Category Archives: General

The Value of an MG

by Art Isaacs

In case you have not noticed, the value of our MG cars has been increasing steadily. Many collector cars have, some to extremes we can never hope to have our cars aspire to, but that’s really a good thing. Why? Well, despite appraisals (and auction selling prices) going into the mid-30’s, the MGB has not reached the threshold where owners don’t drive them anymore for fear of damaging their investment. That’s important and I’ll get back to this point.

Now, $30,000 is not what it was in 1990 when I bought my ’73 MGB for $300. Inflation has taken some of the shine off that sort of increase in value, but at that time, a running big Healy or Jaguar E-Type could still be found in the $10-15,000 range and a well restored MGB for the same or even less. Paying $6,500 for a B you could drive home, clean-up and take to a local popular show in the next week to take 2nd or 3rd in class was not that unheard of.

All you need do is compare the cars pictured in older issues of the Octagon magazine to those in current ones or attend a local LBC show to see the level to which owners are now restoring their cars. Part of this is that the cars are older themselves, have been used and enjoyed, so now need the kind of complete tear-down, including rotisserie body restoration that was barely an option 20 or so years ago, both in finding shops qualified to do the work and the cost-vs-value thing.

Now, the cost of entry has risen as well, but not 100 fold. There are still any number of decent MGs to be found at under $5,000, but get too far below that and you get cars with more serious needs. Midgets can still be found for less, but not much for a rust-free, complete driver. Again, the value of the finished product is such that reasonable investment makes these a good option.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure what I have actually invested in my car. It started life over 25 years ago as a ‘pocket-change project’, as I had a house and 2 young children with no place in the budget for restoring a classic car. I used my ‘lunch money’, asked for parts as birthday presents, scrounged from what others discarded as they restored their cars, bought a lot used at swap meets and sorted through junk yards. Back then, unless the junkyard specialized in these types of cars (anyone in the NY/NJ area remember Stucker’s on Staten Island?) Midgets, MGBs and other sports cars were looked upon as more of a nuisance by the mainstream GM, Ford Chrysler or AMC based yards, as there was little call for pieces from them on a regular basis and they took-up valuable space. I would see a B in the pile and some of these yards would try to sell me the whole car for a bit more than I was willing to pay for the part I needed! Looking back, I’m sorry I didn’t buy some of those, but I just did not have the room (or the money) at the time.

As a result, I’ve had to do things more than once and often do more work to undo the modifications made to fit adapted parts. There have been any number of seat/upholstery changes, carburetors, distributors and suspension work to get where I am today. But if it was not the most direct and economical way to do things, it was fun.

And that brings me back to my point about these cars. They were meant to be fun. Not investments cowering in the corner of the garage for fear of getting wet, dirty or causing wear with use. They are meant to be driven and enjoyed. And the passion, not just for the look, but the feel and joy of what a British sports car was meant for needs to be passed on to our children and grandchildren. Otherwise, they become like dinosaur bones, to be looked at and not touched.

The sports car has had a rebirth and is currently coming around to something closer to what we enjoy. The fact that the Mazda MX-5 Miata has been sold over 28 years of continuous production (8 years longer than the original MGB series) speaks volumes to this. The current generation is now closer to its original roots, which were based in a fondness for the British Classics, like the Lotus and MGB. And we are seeing the return of affordable true sport sedans, like the Alfa Guilia, not to mention that Chrysler-Fiat now offers their own version of the Miata as a new incarnation of the Fiat 124.

We already know and have what they are looking for. Getting into your B is more like putting on your favorite jeans. It fits in all the right places and becomes part of you (and, as WE get older, sometimes presents the same challenges). You feel and experience it as much as drive it.

And just because it is now worth more should not diminish the love for flogging them around the turns of the back roads and running 50-60 miles each way, just to go to a favorite spot for lunch or dinner, oft times more because the ride is fun and interesting than the food so unique. That is the true value of our cars.

They belong on the road, as do we. Get a kid out in them, even if just for grocery run. Let them help you prepare for gathering or show and then come along.

Allow a child to sit in your car at a show. You have no idea the impression that makes on the next generation. Or the spark that kindles.

So whether you’ve put in your money, your sweat or both, get the most out of your investment. Whenever possible, shake the dust off your MG the easy way – Drive!

Safety Fast!

Art Isaacs

British Sports Car Hall of Fame

Celebrating the history and heritage of British sports cars and the people that made them legendary.

