PDLJMPR Web Magazine, February 20, 1999
This month's issue has two small threads woven through it. One is about clubs. I asked a few people that are involved in national clubs (US, Canada and Australia) that have Sprites to contribute something this month. The other is non-Austin powered Sprites. Both cars are very different from the seemingly ordinary engine upgrades and Datsun transmission changes. I am pleased to bring you these contributions.
For the most part when I got involved in Austin-Healeys I never even thought about joining a club. I owned a Sprite for 13 years before joining a club. Just so you know right up front I now belong to both the Austin-Healey Club of America (AHCA) and Austin-Healey Club - USA (AHC-USA). I always thought they catered to the Big Healeys and had little (no pun intended) to offer the Sprite enthusiast. Especially the monthly magazines. Well I was wrong. They really want to include every Healey person out there. It actually seems to be getting better all the time. I guess it all comes down to demographics. We certainly out number the Big Healeys. In an effort to grow the clubs they've had to reach out to the Sprite owners. Although I'm not sure how many Spridgeteers would pony up the bucks for a five or six week European touring vacation.
The price of admission to the national clubs. Not an easy topic to bring up. It caused quite a heated discussion not that long ago on the e-mail lists. The AHCA increased it's dues by $5.00 a year to $40.00. A few people reacted pretty strongly. For most people it seems that this price equates to the subscription price of the monthly magazines. I for one live in an area not supported by a local club. The nearest Austin-Healey club is over 150 miles away. So, I am a member-at-large. By the way I don't care for that name. So my dues really do represent my subscription price. A price by the way I am happy to pay. I like the monthly magazines. I happen to like the Austin-Healey 100 as well as the Sprite. So there is usually a lot in the magazines for me to read. Along with the magazine both AHCA and AHC-USA send members a member list. The AHC-USA's is called a resource book and has more than just members addresses. For the long distance traveller these books could be priceless if a breakdown occurs.
I do wish I had a local club for tech sessions, part sources, first shot at cars being sold, and people with more experience to talk to. I believe I would enjoy my car more if I had a number of people close by that shared the desire to own and drive a Healey. For now I get my Healey fix from the clubs' monthly magazines, the Web and the e-mail lists.
Send me your feedback. - ed