It’s Like Dog Years…But for Cars.

Sitting behind the wheel of an MG TC, for ten hours, one has the opportunity to contemplate. Contemplate at least, between moments of stark terror, as the car lurches about in a never-ending desire to escape the leash. Why is this taking so long?

Only a few hours into a 470 mile drive from Petersburg, VA to Watkins Glen, NY, I found myself routinely glancing over to the odometer. How far have we come? How long did it take? Why does every mile in a TC take so freaking long? To us, a dog’s life rushes by, but no doubt, in her own mind it’s just idling along.

You know where this is going, right? Einsteinian physics, of course. I’m thinking of those Discovery shows with ethereal background music and some scientist telling us about how time, among other things, gets wonky near the event horizon. Well, the horizon of my event, the Collier Brothers Memorial Trophy race at Watkins Glen, appears to be forever stretching out into the distance…

Excuse me, must have been blasted by cosmic rays. I’m back now. After the trip to Mars, err, the Glen, I’ll be hopping in my TR4 for a ride out to the Vintage Triumph Register event in Dobson, SC. I swear it feels as if a mile in the TC is like a mile and a half in a TR4. Hmmm. To be honest, even a mile in the TR4 feels like about two and a quarter miles in a modern car. There must be something to this. Later on, I got to doodling in the bar at the Seneca Lodge, and worked out the math.

According to my calculations, every mile in a TC is like 3.375 miles in a modern car. My one day trip in the TC, 470 MCM (Modern Car Miles), is in reality about 470 X 3.375 = 1,586 MG TC miles. No wonder my butt is so tired. That’s a long day’s drive in any machine. The mathematicians in the audience are all screaming about how I dropped a quarter mile off this last calculation. My excuse: The TC has a clockwork speedometer. On most of these cars, the odometer is probably accurate once every 100,000 miles. No, I don’t know which kind of miles those would be.

The point of all this is to prepare everyone for next year’s Motoring Challenge. You see, we’ve decided crotchety old cars, those manufactured before about 1960, are far more difficult to live with over long distances, and deserve their own award for garnering the most points. A TC doesn’t care how long it took to cover the last mile, or the next, but the driver sure does.

By the time anyone actually reads this, the 2014 Motoring Challenge winner will have been determined. Insider knowledge suggests to me it could well be a pre-1960 car, putting everything I’ve just said in jeopardy. Then again, folks crossed the US in covered wagons, so it could happen. I wonder if those wagons rode better than a TC? The suspension was every bit as sophisticated, and it probably took less time to erect the top.

For the next installment, we’ll do some computational fluid dynamics work, and see if we can determine why all the rain that hits a TC windshield enters the cockpit between the windshield frame and top, directly over the wiper motor. And, we’ll also have advice for passengers. “Don’t wipe the water off the dash. You’ll just use up all the paper towels and it’ll still drip in your lap.” A little dog slobber never hurt anyone.


Robert Goldman

'It’s Like Dog Years…But for Cars.' has 1 comment

  1. March 3, 2015 @ 12:16 pm Len Bonnay

    Ah! Come on Robert! Al drove the TC across the continent on more than one occasion. That means from Southern California to Toronto. Us young guys must be getting soft.


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