ARTICLES AND STORIES
Stories and articles from members to members.........That's what this page is all about. This is only a very small part of the stories that appear in each issue of the member magazine.
(newest articles first)
For the past 2 years I have been driving my yellow 1977 MGB to a Salvation Army picnic for children in Green Bay, Wisconsin. As a clown I create 200-300 balloon animals for the children during this event and here is a picture of me with the clown suit in the B.
Another picture here is my grandson, Cameron Smits, who seemed to blend in with my 1977 yellow MGB as he was wearing his Packer sweatshirt.
Another picture is my 1977 MGB sitting in my driveway.
The story of my 1977 MGB begins in July 2006 when a friend of my wife (Bonnie) let her know she wanted to sell her MGB of 20 years. She had 55,000 original miles, new tires, new top, wire wheels, and during those 20 years of ownership this MGB had been restored, repainted, and rewired. Being in Wisconsin, she only drove it occasionally in summer. The next weekend my wife and I drove to her home (about 40 miles) for a test drive. She had informed us that while she would not be home that weekend, her home would be unlocked, the keys would be in the MGB, and if we liked the car we could just "drive it home and we'd meet next week to trade the title for a check". So after a short test drive this 1977 MGB was on the way to my home with my wife following in our van. That was a Saturday in July 2006. The next Monday we met and exchanged my check for her title. She is glad her MGB has found a "good home" and my wife and I, along with our grandchildren, are the happy owners of this MGB. We've even taken our MGB camping in October in Door County - Wisconsin to visit Fall Festivals and see the Fall colors with the top down!
Just a little about me - thirty years ago I rebuilt my first British car, a '61 TR3. After selling that car (wish I hadn't), I bought my first MG, a 1974 British racing green MGB. Then I upgraded to a 1978 British racing green B. Then lastly in 1992, I bought from his 1980 MGB L.E. with 600 miles on it. It still smelled new!
As a retired school administrator, I finally sold my last horse and am converting my barn into a garage as there is less daily clean-up.
I recently acquired a 1953 MG T and have been doing some work on the MGB.
Your publication, the Octagon, is superb - the technical hints and tips are just what I can use.
I am a member of three other MG clubs but from what I have heard, the American MGB Association is really the tops for MG owners.
Editor's Note: Thanks for the kind words and hope you enjoy your car being featured.
This issue's Queen B is the '74 B roadster of Francis P. Queoff. Here is the story:
Here are some photos of my '74 B roadster. I bought
it in 1998, the body was in good condition, it had no rust, it was a Florida car
but it did not run good
which was a conundrum since Florida cars are known to run so well it'll
make you forget about car insurance quotes. I put in a Weber carburetor and
electronic ignition. In the next two years, I did the interior and a new top. In
the year 2000 I replaced the motor, the next year I put on a new chromed set of
72 spoke wire wheels. Last fall I stripped off all the chrome and windows and
had it painted. I worked all winter putting new chrome and bumpers back on the
car. I have gone to six local car shows in 2007 and have taken two first place,
three second place and one third place trophy and one best of show for foreign
cars. I drive the car and put approximately 2000 miles on the car each year.
Here are some photos of my recently, completed 1979 MGB. The engine has been detoxed and upgraded. It is bored out 40 thousandths; new parts include: stock cam, pistons and valve train, 2 bbl Webber downdraft carburetor, exhaust header, alternator, Petronix ignition, radiator, valve cover, water pump, fuel pump and gas tank.
The suspension has all new Urethane bushings and a Monroe shock at each corner. The interior is all new done in Autumn Leaf with earlier chrome stripped door panels. The front tag was given to me by a patient from England.
This car was left for trash in a backyard in Tampa Florida, full of leaves, wasps, ants and rats had nested in the driver’s seat. It was ready to go to the junk yard. The engine was left exposed with the spark plugs removed.
It has taken a year and a half to get it back into running condition.
The only major work left is a little body work and a new paint job, probably Brooklands Green. Thanks to Glenn’s MG in St. Petersburg for the engine rebuild and Victoria British and Moss for all the parts and The Roadster factory for the interior and carpet kits. My wife is happy that it’s almost done because I have spent many hours in the garage with my little MG. I still sneak into the garage and rub her headlights every once in a while just to make my wife jealous, especially now during rainy season when we can go out for a ride.
Here are photos of my two MGs. The yellow 1980 “B” was our first MG, which we
purchased three years ago. Originally it was blue with a black vinyl top. The
car had a sound body but cosmetically it need attention. After an engine-out
overhaul the car next spent a winter in a custom body shop where all the paint
was striped, an epoxy primmer applied, the body completely “block-sanded”. A
Volkswagen yellow paint applied. The car emerged in the spring as a brilliant,
yellow, pristine MGB. Next I then freshened the interior by installing a Moss
Motors black/red-trim leather interior, new padded instrument panel and a new
brown-canvas convertible top. Also it has a custom steering wheel, black walnut
trim on the doors and on the center console around the gearshift. Chrome wheels
completed the body restoration. A Weber carb and Petco header and exhaust helped
with the power. The car is an excellent example of a late model MGB and is a
strong driver. On sunny days it gets some use, the rest of the time it’s in the
This meant a 370 mile drive from Joshua Tree , Ca. to near Mono Lake , about 65 miles north of Bishop . You might think that a long day like that would be tiring , true but I was so excited about going.
I am originally from England. I first visited the USA on an exchange visit with the USAF . The year was 1974 and this is precisely the same year that my MG came over here also . It was also the year I turned 18, a very good year !
I bought the car in January . I paid a fair price for the car , but I wanted to know she would not let me down. I found an English bloke in LA who had moved here from England in 1968 . He has been working on British sports cars in the same location for almost 40 years.
