We know North Carolina for its rich tourist attractions, the Carolina Panthers, and their Fraser Fir Christmas trees. But there is more to the Tar Heel State than the Blue Ridge Parkway and Carolina Lilies. We are not talking about the Nobel Laureate or the two American Presidents from the state; we are more concerned about the British sports car collection that recently emerged from the North Carolina hills.
The Brits have some of the most exciting cars in the international auto industry. They offered us some of the best vehicle brands like the Jaguar, Aston Martin, and the Lotus cars. The competition between American automakers and the British performance cars manufacturers have not stopped the influx of British sports cars into the American market.
Some of these sports cars have found their way into North Carolina and are worth more today than they ever did. Let’s unearth this collection of British sports cars that have found their way into North Carolina over the years.
The Triumph Collector From North Carolina
Car collectors make fascinating car investments; they collect several models of the same car brands and keep them for posterity. Some car collectors stock these collectibles to sell when they are worth more. Others collect them to provide options when they need to drive. Some stock up for historical purposes (who doesn’t like a reputation for preserving the past?), while others like Vernon Brannon simply love the brands so much that they can’t help collecting Triumphs and other iconic British sports cars.
Vernon Brannon is one of those collectors that keeps cars not because he has projected their worth or because he needs to keep up with the trend. No, Vernon’s collection is entirely out of his devotion to the Triumph brand and some other British sports cars. His warehouse in Charlotte, North Carolina, is full of vehicles he acquired over the years; some he has restored, others he merely repaired in his workshop and stored safely in his garage.
Vernon Brannon’s Rich British Sports Car Collection
Vernon Brannon’s collection includes over 30 cars from the golden age of the Triumph brand till the brand seemed to disappear in 1984. He also has some British sports cars you have never heard of and some American vehicles built in Europe.
The man obviously has a thing for cars from outside America, particularly the Triumph brand, because his collection is one of the most impressive collections of Triumph cars in the world.
The Car That Started The Collection: Triumph TR
Vernon Brannon started his Triumph collection with the TR4 he bought in 1967, and it is still one of his favorite rides. The TR4 was Vernon’s daily driver for over 20 years across the country, and he was particularly fond of its independent rear suspension. Vernon Brannon restored the TR4’s paint job in 1985, coating it in an impressive Royal Blue that the car still maintains today.
Vernon also has a TR250 chassis next to his TR4 and a TR6 body shell next to that. He keeps the TR6 and TR250 in tribute to his beloved TR4 and has plans to create similar masterpieces out of the two skeletons.
Next to those three is a TR5 PI. Vernon bought the Fuel Injection TR5 directly from an original owner and still considers it one of his most impressive purchases. Vernon Brannon has some other TR4s like the Harrington-converted TR4 and other cars from Triumph’s TR brand such as the TR8 SCCA Champion Ken Slagle driven for a better part of his career.
The other TR cars include a TR7 with auto transmission, a Franker Champs TR2 with moonroof, a racing TR3 that, according to Vernon Brannon, placed sixth in one of the National and a Belgium-built, left-hand-drive fuel injected TR6. Vernon also had a 1600cc Triumph Atlas and Triumph 2000 estate in his collection, but those are not his most unusual cars.
Besides his collection of forgotten cars, Vernon Brannon also has a collection of vehicles that you may not find on many American roads or even in private collections.
Without careful inspection, you can easily mistake this Triumph for a Honda Civic. The stick shift car has a Honda engine and a motorcycle carburetor. It was one of the last projects Triumph did between 1982 and 1985, but Honda got the glory because while the car has a Triumph badge, Honda built most of its components.
1962 Austin Cooper
It would be strange for a British sports car enthusiast not to have a Cooper in his collection, and Vernon Brannon did not disappoint. Although the car in his collection is an Austin Cooper, not a Mini Cooper, Vernon has had it since the early ’90s.
While Vernon Brannon’s collection has one of the most powerful British sports cars, a V8 fuel injection Jaguar XJ 12 coupe, his workshop had even more surprises. The workshop has cars such as a four-speed, manual transmission ’71 Triumph 1500, four-cylinder 1600 cc ’59 Ensign, a Devon fiberglass chassis, and one of the last surviving Triumph Tina Scooters.
Vernon Brannon and his team carry out routine test drives and checkups on his car collection every six weeks. While he is not currently looking to sell any of the Triumph cars in his collection, he is still very involved in buying and selling British sports cars.
Most barn finds don’t get the kind of second lease on life this classic GTX did.
About The Author