Richard Liddick admits he has a problem when it comes to MGs: “I can’t say no.” That’s why he’s Chairman of the North American MGB Register (NAMGBR) and president of MGs of Baltimore, and owns three MGs that he uses for different purposes. “I love that British car owners wave at one another. It’s a real brotherhood,” says the Glen Arm, Maryland resident.
But it took Liddick about two decades to fill that vow. He nearly bought one in the ’70s, but a mechanic cautioned him against the decision. Liddick bought a Chevy Vega instead, a decision he regrets to this day. His whining and longing for a MG got stronger as the years went by; he finally bought a yellow 1976 Midget in 1986.
Liddick added a 1971 MGB GT to the garage as his daily driver in the ’90s, which he enjoys using for camping trips. “You can load up the gear with the hatch,” he says. The he added a 1977 MGB roadster with overdrive and comfortable seats for longer highway trips. He also has a ’69 Austin America, a big brother to the Mini, with the 1275cc engine and a back seat for his daughter. He has a parts car for the Austin too. Oh, and he drives a Land Rover.
But Liddick’s favorite in the stable is still the Midget: “It’s just a fun car.”
As Liddick added to his MG collection, he got more and more involved in the hobby, and the social and support aspects of MG car clubs. His first car show was MGs on the Rocks at Rocks State Park in Jarrettsville, Maryland. “All the models were there and people were selling parts; I was like a kid in a candy shop,” says Liddick. He started helping recruit members and promote the show, and has been president of MGs of Baltimore since 1992. The club now has 160 members and attracts over 250 cars to the show.
A 12-car contingency from the club decided to drive up to the first NAMGBR national convention in Peterboro, Ontario in 1992, and Liddick was part of the entourage. As a result, he joined the North American MGB Register. Since he was experienced promoting his local club, the national organization asked him to handle publicity. He went on to serve two terms as vice chairman, and was recently voted chairman of the organization for a two-year term.
His agenda? More promotion and advertising while keeping dues reasonable, expanding membership, and raising awareness of the marque among younger people. Liddick says it hit him when he went to an auto parts store and told the kid at the counter he needed an oil filter for a MG, and he said, “You mean a GM?” Liddick worries about the future of MG enthusiasts.
For now, Liddick believes MG enthusiasm is as strong as ever, and that the cars seen at events are better than ever. “The beater cars have died and are not on the road. The cars you see now have owners who are committed to keeping them running and in good condition,” he says.
Key to the marque’s strength is the strong club network, Liddick emphasizes. “The nicest thing is the fact that this bunch of people are happy to offer help online or on the phone. Most of the problems are the same; we’ve seen it before. And the advice doesn’t cost anything,” he explains. The Baltimore club even has some specialty tools that members can borrow, including an engine lift and stand.
“Many of us have extra parts that we’re happy to trade to other owners. I’ve taken many MGs apart and have a garage full of parts. I’ve got a stack of wheels that I sell cheap to members,” he says.
There are plenty of other advantages to belonging to a local club too, says Liddick, pointing to the newsletters, event calendar, social activities, road rallies and holiday parties. The club’s TSD event the first Sunday in May is popular.
Membership in the North American MGB Register is also a great value at $30 a year, Liddick adds. Many see the bi-monthly, all-color MGB Driver magazine as a useful resource, especially with John Twist’s explanation of detailed technical issues. Back copies are available; many technical articles are on the website.
There are over 70 local affiliated chapters, regional events around the country and the national convention, which can draw up to 500 MGs. This year’s national convention will take place on the North Shore of Lake Ontario in Belleville June 23 to 27. It’s hosted by the MG Car Club of Toronto.
MG 2011 will take place in Reno, Nevada, June 13 to 17, and will be an all-register meet sponsored by the MG Council, which takes place every five years. Joining the NAMGBR will be the NEMGTR, the NAMGAR, the AMGCR and the NAMMMR; it will be an epic gathering.
Liddick feels more comfortable driving to far-off events thanks to the NAMGBR’s Mutual Aid Directory that lists members around the country willing to help stranded MG drivers get back on the road. It lists shops that can work on the car as well.
Once Liddick was headed to a car show on Prince Edward Island in his MGB, and as he got off the ferry in Nova Scotia, his car started sputtering. He knew he needed a fuel pump, yet he was driving through an area featuring little more than pine trees and log trucks. The network in the Mutual Aid Directory helped him locate an aftermarket fuel pump in a tire shop, and the temporary part got him to the show and home again.
Often problems can be resolved with a little help from your friends.
By Kathleen M. Mangan