Steve and Laurie Day
THE ROAD TO BRITISH CAR RANCH
The year was 1969, I owned a hot 1966 Mustang and my girlfriend Laurie owned a TR3. No problem I thought, we can ditch that foreigner and cruise off in the hot Mustang! The Mustang is long gone and we now own 7 British cars, that`s the power of a good woman! Yes, my high school sweetheart is still my honey, and during those 45 years we have always had at least one British car.
That same year, right out of high school, I enlisted in the Marines, and they agreed I should be a mechanic, so they sent me to school. Lucky for me, because two years later Laurie and I married and our daily driver was a 66 Sprite that needed attention and we couldn`t afford to go to the dealership for repairs.
After 4 years in the Marines, we had owned the TR3, a Sprite, a Spitfire and a Healey 3000. I was now permanently hooked, so upon discharge I went to work for a British car dealership. I loved it. Laurie became the bookkeeper for the company and I started out in the parts room as an assistant. After a year of that, I couldn't resist the call of the wrench, and I went out on the floor to be a mechanic. That was another good move, because they sent me to BMC training schools and I got the knowledge I needed to specialize in the mysteries of the MG, Triumph and Healey. At some point in that span, they needed a service manager to fill in, and I began working both jobs, it was total immersion. I couldn`t believe my luck, happily married and working at what I loved to do the most.
Time passed, and we decided to move back to Wenatchee. Having grown up here, we both missed the 4 distinct seasons, the mountains, the lifestyle and even the family. Wenatchee was not a hotbed of British cars, so I couldn't find a job as a mechanic, I had to do the next best thing, work in the parts field, so I got a job at NAPA selling parts behind the counter. Selling parts during the day, installing parts on British cars at night and weekends, awesome!
We have two boys, and the camping, Boy Scouts, sports and home remodel filled most of my free time for the next 34 years, but I still always had our own and a friends British car in the two bay garage shop getting some work done on them.
Laurie has been deeply involved in the cars we have owned, and has worked beside me on all of them. We were upside down and installing some interior trim in my Healey one weekend, and she says, “We need a tiny house and a huge shop”. I couldn`t agree fast or strong enough, what a woman!
We immediately set about looking for that property, and found the place we live in today. When we drove up to the property for the first time with our realtor friend, she walked towards the house and we walked directly to the shop. “Hey, don`t you want to see the house?” she said. We knew it would be fine, we wanted the most important look first, the shop. We were so excited, located in a country setting, quiet, and a 7000 square foot building with a shop in it! The house could have been a double wide and we still would have immediately offered full price. And we lived happily ever after.
But it didn`t happen without some work at it. We remodeled the house which turned out to be the second oldest in the canyon, and expanded the shop to include 3200 square feet of the building with the other 3800 being indoor parking. I had a clean slate to work with and got to design the shop to have everything I had always wished for and specifically set it to work on British cars. The whole idea behind all of this was that we knew one day I would open my own business of restoring and maintaining British cars, and putting all the pieces in place over time was the plan.
Now that we had the room, we also started acquiring the cars we have always wanted. For me, a Healey 3000, and for her, A Bug Eye Sprite, a Triumph TR6, an MG Midget, a project TR3, a project MGB-GT, and most importantly, a MGB-GT ready to drive all year long. I can`t say no to her…..see the above “we need a small house, huge shop…” section for explanation.
So, to round out this story, in 2008 the amount of time being requested to fix British cars was more than I could do part time, and we went full time with British Car Ranch, www.british-car-ranch.com/. Since then I have been surrounded by Laurie, MG`s, Triumphs and Healey`s and loving every minute of it. It has fulfilled my lifelong dream and created many dozens of lifelong friendships, and I look for it to continue the rest of our lives!
Steve and Laurie Day