MGs — A Love Story

Two weeks before I went for my driver’s license exam, I purchased my first car—a British racing green 1966 MGB, the car I had dreamed of owning ever since I could remember. It was 1975 and above my parent’s protestations about my choice of a “dangerous” sports car over the Ford Mustang they had offered to me for free, I convinced my father to co-sign on a loan. With my life savings as a down payment, I became the proud owner of my dream car.

That was the beginning of my enduring, albeit rocky, “love affair” with MGs. I’ll never forget how excited I was the first time I got behind the wooden steering wheel of my MGB. It was a foggy, English night in Whittier, California and the interior smelled damp and musty. My father had bravely volunteered to teach me the rudiments of driving a stick transmission—a far cry from driving his sailing, boat-like 1974 Thunderbird. And a lot more fun.

What was not fun, however, was the first morning I attempted to drive my car to school. Upon trying to stop before turning at the top of our street I had the sensation of mistakenly applying pressure to the clutch and not the brake, when in fact my brakes had simply failed me altogether. And I broadsided a station wagon filled with crying children. While I was relieved that no one was seriously injured, I was dismayed at the sight of the mangled front end of my beloved MG.

Soon I found that MGs are nothing but adventures, both fun and dismaying. Most dismaying was the ongoing challenge of keeping my car up and running. The car looked better than ever alter the body and paint were repaired, but as any new MG owner can attest, it is another matter finding a mechanic who will agree to service your car, much less one who is qualified or talented at it. After three years of owning the car I finally got smart and started dating a British Leyland mechanic!

My B.L. boyfriend spent one whole summer rebuilding my engine (we only got around to seeing one movie during that time!). During its first test drive the engine threw a rod and I had to make the choice of either not continuing my college education due to a lack of transportation, or selling my MG and buying a “sensible” car.

“Sense” won that round and I became the dejected owner of a Datsun. (I also replaced my boyfriend.)

Ten years passed before I dared think of owning another MG, years I had spent driving dull cars like Olds mobiles and Renaults. I was not a little concerned when Mike (my future husband) picked me up for our first date in a beautiful, chocolate brown 1978 MGB. With trepidation I got into the car and when the engine gave its characteristically “upstart” roar and we sped around our first turn in the Hollywood Hills. I got bitten by the “love bug” again (and my estimation of Mike also went up considerably).

I knew I wanted to take a chance on “love” again and, with Mike’s help, started looking for the perfect MG, only this time it had to be an MGA. Our first tiff was over a pitiful rusted-out hulk of an MGA that a guy wanted $2,500 for. Mike convinced me to keep shopping around, and it turned out he was right. Two weeks later we found a pristine, red 1957 (the year I was born!) MGA, and all for the low, low price of $2,800.

As we were engaged to be married, Mike and I had dreams of using our MGA as our “getaway” car, but before we could even consider driving it we had to obtain an antique automobile insurance policy. Such policies have rather stringent requirements proved to be decidedly sticky wickets; one was that you had to belong to an antique car club, and the other was that there was a discrepancy on my pink slip. The car was definitely a 1957 make, but the pink slip said 1956!

Amid nightmares that I may have bought a stolen car, I had it towed with all due haste to the Hollywood DMV where it was determined that it was not stolen. However, after spending the entire day in the hot DMV parking lot with assorted discombobulated DMV officials poking around under the hood, it could never be determined what year the car was actually manufactured. We were now in a race with the altar, our wedding just a few short weeks away. Visions of having to leave the San Juan Capistrano Mission on our wedding day in a funereal-type limousine instead of our zippy MGA haunted us.

In a last attempt to rectify the problem, I called Moss Motors on a hunch and explained the problem to Jack Brady, who was miraculously able to tell me from the vehicle identification number that it was definitely manufactured in 1957. Mr. Brady went so far as to certify this information in a letter to the DMV and our insurance agent. He also referred us to the Long Beach MG Club, which we joined in a hurry.

As you can see from our wedding photo we were able to leave the church and arrive at our wedding reception in the style to which we’ve become accustomed.

Neighbors, family and friends think we are being a tad impractical, relying on two MGs for all our transportation needs. But we have never been without transportation yet. And we have a heck of a lot of fun, whizzing around town in our MGs, with our English Springer Spaniel, Fred’s ears blowing happily in the wind. With our MGs, we are living happily, after all…


By Kathleen Rogers-Venema

Kathleen and Mike are not alone in that their affection for their British sports cars plays a leading role in their relationship. We actually gel dozens of letters and photos showing newly-marrieds in classic British cars!

We wish you both many happy motoring years together!

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