’65 B Roadster of John Winter

An American MGB Association Queen B is the ’65 B roadster of John Winter from Rochester, Minnesota. Here is the story:

I grew up and live in Minnesota, but as a child my family took its vacations to the San Francisco Bay Area where my grandparents, aunts, and uncles lived. Both of my uncles were bitten by the British car bug in the early 1960s. One of our many trips was in 1963 when I was 10. On that trip I saw my uncle’s new 1963 MGB. Shortly after we returned I devoured a book called “The Red Car”. I was immediately caught up in the story of the wrecked MG TC that was repaired by a young man and then went on to beat a much more powerful Ford in a race. Wow.

Two years later, in 1965, we again traveled to the Bay area for a family visit. This time my other uncle, a student at Cal State-Berkeley, had just purchased a new MGB for his college and Navel ROTC commuting. My passion for MGs deepened.

Several years later in 1975 I again made the journey to Burlingame in the Bay Area. This time on my own near the end of college break. I drove my 1973 Vega GT. No, not British, but it made the trip without a hitch. This time during my visit I learned that my grandfather had purchased the MGB from my uncle as a hedge during the gas crises of the 1970’s. However, he was not able to enjoy it due to a back ailment. Was it for sale? Would he sell it to me? The answer was no, but I let my offer to buy it stand.

A year later he called. The MG was for sale. I could buy it for what he paid my uncle for it, $1,250. It included the Blaupunkt three band radio that my uncle liberated from the 1963 B before it was traded (tubes and it still works), but I had to pay for the servicing needed to make it ready for a trip east. I scrounged funds, arranged a flight, and was off to get my car. After a wonderful 4th of July visit with my family, I was off to MN. Aside from cleaning out SU carb bowls in Eureka (1/4 inch of silt in the bottom) and installing new generator brushes in Burley, Idaho the trip was uneventful. Well, there was that early Saturday morning in Livingston, Montana with glass pack equipped MGB rattling windows downtown as we made our way to the interstate. Thankfully, law enforcement was somewhere else.

In the early 1980’s I freshened the car with a paint job and some cosmetic clean up as my uncles were coming to MN for a family wedding. Since then it has demanded very little. A battery now and then, a fuel pump, brakes and tires recently (the new tires replaced 1983 Michelin ZXs), but the B has always gotten me there when called upon, Lucas electrics and all. This year I celebrate 40 years of ownership. Seems like just yesterday I was heading north out of San Francisco on the 101 in my new, then 12 year old, MGB.

Today the B is nearly all still from Abingdon as built. The SUs work great, suspension is relatively tight, the motor makes good power, and runs very well. The motor could use a freshening, the throw-out bearing is a bit off (I had the hydraulics checked and all is fine), and an overdrive transmission would be nice, but it is still a thrill every time I pull the choke and crank it up to hear the “throaty burble” as it roars to life. What a kick! My little four year old is absolutely thrilled with the shiny “red car” too.

'65 B roadster of John Winter from Rochester, Minnesota.
'65 B roadster of John Winter from Rochester, Minnesota.
'65 B roadster of John Winter from Rochester, Minnesota.

’80 B of Skip Shearer

My MGB has been in the family since the late 80’s. My father purchased it from the original owner. He installed a tan leather interior and a tan canvas top. I received the car in 2004, to be given to my daughter Meghan when she was old enough to drive. In 2008 I tried to teach her how to drive stick in the MGB. After a couple of close calls due to missed shifts she decided stick was not for her.

After that the car sat in storage until August of 2018. After installing a new battery and topping off the carburetor she started right up. The addition of new tires (the belts had separated on two of the original tires) was all that was needed to get going.

'80 B of Skip Shearer from Wheaton, Illinois
'80 B of Skip Shearer from Wheaton, Illinois

32nd Annual Chicagoland British Car Festival

The 32nd Annual Chicagoland British Car Festival was held on Sunday, September 9, 2018 at Harper Community College in Palatine, Illinois just outside of Chicago. The show is organized by a consortium of British Car Clubs in the Chicago area. It has become the premier event for those interested in British cars.

