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  • 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 :

    https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/play/ucAtJe36-zw3EoWV4gSDBPIqW9TpLK-s0XVP_PQIyUi8AXILYFH1M7USZeNfsOtS7lKP9-nNu6_xD7pV

    Safety fast!

    Mike.

  • 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!

    Mike.



  • 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!


  • April 22, 2020 2:31 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    This entry is our first international contribution from a longtime friend of the Renners and the HMGCC. Composed especially for this time…

    MGBGT PPE

    Corona Competitionentry, week 5

    By Angus Jamieson, Inverness, Scotland


    If you have to buy a British Car

    The Rolls Royce is the nicest

    But the old MG is the best by far

    For such a time of crisis.

    We could buy a flashy vehicle

    So that others would admire us

    But the MG is a miracle

    That deters Corona Virus.

     

    A mask might be protective

    Or some other PPE

    But there’s nothing as effective

    As an MGBGT.

    It’s the perfect safe environment

    A compact sterile bubble

    That keeps those in retirement

    From every kind of trouble.

     

    I asked the guy at AVIS

    Why he rented MGBs

    And the reason that he gave us

    Was very plain to see,

    “The reason people hire us

    Is there’s very little room

    And the poor Corona Virus

    Can’t survive the petrol fumes.”

     

    When it comes to social distancing

    No matter where you are

    With the guidelines there’s consistency

    By staying in your car.

    You can tell police inquisitors

    That your wife and you complied

    For there’s no room left for visitors

    By the time you’re both inside.

     

    If your state has driving limits

    And you can’t exceed your quota

    In an MGB in minutes

    You could drive to North Dakota.

    And if the cops seek vengeance

    (You’re the type they keep their eyes on)

    By the time they start their engines

    You’ll be over the horizon.

     

    So you took a good decision

    When you bought a small MG

    Though you’re subject to derision

    From the ones that cannot see

    That as they sit there in their Cadillac

    All elegant and posh

    That crowd of passengers in the back

    Are among the great unwashed.

     


  • April 16, 2020 5:53 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Week 4’s winner is….

                                  Ed Rosenquist

    DAMN IT

    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.


Contact Us:  HoustonMGCarClub@gmail.com


Houston MG Car Club

PO Box 40711

Houston, TX   77240. 


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