The car was running well when I got her , but that was not good enough for me . I had the mechanic put a new clutch in replace all leaky engine seals , replace almost all the suspension . He also replaced the entire cooling system with new parts . I also had a new Falcon stainless steel exhaust put on . The engine shows about 165 lbs of pressure in each cylinder and has an overdrive gearbox . I was now anxious for the open road.
Early one September morning I set of from the desert loaded with all kinds of climbing gear . The plan was to meet two climbing friends at Matt’s Mobile Gas mart in Lee Vining that evening.
Well it was difficult driving at around 55 mph , but that was what I wanted to do . I wanted to try and return 30 mpg for my trip .
55 mph seems to be around 2350 rpm with my 175 SR14 wheels . I managed it most of the way with a few stretches of 50 mph and some 60 mph. It took around 9 hours . I stopped several times for some serious leg stretching and also to buy food supplies.
I met up with my two friends that evening in Lee Vining . If you ever get up that way you really have to go to Matt’s Whoa Nellie Deli . It is situated on Highway 120 about 1/4 mile west of highway 395 . It looks like a typical Mobil Gas Station , but once inside you see things are rather different . Matt is actually a well known and critically acclaimed Chef. I would describe the place as ‘ fine dinning in a Gas Mart , drinks served at family restaurant prices.
Tomorrow was an early start . We only had a few beers and went to our sleeping bags early . We were going to clmb the Mount. Dana Couloir . The climb starts at almost 12,000 feet . I was overcome with the worst altitude sickness I have ever experienced at around 11,500 ft . We all agreed to return to the cars and go back to camp. Well at least I was the bloke driving a real car !
The next day my friends went their separate ways and I decided to enjoy the mountains with my roadster !!
I checked into Murphy’s Motel in Lee Vining and got a good night’s sleep .Next morning I got up early , had a quick breakfast and took the roof down off the car.
I headed up towards the high Sierra . Driving up the Tioga Pass in the MG with the roof down was awesome . The pass enters Yosemite National Park at about 10,000 ft . My car was not too fast going up the massive grade , but once up in the high country of Tuolomne Meadows she flew along really well .The Yosemite High Country is an Alpine region and is full of the most amazing rock domes and meadows .
It is a popular hiking , rock climbing and horse riding area. People travel from all over the world to go climbing here.
Tuesday morning rolled around too soon , and it was time to head back to Joshua Tree .
I drove 997 miles on my trip and using 87 octane fuel managed to squeeze 29.9 mpg . I did not go over 60 mph and my car has overdrive gearbox .
I got home safely that evening and am now looking forward to my next MG adventure!!
I had sold my collector cars and wanted to buy a MG. I started looking at E-bay and Hemmings to see what was available. One day I picked up a "Deals-on-Wheels" from the grocery store and there was an MGB listed for $2,000. The picture of the car looked good, it said needs a clutch. I called my son and he said the clutch may just be stuck lets go have a look. The car was only 50 miles away.
The car had been sitting for sometime and the tires were sunk into the ground but it looked good so we bought it. We loaded it on a trailer and started home. It had a hard top on it but the wind on the Interstate took it off. It had not been attached as well as it should have been and we did not notice that. We unloaded the MG at the dealership where I work part time. The tech there inspected and serviced it. The clutch was only stuck; the car runs and drives good and even though it was freezing weather and the battery was dead it charged up and still starts good.
It has one 12 volt battery instead of the two 6 volts it should have. Also you may have noticed the side lights have been removed. I had to have a badge bar and driving lights. I had a Sunbeam Alpine and wanted a badge bar but could never find one. Now I’ve got one on my MGB.
My definition of a sports car is made in Britain holding two passengers with a soft top. Any MGB should be worth $2,000. That’s a steal even it its not an original color.
Here is my MGB story. I had always wanted to own an MGB, and in 1976, I decided it was time to do it. I live in far Western Kentucky, at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, and there were no dealers in the immediate area.
I contacted a dealer, Continental Cars, in Memphis, Tennessee, about 150 miles away, and ordered my MGB, sight unseen. They said that the car would be shipped over and be ready for delivery in approximately 2 months. Not many options were available, but I did specify the color white with black interior, overdrive equipped, radio and tape player, (8 Track...for those of you who can remember) and a luggage rack.
Sure enough, in about 2 months, the dealership called and said my B was here, prepped and ready for delivery. I flew to Memphis, picked up my car and drove it home, and have been driving it for the past 29 years.
I do not have any restoration stories. I do not restore vehicles, I maintain vehicles. And I do not have any British Car Horror Stories to tell. Maybe it’s because of the low mileage. My MGB has 26K miles. I only drive it during the summer months for my pleasure and to car shows most every weekend, thus the mileage of less than 1000 miles per year.
I attend local car shows in the 4 state area, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and have attended All- British shows in Memphis, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky. My MGB shows well, usually first in class, as witnessed by over 100 Trophies, Plaques, and Awards.
I am not a mechanic, but I do try to maintain and regularly service my B. My car “left me on the road” only one time. Ignition problems, after that I installed a Crane electronic ignition system.....no more problems.
Over the 29 years, I have replaced only the things you would expect: tires, radiator, various hoses & belts, water control valve, thermostat, wiper blades, and a couple of switches. When small problems have occurred, Tech Support at AMGBA has been most valuable.
In the trunk, the spare has never been on the ground. The Tonneau cover has never been used, still in it’s pouch, I take it out from time to time to put a protective coating on it. The jack and tools are in their original pouch, I assume they are all there.......just kidding.
My MGB draws attention wherever I go, the paint is perfect, and not a speck of rust. It has been professionally appraised and insured and proudly displays Historic License Plates.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my MGB driving experience, and continue to do so. As I am getting older, someday, I might (keyword: might) let my car go, if the money was right, AND I thought they would take care of it as well as I have, for the next 29 years.
by Ted Schnedier
"She’s a real Gem!"
