The winner of week 6 is….
Corona Competitionentry, week 6
By David Thomas
My wife Petunia and I were born and educated in the former British colony of Ceylon (renamed Sri Lanka in 1972), where British cars made up about 50% of the vehicles on the roads in the 1950s through the early 1960s. My grandfather purchased a 1947 Morris 8 saloon car in 1949, and it stayed with him through 1978, when I sold it for him with 99,000 miles on the odometer. I recall watching horse races in 1962 from the public road outside the fence at the Colombo Racecourse, sitting on the roof of that car. Those were the days that you could sit on a tire by the mechanic and watch brake jobs, decarbonizing, body work, painting, etc. During the next few years, I would ride my bicycle to the repair garage that looked after the 1954 family Opel Caravan, and would watch as Austin, Ford Anglia/Prefect/Popular, Hillman, Humber, Morris Minor, Rover, and Vauxhall cars were worked on, along with Audi, DKW, Mercedes, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Skoda, Volkswagen and others. Petunia’s parents owned a 1952 Wolseley 4/50 until they migrated to the USA in 1993.
It was about 1968 and I had a school friend whose father was Chairman of a dealership for Riley, MG, Holden, and Buick. One day the father sent over a new MGB GT that his son was to ride home in. I was offered a ride, too, and got to squeeze into the back seat along with another teenage classmate. I was thrilled, and thought that the steering wheel and dashboard were just beautiful. Around the same time, somebody came to our home in an immaculate 1953 MG TD that had been restored for his daughter as a wedding present. I thought to myself that I would one day like to own one of those cars. It took me just 40 years for that to come through, as a 55th birthday gift!
College, first job, marriage, and two kids came along next, with an intercompany transfer to the USA in 1986. Petunia and I arrived at IAH on 26th March ’86, with two large bags, two kids (4 & 2 years old), and $2000 to begin life in the USA. We went straight to the little house rented and furnished for us in The Woodlands, and the next day a brand new 1986 Ford Escort wagon was delivered to us. Ten years later I did look at a MG TD, but it did not join the family; there were more pressing matters at hand. By 2001, we had two cars in the family. The two kids took the ’94 Mazda Protégé to school each day, while Petunia had the 2000 Chrysler 300M; I had to coordinate rides for myself.
One day in 2001, sometime after 9/11, Petunia saw an ad for a 1971 MGB on her company’s intra-web. That car had been purchased new by a young lady in 1971, who went on honeymoon in it a year later, and turned it over to her son when he turned 16. He used it for 10-12 years, and offered it for sale after a minor collision, as is. We bought the car, did some work on it including bodywork and touchup painting, and voila! — I had my own car to go to and from work, 15 miles round trip. Since the car was parked indoors at both home and work, the top hardly went up.
Well, time marched on, and both kids were off to college and subsequently med schools. Our son took the MG down to Rice University one day for a game, and scared Petunia no end. He casually mentioned that the car was just about the right height to change lanes on I-45 by passing under the trailer of an 18-wheeler!
In 2008, I saw a posting for a 1953 MG TD, did my due diligence on it, and was the winning bidder. The car was located in Daphne, Alabama, near Mobile, and I went and saw it right before Hurricane Ike. It was my first drive in a MG TD! I returned for the car three to four weeks later with a trailer in tow. One of the first things I did was to install a negative ground cigarette lighter, for Petunia to plug in her negative ground electric blanket! The fact that the dashboard in the TD is very similar to what was in my grandfather’s Morris 8 brings me great delight.
A few years later, we felt that it was time to improve the MGB, so I took it over to 5R Restorations for new floorboards, wiring, and rear suspension improvements. When it got back, I installed new upholstery, steering wheel, changed out the Rostyle wheels for wire wheels, and made other improvements. We now enjoy both MGs, and Petunia and I look forward to participating in more of the HMGCC activities from about June 2021—when we won’t be spending so much time away from home watching over grandkids in St Louis. We expect that the two MGs will ultimately be in the hands of those two grandsons, currently three years & one year old!