Car guys all have a little Walter Mitty in them. We dream about racing, restoring a rare car, driving our toys on long trips – often without ever consummating the dream. Ross S. Robbins is one of those rare people who actually acts on his dreams and takes his cars on adventures. Robbins’ passion is cars, especially Lotus cars – a “Roadcar Profile” article about his Lotus Elan +2 and another belonging to Jeff Krueger can be found in this past month in Vintage Road & Racecar. Thankfully, Robbins also writes about his adventures and has published them through Amazon, where his two books are available both as downloads and as trade paperbacks.
Robbins first book was “Road Trip!,” and it was good enough that I bought his second book, “”Highways, Byways, and Racetracks,” subtitled “Adventures on Asphalt.” They were also good enough that I have recommended them to my car freak friends, whether they be Walter Mittys, or are like Robbins, and act on their dreams.
In “Road Trip!,” he talks about how he developed the “toy car” disease, and describes how he became addicted to Lotus. He takes us on road trips with a variety of Lotus cars he has owned – an Elite on the Texas 1000, a trip in his Seven in bad weather that caused he and his wife, Ann, to wrap their faces in bandanas, and with the LOUTS (Lotus Owners Up To Something) and their adventures in Europe. Robbins lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, so many of his adventures in a Lotus involved thousands of miles. Such was his trip to the Lotus Owner’s Gathering (LOG) in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, by way of the Atlantic Ocean. Four guys in two Lotus – a 1968 Lotus Seven and a 1965 Elan – traveled a total of over 4000 miles without any real problems.
His second book continues his tales of trips and adds some travails. One story is about how he found and acquired the Elan +2 in the Profile article. This is a one-of-a-kind +2 in the U.S. – it had a full Spyder conversion, the most important piece of the conversion being the Zetec engine, not to mention the air conditioning. His adventure included tracking down the car that he has seen at a LOG and doing a deal to acquire it. The deal included an additional car in pieces and many extra parts that he really didn’t want. Asking what the price of the Lotus was without all the extras, he was told it was $5000 more than the price with the parts. The solution he developed really makes the story. It is also in this book where he talks about his adventures racing several different cars, including an Elan. And then there are additional road trips – including one that traced the Great River Road from the headwaters of the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.
Robbins writing style is very conversational, which makes reading his stories all the more enjoyable. He takes you with him, and often with his wife and the LOUTS, on his adventures. You can see yourself doing the same things he has done – if you are brave enough. Maybe, most of us will just be happy with being Walter Mitty and enjoying the adventures while sitting in our recliners and sipping a little single malt Scotch – that’s the way I did it.