She’s so named for her deep, rich Damask Red finish, and also after my wife’s late grandmother (a real fun, classy lady), who is said to have had similar characteristics and the personality of an LBC.
I got the bug to buy a B back in June 2004, after helping (on occasion) my son with his Porsche projects, and sharing in the pleasure and satisfaction of the results. I wasn’t sure which classic I wanted, but since I prefer topless, it had to be a convertible and within my budget. I was also about to celebrate my final year in the 50’s and wanted something fun to drive and tinker with. One sunny afternoon, I noticed a co-worker drive her car into the parking deck. The top was down and her dishwater-blonde hair was flowing in the breeze. I immediately fell in love. . .with the car. It was a ’71 (New Racing Green) MGB.
This would be a good opportunity to thank all enthusiasts and AMGBA members for their support and information. I have gained a wealth of knowledge from just browsing postings on the Forum. A special thanks to Art Isaacs for the personal
E-conversations we’ve had regarding tips, contacts, the heater and the performance upgrades I plan to do. He made a Newbie feel confident and very comfortable. (Art, come warmer weather, I’ll keep you posted as I start my projects).
Ruby, "She’s a real Gem!"
Bluebell is Born
After many years of driving pleasure (and $$$ of repairs), the little white B that had come east with me from Chicago years before, DIED. This time it was rusting framework that kept her from getting the dreaded "inspection sticker". But, it was still summer top-down driving weather and I needed another B. The Cape Cod British Car Club website had a '75 B for sale and it was in my town. The car ran okay and looked passible so I plunked down $1500 and happily sped home with my curls whipping in the breeze. I gave my '72 to my wonderful mechanic who had labored over her for years in exchange for some work on the newer car (it did need stuff done $$$). The trunks were exchanged between cars so now I had a blue and white car with rusty rocker panels, of course!
I was still very sad about my old B becoming a parts car BUT Steve traded it to someone with time, money and desire to make it like new--he'd wanted a chrome bumper car with overdrive. When a car has been like one of your kids, you know how I felt knowing it has a future.
So, now I had a drivable car--put on a new top--but it still looked like a dusty Cinderella. Steve recommended a metal filler product from Eastwood that I found easy to apply and sand myself...better than bondo. I, also, purchased stainless steel rocker pal covers from Victoria British that covered the rusty from wheel well to wheel well. Now for the big part- a decent paint job. Price quotes on Cape Cod were out of sight--my pocket book was going into cardiac arrest! The closest Maaco was off the cape, about 70 miles. I had never driven the B very far and was scared to death of breaking down somewhere between Dennis and Fall River. Pushing my AAA membership to PLUS for added mileage towing, if needed, I picked a sunny day and chugged off, Mapquest in hand, 2 water bottles and good walking shoes with me. The "B" ran like a charm--thank you Steve.
Maaco was very helpful and I picked out a pretty Regatta Blue Metallic Pearl color (non-MG). They drove me to the bus station for my return to the Cape and promised to have the car ready in a week.
On another sunny day (I didn't want to put up the top), a friend graciously drove me to get the car and follow me home, in case my luck had been used up on the ride out. The "B" just gleamed, the gloss coat had been included and the guys had installed my stainless steel rocker panel covers for free! Can't say enough good things about the experience. Off "Bluebell" and I purred down the highway with my friend Sheddon riding shot gun behind me.
My little granddaughters came to the Cape the next week and were so excited by the little car. They were thrilled when I drove them to the beach in a "top less" car with a name. A new generation of MG nuts has been born!
I have always dreamed of owning an MG of my own someday. You see, my father had a 1951 MGTD that he completely restored when I was a young boy in the middle and late sixties. As my two older sisters and older brother reached the legal driving age, Dad would allow them to have the car, as their first car, for a year. Of course, during this year he always provided any service or maintenance needed on this beautiful vehicle. Well, when it finally became my turn to get my license and more importantly, the MG, my father decided that we would move to Florida. Dad also decided that he would sell the MG rather than tow it south. In spite-of all my begging and promises to do the chores I should have already been doing, Dad sold the car. To this day at family gatherings, my parents, sisters and brother always have stories to tell of their time with the MG and I have never lost my desire to have "my turn
More recently, I had been discussing with my wife Mary, my wish for a sports car. Our son had just left for college and I guess that "middle age crisis thing" I have always heard about was starting to take hold. In addition to the "middle age thing" cancer had also taken hold of me and I was feeling as if this was a "better do it now if I’m ever going to get one" event. I wasn’t really looking for an MG at the time. Honestly, I was thinking something much newer, with a convertible top and air conditioning. As we always do on Sunday mornings, Mary and I go out on the patio, she with her coffee and I with a large juice, to listen to some light jazz and read the Sunday newspaper. While reading the classifieds I ran across an ad for a White, 1977 MGB, with low mileage and in excellent shape. I mentioned it to Mary and suggested that perhaps we should call the listed phone number and if it still sounded interesting, we would go have a look at the vehicle. Well, the car has always been garage kept by the seller’s mother who was the original owner and who had passed away about five years previous. The seller decided about a year ago to put some money into the car an enjoy it. She put approximately $3500.00 into the car replacing tires, battery, hoses, brakes, clutch, starter, etc. and used the car for about seven or eight months until she found a boyfriend that got her a new vehicle and this one was rarely being used or started. The car has the original paint, and no rust. In addition, all of the instruments are original and working and the convertible top and the boot and tonneau covers were like new. Best of all, the car had only slightly more that 46,000 miles on it. After taking it for a test ride there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that this was the car for me.
I titled this story "MG Therapy" for a very good reason. As I briefly mentioned earlier, I am battling cancer at the moment. I have good days and bad one in reference to pain and mental state. This MG was the best thing I could have done for myself during these difficult times. On the bad days, all I need to do in order to make things right is take a short ride with my wife or daughter. The enjoyment I get from this car is indescribable. Upon returning and pulling into the garage I usually have forgotten the source of my bad day and I feel exhilarated. Now you understand why the title of this story is "MG Therapy".