Each year the show features hundreds of automobiles ranging from those in Concours condition to just normal everyday drivers. This year was no exception as approximately 500 cars were gathered on the field representing virtually every marque produced in England. Door prizes and popular vote awards were presented to the lucky winners.

The weather was perfect again although a little windy – sunny and mild but a gloomy forecast limited the overall attendance. In addition to the vast array of stunning vehicles there was also the obligatory valve cover racing. British food was provided by food stands and a new additions this year was Robinson’s ribs, an award winner. Numerous vendors were also in attendance offering everything for the British car fan.

The American MGB Association (AMGBA) was on the field welcoming old members and signing up several new participants. If you have not had the opportunity to attend this popular event be sure to mark your calendar for the 33rd annual event which will be held on September 8, 2019 at Harper Community College in Palatine, Illinois. For further information go to www.britishcarunion.com or www.mgclub.org.

American MGB Association Meet 2018 and Brits at the Village in Lahaska, Pennsylvania

The American MGB Association’s 41st Annual Meet – AMGBA MEET 2018 – for the MGB, MGB-GT & Midget –

in participation with the Philadelphia MG Club’s Brits at the Village Show in Lahaska, Pennsylvania – October 13, 2018

’72 B Roadster of Bob Chalker from Katy, Texas

We became the unplanned owners of Tiffany, our first MG, the 72 B, in 2014. Our love affair started when I spotted an article titled “5 Classic Cars you can buy for under $5000.” Well as a car guy, I couldn’t resist reading the article. I spent 23 years of my career working in the auto industry both with GM and Delphi and have always kept my eye on the industry. Now I have to admit it had been a long time since I had considered buying a classic car and 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 MGB’s 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 a 1972 aqua blue MGB. Now for my second surprise of the morning, she didn’t say no. So not being someone to miss an opportunity I did some quick research to get an idea of what a reasonable price might be. I also contacted a friend of mine, who knew a bit about classic cars, having restored many. This is when I learned one of my first lessons 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 price 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 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 where I asked him all kinds of questions about its condition, drivability, history, etc. We also came to agreement on a price as long as the car was in the condition he described. Now came the next challenge, the vehicle was in Colorado, and we lived in Houston, TX. As a benefactor of being a frequent business traveler I have lots of airline points so it didn’t take me long to book two one way tickets to Denver on Friday. After all this I decided it would be a good idea to let Kim know what I was planning and that she would be flying to Denver with me to pick up a car. I think she was excited about getting the car, but not too thrilled with the early hour we were departing Houston.

 We arrived in Denver without a hitch, rented a car and headed out to the home of the seller, approximately an hour North. We saw the car took it for a test drive, and yes, it was as good as he described. So we loaded her up with our luggage and headed south for the 1000 mile trip back home. Now all of you who are reading this are saying is he crazy, you drove a car you knew nothing about 1000 miles across open country? You didn’t have a mechanic check it out? Why didn’t you rent a truck or trailer to bring it home? You could have shipped it? My answer is, if I knew then, what I know now, I would have done 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 did stop at a hotel Friday night and I have to admit, I was up every hour or two looking out the window to see if it 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 getting gas or stopping at a restaurant, plan on it taking much longer than it should as you will be the most popular person in the parking lot. My favorites are those who either owned one or who’s dad owned one. I have come to believe that if everyone who said they owned an MG actually did, the company would still be in business.

Kim and I are not necessarily the adventurous types, but this trip, going from not even thinking about owning a MG to being happy owners in less than 6 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. We have also learned the saying, you can’t own just one, is true This summer we bought a 59 MGA.

