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It's all about the MG's - The British Sports Car America Loved First

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The Roars

  • September 29, 2020 9:23 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    By Scott Hardy

    This is a continuation of the story Scott shared during week 10 of the Corona Challenge.  Click here to read Part 1.

    In the first installment, I introduced you to LBC III, our 1972 MGB, and his spiritual predecessor, LBC 1, my mother’s 1967 MGB GT. This episode highlights some of the many misadventures of LBC 2, the 2007 MINI Clubman that I bought for my wife, Trish, for her birthday in August 2007. Despite the 40 years and significant design differences separating these cars, they had much more in common than one might expect – namely, they both demonstrated an appalling indifference to their owner’s desire to be used on demand. Let me explain…

    My early experience with British cars had demonstrated that 1) they were cute and quirky and lots of fun to drive, and 2) they were unreliable, rust-prone, and had a pronounced aversion to actually turning over and running. Admittedly, many of them were basket cases before I ever saw them, being owned by my teen-aged friends. But during my young adult years, the general trend remained the same, even as the cars I knew became newer and nicer. I am reminded of my friend who owned, in succession, an MGB, an Elan, and his crowning glory, a TVR 2500LM, before throwing in the towel and buying a Camaro Z28. The British car industry in the 70s and 80s did not cover itself in glory. Caught between currency and labor crises, the entire industry wracked, heaved, and finally contracted with the passing of many storied brands.

    Around the turn of the century, many automotive giants hovered over the carcass of the British industry to pick off the best of the morsels remaining. One of the tastier bits was the legendary Mini, owned by the Rover Group in the 1990s. The Mini had been one of the brightest stars in British automotive history since its introduction in 1959. While the car was stale and technology challenged by 1994, the brand appeal of the name was still strong, so after BMW acquired the Rover Group in 1994, they discarded the entrails and introduced MINI as a BMW designed, British manufactured car line. The first models were offered for sale in 2001. While not universally loved, the new model payed pronounced homage to both the style and the driving/handling characteristics of the original. BMW had a minor hit on its hands, and MINI dealers sprouted adjacent to their BMW brethren.

    By 2007, the second-generation MINI had been introduced, including a new Clubman model with a longer wheelbase, a third door, barn doors on the hatch, and a somewhat more commodious interior. This practicality appealed to me, and I figured that a good injection of German engineering and production expertise had probably banished many of the ills of the previous generations of British cars. Also, we were in desperate need of an automotive upgrade from our non-descript econobox, so I decided to order a Cooper S model, which was delivered on Trish’s birthday.

    Almost immediately, things started to go wrong. Automotive malfunctions were seriously compounded by a dealer service department that was comically inept, which is why oil changes took five days (out of filters) and the installation of roof rack cross bars was performed using rubber mallets and a Sawzall. Seriously. At first, we focused on the failures of the service department, but it soon became clear that the car itself was a true throwback to the Lucas, Lord of Darkness era.

    Emblematic of the troubles we had with LBC 2 was the time that Trish arrived back to the Light Rail Transit parking lot after a day at work to find that both windows were down and the sunroof was open. Knowing that she had not left the car in that state, she assumed that she had been the victim of car vandals. However, in what must surely count as a minor miracle, nothing was missing from the car. So she started the car and drove home after closing all of the open apertures.

    She had barely left the transit parking lot when the sunroof opened and the windows lowered – all on their own. Which happened twice more on the five-minute drive home. She was worried about actually making it home, but she did, so she shut off and locked the car. As she left the garage, she heard a noise, and turned to watch the glass stubbornly retreating once again to the open position. That particularly strange malady required another week in the shop to fix.

    The most persistent flaw, and one of the only dynamic flaws, was a stubborn engine knock. The noise was most evident in third and fourth gears when accelerating from relatively low rpms. We mentioned this to the dealer every time we saw them, which was to say, quite often. They investigated it every time, and their answer was always some variation of, “You’re not driving the car properly,” or “You’re not using the proper fuel.” Needless to say, the noise never went away.