My ‘77 "B" was a fun car and got me started with MG‘s about 10 years ago. It didn‘t take long, though, to realize that I would enjoy the power and handling of an earlier crome-bumpered "B" even better. I found the ‘74 Citron "B" on a VW used car lot and learned that the owner had rehabbed the M G himself and traded it on a Vette. What a boost!
The ‘74 Citron "B" provided lots of enjoyment and occasional visits to car gatherings, but required various rebuilds over the years by a number of local shops, mostly one-man enterprises I was able to locate as I ran into various problems. Early on, the front brakes went out and required new disks. The alternator was rebuilt and the starter replaced. The radiator was rebuilt and the brake and clutch hydraulic cylinders replaced. The front end was fitted with new bushings and the water pump had to be replaced. Sounds like a lot to go wrong, but at about 68,000 miles and over a 6 or 7 year period, I wasn‘t surprised.
A few years ago the "Octagon" helped me locate a used overdrive transmission which I was able to purchase on a conditional basis. Unfortunately, after installation, it did not work. While there was considerable time and expense involved, we were able to locate a shop that would take the defective transmission as a trade-in credit on a rebuilt overdrive unit for a credit of more than twice the amount I had paid for the defective one. The rebuilt unit worked fine and made the car much more enjoyable on trips. The second year, though, the overdrive started cutting out and became undependable. It took two years and all the experts I could find, to discover that the electrical lock out switch which is designed to prevent engaging overdrive in reverse or first or second, was faulty. Removing the old switch proved quite difficult, but the new style went in easily and I`ve had no trouble since.
By the end of last summer I could see the roadway through the floor boards and there was evidence that the rocker panels and adjacent metal was deteriorating, so it was time for some body work. I used a new shop and was pleased with the result. The citron color paint match was so close that only the area below the chrome strip needed to be painted. About then, I learned that Rich and Jean Taylor of Sharon, Ct., who run Vintage Rallys, had scheduled a "10th Annual New England 1000" for May ‘02, in, of all places, Nova Scotia. Sounded interesting, but having never been on a rally, a little research was in order before I got in too deep. I decided it could be a great adventure. This was to be a five day event, driven mostly by couples, with either spouse serving as navigator or driver. Virginia did not share my enthusiasm for tooling around in the MG, so it took more than a little persuasion to get her on board. Actually, all I had to do was to promise to put the top up. Once we were committed to the rally, I knew the car needed some major engine and mechanical work in order to have a reasonable chance of completing the 1500 mile trip. By the end of March, the head had been polished and ported with new valves and guides installed, the pollution gear removed, new freeflow K&N air filters installed and a Peco HPR exhaust system was in place. What an improvement! It was hard to believe the increased power and speed. One problem remained as we could not get the idle below 1500 rpm. It turned out that the worn SU‘s were leaking air and required rebuilding to stop the leakage and bring the idle to normal range. Both the body and engine work were handled in a timely manner and at reasonable cost by Dick Studenich, a one-man shop in Allentown, PA. With a few more odds and ends, including "new" used seats thanks to the "Octagon" message board, the car was all set.
While I developed confidence in the durability of the car as we progressed with the improvements, I wasn‘t so sure Virginia and I could handle 500 miles to Me., 1500 rallying and 500 back to Pa., particularly if we ran into bad weather. The Taylors put us in touch with Exotic Car Transport, which coordinated a number of pickups for the rally at a reasonable charge and handled the car without a scratch.
It is difficult to describe how great an experience this first rally was for us. The five days of detailed arrangements, starting with a briefing session at the Harraseeket Inn in Freeport, Me., until our return for the Victory Dinner 5 days later, went off without a hitch. The participants were limited to sports cars 25 years or older. A truck that picked up and delivered the luggage from and to your room at each stop solved the problem of sports car trunk space. Two large enclosed car haulers with mechanics were available to help with breakdowns. If the vintage car couldn‘t be repaired on the spot it went in the trailer, and co-sponsor Mercedes-Benz USA rolled out a new SL500 for the entrants to use until their car was operating again.
Our group of some 50 cars took the overnight ferry "Scotia Prince" from Portland, Me., to Yarmouth, and for four days rallied around Nova Scotia, including the world-famous Cabot Trail, with over-nights in Pictu, Sydney and Halifax. Then we sailed at high speed on "The Cat" to overnight in Bar Harbor, Me., and rally back down the coat to Freeport and a final Victory Dinner. Over the five days, eleven of the driving segments were timed with one minute intervals between cars. Every evening during dinner, print outs of the day`s results were distributed, listing the number of seconds off, from a perfect 0, for each of the participants. The competition was so tight that 6 cars tied for first, with a score of 2 each, for all of the 11 timed segments. As first timers, we felt very welcome by many who had rallied with the Taylors before. We also felt good about our performance in our first rally. Our total ran 19 until we got lost, then it jumped to 519. Virginia did a great job navigating and has developed a real competitive spirit and we are looking forward to our next rally. Our `74 Citron "B" did itself proud in the rally. It ran with the big dogs: Corvettes, Austin-Healeys, Ferraris, a Lotus Europia, a Camaro SS, a Toyota 2000GT, Mercedes, Porsches, BMWs, an Austin Mini, a Lancia Stratos, a Bentley, Jaguars, a Mercury X-100, an Alpha Romeo, a Ford Futura and a Lotus Elite and never faltered. A few of the others dropped by the wayside, but our `74 Citron "B" MG made it all the way.
It was a great adventure and more than worth the time and effort!
A Pretty Unusual Story
by Mitch Porretto
My name is Mitch Porretto and I own a 1972 MGB roadster. How I got my car is a pretty unusual story.
