On pleasant spring and summer days, Dick Rippey and his wife, Marcia, will leave their Lake Winnebago home and drive the cars of their dreams on country roads.
These kinds of road trips have only been possible the last three years after Dick Rippey purchased a 1952 MG TD for Marcia. In the 1950s, when Marcia was attending Kansas State, she saw one.
“She fell madly in love with it,” Rippey said. “It was her lifelong desire to have one.”
Dick went looking for one, and at the first place he stopped he learned that the MGA he was after wasn’t for sale. That contact, however, led to another possibility.
The 1952 MG TD that he purchased belonged to a lady whose husband had passed away.
“She wanted $12,000 for the car,” Rippey said. “I offered her $8,000. She said, ‘Can you do better than that?’ I said $8,800. She said, ‘That would be OK.’”
It was easy for Rippey to understand his wife’s longing for the car of her dreams. The car that tugged at his heart was an Austin-Healey. Rippey has owned his 1967 Austin-Healey BJ8 since the mid-1970s.
Ownership of his Austin-Healey took a few interesting turns before it arrived at his home. The journey started when Rippey and a friend were in a motel room in Des Moines. They were going to the Sprint Car Nationals in Knoxville, Iowa.
Rippey’s friend was looking out the window of the motel and spotted a car that he thought Rippey would enjoy looking at.
“He said, ‘Rip what do you see over there,’” Rippey said. “All it showed was a little bit of the top. I said I think that is a Healey. He said, ‘You are right.’”
So Rippey went across the street to inquire about the car, but nobody was home. Rippey left a business card. As the months slipped away, he forgot about it.
A year later, Rippey received a call, asking if he was still interested in the Austin-Healey. Rippey was interested, but first he had one major question. He wanted to know if the car ran.
“He said, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t run it for a year,’” Rippey said. “He said, ‘Is that an important part?’ and I said, ‘Yes, it is.’”
Rippey wanted the Austin-Healey if it could run, and once it did, Rippey went up to Des Moines to purchase it. He drove it back to Kansas City, but before he got it to his home in Johnson County, he had another adventure.
“I was driving across the bridge between Kansas City and Kansas City, Kan., and right in the middle of the bridge the muffler falls off,” Rippey said. “When the muffler falls off, it gets ground underneath and I can’t drive it.
“The traffic was going by me. The muffler was red hot. I stood there and waved to try to get somebody to stop. Finally, the muffler cooled down enough, and I jacked it and finally got it out. But I was thinking I was going to get killed at any minute.”
Rippey was able to drive the Austin-Healey home. Soon after, Rippey had a full restoration done to the car. It took two months. He has been driving it ever since.
“This is a true sports car,” Rippey said. “It has a great feel to it, also. You get in and it hugs the road. It has pretty good acceleration. I wouldn’t be afraid to take this out and run it 100 miles per hour right now. It will move. It is a comfortable sports car.”
Marcia enjoys driving her 1952 MG TD just as much.
“We drive the country roads out here and it is just fun,” she said.
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like to see featured in Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com