The Suncoast British Car Club was formed by a group of British Car enthusiasts. Since then, the Club has been the center of activity for British car enthusiasts in Sarasota and Bradenton and surrounding areas of Florida’s suncoast. Our mission is to promote the enjoyment of owning, maintaining and driving our British cars. We try to do that through our monthly meetings and holding or attending a variety of events of interest to the membership over the year.
Suncoast British Car Club History
By Walt Mainberger (A founding member)
Preamble and Background
I had moved to Sarasota in April 1990 and moved my Healeys down in the summer of 1991. In late 1991, I stopped at a British Car Parts store, British Classics, at 3900 N. Washington Blvd. run by Mike Estoe and his wife; they told me about a British Car Club that they had organized, the “British Motor Club” and I joined that club in 1992. The club had “Marque Captains” and my contact was Peter Litvinchyk, Marque Captain of the Austin Healeys.
The British Motor Club (BMC) sent me a letter postmarked November 17, 1992 (which I still have) detailing their Holiday season activities, including information on the BMC club getting space for the British Cars at the Devereaux Show to be held across the street from the Airport on January 27, 1993. We could gather at English Classics and convoy to the event, but most cars just showed up.
I went to this event and all the British cars parked together. I was talking to my Marque Captain and new-found friend Peter, about the lack of events and the issues of a Business running a car club, it occurred to us that maybe there would be interest in a straight up British Car Club in Sarasota, separate from the British Motor Club. Jackie Jones was there. She was interested in re launching the Club and asked the people with British cars if they were interested. Among the 15 interested were Jim and Kathy Harney, and they offered to host an organizing meeting to discuss the possibilities of forming a new club. As I recall, we had the organizing meeting a few weeks or so later in the Harney’s back yard, in a circle around a fire. I have a copy of the invitation for the party dated Sunday March 7 (1993). Others there included the Estoes, Clarks, Litvinchyks, Bauers, and Knueses. We decided to form a new club and finally selected the “Suncoast British Car Club”. This was voted on and became the Club name, and this I would say is the anniversary of the founding of the Suncoast British Car Club on March 7, 1993.
Peter and I were dedicated members of the club and we attended meetings every month in 1993 at a table upstairs in Pirates Cove on S. Tamiami Trail. It was a little discouraging at first with only a few people showing up, but we kept at it and the club thought to have an event, a “Tour” that began at Marina Jack and was open to interested owners of British Cars. This was pretty successful with some new faces showing up and a little more publicity for the club. Another early Club organized event was the Sun and Fun Rally, which took place on November 20, 1994. We made up a dash plaque which has that date on it.
We decided to get a logo for the club and make T Shirts, so I went to work on this little project. I knew a guy who made T Shirts named “Monty” and he gave us some pretty good prices. We needed Artwork for the Logo, and I gave Monty some ideas on a logo based on a car grill badge concept. Monte had a friend in the Ringling School of Art who made up 3 different options for the logo. I brought these options to our “Annual” Holiday Picnic at Turtle Beach at year’s end 1993 or maybe early Jan 1994. (This was a carry over event from the BMC days). We hung up the choices on a post in the pavilion, the members voted and the logo as we now have it was picked out and T-Shirts made up.
There was some concern about liabilities for future events, so we had incorporated our club, (A Pricey Proposition) and later our president (Tim) forgot to renew the incorporation. We then became a part of the AACA but this did not work out as we had to spend money to join the AACA and we did not get much benefit besides the Liability Insurance protection from Lawsuits. We then decided to cooperate with the newly formed Southwest Florida British Car Club to make a British Car Club Union; and at a meeting at Barry & Judy Alexander’s attended by both clubs, we put the two clubs together and got insurance from Hemmings. This agreement was worked out several years afterwards, and we relocated our meeting place to the Red Lobster where we continue to meet.
Today we are an active club with over 100 memberships. The club Board attempts to incorporate a number of regional Florida car shows into its annual calendar. In addition, there are several social activities each month centered around our love of British cars. The club has a full meeting schedule from October through May and briefer gatherings during the summer months. The SBCC is often affectionately described as “an eating club for owners of often dysfunctional British cars”. Anyone interested in British cars is welcome to join the club.