This week’s winner is….
The Unplanned Adoption of Tiffany
Corona Competitionentry, week 8
by Bob Chalker (with incredible patience from Kim Chalker)
In 2014 we became the unplanned owners of Tiffany, an Aqua 1972 MGB, our first MG, actually our first classic car of any type. Our love affair started when I spotted an article titled, “Five Classic Cars You Can Buy for Under $5000.” Well, as a car guy, I couldn’t resist reading the article. You see, I spent 23 years of my career working in the auto industry. Now, I have to admit it had been a long time since I considered buying a classic car and I had sort of lost track of pricing… but under $5000, how could I not take a peek? To my surprise, on the list was the MGB. I found it hard to believe and was intrigued enough to go to eBay and check out the claim.
Sure enough, I found several rubber bumper MGBs listed for under $5000. They were of all colors– yellow, red and white. The red one looked nice and I knew my wife, Kim, always liked red sports cars. So I hauled my iPad over to where she was sitting and showed her the car. She looked up and said, “Well, that’s nice, but I really like that one,” pointing to the car that eventually would become our beloved Tiffany. That led to my second surprise of the morning; when I suggested putting in a bid, she didn’t say no. So being someone who doesn’t miss an opportunity, I did some quick research to get an idea of what a reasonable price might be. This is where I learned my first lesson of MGB ownership. Those chrome bumpers are worth about $7000. Once I made up my mind on what I wanted to pay, I set my max bid and watched the auction over the next couple of days. To my surprise I was the high bidder but, to my disappointment, I was not above the auction reserve price. I thought the deal was done, as I was not going higher.
Then a day or so later, I received an email through eBay, asking if I was still interested in the car. Well, of course I was, so I replied. The seller and I exchanged a few emails about the vehicle through which I asked him all kinds of questions about its condition, drivability, history, etc. We also came to agreement on a price with the caveat that the car must be in the condition he described. Now came the next challenge; the vehicle was in Colorado and we were here in Houston. I decided it would be a good idea to let Kim know that we may have just bought a car and that she might be flying to Denver with me to pick it up.
We arrived in Denver on a very, very early flight, rented a car, and headed out to the home of the seller, approximately an hour up the road. When we saw the car, it was love at first sight. We checked her out all over, using my kitchen magnet to search out rust. We then headed out on a test drive. Boy, did she run great. The engine purred (well, actually rumbled as she needed a new muffler) and the transmission shifted like butter. The car was as good as the owner had described.
We loaded her up with our luggage, which wasn’t much, and headed south for our 1000 mile trip back home. Now at this point all of you experienced MG owners are saying, “Are you crazy, you drove a 40 year old MG that you know nothing about, 1000 miles across open country?” “What do you mean you didn’t have a mechanic check it out first?” “Why didn’t you rent a truck or trailer to bring it home?” “You could have shipped it?” Did I mention that I really knew nothing about MGs or classic cars? If I knew then what I know now, I would have done one of those things, but I didn’t. I was blessedly Naive.
We made the trip, taking back roads the whole way, and Tiffany ran flawlessly. We stopped at a hotel for the night and I have to admit I was up every hour or two looking out the window to see if she was still there. It also got a bit hot driving across central Texas on a late spring afternoon. On this trip I learned my next lesson of MG ownership. Everywhere you stop, people want to talk to you about the car. If you are pumping gas or eating at a restaurant, plan on it taking much longer than it should as you will be the most popular person in the parking lot.
Kim and I are not necessarily the adventurous types, but this trip—going from not even thinking about owning a MG to being the happy owners of Tiffany in less than six days—has put us on an adventurous road filled with great cars, good friends, fun road trips and a tremendous amount of learning about cars.