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  • June 17, 2020 3:02 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    Derek and Hilary Scovell joined the HMGCC in November 1977 and remained active members from then on. Derek made many contributions to the club, serving as President in 1991. After bravely fighting difficult health circumstances for several years, Derek passed away on June 16, 2020 at the age of 89. He died peacefully at home after a short time in hospice care.

    In memory of longtime Houston MG Car Club member Derek Scovell, we are re-publishing an article from 2013 recalling Derek’s love of racing and cars of all sorts. His was the fourth article in the series, Racing Stories – Memories of Houston MG Car Club members. Derek died this week but his legacy and larger than life personality will live on.

    From MGs to a Power Scooter

    by Derek C. Scovell

    I have been a motor car racing Enthusiast for about sixty years, which includes our years ‘learning’ to drive a race car. When we returned to the States in 1976 after working in Singapore, I was hoping to get back into racing but SSCA required going to their school and buying a suitable car. Work and frequent overseas travel made it not possible so I purchased a MGC and joined the Houston MG Car Club and, as they say, the rest is history.

    Racing in the UK

    In the mid-fifties I was living about 30 miles from London and at this time there were about six racing teams within ten miles where one could poke your head in the door and see what was going on. This was a time when UK racing was top news with drivers like Moss, Hawthorne, Steward, Brooks and teams like Jaguar, Aston-Martin, Lister, Vanwall and Cooper. So the racing car bug bit me.

    After attending many race meetings in the UK and owning three MGs, a 1932 J2, a 1948 TC and a TD Mark II at one time or another, I decided to purchase a new 1957 A-H Sprite Bug-eye when this car was first announced with the intent to go club racing. I obtained a RAC Restricted License and joined the British Automobile Racing Club (BARC), which organized most of the racing in the UK. 

    This car was fitted with an 849cc engine, and for its size it was fairly quick in those days. My car was stripped of upholstery and other items and the engine was modified. Changes included machining the head, re-bored to 998cc, putting in a racing cam and exhaust system. Even with the suspension changed to Koni shocks, heavy roll bars and intermediate racing tires it was not really competitive.

    Biggest mistake

    However, my biggest mistake was trying to use the car for everyday use and then try to race it at weekends. In those days for club racing, drivers’ roll bars and Nomex suits were not required; you just had to wear an approved helmet. I raced the Sprite for only one season and entered five events with no success, three times at Goodwood, once at each of the club circuits at Brands Hatch and Silverstone. My best finish was 10th out of about 30 cars. I put the car on its side once by going too fast in a corner at Goodwood with no major damage and managed to drive the car home, slowly. I prefer longer races more than 10 lap sprints.

    At the end of the season I ran out of money to continue racing. However, I had three interesting contacts during the year.

    A girl and John Cooper

    The first occurred because of a girl I was dating at that time. Her parents were very friendly with Charlie and John Cooper and during one of their test period at Brands I was ‘invited’ to drive one of their Formula II cars. It was good experience but I somehow did not feel comfortable driving a single seat car, and with a double declutch gearbox, this may be the reason for my uncompetitive lap times. At least this is my excuse

    The second was meeting Bob Brown, who sponsored Mike Hawthorn at the start of his career. Bob wanted me to buy a Formula Ford race car, which they would maintain, service and prepare for racing. I didn’t have the money to do the deal.

    The third opportunity occurred during a speed trials event when I was given the chance to drive an Allard coupe with a Cadillac engine, magnesium body and a Wilson-Cortex electric gearbox. To change gears in this transmission, you selected the next gear by moving a small lever up or down, then when you wanted to change gear you pressed the clutch.

    In the winter months of 1958 I became involved in rallying as a navigator using an early Mini (849 cc). We did three all-night rallies, starting at 6pm on Saturday night and finishing at noon the following day with two breaks for food, etc. We finished each rally, though without any success. We did see a lot of country roads in England and Wales.

    Racing in Singapore & Malaysia

    In 1967 I was offered employment in the USA. Then in 1971 I was one of five staff assigned to build and open a new shipyard in Singapore. Although I had use of a company car, Hilary and I decided to purchase a used 1970 Australian built Mini-Cooper S and joined the Singapore Motor Club. It was supposed to be a run-around car, but soon I started to compete in local hill climbs, though without much success. 

