My Texas trip with Bobby Part 1


Lady Luck threw me a smile. Andy Martin was to go with Bobby on this trip. Alas, the car was not ready. The new pickup date would not work for Andy, so the backup was called in. Boy was I ready to go. I had heard tales of this great body shop which could build cars from a picture and I had seen some of the fantastic work done on Bobby’s cars. So an adventure to pick up a 100S Healey replica and see this shop was all I looked forward to. There was to be more. Much more.

Our journey started at 2:30 AM on a Sunday morning. Snacks, sandwiches, and drinks were already prepared and loaded by Bobby. I brought lots of coffee. We were off. The plan was to hit I 20 before the waking traffic. We succeeded and rolled on and on and on.

When we neared Marshall Texas we started looking for signs for a cabinet business. The last exit for Marshall approached and no such sign was seen. Lady Luck now made a super appearance. Stopping at a convenience store, Bobby asked if anyone knew where Ponder’s cabinet business was.  A kind gent then led us on the side roads back to the first exit and there it was. A huge empty unused building that had once housed Ponder’s cars and business offices. We peeked in and could see nothing. Sadly, we were about to give up.

A door opened. We went to the far end and found a truck and boat – but no person. Another door popped open. And we dashed before it could close. The man inside was Gene Ponder’s son. He made a call and his dad – Gene – asked if it was the Bobby Gunter with the red MGTC. Yes it is and we were invited to the house to see his cars. Glad Bobby was there. I don’t think David Price, ex prez and current MGA owner would have received the same invitation.

The grounds alon
e were amazing. Several bronze statues, waterfalls, and fountains lined the driveway to the house. We followed Gene on his golf cart to the garage. More like a museum. This place was amazing. He led us through and shared information and stories of the cars. He loves sports cars, so I was in heaven. Rare D type, MGA Twin Cams, many T cars, Ferrari, Maserati, Corvette, Porsche, and some replicas of one off cars built from scratch at the body shop we were heading to. Two cars here were hand built from aluminum, one from a tiny model and one from a set of pictures. It was a great visit. Mr. Ponder spent a couple of hours showing us around and even invited our club to come out as a group.

Part two of our trip will be a tour of Gene’s “shop”