    Actually, I just misspoke. The noise did go away, in a most spectacular fashion. We were on vacation in British Columbia, driving on a rural highway, when a loud BANG! shook the car and the engine immediately lost power. It did not entirely stop running, but it clearly had suffered mortal damage, and an orange Check Engine icon was glowing on the dash. We gleaned from the manual that orange meant to proceed at slow speed to the nearest dealer, which we discovered was in Kelowna, still over 60 miles away. So we made our way there as best we could while running on no more than two cylinders.

    A couple of nail-biting hours later, we pulled into the dealer, where we learned the next day that there was a hole in a piston. Fortunately, we were a scant 3,000 miles short of the 50,000 mile powertrain warranty, so this mechanical outrage was covered. Ultimately, the last drive we ever made in that car was to drive it back to Calgary to trade it in (at a criminally low exchange) to the dealer where we had bought it. Thus, the conclusion of our frustrating experience with LBC 2. And for us, a question of how we would get our automotive jollies in the future. So stay tuned for the story of LBC III.

    Part 3 of the story coming soon...

  • September 29, 2020 9:17 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    On September 26th, the club hosted our 2nd Pub Quiz, if you would like to learn more about speaking the Queen's English take a listen.

    https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/FG-ycrwLKbCQ8UbWPBtUwFtkDdyaF9yS44LpYhZTdzi-I5IioxJotRDTHRBw3ZQA.YImVIrwGzpz3hhEJ

    Passcode: 6R!hm1?D

  • September 21, 2020 7:45 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    By Mike Woodward

    It was the first time we had taken our newly acquired MGB LE (“Ellie”) out at night as we set off for the MG Club monthly meeting, back when it was a live meeting held at Christie’s Steak and Seafood on Westheimer. According to our satnav (GPS for the colonials) the Beltway had a major wreck and so it was navigating us around the back streets of west Houston. As it was winter time and a dinner meeting, it started to get dark and so I turned on the headlights to see where we were going. Then, would you believe it, the GPS that was plugged in to the cigarette lighter stopped working!

    I turned off the headlights and the GPS came back to life. Now what to do? Drive in the dark with no headlights, or pray we somehow find our way through divine guidance with the headlights on but the GPS off? We opted for the latter and surprisingly found our way on to Westheimer and subsequently to Christie’s. The trip home was uneventful as by then the Beltway was open and I knew the return route.The following weekend it was out with the multimeter to determine the cause of the electrical problem, which turned out to be the “typical” poor ground connection at the back of the dash.

    For anyone faced with a similar “Prince of Darkness” problem, the multimeter, shown in the photo is available through the club’s loaner tool program. - Safety fast!

  • September 17, 2020 9:46 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    by Dwight Dawson

    What do 140 members of the Houston MG Car Club do in the middle of a global pandemic? Surely there is some grousing about “nothing to do,” and “why can’t I find an initiative in this club to amuse me and make me smarter about my MG?”

    To the credit of our stalwart President Mike Woodward, there has been a lengthy list of “virtual events” to engage members who are interested and willing to educate themselves on how to Zoom. Examples of these internet situated activities can be seen on the website under EVENTS. Given that the average age of most active Club members is in the “endangered age group,” there can be no face-to-face gatherings that put people in harm’s way. And while nobody can argue that we must never complain or be unhappy about the way things are in our MG World, complaining doesn’t change anything except perhaps the exacerbation of already foul moods. The many virtual events that Mike has arranged, designed and expertly emceed have included Tech Sessions, Pub Quizzes, a Jeopardy Game, a Virtual Car Show, and monthly Member Meetings. Remember, Zooming is not what he signed up for but he does it!

    As in pre-Covid days, not everyone can attend every event. However, an increasing number of us is taking advantage of these digital venues. Perseverance in the shutdown-ness in which we now live enables the willing individual to learn a new factoid to two about MGs and their care. Topics have included detailing and preparing your MG for a show, appropriate lubricants to use in our ancient autos, and dealing with electrical glitches.

    This past Saturday, September 12th, about 25 folks tuned into our Zoom session on tires, (or tyres as Mike and Stephanie would spell them). Miles Sandy, the son of long-time member Pete Sandy, was the featured special expert on the subject of the four steel and rubber round things that we rely on when the engine starts and the clutch engages. Miles is the manager of a Discount Tires facility at SH 99 and Westpark. He shared his expertise on wire wheels and many other tire/wheel details that are unique to MGs and other vintage autos. Interestingly, Miles knows a lot what he does because he assisted his father in MG racing and other activities that required roadworthy tires and wheels. President Mike managed to direct this latest tech session even whilst (my new favorite British word) he and Stephanie were cavorting around the state providing grandparent childcare relief for their three daughters and sons-in-law. It was a great session and another one that has been recorded and available to all on the website. 