It was may 2001 and I bought my wife a new Ford Explorer. We had a 1991 Explorer and that was passed down to me for my everyday commute to work and back. It is only 4 miles to work and back and I didn't want two large cars in the driveway.
So I decided to sell the old Explorer and get me a small Toyota or Honda. While looking in the local newspaper I noticed a MGB for sale. My thoughts raced back to the 80's when I owned a 1969 MGB. That was one fun driving car. Boy if I could get me another one for this SUV that would be great. I told my wife that I was going to sell the Explorer and get a MGB. The very next day I went on the Internet and started looking for MG's for sale. I found tons of them all over the world. One was for swap. I thought maybe there are others that might want to swap their MG for a SUV. I contacted several via e-mail and three answered back saying they would like to swap for my car.. The first 2 were basket cases and need lots of work and I passed on them. But the last one was a 1972 MGB roadster in Austin Texas. It sounded like the one that might be for me. It was owned by a college student and he only had it for two months and he hated it. It was too small, too drafty, too hard to drive, too much putting the top up and down, too hot with no a/c. His cousin was in the restoration business and bought the car from him with 80% completion. We e-mailed pictures back and forth and called each other and agreed to meet in Orange, Texas for the swap if we both agreed on it.
Early one Saturday morning in May I drove to meet him. We met at a flying J service station. He drove my car and I fell in love with his as soon as I saw it. I didn't need to drive it as he drove it all the way from Austin. He told me he had a fiberglass top for it. I told him to leave it home as I was going to drive MY MGB home with the top down.
It was a dream come true. I took it out onto the interstate and shifted from first to second and then to third and forth. Slipped it into overdrive. It purred at 70 mph. The car and I were one with the interstate. Oh, man what a rush. The only thing the car needed was a new top and some small bodywork. There was no rust on the car. The engine was completely rebuilt, as well as the transmission. He had all the original papers that came with the car when it was new. He had all the receipts for the work his cousin did. It totaled over $4,000.00.
I recently had a woman back into my MG on a street near my house. Her insurance company gave my enough to have all the bodywork done and have it painted. I purchased a new top for it and the pictures show the end results.
I'm 63 years old and I told my 5 year old grandson that when he graduates from High School, it's his . I figure I will be ready to turn over the key to a younger generation. But until then, it's mine all mine.
A Family Affair
His kid is finally out of college, married off and on their own, in the fall of 1973, Virgil Taylor of Columbus, Indiana, bought a new chrome bumper ’74 MGB. It was the third car in the driveway and didn’t get driven every day but he and wife Margaret once drove it on a tour of the national parks in the Southwest and when his daughter-in-law,
Linda Taylor, would fly out from Boston bringing the grandchildren to visit, she would use the little roadster to zip around the hilly countryside of southern Indiana to visit her Brown County relatives.
Sometimes, Virgil would mention that his mechanic wanted to buy the car or that a local racer had made him an offer. Linda always said she wanted to buy it rather than have it go to anyone else. But years passed. Virgil always kept its maintenance up to date and drove it at least once every month. Linda borrowed it to take her son on a camping trip from Indiana up into Michigan and Wisconsin. By the late ‘90’s, one of Linda’s nephews, a grandson of Virgil still living in Columbus, was at Purdue and was driving the B on a daily basis during the summers. Virgil replaced the rocker panels, had it re-painted (still the original "Tundra" color) and bought a new top and tires. It began to look like the nephew had a graduation present on the way.
Linda talked to her husband, Tommy. Tommy talked to his father about buying the car. Virgil said he didn’t want to sell and besides all of the recent work would make it pretty expensive. Conversations continued this way for several more years.
At the turn of the century, Virgil said he was ready to get rid of the B but didn’t know how much it was worth. Tommy asked him to pick a price and have the deal done for Linda’s birthday. Virgil never came up with a figure. One afternoon, Virgil and Margaret and Linda and Tommy set down in front of the computer and spent an hour on the Internet looking at prices but Virgil couldn’t be pinned down. Finally, he said he had decided not to sell. Plainly disappointed, Linda said if he didn’t want to, he shouldn’t, but to just keep her in mind when he was ready. He said he would never sell it — because he was giving it to her as a present.
Tommy is a bit unsure as to how it came to be that Virgil gave the B to his daughter-in-law instead of his son, but Tommy is still willing to do the maintenance and always to ask permission from Linda before making any visible changes.
My B is a '67 painted British racing green. I have had it for 2 years. The body was in great shape with no rust, so I have spent most of my time restoring the interior and doing some engine work. I have removed the soft top because I only run it in the warm months and never in rain. Weber carbs, extractor exhaust manifold and ANSA flow thru exhaust system give it a noticeable power increase.
I had a '67 Austin-Healey Sprite as a teenager and sold it after 6 years of fun filled driving. 30 years later I have the joy of British car driving again. What a great car!
I bought the B in September of 1999. I barely got it home and I almost got rid of it because I though I had mad a mistake. But I started to do some research on changes to improve reliability. I purchased 2 SUs to install but while they were in transit I had a brainstorm.
I mess around with motorcycles so Harley Davidson carbs came to mind. So after a few modifications the Harley carb became the aspiration for the B. The carb is from a 1997 Road King, after raising the needle and jetting to get enough fuel at 30 m.p.g.
Other upgrades are clutch slave and master cylinder by Nissan, wheel cylinders, calipers, V-8. Changes also include 4 lug wheels from wire wheels and then installed Minilite wheels.
I then took it apart to paint it and replaced all rubber and trim. I painted it hugger Orange which my wife mixed for me.
Engine was getting tired so I looked at a V-8 conversion, supercharging and then turbocharging. The least expensive is the turbocharging. A local shop gave me the turbocharger and I bought the rebuild kit and added a fuel injection center section for the water and oil jacket.
