Let me say right now that I am a product of my upbringing. Any foolish notions that I have towards British sports cars are all inherited from my father (and mother, to a lesser extent). Now that my disclaimer has been disclaimed, let me tell you a story…
There once was a boy who had a demented father. This man would buy any broken-down British sports car under the premise that he would restore it completely back to its original beautiful condition. This included Austin-Healey 100-4s and 3000 Mk IIs, Sunbeam Alpines, several Jaguars, MG TDs, and MG TCs.
Once a car was bought, it usually sat in the driveway doing nothing but drip oil and brake fluid while he bragged about it to his buddies. At one time, there were seven cars in the driveway and not one of them would start, but I digress. This young boy was highly influenced by his father whenever he saw him halfway under a car working on brakes or listening to him swear at something under the hood. This man didn’t know it, but he was creating a monster. To make a long story short, most cars were resold in either the same or slightly better condition.
One day when the son was about 16 years old, his father came home and said, “Come on, son, help me go pick up a ’69 MGB that I just bought for $400.” This father kindly let the son drive the ‘B home, where it promptly broke down.
At this point I need to add a little background to the story. This was a musical family. The mother and father were professional violists and violinists respectively, so, of course, the son played the violin.
One day the mother said to the boy, “Son, I don’t think you have been practicing enough for your high school all-state orchestra audition. I’ll bet you $100 that you don’t make Concert Master when you audition.”
The father overheard this and said, “I’ll top that. I’ll bet you the MGB that you don’t make Concert Master this year at all-state orchestra.”
Well, the naive boy should have taken his mother’s bet (obviously the wiser deal). But, the son was a product of his upbringing, so he took his father’s bet, practiced hard, and, sure enough, he won the bet. At this point he was at the mercy of his father, because he could not fix the car or pay to have it fixed. The father had pity on the son and got the car running.
The boy was in heaven. He and his friends would run around town thinking that they were the coolest thing since Elvis. The main problem was that the car was broken down more than it ran. (Sound familiar?) This boy also had another problem. His girlfriend. This wonderful little car was, of course, British Racing Green. Unfortunately, his girlfriend hated the color green and despised convertibles because they messed up her hair. Needless to say, they did not stay together very long (the boy and girl, of course).
Over the next four to five years, the car slowly become mechanically stable (as stable as an MGB can be). The car survived some incredible trips, including a two-day drive from Jackson, Mississippi, to Tampa, Florida, and a trip from Tampa to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, where the boy and his ‘B spent a summer. There he found a girl that loved his car. They spent many an hour touring the mountain roads and the Blue Ridge Parkway. If you have never toured the mountains in an open British sports car, you have not lived. When you combine the mountain air, beautiful scenery, and the sounds only British cars can make, you experience a sensation that is beyond words. The boy finally learned why his father was the way he was, and was indebted to him for passing on a sense of freedom that so few people ever experience.
The story is not quite over. The son, 24 years old and mature for his years, embarks on the quest of buying a new car because his MGB is growing unstable once again. Well, the father, being who he is, suggests that the son take out a much smaller loan and rebuild his MGB instead of buying a new car. The son, being who he has grown to be, foolishly agrees, and is now in the process of rebuilding his ‘B back to its original, beautiful condition. The boy has vowed never to sell his ‘B because he has heard too many “I wish we still had that car” stories. By the way, now that the father’s kids are out of college, he is starting to look for another project. I guess we’ll never learn, will we, Dad?
—Charles Huthmaker, Peachfree MG Registry, Atlanta, Georgia.