    All things considered, we will all recognize the pandemic as a perfect time to begin that challenging project or difficult learning that you always wanted to accomplish. Our Club’s virtual events are a good place to start toward your breakthrough accomplishment. The virus has certainly not stopped us. When the time is right, we will rejoin fellow MG enthusiasts with a new appreciation for pressing the flesh and being in the actual presence of others with shared interests. Maybe we’ll look back and laugh… maybe not.

    See you soon for another Pub Quiz on September 26th. Your minimum contribution is to prepare your very own favorite libation, just for attending. Cheers!

  • September 13, 2020 7:44 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Dear  All,

    Here is the recording of the Tech Session :

    https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/W7WpNVxXCm9TxbNk33ErZgmTxW6SBwgPZPLImzoyM0rWq5AfAP5C8S8fd3QE9HtS.KJ-DjrsLw_jCAdxV

    The password is :  N&=Czz7N

    Here is Miles's card :

    Here is the Powerpoint :

    Tire Wheel .pptx

    Safety fast!

    Mike.

  • September 12, 2020 4:01 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    We all know that the Houston MG Car Club serves our local members well, but you may be surprised to learn that there are people from around the world who are visiting our website.  Through Google Analytics we are able to see where our visitors are from.  Of course, the top country is the U.S. and as you would expect the country with the second most visitors is Canada.  But from there it gets interesting.  The next three are the United Arab Emirates, China and the UK.  We have also had visitors from other unexpected locations such as Argentina, Philippines, Turkey and Russia (hope it wasn't to influence the vote of our club elections).

    Here are the top countries from where we have had visitors to our website:

    1. USA
    2. Canada
    3. UAE
    4. China
    5. UK
    6. Japan
    7. Netherlands
    8. Australia
    9. France
    10. Germany
    11. Argentina
    12. Brazil
    13. Philippines
    14. Mexico
    15. India
    16. New Zealand
    17. Finland
    18. Turkey
    19. Denmark
    20. Singapore
    21. Belgium
    22. Italy
    23. Russia
    24. Hong Kong


  • September 05, 2020 11:31 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    Dear All,

    Here is the link for the Sptember monthly meeting :

    https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/SxB97GXfovGA1Upvtb5vFZS0kEG02zDAF1Tm-jY2_wRykHX_ABMHJHL8uB9iJHNn.YitYrim3S9KXNG12

    Password is : 9N?%p#DA

    Safety Fast!

    Mike.

  • September 02, 2020 11:00 PM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    Well, maybe not that fast, but our club is growing, we are now at 140 members with 10 new members joining us in the last month.  We look forward to welcoming them all in person when we get beyond these crazy time and begin having in person events and driving our cars.

    Sept 3, 2020 UPDATE: we added another member today, bringing us to 141 members, 11 in the last 30 days.  Isn’t it awesome to be part of a dynamic organization.  

  • August 30, 2020 9:19 AM | Bob Chalker (Administrator)

    We have added a Birthday field to the profile page.  If you will share this information with us, we would love to celebrate your special day with you.

    THE 150 FUNNIEST HAPPY BIRTHDAY MEMES (Dank Memes Only) - Yellow Octopus

    To add your birthday to your profile, click on the blue man icon at the top of the page, this will take you to your profile page.  Click on "EDIT PROFILE" opening the page for editing.  Page down to the Birthday field, near the bottom and simply add your birthday. 

  • August 15, 2020 11:53 AM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

    For those of you that missed the Tech' Session today the password is : 

     &WK?evK9

    Here is the link:

    https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/z_FPIbX87HtOe4XS9h3ZC5YwTrS8eaa8hiRP_PZYxUf6Mgi2GdtiKyTZxOIRpIUr

Contact Us:  HoustonMGCarClub@gmail.com


Houston MG Car Club

PO Box 40711

Houston, TX   77240. 


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