The turbo is from a carbureted 2.3 Ford Mustang. I mounted the turbo right on the stack intake. I made an adapter plate for the Harley Carb to turbo. I turbocharged before I rebuilt the engine to see if it could handle the boost.
It runs very strong and I took it to Bristol's Thunder Valley drag strip before the rebuild but after turbocharging. It ran a 16 second quarter mile.
Before turbocharging I got 30 m.p.g. (if I didn't use the turbo). I put a K&N filter in front of the radiator and oil cooler.
My next project is a 1970 MG Midget and I have a tubocharger to install in it.
I purchased the car in almost original condition that had been stored since 1992 in a garage. The only thing that is not original on it is the fuel pump. The paint is good and no rust. I did have to put a new top, radio and seat covers on the car. I am looking forward to the summer so I can go to some of the events in my area.
The car I have is a 1964 B, set up exclusively for racing.
It’s been a race car for at least the past 10 years and maybe before that as well. The guy I bought the car from did all the work visible today. Most of the race prep mechanicals were done by the owner previous to him. I’ve had the car out for testing at Buttonwillow Race Park near Bakersfield, California.
The car is very fast and fun to drive. I plan to race it in Vintage Automobile Racing Association races next year.
MGBs of Dominic Italia
My dad says
that "Goldie" has been a rolling restoration, but a lot of work was done on her
this Winter. He takes me to see this funny fellow named Dave Clark of Sports Car
Services in Westminster, Vermont who sometimes works on the car at his farm.
Dave is always telling jokes while letting me go into the barn to chase chickens
and collect eggs. Dave has been a great help in keeping the car running and has
done a motor rebuild this past Winter. I talked to him about maybe welding two
or three MG motors together to make it go faster, so he was going to see what he
could do. He said the new motor is going to be pretty powerful with over 90 hp,
so we should be able to just get by with one. While "Goldie" was getting her
motor done, we decided to get her body up to equal shape too. She only had very
little rust but the paint was chipped and faded so we sent her up to Best of
Britain in South Ryegate, VT where Bruce and Mark Allsop are doing a great job
of restoring her original color. When we get her back this Spring, my dad and I
will restore the interior and all the other little things that need to be done.
That's one of the other great things about these cars is that I get to work on
them. Last year we had a racing theme for my birthday party so for one event we
did a relay race changing "Goldie's" front tires. I'm excited to get her back on
The other picture is of a '66 MGB that my dad rescued from behind a muffler repair shop in downtown Brattleboro. When I saw this car I couldn't believe he was going to try to bring it home and I knew my mom wasn't going to be too happy with him. Well, he bought "Blackie" for next to nothing because he said she's a "diamond in the rough" just waiting for a new home. See, my dad works in human services so he's a softie for those kinds of things. We sent "Blackie" up to Dave Clark's place where she is now tucked in a nice warm, dry barn awaiting her turn to be restored. My dad says that it will take a few years to restore her so that by the time that's done, I will hopefully be ready to drive. I will then be able to drive "Goldie" with my slowpoke dad hopefully not too far behind in "Blackie"!
Boy did I make my wife happy for Mother's Day. It's finally out of the garage
(at least part of the time).
technical advisor Paul has been a great help in trying to iron out a few minor
problems. Boy, does that guy live next to the computer. I emailed him and
receive a response within minutes. Good guy to have around. Please give him all
the credit that is due. (Ed. Note: Thanks Paul Gamache of our technical staff
for all of his work!)
I was invited to attend the Homestead-Miami Dade Motor Speedway for the Grand
American Race series. I was right in front of the Ferrari 250 GT V12 and boy it
felt as though he was going to eat us up alive. My 5 year old son Emilio loved
every minute of it.
If you're wondering the year of the MGB is officially a '72 but "mucho" parts are from a '69 and '77. I call it my very own Frankenstein monster. (It even has a Triumph GT6 flip top gas cap) The engine is a GH high compression type w/ dual SU's and an aftermarket exhaust manifold. I've eliminated the center muffler for smoother exhaust (sounds good too). I used the '77 oil filter assembly for the spin-on type and added a 16 row oil cooler. A 12" Hayden fan pushes the air through assisting a seven blade plastic fan. South Florida weather is death for a British car. I also used the pedal box and brake booster from the '77. The Tranny is also from my '77 as are both doors. The interior is leather faced from jolly old England with '74 GT seat frames which make you sit about 3/4" higher (I always felt the seating was too low). Not included in the picture is the GT rear seat cushion and back (for my 5-year old) and seatbelts. My top is actually a customized folding frame type which can be inserted just like the old packaways and put away in the trunk. A Moto-Lita wheel and later '72 center console finishes off the interior. I've yet to rectify my electronic overdrive but soon The front grill sports an original badge from the Hong Kong Motor Sports Club which is A gift from my wife's uncle earned while he was living in Hong Kong in the '60s with his MGB & TR6.
Way for Chrome
So why would anyone go and buy a 33 year old car without seeing it in person?
On top of that, the individual already had a car of the same type and color and
12 years newer. I could have been accused of the old saying, "when they gave out
heads, I thought they said beds and asked for a soft one".
It all started late in 1976 when I tried to order a TR6, but much to my
chagrin at the time, these cars were no longer being made. My father at the time
was a pilot for TWA and I was able to order a car overseas and save between 15
and 20 per cent of the cost, with additional savings on shipping. When they told
me production had stopped on the TR6, I decided to keep it British and go for
the MGB. I picked up the car in January of 1977 and have been driving it ever
In the fall of 1998 I attended (for the first time ever for an event like
this) the "British Invasion" held the third weekend in September. The event
takes over the town of Stowe, Vermont. There in front of my eyes were many, many
MGB's with beautiful chrome bumpers. Yes, that started me thinking.
