18 January 2011

Our Cars: Paul Schneider’s 1959 Austin Healey

Paul Schneider has been with Hagerty for more than 20 years, but he knew co-founder Frank Hagerty long before that. In fact, as he relates below, one of Paul’s most vivid car guy memories is painting his Buick in Frank’s garage when he was in high school. Paul officially began working at Hagerty Insurance in 1990 as a member of the Marine team before transitioning to the Auto team in the late 1990s. Surprisingly, Paul didn’t purchase his first true collector car until last fall… but it was worth the wait.

Title: Vice President Special Programs

Years at Hagerty: 20

Car: 1959 Austin Healey 100-6

Background: Growing up, I always enjoyed sports cars, but I didn’t have a direct involvement with working on them with my father or family. I remember my best friend’s older brother had a Triumph Spitfire and I thought it was the coolest car ever. In high school, I had a 1966 Buick Special that was a real piece. One Friday night my buddy and I ended up over at Frank Hagerty’s garage and we decided to paint the car! The next day I drove home a poorly painted (drips and all) car that my parents just laughed at. I guess that was really my start with Hagerty! I’ve had several “favorite” cars through the years ... Healeys, Porsches, Mercedes, Triumphs, Cobras, Ferraris, etc. If only I would have bought that Cobra back in 1999 for $50 grand! Never heard anything like that before, right?

Why a 1959 Austin Healey 100-6? Well, finally the stars aligned and I was ready to jump into my first true collector car this past fall. (My daughter is almost out of college, the house payments are under control, etc., etc., etc.) I’ve always enjoyed the styling of the British cars from the late ’50s and ’60s and I especially liked the “big” Healeys (1957-1967). The 100-6 is an absolute blast to drive; it has a great exhaust note; and I think it’s a timeless classic. When I told my wife I wanted to buy “a really old car,” I dodged taking an elbow in the gut! Her birth date quickly came to mind and I quickly began back-tracking on what I’d said! But we had a great time this past fall driving the back roads of Leelanau County (in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula). I can’t wait for spring.

Repairs and Modifications (planned or completed): The car is currently in a friend’s heated garage and I’ve recently begun working on a long list of winter repairs. From simple things like having the seats re-foamed, flushing the radiator and changing the oil to rebuilding the transmission to regaining the synchro for 2nd gear.

Hobby activities (clubs, events etc.): I haven’t joined any of the British or Healey clubs yet, but it’s just a matter of time before doing so.

Favorite Drive: My favorite drives so far have been in both Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas. The roads are great, scenery awesome and there are fun places to stop and visit. My wife and I, along with another couple, are also talking about participating in a road rally next fall in southern Virginia.

Best and Worst Moment: My best moment with the car so far was a late evening drive on a warm fall night in the country. The moon was bright and I drove by myself for a couple of hours, just running wherever the road took me.

My worst moment was my very first drive with the car when, after stopping for dinner, the car wouldn’t start because of a poor electrical connection. (Did I mention it has Lucas electrical ... the Prince of Darkness?!)

1 Reader Comment

  • 1
    Dan Rogalny Essexville/Alden December 29, 2014 at 11:54
    Hi Paul, We bought a '76 MGB a couple of years ago and joined the Twin Bay British Car Club in Traverse City. We've enjoyed our membership and I'd recommend that you check it out. The club has several events you might enjoy, including several car tours on very scenic routes in and around Grand Traverse County. I had to chuckle reading about your "worst moment" because it was similar to the very first ride my wife and I took on the day we bought the car. It was a nail biter but everything worked out and we've been having an absolute blast with our "Honey B" for the last two driving seasons.

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