The British Sports Car Hall of Fame was established as an
independent entity in 2016 to preserve and perpetuate the legacy and impact of these legendary vehicles and to honor the men and women responsible for their success. Induction into the Hall of Fame is reserved for those who have made a significant and lasting impact on the British sports car industry and hobby, making it a singular honor for a lifetime of achievement. By celebrating the memory of the dedicated individuals that played key roles, the Hall can serve as a touchstone for British sports car enthusiasts of all ages and interests, furthered by its various preservation and education initiatives. The Hall is supported by individual and corporate contributions.

More info at www.britishsportscarhall.org .

American MGB Association Advertisers – Insurance, Parts, Service

These are the people and services that help bring information to ourclub members by advertising in our club publication, the Octagon.  Please support them.

Insurance

J. C. Taylor Insurance, 1-888-ANTIQUE, www.JCTaylor.com
collector car agreed value insurance

Parts

Apple Hydraulics, 1-800-882-7753, www.applehydraulics.com
shock absorbers, brakes, carburetors

APT Instruments, 1-877-856-7103 (toll free), www.gaugeguys.com
Smiths instruments, gauges for British cars

British Wiring, 1-866-461-9050, www.BritishWiring.com
wiring harnesses, wire and terminals for all British classic cars & motorcycles

British Automotive, 415-883-7200, www.mgbmga.com
brakes, engines, suspension for MGAs and MGBs

British Car Specialists, 209-948-8767, www.BritishCarSpecialists.com
restoration, service, repairs, parts for British cars

British Car Part Restoration, 951-678-4182, Lake Elsinore, CA, info@british-car-part-restoration.com
restorations, parts and service for all British cars

Little British Car Company, 1-800-637-9640, www.LBCarCo.com
British car parts, their service puts them apart from the restClick here to visit Little British Car Co, LBCarCo

Moss Motors, 1-800-667-7872, www.mossmotors.com
parts, tech tips and more!

Northwest Import Parts, 503-245-3806, www.northwestimportparts.com
quality parts, knowledgeable and friendly service, same day shipping!

Parts for your MGB, MGB-GT and Midget, http://parts.mgclub.org
parts for all MGs and other vehicles!

SC Parts Group, +44(0) 12 93 8472 00, www.scparts.co.uk
parts for all British cars and the 123 Ignition

The Roadster Factory, 1-800-234-1104, www.the-roadster-factory.com
The Roadster Factory Will Pay Your AMGBA Dues!

Victoria British Ltd., 1-800-255-0088, www.VictoriaBritish.com
great prices on original equipment, reproduction and high performance parts and accessories

Publications and Literature

AMGBA Technical Sections, 773-769-7084 , www.mgclub.org/mgreg.htm
Volume I, II, III and IV.  Copies of technical topics published in the AMGBA Octagon.

Books4Cars, 1-888-380-9277, www.books4cars.com
books and manuals for all MGs

British Marque, 401-766-6920, www.britishmarque.com
car club news from clubs across the country and the U.K.

MG original sales literature, 315-432-8282, www.autolit.com
original sales brochures for most cars & trucks

Service

About Time Restorations, 860-301-8621, Essex, CT,  www.abouttimect.com/automotive-restoration-services.html, martin@abouttimect.com
30 years of experience in MG repair and restoration, they also buy MGs and other British cars

White Post Restorations, 540-837-1140, White Post, VA, www.whitepost.com
Sleeve and rebuild brakes: master, wheel, calipers, servo, slave, clutch cylinders and booster, reline shoes

Where do alfa romeos come on the scale of luxury?

Alfa Romeo is an Italian car manufacturer, known for their distinct and bold design as well as their policy of affordable luxury. They’re eccentric, sporty and oh so fashionable, which makes it easy to see why so many people love them. But, in the past there has been some disappointment regarding what these cars promised and what they managed to deliver.

For some time, Alfa Romeo has been known as a brand that wants to share luxury with as many people as possible. Alfas have all of the style, and grace of a real Italian sports car. But, when it comes to reliability and performance, there have been some models that were somewhat less than luxurious. They all had their strengths and weaknesses that left some people a little undecided about the brand. They had the look but lacked the ‘umph’ necessary to match up to the considerably more than cheap prices. But, that doesn’t mean that all Alfa Romeos have shared the same fate.

