On any sunny Charleston day, you might spot a vintage car you wouldn’t recognize on Charleston’s beautiful, live oak-lined streets. There’s a good chance it’s a Small British Car (LBC) and its owner is a member of the Charleston British Car Club.
The Charleston British Car Club (BCCC) started in 1983 with Michael Carnell and a handful of friends who enjoyed hanging out in his garage and tinkering with British cars. Thirty-nine years later, we have 192 members with cars ranging in age from the 1909 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost to the 2020 Caterham.
Most member cars are two-seater convertibles of various different models, including MG, Triumph, Morgan, Austin-Healey, Lotus, Sunbeam and Jaguar. There’s nothing like taking the Charleston estates in an old convertible, and the BCCC usually does just that.
BCCC sponsors monthly group rides for our members to enjoy their classic cars, spend time with British Auto enthusiasts and most importantly introduce the Charleston community to these beautifully restored cars.
As we visit the many historic sites in the city as a group, we are thrilled to be able to talk to everyone about our love for these LBCs. We went to Sheldon Church, Edisto Beach, Charleston Tea Garden, Hobcaw Barony, Cypress Gardens, McClellanville, Breach Inlet, Mepkin Abbey, Birds of Prey, Hunley and Magnolia Cemetery. We even took our stylish cars on a multi-day trip to drive the famous ‘Tail of the Dragon’ on the North Carolina-Tennessee border. In addition, several annual social events include roast oysters (March), drive-through movie theater (July) and holiday dinner (December).
Speaking of rigor, no one would accuse an LBC of being a reliable, everyday driver. In fact, a common saying is: “A British car doesn’t leak oil, it just marks its territory!” As a result, BCCC has a very active technical support group complete with garage repair sessions. Whatever the model, these avid LBC owners combine their know-how and tackle problems such as faulty brakes, slipping clutches, grinding transmissions and faulty wiring or poor engine performance. Incredibly, the definition of fun for these members is to completely rebuild an engine.
Don’t think this is a hobby for men, some of the nicest cars in the club are women’s and include Bentley, Morgan, MGA, MGBGT, MGB, TR4A and Austin-Healey. These female car enthusiasts often attend our general tech sessions and even affectionately ‘All Girls Garage!’ They’re even making a video we call it. Check out some of the technology sessions on our website at britishcarclubcharleston.com.
The British Automobile Club’s flagship event in Charleston is the Annual British Car Day. This year’s event will take place on Saturday, October 29th and will be our 37th year. After historical tours and a traditional English tea and welcome reception at MacLeod Plantation on Friday, 150 Brit Beauty from all over the East Coast will gather at Palmetto Islands County Park on Saturday. The show at this beautiful venue is free, open to the public, and a great way to see over twenty-five British Cars classes and owners who love to talk about the history and restorations of their vehicles.
The men and women of BCCC are proud of their classic cars, but also proud to support the Charleston community. Historically, the club has donated money and vehicles to students in Garret Academy’s auto body class as part of our holiday celebration of the Marine Corps’ gift drive for Tots Toys, and more recently, monetary and in-kind donations. Donates to the Hallie Hill Animal Shelter in Hollywood.
Memberships of the British Automobile Club in Charleston are diverse, but we are united by the love of these beautiful, classy British beauties.
Dave Rosato, an out-of-frame restoration of his 1958 MGA, is the current president of the British Auto Club of Charleston and hosts most of the technical sessions in his home garage.