I had a Moss catalog with me in the Middle East and shipped parts to my parents’ house. Returning home, just days after my Desert Storm tour ended with the Army, I tore my car down to its chassis, and the long task of rebuilding and replacing began. I would say the MGA did not experience a restoration. It was a rebuild. At this period in my life, I didn’t have the knowledgeable friends that I have come to rely on today. I did it all with a Haynes manual and a generous amount of whimsy, pixy dust and a ‘this oughta work’ attitude.
There were many things wrong with the car when I took it apart, and it went back together in rather the same fashion, just with newer and shinier parts. It has taken all those years since then to bring the car to what I would now consider the best it’s been since it was new. It has been a journey.
Since the day my daughter Emily was born, she has been riding with me. We would cruise up and down the scenic Columbia River Gorge, go on tours and club rallys—you name it, she and I were there. Emily has become my truest navigator, and even at an age when girls are known to turn their interests to things, well, anything not involving the parents, she still has a sparkle for a spirited drive.
That sparkle had a special shine this year. Moss Motors introduced the Motoring Challenge, a medium for all of us British car victims to take advantage of the fun we let sit in the garage for far too many days of the year. I explained the nature of the Challenge to my 13-year old daughter and the next thing I knew she had a list of the places near (and not so near) our home.
The first opportunity to take a day and go picture taking arrived, and off to Gifford Pinchot National Forest we went, way out in the sticks where a tow truck bill would mean certain poverty. Up into the hills and further and further away, until we finally could go no further due to the snow and debris of the forestry road. We sketched out new courses for small outlying towns like Amboy, Cougar, or View, looking for the perfect sign to cozy up to. Too soon we had used up all the towns in our little neck of the woods. I insisted we were not going to travel 400 miles to get a sign of Idaho. We did however meticulously plan out an elaborate trip to Canada, not only because the ABFM in Vancouver is awesome, and the drive would be epic, the quality time priceless, but also because it had so many opportunities to get more points!
This was going to be the king daddy of road trips for Emily, and I was feeling a bit nauseated at the prospect of travelling over 700 miles in an MG, one that has left me in the lurch on more than a few occasions. We planned to make a four-day trip of it, taking a long snaky route that hit counties and towns and forests and scenic areas. It rained like cats and dogs the entire first day. But we were having such a good time, staying on the back roads as much as possible, getting the elusive ‘Q’ town sign, having to wait for trains to pass, taking ferry boat rides, spying deer and stuffing rags in the places drips were coming through. We were not short on pictures, for sure. I told Emily she was in charge of documentation, and she ran with it.
The Mounties eventually let us into Canada and soon(ish) we were at our destination. Still not even a hiccup from the car, it ran perfectly, even for the hour we idled on the freeway waiting to get through the underwater tunnel. We eventually made it to the Abercorn Inn, the traditional hotel of the meet. Everyone was washing and cleaning their cars in the parking lot. Our car looked like hell from the constant rain and 400+ miles driven. Emily certainly didn’t care, and I really didn’t either, so a simple spray down at the hotel was all the preparation it got for the following day’s car show. It rained most of that day too.
The drive back to Vancouver, Washington was charmed. In perfect harmony, the car ran great, we hit all our Challenge destinations and not a single thing had gone wrong. Heck, it was even sunny upon arrival in our driveway. The MG gods smiled.
Since that trip, we have attended a few other events, historic races, tours and rallys. Emily earned her first ‘First Place’ trophy as rally navigator, and never lets me forget that I was the one who made the errors and I should have listened to her. And she’s right. I cherish these days, I know I am a lucky dad. I sincerely hope that when she looks back on these memories as an adult, the drives in the MG are among her favorites.
Emily is busy with camps and I with more than usual military obligations. But, we are already planning our next venture, a round trip of Eastern Washington/Northern Oregon, going after those last few counties and forests and the one town that has been her ultimate quest since the dawn of this saga – Zillah!—the only ‘Z’ town in Washington. We are going to seize the day. Thank you Moss for making it fun, and for always being there for me from day one, 26 years ago.
By Jeff Snow
In the words of the Navigator herself
Drives with my dad in our MGA are so much fun. Although it rained most of the trip to Canada, we had a blast taking pictures on the side of the freeway (which I do not like to do because I feel like everybody is staring at me, but I do it anyways to get the points—haha). When I’m in the picture I always try to find something different to do. We took a route out of our way just to make it more fun (and longer), and it makes everything better when you get to miss school.
We have so much fun in the car. Whether we’re waking up early just to go for a morning trip for coffee or out for an adventure, I love it. I always have fun when I’m in the passenger seat, but it makes it ten times more fun when he’s sitting in the passenger seat and I’m driving! On one special occasion this summer, I was sitting in the car at Portland International Raceway near a big open field out towards the back of the track and he was taking pictures of his car (like always) and then he told me to turn on the car and then taught me how to drive! For that whole race we didn’t even watch but it was totally worth it!
Back to the Canada trip…when we were on our way over one of the floating bridges early on day two, my dad woke me up and said I should take a video. So since I was still half asleep, the whole video was of the guardrail. My dad laughed at me the whole trip. I have so much fun in the MGA (hopefully someday to be mine).
~ Emily Snow