MGB and Its Impact on Me

I’ve thought a lot about this—anguished over it really. It is so hard for me to separate MGB from MG. The MGB has been the driving force of my business.

We all enjoy the T-Series; love the curves of the MGAs; find the sedans from Ys to 1300s fascinating; wonder how the MGC was panned by the motoring press; are amazed how we ever fit into a Midget; but it’s the MGB which is the most wonderful, the most versatile of all the MGs. Top down or in a GT, the MGB gives the owner a true sports car experience at a very low price.

There will always be the jokes. MG = mostly gray, mostly geezers, money gone. Grains of truth, sure, but not the whole story. More importantly, like a good friend the MGB can laugh at itself.

I’ve had customers married near their MGBs. I’ve had customers die in MGBs. I can’t say I’ve had customers who were conceived in MGBs, but there have been conversations that lead me to suspect a few of their kids were. I had a customer in the shop about a year ago. We were talking about the MGBs in our youth. I remarked that they were good pick up cars. The story he proceeded to share that involved standing on the seats was, to put it lightly, too much information.

My first date with my wife was in an MGB with no interior and loose seats.

My late wife, Caroline Robinson, and I purchased a Harvest Gold 1973 MGB/GT with about 60,000 on the clock in 1983. We refreshed that GT, added overdrive, and used it as a daily driver, summer-fall-winter-spring, for 15 years. With the fresh air vent open, it cooled satisfactorily in the warm weather; with the radiator 2⁄3 covered with cardboard, it kept us warm in the winter. I want to say that winter driving was the most fun. It would slip and slide on the road—but I never got stuck. Temporarily immobile, certainly, but by engaging first, pulling the choke out a little to raise the rpm, rocking the car from some snowy rut, then jumping in before it got away from you. What fun!

We drove that GT to Florida and back, twice. Once childless, once two years later with a year-old toddler.

That GT was rusty on the undercarriage when we bought it. It didn’t heal. Even though we’d kept the paint bright and the mechanicals and interior in great condition, the frame finally had rotted out so badly the car couldn’t be saved. It was a sad day when we retired that GT and sold it, piece by piece on eBay.

Eight years later my wife was diagnosed with lung cancer. We all knew the eventual outcome. My daughter said to me, “Daddy, the only thing Mom wants is her GT back.” Now, reassembling the original GT was an impossibility, but finding another was not. We looked through our customer files and found a rust-free Harvest Gold 1973 MGB/GT with disc wheels and overdrive. I purchased it from the owner’s wife, as he, too, was slipping from his earthly bonds but with frontal lobe dementia. As he was drifting from reality, he had stripes painted on the car and adorned it with decals and stickers. To cover the creases in the bonnet when it let loose one day, he had installed hood scoops. I purchased the car, placed a bow on it, and parked it in our garage. Caroline was both appreciative and aghast. The GT truly was garish.

My memory is that she never even sat in the vehicle; my daughter claims that her mother drove it once. Somewhere between those narrow boundaries lies the truth. My younger son loved it. He drove it to school, but now he is in Afghanistan. The GT sits in our showroom, stripped down, waiting for paint. There was no cure for Caroline’s illness, but the GT sits in our showroom, waiting only for paint and my time.

It will forever remind me of Caroline.

By John Twist

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'MGB and Its Impact on Me' has 1 comment

  1. May 8, 2012 @ 10:08 am Alan Vinegar

    I just bought a 1974 MGB GT last summer and am lovingly trying to keep it looking and driving for years to come. I have been viewing your University Motors videos and reading your story was so moving. My licence plate is LVMY BGT. I will add a little bit of your story about Caroline to my appreciation of my GT. Wishing you all the best. Alan


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