 

’80 MGB V8 Roadster of Chris Hughes from Newark, DE

An American MGB Association Queen B is the ’80 MGB roadster of Chris Hughes from Newark, Delaware. Here is the story:

My ‘80 MGB was originally purchased in 1983. It was the black “Limited Edition” with the silver stripes, LE wheels, luggage rack etc. Back then, it was truly my dream car. It was my daily driver until 1994 and after failed attempts at performance modifications (and creeping rust issues), it was retired to my garage. I didn’t know what I would do with it.

I researched V8 conversions for MGs and learned that the later ones like mine had engine compartments that were better suited to accept one of the rover aluminum V8s. In 1997 I decided to take the plunge on the conversion. I found a fairly local shop that specialized in sourcing rover parts, rover engine rebuilding and creating some of the custom parts required for the job. Ordered was a rebuilt 4.2L rover engine, ECU and all the fuel (Including fuel tank) and electrical system bits. This was to be mated to a rover 5-speed transmission, custom drive shaft and a narrowed ford rear end. I paid for everything in advance and the waiting game began.

Many months passed by and limited progress was happening on the drive train. All that waiting had me searching the “almost new” internet for parts. I stumbled upon a British parts site called “The Proper MG”. Sadly, they went out of business many years ago. They were out of Maine (If I remember correctly). They got all their parts directly from England and that appealed to me. I had seen some poor Chinese parts from other British car parts sites. While the drive train was being cobbled together, I decided to get some body work done to stop the rust. I ordered brand new front fenders, rocker panel kits, rear wheel well kits etc. Parts were flowing in, however, I didn’t know who I would trust to do the work.

I had “ex” in-laws that lived up in Connecticut and I happened to notice a Hot Rod shop nearby. I asked the owner if he would take on my project. Initially, he said NO because “it’s just an MG”. When I mentioned the V8 conversion, he changed his mind. I stripped the car down to its shell and pulled it behind a neighbor’s pickup truck from Frederick Maryland up to CT. Years passed.

In very late Dec of 1999, I was up in CT again and I spoke to the body shop owner about the delay. He said if I paid him the balance due now, he’d make finishing it a priority (Obviously I didn’t learn my lesson from paying for the drive train in advance). On New Year’s Day 2000, the body shop owner passed away! I got a frantic call from the two guys that were assigned to my job. The IRS was coming to padlock the facility and claim all the assets. Before that happened, they heroically towed my car (and all of the parts) out of there and up to a friend’s house they knew that had a “sort of” car shop. This place was literally in the Connecticut woods. These (now 3) fine gentlemen finished the car on their own. They even created a paint booth out of a spare garage. They understood that I’d already paid for the finished job and they were going to see it through. Every time I think of it, I’m amazed and what great guys they were.

On top of that, I couldn’t believe the finished job! Meticulous attention to detail went into everything they did. In early summer of 2000, I picked up the now reassembled shell in CT. It was so “perfect” that I was afraid to touch it, let alone pull it unprotected back down to Frederick MD. I rented a truck and we secured it inside for a safe ride home.

The next couple months of the summer were a blur. I worked on it nonstop. The car itself was WAY too nice now to put ANY old parts back in it, so I basically bought EVERYTHING new (from the Proper MG). UPS, Fed-EX, and DHL pulled up to my house every day. And piece by piece I reassembled it. By this time, cost was not a factor. I found very rare TSW Hockenheim wheels that were made (In South Africa) specifically for the MGB and had the seats professionally rebuilt with leather covers. I also installed a brand new wiring harness before covering the floorboards with “Kool mat” insulation. A mohair top and top cover were next. I can tell you that I will never ever attempt to install a new windshield and/or a new dash face again. It’s no wonder I have so much grey hair. Seriously, have a pro do those jobs.

The car was home and rebuilt, but the drive train was still incomplete. I traveled (several times) to that shop and after some stressful conversations, the drive train was finally installed.

