Week 4’s winner is….
Corona Competitionentry, week 4
By Ed Rosenquist
This story begins in 1969 when I was transferred from St. Louis to New York City. Kaye and I found home in Connecticut and I planned to commute to the City on the old New Haven Railroad. This required Kaye, along with our one year old son, to drive me to the train station in our only car every morning and then pick me up in the evening. This was especially trying since, in the evening, the train could be one to two hours late with no notification. The train station closed in the afternoon and cell phones didn’t exist then. It quickly become apparent that we had to get a second car. As the trip was only three miles and I had always wanted an MG TF, that was going to be my station car.
I found a TF in New Jersey for $1100. The car had been driven hard and left outside under a tarp. It was in bad shape and the lights were not in good working order. After spending most of a weekend getting the lights working, Kaye took the car to the state inspection station to get it registered. I asked her to stop about a block before the station and check that the lights were still working. If a light was stubborn, she was to just tap on the fender and it would come on. Of course she didn’t do that, but instead just pulled into the station and, when one of the lights was out, asked the inspector to tap the fender. Much to my surprise he did tap on the fender, the lights all came on and the inspector passed the car with the advice, “Have your husband work on this car.” This was my wife’s first frustration with the TF and not the last.
A couple of weeks later after tracking down most of the TF’s problems, we went on a Sunday afternoon drive. The car ran out of gas on the Merritt Parkway. Someone gave me a ride to a gas station and, when I returned with a can of gas, I found Kaye and our son sitting on a hill next to the very busy Parkway, looking perturbed. Over the next two years living in Connecticut there were many similar incidents, but they happened at the train station and fortunately didn’t involve Kaye. A typical comment from commuters was, “I owned one of those damn cars. Let me let help you get on the road.”
The story doesn’t end in Connecticut. In 1970 I was transferred to Houston, where I later joined the Houston MG Car Club, and then in 1973 returned to St. Louis. In Houston I was in a car pool and the TF was driven only on weekends. Back in St. Louis, however, I needed to drive our only reliable car to work since it was 45 miles from home. And here is where Kaye and the TF created more fond memories. We now had two children and Kaye was eight months pregnant. One day she needed go to the grocery store so she piled the two kids into the TF. After shopping, the car wouldn’t start. She called me at work and, knowing the battery terminals were a little corroded, I suggested she take off a shoe and tap the terminals. You can imagine her response, and some kind soul offered her a ride home. When I got home we retrieved the car from the grocery store parking lot. Tapping on the terminals did get the car started.
Two weeks later Kaye got adventurous again, piled the kids back into the car and went off to the grocery store. Once again, the car would not start after shopping. This time when she described the problem to me over the phone, I realized the starter wouldn’t engage. Even though the TF was parked on a hill, she declined to start the car by rolling it down the hill. That weekend we went out and bought a second reliable car.
From this you can understand how the poor little TF got its nickname DAMN IT. The story doesn’t end here. A few weeks later Kaye parked the TF out in the driveway and put a FOR SALE sign on the windshield. Despite living on a quiet street, within a couple of hours someone stopped to inquire about the car. Kaye was totally baffled that anyone would be interested in DAMN IT.
Today we still own that same car, and it has gone through two total restorations.