Through the Windscreen: Winter 1999

So we come to the end of a century which, among other things, has seen the birth of flight, man on the moon, the extinction of the traditional British motor industry, plus many other momentous events. But it’s not all doom and gloom. (Although, according to some pundits, this may be the last column you’ll ever see from me if the world really does end at midnight on December 31, 1999!)

The one thing we do know is that the enthusiasm of the British car movement, like the Energizer Bunny, just keeps on going and going! I have no reason to believe that this will not continue well into the next century, given the dedication and sheer love that you all put into your little British cars. After over half a century, you can rest assured that Moss Motors will be here to give you the essential back up and advice that you need to get the utmost enjoyment out of your treasures.

We enjoyed a super trip to “foreign” parts this past summer by traveling up to MG ’99 in Vancouver, but not in the Mossmobile, in our own little 1962 MGB! Over 2,000 miles top down, all the way up Highway 1 by the restless ocean before traveling the scenic Redwood Highway in Oregon and then through Washington to beautiful British Columbia. It is no idle boast they have on their license plates—it really is spectacular—and our journey to Whistler Mountain on Highway 99 is what top down British motoring is all about! Everyone should take this trip at least once in their lifetime. An added bonus was the visit to Peter Welch’s private MG collection. This trip coming on the heels of our terrific Buttonwillow Extravaganza and our hugely successful Wings & Wheels event has seen 1999 as a banner year for Moss (including record sales!) and personally one of the most satisfying times of my geriatric life!

On a rather sadder note, 1999 saw the temporairily (we hope!) cessation of the highly successful University Motors MG Summer Party in Grand Rapids. John Twist and his wife Caroline have annually put on a real spectacular which has grown from the humble beginnings which we first attended, to become the largest gathering of MGs on the North American continent. We hope you enjoy your sabbatical, John. Thanks for the memories, and we look forward (maybe) to a reunion in a few years’ time!

In this, my last column of the old year, can I use a little space to mention a couple of my pet peeves? The first one is my total distaste of “trailer queens,” vehicles which are trailered to events with the sole purpose of entering and winning a particular class without the wheels ever touching the ground until arrival at the show site. For heaven’s sake, British sports cars were meant to be driven!

Let me hasten to add that I’m not referring to the cars trailered to be displayed which are of significant or historical interest. For example, one couldn’t reasonably expect the MG Liquid Suspension Indy Special to be driven to a meeting. (Although Colin Fitzgerald had no hesitation in driving a highly historic car, the very first MG TA #0251, to the show in Vancouver!) One can still enter a car show and present the car to the judge(s) even though it may have been driven a considerable distance to the event, say from Florida to Canada, and one can still be successful come showtime!

I speak from experience here. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, as a regular on the British show circuit, I entered the competition circuit with either a ’74 MGB or a 74 MGB/GT V8. Sometimes both, if my son was available to drive one of the cars! They were never trailered but always driven to wherever the event was, through whatever weather was encountered, and the weather could be a bit of a nuisance in England! But we cleaned them up and were eventually successful at the highest level. There’s a great deal of satisfaction in knowing you’ve driven there and beaten the “trailer queen” parked next to you!

Al Moss, our founder, says he’s opening a new business selling just two products, both in spray cans. One is a bug spray for trailered show entries, whereby you actually spray bugs on the front of the car half a mile from the show site and drive it in to show people what you’ve been through! The complimentary product, also in a tin, is actual road tar, again to be applied so that people can witness you clean it all off! Maybe we should have two classes for future events—Trailered versus Driven? What’s your opinion?

My second pet peeve is car shows held in multi-story car parks. I’ve attended a few of these over the years, one in Atlanta, another in Harrisburg, and each time I end up thinking, “Can’t the organizers find a couple of acres of grass on which to put these fine cars?” I don’t mind funkhanas being held on the roof of such structures, but desirable cars deserve a desirable setting, and shouldn’t be tucked away in the gloom of the third floor where photography is impossible and the cars difficult to evaluate for voting! These locations, in my opinion, are just not fair to the people who’ve taken the time and the trouble to present their cars in the best possible light for public appraisal. As always, your comments on my moans will be welcomed.

All the very best for the new century to each and every one of you, and I’m sure we’ll be meeting on the road somewhere! Above all, please do drive safely into the new millennium!

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