When I got back from the show, a neighbor, knowing that I needed a part for
my 77, offered me a shell for a '65 if I wanted it for nothing. All I had to do
was to go and get it off his land. When I saw it, I noticed the car was only
good for parts but with it, came a factory optional hardtop in very good
condition but not in a good color. Since I already had a top for the 77, I knew
this was fate and went on line searching. At this point, my wife was seemingly
behind the whole idea.
I could not find a
"B" on the net to my liking so I put an ad out there myself in the beginning of
October 1998. I received about 5 replies. The first one came from a fellow down
in New Mexico with just the one I was looking for. The first line of his note
said, "I know this is probably too far for you but ...", my reply to him agreed
that it was a little too far but thanked him for his time and effort to contact
me. A few days went by and I could not get it off my mind because there was no
rust on the car and it had been in the same family since its purchase in 1965.
So, what did I do? Of course, I contacted him again and asked if he could send
me some photos of the car. He said, "better than that, how about if I make a
video of the car and send it to you?" What a great idea!
Now of course, about this time, my wife started to figure I was getting
serious and decided to try to bring me back down to Earth by asking, "how can
you justify us having two MGB's?" My reply was quick, "Linda, the first is hard
to justify, the second one is easy".
The video came in about 7 days. Our 16 year old son was at home when I viewed
it. The car was in really good shape with a lot of potential for the future. Of
course the sobering words of my wife kept coming back to me. When she arrived
home, I told her to at least look at the video and then I would send it back to
the owner in New Mexico. After looking at the video for only 15 seconds she said
excitedly, "You did tell the guy we are going to buy it, right?" Within a
minute, I was on the phone sealing the deal.
Now to get the car back to Massachusetts. I looked into having it shipped but because the car had not been run in about 8 years, it would have been much more expensive, approximately $1100. So, being of Scottish descent and therefore basically "thrifty", I said why not, I will go down there myself and pick it up, put it on a trailer I would soon borrow from a friend and haul it behind my 1994 Ford Explorer.
I left on a Friday morning in early November, made it to New Mexico on Sunday
night and started back for home on Monday morning. This included a big detour in
Illinois to visit some friends that I had not seen in years. On the way back, I
stopped to see my brother and his family in Kentucky for a day. For the trip, I
set the back of the Explorer up with some pads, a sleeping bag and pillows,
deciding to sleep in rest areas along the way when I got tired. I usually drove
until 1 or 2 in the morning and slept for a few hours. I made it back to
Massachusetts on late Thursday night, so I was gone on the whole trip for just
less than a week. Of yes, and of course 4500 miles and no breakdowns (I knew
there was an MG god looking over me).
I put the car away for the winter, changing the coolant and put some "marvel"
oil in the cylinders. In June, deciding I had some extra cash, I said to my
friend, Steve Curtin who owns a service station, "let's see if we can get this
thing going". He called me at work a couple of hours later and said, "listen to
this", and in the background was the unmistakable sound of the MG engine
purring. After eight years of being stored in a garage in New Mexico, all my
friend had to do was drain the gas tank. Drain the bowls on the carbs, drop in
some new spark plugs, fill up the tank with new gas, hook up a new battery and
it started right up. Yes, all this in just under two hours. I have to admit, I
was expecting maybe something a little more. But who is complaining?
Eventually we had to put a new exhaust system in place as well a new top but
that has been it. I have driven it for about 2500 miles and have had a ball. I
have to admit I have been caught talking to my 77 saying that I was not ignoring
it and hat I still liked it just as much as before.
Now after all that has happened and someone asks me if I would do it all over again I reply, "heck, yes, besides, I still have all the maps from AAA. I like chrome even more now.
I never dreamed I might win. . . I didn't even bring a camera with me. One of
my fellow Club members from San Diego had brought a camera, but had used up all
their film! This is a new experience for me!
I've spent 8 years restoring the car "off and on"... mostly off. Working
almost two jobs, raising kids, etc., etc. doesn't lend itself well to spending
much time on my hobby. Finally, about two years ago, I finally got over "the
hump" and it started coming together. It was a lot of hard work, but I enjoyed
it. I started with two cars which were advertised in the paper as "Two MGBs ...
one good body, one good engine, one with hardtop. $500." Our house (and my
restored '68 MGB) had just burned to the ground a few weeks earlier, and my
pickup truck had been totaled in a wreck 10 days later! What was I doing looking
at MG ads when I was supposed to be looking for a used pick up truck? Oh well.
.. aren't we all a little oft??
I was intrigued by the hardtop, because my wife always loved the factory
hardtop we had with our first '64 B. Long story short I had to buy the two cars
for $400.00 to get the top! To this day, I can't figure out which was supposedly
had the "good body" and which one had the "good engine", since both bodies were
thrashed and both engines were shot. Ultimately, one became the parts car, and
the other was the one you saw at the show.
The previous week we had "our" San Diego British Car Day. I was one of the organizers. I was pleased and honored that the car also was voted, by Popular Choice, the Best Chrome Bumper MG B. There were about 85 MGs in attendance at that show in San Diego.
MG Rubber Bumpers
Since it would be necessary to modify the front bumper with tow brackets I
didn't want to alter my stock bumper so I used a spare bumper from a parts car.
This was my first experience taking apart a MG rubber bumper, so the information
here is passed along for those who may want to restore a rubber bumper to new
condition. (I realize the average MG owner won't want to attach towing brackets
to their car.) If you have a bumper that just needs a cosmetic makeover you can
do this without taking the bumper apart.
