Car Guy; Marshfield car collector shows off his labor of love
By Greg Seubert
For the Hub City Times
IOLA – It didn’t stand out like other displayed vehicles, but Guy Carpenter’s bright red Triumph sports car still turned plenty of heads at this year’s Iola Car Show.
“It’s crazy how many people talk about having a Triumph, especially in college or for one of their earlier cars,” said Carpenter, who made the 60-mile trek to the 47th annual show from his rural Marshfield home. “They’re not parked all over here, but everybody seems to have had one.”
He purchased the 1965 Triumph TR4A in 1998 after joining the Specialty Car Enthusiasts of Marshfield.
“The club originated from Marshfield, but we were open to any like-minded car enthusiasts that wanted to help put on a car show,” he said. “That was our main function as a group. We organized in 1980 and put on our first show at North Wood County Park in 1981 and had 111 cars. Our small group made an announcement to the people that came to the show if they were interested in joining the club and putting on future shows, A few people stepped forward that liked the idea. Last year, we put on what we called our grand finale, a two-day show called Graffiti Weekend.”
The Iola Car Show has attracted more than 100,000 spectators in the past. This year’s show began July 11 and wrapped up July 13.
“Some of the earliest things a person remembers growing up is their grandfather’s car, their uncle’s car, their folks’ car,” Carpenter said. “It gets rooted into you as an infant. Some people take it for granted that that’s how we get to the grocery store or church. Some of us realize that it’s something bigger than that. The cars that most people identify with are either cars that they knew somebody, something they had when they were younger or something that they aspired to own.”
Great Britain-based Triumph Motor Co. manufactured the Triumph TR4A from 1965–67. Carpenter traced his love for the Triumph sports car to the early 1960s.
“The summer between seventh and eighth grade in 1962, my uncle showed up at my folks’ place to have lunch with us and he was driving a Triumph TR3A roadster,” he said. “I didn’t even know he had the car. He took us for a ride in that little two-seater. My older and younger brother and I were piled into this two-seat car. It was me riding in a car and somebody staring at me instead of me standing on the sidewalk saying, ‘Boy, wouldn’t that be cool?’”
That ride left a lasting impression on the young Carpenter.
“After that, I always liked British sports cars,” he said. “I’d go to places like Road America, where you’d see anything from a Ferrari, Jaguar or Aston Martin to a Triumph or MG. I couldn’t walk by a Triumph without taking a closer look. Eventually, I said, ‘I’m going to have one of them.’ I looked at a lot of them, but they were never quite right. All of a sudden, I tripped into this one here.
“I bought it from a gentleman who was restoring the car,” he added. “He wasn’t finished with it and he had health issues. He was doing a really good job of restoring it and it was a good car to finish. I purchased the car from him and finished the car. It’s a model newer than the one my uncle had, but still, it’s the right car.”
The automobile industry has changed over the years, according to Carpenter.
“It used to be that every year, there was a new look, a new model, a new this or a new that and they tend not to do that anymore,” he said. “That’s one of the things people like about the older cars. They’re not generic-looking. You can identify it coming down the road. Use the (Ford) Mustang as an example. It’s identifiable. That’s a Mustang. A lot of cars don’t have an identity.”
The Specialty Car Enthusiasts of Marshfield once had more than 100 members, but that number has dropped to about 25.
“There are a lot of us getting older,” Carpenter said. “When we’re gone, who’s going to take over? I don’t think there are quite as many kids that are interested in the hobby as there used to be, but it’s far from dying. Something like this show is living proof.”