Since that time, I have rarely stopped working on it and have upgraded it as best I could. I lowered the suspension using an early cross member and installed fiberglass rear leaf springs. I had some overheating worries that were finally resolved with the addition of a hood scoop (to allow the engine compartment heat to escape) along with the addition of a Kawasaki motor cycle radiator and electric fan that I installed above the rear differential. I replaced all the black ’80 gauge bezels with chrome and added several aircraft gauges to keep an eye on things. I installed the radio in the glove box along with a lot of speakers and amps. To be honest, I listened to it once. I’d rather listen to the fantastic sounds the V8 makes. I don’t drive it near as often as I should. However, when I do, it’s a real joy.

’73 B of Steve Perkins from Franklin, Tennessee

An American MGB Association Queen B is the ’73 B roadster of Steve Perkins from Franklin, Tennessee. Here is the story:

Some of my Nashville British Car Club fellow members have a nice assortment of British Sports Cars in their garages which always include the MGBs. Not having the room or the funds I have only one BUT my 1973 MGB named Ruby goes from a 100% authentic vintage Roadster to a ” historic rendition” of a Street Legal Race Car depending on her frame of mind and the weather. I do attend our local Cars and Coffee Vintage Car Event most Saturdays. When Ruby is in her “pretty Barbie Doll like” convertible costume the young girls line up to sit behind the wheel with their girl friend passenger. When she shows up as the Rally Race Car with window protection nets, etc. the teenage boys take a lot of interest.

It only takes about 20 minutes to do the switch including the custom racing knockoffs.

I do enjoy Ruby with the Split Personality.

Modern MG in Cambodia

Commuting from my hotel to our company office in Phnom Penh Cambodia, I saw this new MG 6 GT Saloon parked.

This is the first modern MG I’ve seen here, so it’s more interesting than if seen in China. It’s new, that itself being unusual as most cars are imported used (particularly from the States) and I have not seen an MG dealership yet. I didn’t see any engine markings, but this model is generally equipped with a 160hp 1.8L gas Turbo engine, good for 120mph.

Used Lexus RX model SUVs and older Toyota Camrys generally dominate the Cambodian landscape. Heavy trucks and buses are mainly Hyundais or Kias with light pick-ups dominated by the Ford Ranger/Mazda Max twins brought in new from Thailand (built and sold in-region for years, they’re similar to what we’ll see as a US Ranger in 2019), along with any manner of used Toyota and Nissan pick-ups and light trucks.

There’s a growing presence and investment in Cambodia by China. Several new Yutong Chinese buses were recently donated by the Chinese government to the city, so this MG is not necessarily surprising and may be a portent of things to come..

Safety Fast!
Art Isaacs

’77 B of John Mein from Cupertino, California

I’m glad to be back! I dropped out because I had my car up for sale for six months on consignment, but I have her home again. This was the second time I almost sold her and fortunately I have not.

I bought my 1977 MGB in October of 1977 brand new from the Arnold Brothers Ford/MG dealership which was located in Boulder, CO. I had my first job in Boulder out of college and I saw an ad in Playboy that fall for MG’s so I had to have one! It cost $5,770. The salesperson talked me out of getting overdrive as she said it would be problematic. She probably did not have one in stock! But, she was probably right about the reliability of overdrive. I kept it in Colorado until 1989 except for a couple of years in Kansas in a machine shed while I lived in Boston. I had it shipped to CA when I moved here in Aug of 1989. I had a minor accident in about 1979 which dented in the hood (my fault!). I had the overhead cam replaced in CO in about 1979,

I have about 92,000 miles on it. I had it repainted the original Tahiti Blue in 1999 for about the same price I paid for it!

Over the years, I’ve had the rear axle/differential and clutch replaced and a rollbar added. I have on my own replaced the exhaust system 4 times (finally got smart and did all stainless), the catalytic converter, the water pump, rebuilt the electric radiator fans, replaced the soft top, gone through about 10 batteries, the vacuum canister for the brakes, had 4 windshields replaced, on about my 4th set of tires (still whitewalls!), and about 4 different stereo systems–now with Bluetooth and a CD player. In the 70’s I put in a CB for driving to and from CO to Kansas (my original home)–I have since removed it. I’ve also rebuilt the electric fuel pump a couple of times.