    I found there was some interesting club racing in Singapore on closed streets and the same in Malaysia. At Kuala Lumpur there was a very interesting race track. This circuit was about 1¾ miles in length with a series of non-straight line corners, a ½-mile straight, a 180-degree tightening corner and a one-car chicane. The pits were very good. Unfortunately this circuit has now been closed to make way for a larger, new GP circuit. 

    Having been bitten by the racing bug again we decided to make the Mini more competitive. We started by modifying the cylinder head, adding stronger valve springs that allowed going up to about 8,000 rpm, adding a racing cam, an oil cooler, and a new, much larger exhaust manifold and system. We ran 6¾” width tires (Dunlop SP-4) and added a roll cage, which was a work of art made and installed by the shipyard pipe fitters. When racing, the fuel consumption dropped to about 14 to 16 miles per gallon, so a larger gas tank was required.

    We ran six races in Malaysia including a supporting race for the GP, and similarly for the Singapore GP. The drive to KL was about a four hour run and we would leave Singapore with three or four other competitive cars between 5 and 6 Friday evening. Our car included Hilary, two kids, luggage and racing items. It was a ‘hairy’ run with open exhaust through tropical forest. We raced Saturday and Sunday and then returned Sunday evening for work and school on Monday.

    I had limited success and finished on the plus side with racing expenses because of some class wins or good positions, and my two sponsors, Castrol and Dunlop, matched any money paid by the race organizers.

    Singapore Grand Prix

    The Singapore Grand Prix is held on public roads, which make for some exciting racing. The salon car race is a supporting race to the main event. There were about 40 cars entered, which included a number of factory entries such as Toyota, BMW, Alfa, Ford, Mazda and BMC. To reduce the field there were two heats with the fastest thirty cars for the main event, a one hour timed race.

    I was placed in the first heat in about 12th position. Unfortunately when the flag dropped, the car in front stalled and I hit the back of this car and damaged my front fender so that I could not start. I got back to the pits and made temporary repairs. I met with the race director and he let me enter the final, starting last in 30th place. After an interesting race I finished in 10th place, but first in my class for cars up to 1300cc.

    Malaysia Grand Prix

    For the Malaysia Grand Prix, the supporting salon car race was a similar one hour race but only the 30 fastest cars qualified for this race. I made the cut and finished 3rd in my class after driving through a tropical rain downpour. My thrill was to pass a 911 Porsche and several other faster cars in the rain. The Mini with intermediate tires is very good in the rain compared to those factory cars on slicks.

    During our three years in Singapore I was invited to be a team member for the local Mini distributer in a six hour endurance race. Unfortunately because of the lack of support it was cancelled. In the two years of racing in Singapore and Malaysia, I did not have a DNF with the Mini. Hilary drove the car around Singapore during the week days, with waves and thumbs up from the taxi drivers to go faster.

    On one occasion my friend and I were approached by Subaru to purchase two team racing cars and the company would prepare and maintain these cars for racing. Since we did not intend to stay in Singapore, we declined.

    Return to the USA

    I thought about getting involved in racing when we came back to the States, but it was impractical. The requirements for the race car were too involved. And going to a driving school and testing for a SCCA license was too difficult with a new job that included frequent overseas business trips. All of this left too little time to have fun.

    These days my main means of transportation is by a power scooter or wheelchair and I accept with thanks being helped around by Hilary and friends.    

  • June 17, 2020 2:59 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    We regret to advise that our long-time Club Member, Derek Scovell, passed away on June 16 at the age of 89.  Derek bravely fought difficult health circumstances for several years.  He died peacefully at home after a short time with Hospice care.

    Derek and his wife Hilary have been with the HMGCC since the 1977 and he was President of the Club in 1991.  They cared for a 1967 MGC Automatic and an early MGB, both of which were right- hand drive.  The MGB previously returned to the UK to stay in the family.  Derek and Hilary are natives of the UK.

    Derek will be cremated and there will be a Family-only gathering in Houston.   

