Finding community through cars |  Charleston Choice

Finding community through cars | Charleston Choice

On any sunny Charleston day, you might see an old car you might not recognize on the lively, beautiful, oak-lined streets of Charleston. Chances are good it’s a British Small Car (LBC), and its owner is a member of the British Automobile Club of Charleston.

The Charleston British Automobile Club (BCCC) started in 1983 with Michael Carnell and a handful of friends who enjoyed hanging out in his garage and fiddling with British cars. Thirty-nine years later, we have 192 members with cars ranging in age from a 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost to Caterham 2020.

Many of the member cars are two-seater convertibles of a variety of different models, including MG, Triumph, Morgan, Austin-Healey, Lotus, Sunbeam and Jaguar. There’s nothing quite like taking over Charleston locations in a vintage convertible, and BCCC often does just that.

BCCC sponsors monthly group trips for our members to enjoy their classic cars, spend time with fellow British car enthusiasts, and most importantly, introduce the Charleston community to these beautifully restored cars.

While visiting several historical sites around the city as a group, we are happy to be able to talk to everyone about our love for these LBCs. We’ve been to the site of Sheldon Church, Edisto Beach, Charleston Tea Garden, Hopkaw Barony, Cypress Gardens, McClellanville, British Inlet, Mepkin Abbey, Birds of Berry, Hunley, and Magnolia Cemetery, to name a few. We even took our precision cars on a multi-day ride to drive the famous “dragon’s tail” on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. In addition, there are a few annual social events that include grilled oysters (March), a car movie (July) and a holiday dinner (December).

Speaking of Saab, no one would ever accuse LBC of being a reliable everyday driver. In fact, there is a popular saying that “a British car does not leak oil, it only marks its territory!” As a result, BCCC has a very active technical support group, complete with garage repair sessions. Regardless of the model, enthusiastic LBC owners gather their technical knowledge and deal with problems such as faulty brakes, slipped clutches, transmission grinding, faulty coupling or poor engine performance. Incredibly, the definition of fun for these members is rebuilding an engine from start to finish.

Lest you think this is a men’s only hobby, some of the most beautiful cars in the club are owned by women and include Bentley, Morgan, MGA, MGB GT, MGB, TR4A, and Austin Healey. These car enthusiasts often attend our public tech sessions and have made a video that we affectionately call “All Girls Garage!” Check out some technical sessions on our website, britishcarclubcharleston.com.

The Automobile Club of Charleston’s signature event is the annual British Car Day. This year’s event will take place on Saturday 29 October and it will be our 37th year. After a day of historic cruises, traditional British tea and a welcome reception at MacLeod Plantation on Friday, 150 Brit Beauties from across the East Coast will gather at Palmetto Islands County Park on Saturday. The show at this beautiful venue is free and open to the public and is a great way to see more than twenty-five classes of British cars and owners who love to talk about the history and restoration of their cars.

BCCC men and women are proud of their classic cars but also take great pride in supporting the Charleston community. Historically, the club has donated money and tools to students in the automotive class at Garrett Academy, it was donated to the Marine Corps Gift Campaign as part of our holiday celebration, and most recently, it generated money and in kind. Donations to the Haley Hill Animal Sanctuary in Hollywood.

The British Automobile Club of Charleston is diverse in its membership, but we are united by the love of these beautiful, elegant British beauties.

Dave Rosato, who performed a temporary restoration of his 1958 MGA, is the current president of the British Automobile Club of Charleston and hosts most of the technical sessions in his garage.


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