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  • May 15, 2020 9:54 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    This week’s winner is….

                                          Bob Chalker!

    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.

  • May 12, 2020 6:05 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    First Zoom Pub Quiz held

    Saturday, May 9, 2020

    During the Saturday morning Zoom session, a dozen or so members gathered on our screens and two teams sought their best collective answers in their virtual break-out rooms. Twenty MG-related questions, some with 2 or 3 responses required, were to be answered, such as: 

    Q: What was the old speckled hen?  

    A: 1) the factory parts car that spent too much time near the paint booth; 2) a premium bitter beer first brewed in 1979 in Abingdon to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the MG car factory

    Q: Which brewery produced this beer?

    A: Morlands 

    The competition was close but the winning team claimed 22 points out of a possible 33 correct answers. With a little more time, both teams would have done much better.  

    The winning team included:  Marius Chanson, Jim Chase, Jim Early and Dwight Dawson.  

  • May 07, 2020 6:31 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    This week’s winner is….

                                          Vernon Jones!

    Spring Break 1975

    Corona Competitionentry, week 7

    by Vernon Jones

    I first made the decision to attend college out of state at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The Arkansas back roads were great fun to drive in my 1957 MGA, but you just couldn’t buy a beer in that town as a freshman. And I had my first real girlfriend at home. So, having my priorities as I did at that time in my life, I made the move back in-state to the University of Oklahoma after my freshman year. By March it was appearing that my third major was actually going to work out (mechanical engineering, a vocation in no small part dictated by my first MG— but that’s another story). I maneuvered my brother out of his 1966 MGB after he dropped out of college, convincing Dad that I needed the “newer” car.

    Spring Break was here! A group trip was planned for about a dozen of us to caravan to Texas’ South Padre Island and stay in a motel right on the beach. The caravan shaped up with my white with red upholstery/wire wheeled/wood plank mounted 8 track player-equipped MGB; a ’66 VW with interior air flow enhanced by a rotted out bonnet seal; a robin’s egg blue Plymouth Duster that was the only new car in the pack; and others I can’t remember, but all well-used and all unlikely to make the 1,500+ mile round trip without mechanical difficulties.

    My car, as the only convertible, was clearly the most desirable way to make this trip. I had no shortage of offers from others to drive it, and I coolly agreed as a means to build favors that might come in handy during the coming week.

    Sadly, by San Antonio I had run out of drivers and even my girlfriend refused to ride with me. It seems the ride was just too harsh. How could this be? Just the month before, I had “rebuilt” the seat suspensions because the spring mounted rubber diaphragms underlying the upholstered padded seat bottoms had rotted to collapse. My solution seemed so elegant and expeditious! I simply crisscrossed the bottom seat frame with a weave of nylon straps that were pop-riveted into position. The whole fix had taken less than an hour. Unfortunately, the 1-¾ hour drive from home in Tulsa back to school in Norman had not been quite long enough to reveal the shortcomings of my solution.

    The seven hours after San Antonio were brutal, even with the cast iron ass I possessed at the time. My inebriations over the course of Spring Break week were largely an effort to forget about the upcoming drive back to Norman. In the course of the beach partying I also got the worst sunburn of my life, adding yet more misery to the trip back.

    I required many, many stops on the way home. I had no trade offer valuable enough to entice alternate drivers. By San Antonio my friends (and girlfriend!) could no longer take my whining and solicitations at the too-frequent stops. I never saw them on the rest of the road north or until school restarted the next week. 

    I still have that 1966 MGB. To this day I sometimes run across a little collection of sand in the trunk, a corner of the floor pan, or a crevice in the engine compartment, and think back to that hard party trip. If only I could remember all the fun they told me I had that week!

  • May 04, 2020 7:40 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Rain drops keep falling…

    Corona Competition entry, week 7

    by Dave Renner

    Back in the early 1990s, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with my MG Car Club friend and cinematographer Gary Watson on creating a documentary film about the history of the MG Car Company, known as Inside the Octagon. I played several roles during that experience, but none more memorable than the time I drove with Linda in our 1974 MGB while Gary filmed us on our way into downtown Houston on I-45 from Houston Avenue to Pierce Street.

