a lot.”

The two-seat car, one of just 8,484 of its kind made in 1967 in Britain for the North American market, tends to get that sort of reaction whenever Cowx takes it for a spin around his  Langley neighbourhood, and beyond.

It’s given the owner plenty to smile about it since he bought it in Vancouver for $2,200 after responding to a newspaper ad to sell the car in late 1972.

“I liked the car,” Cowx said. “It certainly needed some work. It was only four or five years old, then.”

Also, Cowx has a British heritage, with his late dad Harold originally being from the UK.

And while the TR250 is Cowx’s longest serving vehicle, it’s by no means his first. The first car drove was his parents’ 1968 Chevrolet Malibu SS.

“That was the one I learned on. If I had it today, it would be worth a lot of money,” he said. “It was in good condition.”

The TR250 served as Cowx and his family’s daily driver until the early 1980s, and after that was gently used through the mid-to-late ’80s and ’90s.

Cowx and his wife Virginia have two daughters, both full grown, and he installed rear seat belts for the siblings.

The car has seen different parts of the country. It went on family moves to Alberta (from 2001 to ’04) and Ontario (from 2004 to ’07) but was rarely driven in either province.

However, through the ’70s and early ’80s, the four-speeder with a 2.5 litre engine rolled on top of countless miles of B.C. asphalt. With Virginia by his side, Cowx drove the TR250 from Vancouver to the Okanagan on a few occasions, and as far away as 100 Mile House.

“It was the only car we had,” Cowx said.

When he bought the car, the odometer was disconnected, so gauging how many kilometres it has rolled up is impossible.

Much of the car is original including the hubcaps, radio, engine, seats (except for the driver’s outer back), spare tire, jack, steering wheel, shifter console, dash, and instruments.

It was painted by Ludwig at British Motors in the late 1980s, when a red stripe was added to match the interior. The creamy white car didn’t have a stripe.

Cowx has a special connection to the car because it’s the first vehicle he bought with his own money.

“I drove my mom and dad’s and my brother’s cars, but this is the car that I originally bought,” Cowx said. “Certainly I’ve put some money into it, obviously, but $2,200 today is nothing.”

New additions include an OEM soft-top purchased on eBay from a seller in England. After being shipped to Canada, the top was installed in Toronto.

The soft-top was rarely used because the Ed and Virginia like to go on cruises with the top down.

“It’s really unique,” Cowx said. “You will not find a TR250 with an original top on it.”

The TR250 was a “one year car” according to Cowx, only built in 1967/68 and sold as a 1968 model.

In Britain, they were built as TR5s and the cars included fuel injection.

“All the cars, here, they couldn’t meet the emission standards,” Cowx said, “so they had to be carburettor.”

Cowx is good to his TR250, which achieved collector car status in 1993.

He only takes it out on dry days, and won’t push it past 60 mph.

Even though it’s been treated with a lot of TLC by its owner over the past four decades, the TR250 has had a few mishaps such as door dings from the kids, cat foot prints on the hood, a brake fluid spill, dents, and scratches.

But the most serious incident took place in the mid-1970s when the car was stolen and then recovered with relatively little damage done to it.

Because it’s strictly a fair-weather car, the TR250 was a bit tardy making it last year’s LAMB (Langley Area Mostly British Motoring Club) St. George’s Day Motoring Show in Fort Langley.

“I was late because it was raining in the morning,” Cowx said. “It doesn’t see rain. If it’s raining, it doesn’t go out.”

Weather permitting, Cowx plans on putting his car on display at this Sunday’s (April 27) St. George’s Day show on the grounds of the Fort Langley Community Hall.

In its ninth year, the show focuses on British vehicles and will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

LAMB director Martin Ross expects roughly 75 vehicles to be on display including a double decker bus and taxis.

The Canadian Museum of Flight will also have a Spitfire Plane at the show.

To LAMB members, the appeal of British vehicles is varied.

“As Canada was a British colony, many vehicles were owned by members in Britain, their families, and part of the heritage,” Ross said. “In the glory days, British cars were seen as distinctive and reliable. They have great style and allure. Their names were synonymous with style: Triumph, Hillman, Zephyr, MG, Rover, Jaguar, and Rolls Royce. Names you will remember for a long time.”

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