The bumper I was going to use looked pretty sad and had a number of scratches
on it. Underneath the rubber facing is a heavy steel framework that provides the
strength of the bumper. The rubber facing part is attached to this steel bar by
a metal strap, top and bottom, which is riveted on. The edge of the rubber will
have to be lifted up to drill these rivets out. An extension bit will help to
keep the drill chuck away from the rubber and avoid scratching it. Once the
rivets are drilled out the metal portion of the bumper can be separated from the
rubber. Now you can clean up and paint the metal parts. It was at this point
that I took the bumper over to my friend Chris Tunney's house and we welded the
tow brackets on. (The best welder is your buddy's welder!)
As far as restoring the rubber section I have heard and seen a number of
successful methods. I used a 3-step process made by Plasti-cote and sold at
Pep-Boys. This works well on bumpers that are scratched up or stained. Just as
in bodywork the first chore is cleaning and sanding. I used 400-grit sandpaper
(wet) and spot putty to fill in some of the bigger scars. Once the bumper is
smooth and ready for painting the first step is Plasti-cote flexible bumper and
trim adhesion promoter. This is a clear spray that gives a good base for the
second step, which is flexible bumper primer. This can be sanded and re-coated
just as a regular body primer. The final step is the color, which is available
in gloss or flat black as well as some colors. I used the gloss black as I felt
the flat would be duller than the original finish. These 3 products are sold
separately as regular size spray cans. Total cost for the 3 cans was about 20
dollars. Again, there are other methods to improve the appearance of a rubber
bumper that do not involve paint but this works well on a bumper that is too
badly scratched or faded to use these methods.
I have trimmed out around the tow brackets in my case so that when I
re-assembled the bumper the brackets for the tow bar protruded from the bottom
of the bumper just inboard of the parking lights. The rivets used to hold the
rubber facing to the metal bar may be obtained from Moss or Victoria British,
but they are also available locally from Ace hardware. They are 3/16 rivets with
a long grip length of « to 5/8 inch to extend through the retaining strap and
rubber and into the metal bumper bar. Although this operation was performed on a
front bumper I would imagine the rear would be very similar.
Here is the story and a picture of my '79 MGB. It was purchased at the Britfest 2K car show held by the MG Car Club - Central Jersey Centre on May 6th of this year.
I am the fourth owner and it has 68,596 original miles on it. The car is in great shape both outside and the interior. My wife and I looking forward to spending many happy hours touring with our B.
Here are some pictures of my ‘75 Midget. They were taken on the eastern bank of the Hudson River at Steamboat Dock where the river narrows just south of Peekskill. The others were taken from the same little park but looking south into Haverstraw Bay, a wide part of the Hudson north of Croton-on-the-Hudson.
I graduated from college in ‘59 and soon bought an ex racecar ‘51 TD (along with 2 wrecks for parts) which I hoped to race, but then got involved with a bunch of guys racing an Austin Healey 100-6. I bought a ‘51 Buick with a big straight 8 to tow the Henley and bought a new ‘61 Bugeye for my personal car. I had it painted BRG with gold flecks before I picked it up. We all had lots of fun with the 100-6 project but broke up after 2 seasons. I ended up pit crewing for a friend who worked for Lotus East and raced for several years in the small open wheeled formulas. He won a national championship one year. In those days, the SCCA national races were only in the East, just like major league baseball was before the 50s. I eventually gave the TDs to a group that was starting an MG museum in upstate New York. I don’t know if this ever happened or not
I commuted with my Sprite from about 50 miles north of New York City to Pax River Naval Air Test Center in Maryland every other week or so for 6 months to fly with Navy test pilots to evaluate my company’s radar system. During this time I would drive 300 miles per weekend to see my girl friend in college in Oneonta, NY. I took many trips to camp out at Watkins Glen, Bridgehampton, and Lime Rock and Thompson in Connecticut. I also had two trips to visit my best friend who was stationed at the Naval Great Lakes Training Center north of Chicago. On one of those trips I was driving to Oneonta to pick up my best friend’s fiancee when a deer jumped on the bonnet and was killed instantly when the deer’s head broke through the right side of the windscreen. Luckily, there was a big MG dealership nearby (Morris Garage, owned by Gordon Morris — I’m not kidding!!) They were the best MG racecar builders in the Northeast at the time. Sherman Decker was a famous MG driver who worked with them. He was the hero and idol of all the MG fans around. Well, the guys from Gordy’s shop fixed me up with some heavy plastic and a large roil of tape (no charge) which got us to Chicago and back to Oneonta where the windscreen and frame were replaced.
Then it was time to go to graduate school and I sold my Sprite to a friend at the local SAAB dealer and bought a used Model 93 SAAB from him to commute to the city in. I took my few remaining things out of the Sprite and cried as it was driven off to the used car lot.
Last year I mentioned to my wife that I would love to find a used MG, Austin Healey or 356 Porsche. Well, one day she was running some errands and there was my Midget in one of the local service stations with a "FOR SALE" sign on it. It was my Christmas present. I love her dearly and I love my Midget. It is the best present I have ever had!!
One more thing. I read a book in college about the history of the MG mark, "The Cult and the Idol". I have checked Amazon with no luck. Anybody there hear of it?
8 B of Carl Reinert
Here are a few pictures of my ’78 MGB. I am submitting them for possible publication in an upcoming issue of Octagon.
I bought the car new in Annapolis, MD in May of 1978. This past winter I had some body work done to repair the usual rust spots and the "crack of doom" by the driver’s side quarterlight. It was professionally repainted, in a shade of white that is a little bit brighter than the original Leyland White. The new paint is also a urethane, instead of the original acrylic lacquer. I had redone the seats and carpeting over the past couple of years, so now it looks better than it has in the last 20 years.
Mechanically it has been pretty good, all things considered. I have about 87,000 miles on it, and it is mostly all original with a few exceptions. The electronic ignition was replaced many years ago, and the alternator has been rebuilt several times. I’ve also needed new engine mounts and a fuel pump, but I’m still running with the original Zenith carburetor and (unfortunately) all the emissions equipment. The car is an everyday driver during the summer months.