  • June 13, 2020 11:28 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    By Dave Renner

    I met my friend Chuck when we were in US Coast Guard enlisted basic training in Alameda, CA in the summer of 1969. We had no idea that we would stay in touch once we finished those intense 10 weeks of our lives.

    After graduation, Chuck left the base to train as a marine science technician while I stayed there working in the Public Information Office, waiting for an opening in the Defense Information School to become a photojournalist. Neither of us expected to be stationed anywhere near each other again during the remainder of our tours of duty. But, one thing you learn in the military is, never say never.

    About five months later, Chuck got in touch with me to let me know he had finished his training and was being assigned to duty in the Bay Area. He was renting a place in Oakland, just a few miles from the base. He asked if I wanted to be his roommate. Seemed like a good idea to me, so I did.

    Soon after I moved in, Chuck decided he needed a fun car to mess around with on weekends. Somewhere he found a decent and inexpensive Austin Healey Bugeye (aka Frogeye) Sprite to play with. For several weekends just bombing around in it was plenty of fun. But one Friday afternoon, Chuck announced his next great idea. He was going to turn that little car into a mini command car. And I was going to help.

    Chuck bought an assortment of cans of brown, tan and green paint, a few brushes and a couple of six packs of Olympia beer (Chuck was from Oregon, next door to Washington State, home of Olympia beer) and creativity broke out almost immediately. As the resident artist, I had the important job of designing a camouflage pattern. We sat down on the curb in front of the house and slathered on the paints. After a few beers the Sprite command car began to look really good to us. Watching paint dry, we finished off the afternoon and the remaining cans of Oly.

    Not satisfied that the newly painted Bug looked enough like a desert rat mobile, Chuck decided the next day that the poor thing needed a machine gun to complete the effect. So he fashioned a simulated weapon out of an old wooden box and a piece of broom handle properly painted to look sinister. We duct taped the gun to the trunk rack and called it good. All that remained was for us to go on a strafing run through the neighborhood. Two big boys with a little toy went out to play.

    What a great idea that was, considering those were the days of the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapping and robbing banks in the Bay Area, native American protesters invading Alcatraz, angry students occupying the administration building at Berkley, and Charles Manson and his crowd of crazies running amok who-knows-where in the rest of California. Maybe not the smartest thing to do, but an Oly haze made it seem like a good idea at the time. We completed our daring mission without being grounded and called it a job well done.

    Once the novelty wore off after a few weeks, Chuck tired of his painted lady and sold it on to some other demented young fool (not me). I have no idea what became of it. After all, it was nothing but a cheap used car at the time. I sometimes wonder if it might still be stashed away somewhere in a dusty garage, patiently waiting to be restored or maybe just taken out for one more strafing run on a sunny Spring day by a couple of lads with a belly full of Olympia. I would certainly rather remember it that way.

  • June 10, 2020 1:00 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    Dear Houston MG Car Club,

    My name is Lori Seto; I am Russ Seto's oldest daughter. I wanted to share this announcement (below) and thank you all very much from the Seto family for being one of the initial contributors to help fund this scholarship in my dad's memory. The first recipient, Cristobal Aguilar - a self-described "devoted automotive enthusiast" - received his award this past winter and just graduated. In his three-page thank you letter, he wrote: 

    "It is people like yourself that make the world a better place by contributing to the education of students in need such as myself. My future plans are to finish my Lone Star program, get promoted at my current job from a quick service technician to an all-system technician, and work at a better dealership or even open my very own shop, a dream I've had all of my life."

    I think that my dad and Cristobal would have had a lot to talk about!

    Thank you for helping future Russ Seto's hone their skills and earn a living from their love of cars. My dad's spirit and generosity lives on through this scholarship, thanks to the contributions of his many friends. Thank you!


    Lori Seto

  • June 07, 2020 3:28 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Dear Members and Friends,

    Click on the link below to watch a recording of our June 6 meeting.

    Safety fast!



  • June 06, 2020 10:31 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    by David Terry

    The Problem

    Driving my MGB at night using either the auxiliary lights, overdrive, or fan would cause the ignition light to glow, indicating that the battery was augmenting the alternator to power these items. Resolving this issue would require an alternator that generated sufficient power in excess of what the original Lucas 18ACR could provide.