    Gary intended this segment to describe the ongoing roadworthiness of the MGB in contemporary traffic of the time. While the oldest MGB was most of 30 years old by then, the final version was less than 15 years old. Our MGB was still a barely well broken in used car to us. Gary’s approach involved filming our car from multiple vantage points, which would be edited together to show a carefree drive into the city.

    The plan was for Shot One to be created using a camera secured on our boot rack so he could film over our shoulders as we happily cruised down the freeway. Shot Two would be filmed driving the same stretch of road with Gary shooting beside us from the open door of a van. Shot Three would retrace the route one more time, with Gary shooting from an overpass looking down as we drove under. Melded together, the three views would portray a happy couple enjoying a delightful afternoon of open top motoring. We imagined shades of Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe, cheerily driving an MGTD in the movie Monkey Business. What could possibly go wrong?

    Linda and I met Gary and his wife Roz one overcast Saturday morning at the McDonald’s restaurant on Houston Ave, ready to make our movie debuts. He securely lashed his precious and valuable 16mm camera to the rack and explained that he would start the camera just before we left the parking lot; he would then follow us to another lot just off the exit ramp on Pierce St, where he would hop out of his car and turn off the camera. He did not have the luxury of a remote control for the camera— tight budget, you know.

    On cue, Gary turned on the camera and we accelerated smoothly toward the entrance ramp for I-45. As we pulled into traffic on the highway, a fine mist began to fall. In the spirit of the scene, Linda and I chatted to each other as if we didn’t have a care in the world. As we drove along, however, the mist became a sprinkle, and the sprinkle a drizzle. Did I mention that there was no exit ramp until we got to the Pierce exit? No way out. We were committed.

    We did our best to pretend to be having a wonderful time as the drizzle turned into a steady downpour. Caught on film was the rain running steadily down our noses and our hair becoming elegantly plastered to our heads. I finally gave up and turned on the windshield wipers when I could no longer see the road. All pretense was abandoned. By the time we got off of I-45 there was not a bit of film that could be used. When we came to a halt, Gary rushed up to turn off the camera and cover it from the rain. Linda and I leaped out of the MG, put the top up and stood dripping in the parking lot, too late to worry about being wet.

    Not much was said as we parted company after the camera was removed from the car. We agreed that a reshoot was no doubt in order, once a weekend with a better forecast should arrive. That did happen and the shoot went without incident, but the best shots never made it into Inside the Octagon. Too bad really.

    Getting ready for a dry run

  • May 02, 2020 11:17 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    If you missed the May monthly meeting here is a link to the video recording :


    Safety fast!


  • May 01, 2020 8:29 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    The winner of week 6 is….

                                          David Thomas!

    MG Dreams

    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!

  • April 30, 2020 8:23 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Houston MG Car Club and the Corona Virus

    During the vexing times forced upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Houston MG Car Club has continued as the “Marque of Friendship” by seeking ways to bring club life closer-to-normal for members and friends.

    With time on our hands, we continue to challenge each other to share our MG-related stories for the digital newsletter, THE ROARS, with a timely reward to entice us. Virtual events via Zoom have offered online tech sessions, monthly member meetings, and even a proper “pub quiz.” While perhaps not providing the usual face-to-face camaraderie, these have been welcome substitutes for our normally scheduled events.

    We eagerly invite you to participate in these events. Just go to http://Zoom.us and set up a free account. Then send an email to Houstonmgcarclub@gmail.com requesting you be added to our email list. You will automatically receive Zoom sign-in information for any upcoming events. You may also find a listing of times and topics for upcoming events on the Events section of the website (houstonmgcc.com).

    The economic impact of COVID-19 in our area has been more severe than in many of the world’s other large cities due to our dependence on the oil and gas industry. In our “shut-down” state, world oil prices have plummeted to the lowest level in decades. To reach beyond ourselves, the HMGCC has responded to assist those hit hardest in our community by providing a charitable contribution to the Houston Food Bank. They do sterling work to provide food and vital services to many local residents devastated by job loss and severe reduction in income. We are proud to support the Houston Food Bank.

