Editorial: Drive ‘Em Like You Stole ‘Em?

Some British car owners forget about the “sport” aspect of sportscar ownership. Above and beyond attractive styling, these machines’ allure was world-class performance and handling. Most British sportscars were engineered to go 75 mph down the highways and handle elegantly in the process–not always comfortably, but mechanically capable nonetheless.

Car enthusiasts tend to impose modern expectations on older iron (or tin, in the case of some Brit cars). We’ve become so accustomed to four-wheel disc brakes, multi-port fuel injection, and even heated seats in late-model vehicles that we often drive our newer cars out of convenience or laziness, leaving our classics to collect dust. We view older cars through un-lasiked vision, forgetting their place in the evolution of modern technology. Just as a new supercharged XK8 is engineered to produce impressive times at the track, T-series MGs rolled out of Abingdon with race-ready aspirations.

Moss Motors conducted a survey of our customers’ areas of interest. Modern performance was a common denominator. Each year, we see more owners willing to improve drivability of the cars, rather than a slavish dedication to authenticity. We’ve accepted the challenge: Why shouldn’t older cars be able to benefit from modern technology? As a company we are dedicated to keeping all the parts necessary to restore a car to original specification available, but our customers are demanding options.
The Moss line of MG super-chargers illustrates this commitment to modern performance. These kits are based on the highly efficient Eaton superchargers that come in many current factory-supercharged cars. We’ve also researched retrofit fuel-injection options as a way to improve overall drivability. We haven’t decided if the end justifies the means here yet–just acknowledged that temperamental OE carburetors leave room for improvement.

Vehicle handling is also a paramount concern to our customers. While some enjoy wagging their cars’ tails on pizza-cutter bias-ply tires, others prefer to stuff ’em hard in the corners and really stick through the twisties. Moss’s R&D department is addressing these concerns with such items as bigger-brake kits. Also, we covered the performance advantages of retrofitting radial tires onto British sportscars in the Summer 2004 British Motoring. In a future issue, we intend to address tire/wheel “plus sizing”: Conveniently, our new line of Panasport wheels supports several Plus 1 fitments.

If British sportscars hadn’t been “driven hard and put away wet” decades ago, they wouldn’t be as desirable today. Legends might be born in garages, but they don’t make names for themselves by staying there. Take your car out for some exercise. Try to judge its performance by the standards of its time. If you have trouble doing that, then look into the myriad ways of “resto-modding” it. You might still be a time-traveler, but you’ll be one who accelerates quicker and stops shorter. And who hopefully logs more miles of pure driving ecstasy.

—Kelvin Dodd

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