    The Remedy

    First, I needed to charge the battery. Since the previous owner (PO) had reworked much of the engine bay with nonstandard wiring colors, I had to trace the wiring against a wiring diagram.

    I ordered a CS 130 alternator from 123ignitionusa.com and removed the Lucas alternator. On installation, I cut the plug off of the existing alternator (I cut it about two inches below the plug), then connected the brown and yellow wire from the loom to the brown wire on the new alternator plug. The next steps were:

    ·       connect the medium brown wire from loom to battery post on alternator

    ·       connect the red wire from new plug to battery post on alternator

    ·       connect thin brown wire from loom to battery post on alternator.

    Finally, I installed the fan belt and tensioned it appropriately and started the car. The PO had connected the wires from the ignition relay to the Lucas alternator rather than the battery post on the starter. Once I was able to address this anomaly, connecting the wiring was easy. The new alternator now generates sufficient electricity to power the headlights, overdrive, wipers, and aux lights at night without causing the ignition light to glow. My headlights have never been brighter.


    Upgrading from the Lucas alternator to the CS 130 was an easy project that took about thirty minutes to complete but resolved the power issues I was experiencing. If you are interested, order from Ed Madak at 123ignitionusa, LLC. The unit comes complete with pulley and ready to install. You may have to adjust the spacer provided to align the belts but, again, this is straightforward and easy to accomplish.

    A big THANK YOU to David Terry for submitting this article. It will be a benefit to many of our members and followers.  If you would like to submit an article to the ROARS, either technical or social, please do, we are always looking for content.  Don't worry about your writing capabilities our editors, Dave and Linda Renner, will work with you to make it stellar.  You can submit articles by sending them to HoustonMGCarClub@gmail.com

  • May 29, 2020 11:36 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    This week’s winner is….

                                          Scott Hardy!

    LBC 1: Car Capers in Cleveland

    Corona Competition entry, week 10

    By Scott Hardy

    My wife Trish and I are the current car(e)takers of a 1972 MGB that I christened Leicester B. Carlysle III (LBC III for short). Leicester shows every sign of being a stalwart, even reasonably reliable, little British car (notwithstanding the rather unfortunate incident involving gasoline spouting from a disappeared carburetor screw onto a hot exhaust manifold; having survived that, he now travels with a fire extinguisher onboard wherever we travel.) This story, however, concerns the first of Leicester’s predecessors, the little British cars that preceded LBC III in my life. In the interest of technical accuracy, I will mention that even though the body of my late, lamented Volvo 1800S was stamped in England by Pressed Steel (who also did the MGB), by 1966 final assembly had moved from Staffordshire back to Sweden.

    LBC 1 came into my life in 1970 when I was a car crazed high school sophomore in Berea, Ohio. My mother drove a 1965 Rambler American 660, with two-tone aqua paint, automatic transmission, and vacuum wipers. It was the prototypical box on wheels, and she hated it. My mother was a stylish, progressive woman, and the Rambler just was not her cup of tea. I was also embarrassed to be driving it, on those too-rare occasions when I could finagle the keys to the car. Sensing an opportunity, I searched through the Plain Dealer classifieds, and finally found something that caught her interest – a 1967 MGB GT. It was owned by an ex-GI who had returned from Germany with it, and it was a tidy little motor: BRG with wire wheels and an Italian Stebro exhaust. My mother loved it, and so did I – figuring that I might finally be noticed by the girls in my school. But like many youthful loves, there was both joy and anguish in our relationship.

    While the MG was not technically “mine,” I did inherit the not-inconsiderable job of keeping it on the road. So I bought my first workshop manual, went to Sears for some Craftsman wrenches, and got to work. I quickly learned intimate secrets about SU carbs, so I sprang for a Uni-Syn. So equipped, and with occasional help from MG Motors in Lakewood and a sympathetic independent mechanic, I kept it on the road. But I could not solve the starting problem. Like other MGs, ours had come standard with two six volt batteries. Unlike other MGs, ours was never converted to one 12 volt, and the dual batteries kept dying with alarming regularity. My mother was less than amused at the car consistently failing to get her home from the office; I was not thrilled at having to go with my father and tow the car home (via a dangerously short cable); and my father was generally pissed at having to replace all these 6 volt batteries, each which cost twice as much as a 12 volt would have.