    I wish to thank the Board of Directors and Officers of the Club for all of their hard work during these trying times. We all wish the best for each of you and your families as we move forward to brighter days. 

    Safety Fast!

    Mike Woodward, President

    Houston MG Car Club

  • April 29, 2020 12:42 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

     Corona Competition entry, week 6

    by Scott Hardy

  • April 25, 2020 1:15 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Club gatherings via  http://zoom.us continue to be successful and well-attended.  Our last event was an open tech session that included discussion on carburetors, brake systems, how to increase horsepower on an MGB and more.

    A link to the session is here : https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/play/vJMpc-37qmk3HYHDuASDBP5-W9S4LP-s1SEbqaYLzBnhVSQHYQX1ZrQSMLHVAI1WHlmdTj6Ubfu6qOS9

    The next event is our MG Club Virtual Monthly Meeting for May.

    Time: May 2, 2020 10:00 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

    To participate just obtain a free account at http://zoom.us and then log on to Zoom using the meeting ID and password that will be emailed to you if you are on the club’s email list.

    – If you want to be added to the club's email list, email us at  mailto:houstonmgcarclub@gmail.com

      Zoom is easy but if you would like to learn more about how to Zoom in, you can contact Mike Woodward or Dwight Dawson.

    Safety fast!


  • April 24, 2020 2:52 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    The winner of week 5 is….

                                          Mike Woodward!

    Why Do I Have Such Poor Acceleration?

    Corona Competitionentry, week 5

    By Mike Woodward

    Several years ago I sold my MGTD trailer queen and replaced it with my current 1980 MGBLE, which was and is a driver’s car as opposed to a concours car. Upon opening the bonnet (‘hood’ for you Colonials), I noticed that the distributor body was damaged and that one of the clips that is supposed to hold the distributor cap in place was missing. An enterprising previous owner had solved this problem with a bungee cord! Not wanting to have my driver’s car stranded on the side of the road with a failed bungee cord, I elected to replace the distributor with a complete brand new distributor from Pertronix.

    I installed the new distributor and then set the timing at idle, per the book, with my conventional timing light; turned the key, and it started right up and idled perfectly. I then proceeded to drive the car all over Texas and it ran smoothly with no obvious problems.

    Three years later, with the help of club member Dwight Dawson, I went to Weatherford, Texas to trailer home (dare I say) a 1979 Triumph Spitfire that was in need of some serious TLC. Several months after that, the Triumph was ready for the road and so I took it for a spin. I noticed immediately that this car accelerated far quicker than the MGBLE, despite only having a 1500cc engine instead of the 1800 cc in the MG. It appeared something may not be quite right with the MG.

    A couple of weeks later I attended a tech session put on by club member Ron Redding. On the way to Ron’s shop I was following six other MGBs, all of whom left me in the dust. Something was definitely wrong with my MGB!!!

    I started to check what could be the cause of the problem and noticed that when the engine speed increased, the ignition timing did not alter. I realized that for 3-1/2 years I had been driving a car with a non-functioning centrifugal advance mechanism in the distributor. By this time the warranty on the Pertronix was well out of date. I elected to buy a used 25D distributor on eBay and install an Accuspark electronic module in it, thereby having the reliability of modern electronics but for a total parts cost of $65 instead of the $200 I had paid for the Pertronix.

    Next came the question as to whether the centrifugal advance on the replacement unit was working, and also what amount of advance I was getting at full engine speed. Enter the setback timing light, which is now in the arsenal of the HMGCC loaner tool program and is pictured here.

    I am happy to report that the MG now out-accelerates my Spitfire, albeit only by 0.5 seconds in the run up from 0-60 mph!

Contact Us:  HoustonMGCarClub@gmail.com

Houston MG Car Club

PO Box 40711

Houston, TX   77240. 

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