My Favorite Ride: A retirement full of fixer-uppers

·2 min read

HARRODSBURG — On the trail of a story about reduced hours at rural post offices, I drove south to Harrodsburg to interview people at the town's post office, a quaint white-washed building with flowers blooming all around.

But my attention was drawn instead to a motley collection of foreign cars scattered around the adjacent property.

Jeffrey Huntsman’s 1967 Saab 95 and Saab 96 cars sit in front of a 1966 Jaguar 3.8S in Harrodsburg. David Snodgress | Herald-Times
Jeffrey Huntsman’s 1967 Saab 95 and Saab 96 cars sit in front of a 1966 Jaguar 3.8S in Harrodsburg. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

Parked behind the building next door: what appeared to be half of a 1930 heavy-duty Model A truck. Abandoned in the grass: two 1967 Saabs, one a model 95 station wagon and the other, a Saab 96 sedan. Just past them: a faded red right-hand drive 1966 Jaguar 3.8S, a five-seater sedan that has seen better days.

Hunks of Bondo had flaked off the car's body and fallen to the ground.

And I came across a 1988 Jaguar XJS out back with removable roof panels and rusted-out rear fenders.

Turns out I had wandered onto the grounds of Meadh Enterprises, home of retired Indiana University professor Jeffrey Huntsman's collection of several dozen cars in desperate need of restoration.

The company has humble origins: one man's longing for a small, fast European car. Preferably a convertible.

"I had always been interested in having a sports car," said Huntsman, who bought his first car, a not-so-sporty 1929 Model A Ford he still has, when he was 15.

Jeffrey Huntsman’s 1966 Jaguar 3.8S. David Snodgress | Herald-Times
Jeffrey Huntsman’s 1966 Jaguar 3.8S. David Snodgress | Herald-Times

"First, I was too poor to have one, then there was grad school, then a career and then kids and next thing I know, it's 30 years later. And I still did not have one. I figured maybe I would get one in retirement."

So he retired. And bought a 1965 Austin Healey Sprite in Bedford.

"My original idea was to get that one and fix it up and then gradually work my way up to a big Austin Healey, then I discovered the prices had gotten extraordinarily high, so I got a couple more Sprites, then I started getting Jenson Healeys ..."

His collection grew. And here he sits, mired in old cars.

"It seems I am in the process, the immensely slow process, of restoring a bunch of cars. I never set out to have as many of them as I do." Most of Huntsman's vintage European cars, which he shares with mechanic and "partner in grime" David Cox, including a few MGBs and those snappy Jenson Healeys, are parked inside the building in various stages of disrepair. I am headed that way, soon. Tune in next week to find out what's under the roof.

Got a story to tell about a car or truck? Call 812-331-4362, send an e-mail to lane@heraldt.com or a letter to My Favorite Ride, P.O. Box 909, Bloomington, IN 47402.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: My Favorite Ride: A retirement full of fixer-uppers