    I resolved to solve the problem, so I found myself in familiar territory under the aluminum hood. Anticipating this moment, Lucas engineers had helpfully installed a switch on the starter solenoid, so I could start the car from the engine bay. Over time, I really appreciated their foresight. On this occasion, I held down the button and the engine reluctantly – very reluctantly – turned over. Slowly. And even slower. As I watched, the engine ground to a halt, while the throttle cable went up in smoke!

    Convinced that Demons sent by the Prince of Darkness were occupying my Mom’s car, I gave up and went to call the mechanic. His telephone diagnosis proved to be correct. The car was being grounded primarily through the throttle cable, and a simple grounding strap proved to be the cure. And the batteries started lasting longer than the Dunlop tires, which were generally good for a maximum of 10,000 miles. More often 5,000 miles.

    My mechanical skill set expanded the longer we had the car, culminating in pulling the engine and transmission not one, not twice, but thrice when replacing the transmission. The MGB GT taught me how to rent tools, browse auto shops, and prowl through junk yards. I do miss the last of those skills. It was such a sense of expedition and discovery to prowl though a weed-choked and mud-soaked salvage yard in search of foreign automotive gold in the form of half crashed, rust ravaged carcasses.

    I would like to say that LBC 1 is these days in the hands of a grateful collector, but I’m afraid that would be a lie. After I went off to college, my mother eventually had the local vocational school replace the steel front fenders with fiberglass, hoping that would keep the rust demons at bay. The fender and paint job she received were written up in a nice story she did for the local paper, and the car looked great for a couple of months. However, the fender rust was only one symptom of a far greater cancer, and when the floor mats eventually provided more structural support than the floorboards, she sold the car. I’m sure it went off to one of those salvage yards within a year or two.

    The good news is that her replacement for the MG was a new model, the first-generation Honda Accord that came out in 1976. That was a landmark car, marking the first movement of Honda into mainstream automobiles. I really enjoyed driving it – but it taught me absolutely nothing about automobile mechanics!

    To read part 2 of this story, Click Here.

  • May 22, 2020 2:40 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    This week’s winner is….

    Greg Ulrich!

    This ‘n’ that…

    Corona Competition entry week 9

    by Greg Ulrich

    SU Carburettors

    Did you ever wonder where the name “SU” comes from in the SU Carburettors that are fitted to most MGs? Two brothers named Skinner invented the carburettors in the early 1920s. Their family was in the shoe manufacturing business and the brothers named their carburettor business “SU” for Skinner’s Union. William Morris (the Morris of Morris Garages) was so impressed with the carburettors that in 1927 he bought the company and, with Carl Skinner still in charge, built a highly successful business. From the time of the takeover in 1927, all Morris cars were fitted with SU Carburettors.

    (From the book, LORD NUFFIELD, by Peter Hull)


    Rally Tip from the Past

    Everyone knows what a terrific job Wayne Moore has done in educating THE ROARS newsletter readers over the years about the proper way to conduct an MG rally. I recently came across the very first rally tip from our own Dean Kring, Houston MG Car Club Member #2, in the very first ROARS newsletter, dated June 1971. And I quote:

    If you have a temper but want to win, don’t have your spouse as your navigator. Good navigators are easier to come by than good spouses….maybe.          

    Seems like good advice in 1971 and it still is today!

    SAFETY Fast!

    Did you ever wonder where the MG slogan “SAFETY Fast!” came from? According to an article by Norman Ewing in the December 1978 MG Car Club’s magazine, Safety Fast, the slogan originated in November 1929. Ted Colegrove, the MG publicity manager at Abingdon, was driving through Oxford one day and came up behind a bus. On the back of the bus was a large triangle with the words “Safety Fast!” to indicate that the bus had brakes all around— a new innovation in 1929. Mr. Colegrove altered the slogan to read “SAFETY Fast!” and eventually sold the idea to Cecil Kimber. By the way, to be proper, the slogan should always be shown with an exclamation point.