About 20 years ago I replaced the original electronic ignition with an external Allison one which worked well. About 5 years ago, I replaced the Allison with an OEM that has the electronic ignition system built into the distributor just like my original one. I also replaced the spark coil. I just replaced the handbrake cable myself as it has stretched out too far to adjust any tighter This gave me the excuse to buy metal car ramps as I am not as flexible as I once was. Now I am replacing the left front wheel bearing as the inner bearing started to make grinding noises.

I had the entire under body steam-cleaned recently. It took about an hour and really cleaned up my bottom–you should see it! It’s not cheap, but I recommend everyone do it every 40 years as those oil leaks built up! My bottom looks great now–check it out!”

About 30 years ago I replaced the triple wipers with a brand called Triple Edge which were guaranteed for life–and they are still working fine! Great brand.

Things Change Over 24 Years

I had the occasion to take my 6 year old grandson for his first ride in my MG. He came with me to attend the NJ Triumph club sponsored Fallfest show held in Chester NJ 23 September 2017.

It reminded me that my B was celebrating a milestone birthday (45 years old – a 1973 model with a commission date of October 1972) and how long I have had the car (since April 1990, so now over 27 years).

The date and timing of the show was also significant in that I had taken my younger daughter to her first MG car show in this car back in September 1993, the Vanderbilt Concours D’Elegance, just a few weeks after getting the B registered and back on the road. We showed-up as intended spectators just to get some ideas on how to finish our still primer only, fun-fur seat covered, very dirty and incomplete rolling work-in-process.

The runners of the show said it would be cheaper than the 2 person admission to just enter the car in the show, adding that it included lunch. It sounded really twisted to me they would want my car mixed with the really beautiful cars there, but while there were some really nice MG’s there, values and levels of completion and correctness were not what it is today. In the end, it was the free lunch (a slice of Pizza and a soda) that did the trick

Once convinced to enter the car, we were implored by other MGB entrants to “Park it next to mine; it will make it look better!”.
Outside the MG crowd, the owners of pristine Jag’s, Rolls, Austin-Healy’s and Bentley’s were concerned for dirt getting on their car or themselves if we were too close (not to mention fearing tetanus if they touched it, not unjustifiably, I might add).

This didn’t stop my girl from asking to borrow rags, cleaners and chamois from startled concours level car owners to polish the chrome and get the best look we could to garner “Diamond in the Rough” honors for her efforts. I don’t think a cold pizza ever tasted so good. That plaque still hangs in my office.

So the attached pictures show then, as well as where we are now, many years later. Her son now sits beside me. Insisting on wearing a racing helmet, I, of course, the doting grandfather, donned a matching one, looking a bit like the “Blockhead Racing Team” from the old Gumby cartoons and enjoying every minute of it.

A lot changes in 24 years. The comparisons are many and not the least of which being how we all have grown up (OK, aged; the car more gracefully than I). As good as it looks, it was probably only the 4th or 5th best MGB Chrome Bumper at the show. The level of competition is that much greater. The first in class car from last year didn’t garner any awards this time around either. Even the winner of “Diamond in the Rough” in the rubber bumper class was a survivor car in better shape than ours was all those years ago. The other point is that all were still driven to the show, even if I suspect that’s all a few were driven. And while most of the drivers were my age or older, there were any number of younger drivers, active spouses and second and 3rd generations (I was not the only one with a child or grandchild there) with interest in these legacy cars. All very good and, in light of the article I wrote earlier, very reassuring to see that the interest continues.

Safety Fast!
Art Isaacs

American MGB Association – for MGB, MGB-GT and MG Midget owners

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