  • May 20, 2020 5:09 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    The Unfinished Road Test

    Corona Competitionentry, week 9

    by Ray Holtzapple

    It all started out while surfing eBay for MGC parts in June 2016. I had recently made my first venture into the world of MGCs when I purchased a complete left hand drive MGCGT from a fellow in West Texas and I was starting to make plans for its restoration. To my delight and dismay, however, that plan was about to change as I saw a 1969 MGCGT listed in Atlanta, Georgia that was right hand drive. Many of you know that I am deeply smitten by the RHD fever. My stable of MGs includes a 1974 factory BGT V8, a ‘64 MGB, ‘75 BGT Jubilee and a ‘36 MGPB former Lancashire police car, all of which are RHD.

    Looking at the pictures on eBay, this car checked all the right boxes: first, it was RHD; second, it had a Britax sunroof like my V8; and third, it was here in the States. After my challenge of shipping a 1975 Jubilee edition MGBGT from England, this looked like it would be a cake walk. I followed the car auction for six days and corresponded with the dealer about the CGT. Satisfied with what I heard, I placed a bid, won the auction and arranged for shipping. The adventure began.

    On its arrival, I found the car was lacking brakes and a clutch. No problem for an enthusiast like me, right? I got to work sourcing parts and said to myself, “Let’s just tidy up this wonderful engine compartment.” That concept had never worked for me before and, being true to the faith of a purist, it did not work this time.

    Before I knew it, the car was in many pieces, no two together. The engine was tired and the crank thrust washer was gone, causing metal-to-metal contact. Luckily, the crankshaft could be saved and I had it welded at a very reasonable cost. As I read about rebuilding the MGC engine, I found that common wisdom said to lighten the flywheel by 25%. That is a lot, but just picking up the hefty flywheel made it obvious it was the right thing to do. The machine shop undertook the necessary machine work; a road test would prove the benefits. Hence, the plan for a road test is the subject of this article.

    During the introductory road test of MGCs back in 1967, the press was not very kind to the performance and handling of the subject cars. The 1969 MGCGT I purchased is the first and only CGT to be road tested by a magazine after the original poor reviews. When Road Test 334 was published in Autocar magazine, ("Used Car Test: 1969 MGC" Vol. 135, nbr 3940, 30 September 1971, pp. 18-19), the car performed very well when compared to the earlier factory tests. It was this road test history that drew me to the car. Along with subsequent references to that road test in two other publications, a picture of it appears in the book The Mighty MGs. What a neat history to preserve!!

    This brings me back to my multiple buckets of bolts, miscellaneous parts and the daunting restoration project facing me. Before his relocation to the Atlanta area, the previous owner, William Williams, had worked on the car in the UK. New rear wings were installed—but not exactly right, as the right hand door had more than a ½-inch gap at the back edge. New front wings were installed, too—but by now they were gone at the bottoms—and the right headlight bucket was rusted through. The English weather has never been kind to anything steel or aluminum, so it was no real surprise that I also found major rust in the frame rails, front floor boards, right hand rear area of the inner fenders and the boot floor. The internet proved to be a wonderful place to find new bits, and a very good West Texas rust-free MGBGT provided donor parts.

    When all of the rusted areas were replaced or repaired, the process of going back together began.

    The impressive, big six cylinder engine was great fun to assemble. As always, I started by painting the inside of the block as was done to the original castings. I have learned that is a great way to keep the inside from carboning up over the years. One part after another went on until the beast was complete.

    With the refurbished engine, transmission and running gear in place, the CGT was approaching completion and seemed nearly ready for a road test. Sadly, the clutch decided to become problematic and that has taken time to sort out.

    On examination, I discovered that the clutch master cylinder push rod was too short, a manufacturing flaw. Once I was able to overcome this, I conducted my own quick test up the street.

    It was time to close my longtime shop and move everything to my new home workshop.  As is so often the case, other projects have made their way to the front of the queue, so the CGT will have to wait its turn to get on the road. To complete the real road test and compare it to the Autocar test, I will have to get it off the lift in the next couple of months.  Stay tuned.

  • 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.

Contact Us:  HoustonMGCarClub@gmail.com

Houston MG Car Club

PO Box 40711

Houston, TX   77240. 

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