While some Alfa Romeos have been hit and miss in the past – good quality, but sadly trumped by their less expensive competitors – one of the latest models is the best there’s ever been. The Alfa Romeo Giulia completely raised the bar for the brand and conquered the road. While most other Alfa Romeo models promised luxury through and through, the Giulia managed to deliver and has outdone its hatchback brothers in terms of both form and function. This impressive executive saloon should be cause enough to have your faith restored in Alfa Romeo.

Unlike some other Alfas that can’t quite decide whether they’re a sports car or an everyday car, the Giulia knows exactly where it stands. It’s a confident everyday car that gives you something more. It gives you the comfortable and smooth handling you need to make driving easy, but it has the power and speed to make driving fun, too. It handles like a dream thanks to the innovative ‘Alfalink’ suspension and semi-virtual steering axis developed by Alfa Romeo. Nothing feels more luxurious than being completely in control of this stallion of a car.

When you sit behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo Giulia, you’re the one holding the reigns. The interior is all designed around the driver with the main controls all in easy reach and the push to start button to top it off gives you the feeling of sitting behind the wheel of a real Formula 1. Driving is a pleasure when everything you need is right there in your lap. The central infotainment system is also a real beauty and you can clearly see that Alfa Romeo have come a long way since their first design.

Overall, the Giulia is a car that gives you everything you could want – the best of both words. It’s practical and stylish; spacious and neat; powerful and svelte; comfortable and cool. When you’re looking for Alfa Romeo cars for sale , this should be the one to look out for. Whether you’re rushing to work or cruising down the Amalfi coast, this is a perfect, luxurious car to suit your needs.

Book Review: Making Cars at Longbridge

Making Cars at Longbridge

by Gillian Bards and Colin Corke

This book charts over 100 years of car making at Longbridge, near Birmingham. The Austin Motor Co. was founded here by Herbert Austin in 1906, opening its doors in early 1906, and it has been home to the British Motor Corp, British Leyland, Rover Group, and MG Rover. Its products include some of the most famous British models ever produced: the pioneering Austin Seven of the 1920s, the classic Mini, the Austin Metro, and in later years the MG TF and Rover 75. The factory was a major employer and integral part of the community since its foundation and its demise saddened many, but the areas will never forget its long and proud tradition of manufacturing.

 For 99 years, cars were made at Longbridge. Less than a year off its century, the factory closed and 6,000 people lost their jobs. The first cars to roll off the production plant were Austins, and the site has been a center of car manufacturing ever since. From the original Austin 7 of the 1920s to Rovers and MGs, there is a rich history of Longbridge that has been offset by the recent misfortune.

Gillian Bardsley is a social historian with a special interest in the rise and fall of the motor industry in Britain. She has been Archivist for the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust since 1990 and has contributed to many TV, radio, and magazine features. Colin Corke is the vicar of Longbridge.

Paperback: 192 pages

Publisher:

The History Press (February 1, 2016)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0750965290

In The News! – Skinner’s Union: The Story Behind the S.U. Carburetter by Mike Harvey

Review by Malcolm Jeal

skinnersunionbook Members of the SAHB will already have had a foretaste of this book as a result of the impressive article on the early part of the company’s history that appeared in Aspects of Motoring History No 10. That outlined the origins of the invention of the SU carburetter in 1904 and those that brought this about, and traced developments through the next 25 or so years. In addition there were some fine full-page freehand technical drawings that showed the construction and workings of the different carburetters that were designed and made.

Now this book has been published we not only get the full story that sustains the tenor of the Aspects article, but we also have a publication that is of inestimable quality both in terms of presentation and content. Printed on high quality art paper and profusely illustrated in black & white and colour where appropriate to a high standard, it is an attractive book to handle and a pleasure initially to just turn the pages and savour what is to come. Once actual reading commences, it is difficult to stop so doing.

Inevitably there is technical information that some might consider to be rather daunting, but this is expressed in accessible language so that with a degree of mental application plus reference to the accompanying illustrations it is understandable. Along with this there are the biographical stories of members of the Skinner family and associates, whilst a chapter is devoted to the various sporting cars that family members competed with in the 1930s – and the subsequent histories and restorations of these vehicles.

Most of us will think of SU carburetters in connection with motorcars and so the section on the various aero engines that also made use of them, notably the Rolls-Royce Merlin and Napier Sabre power units during World War Two, add an interesting additional dimension to the story. And there is of course more – William Morris’ acquisition of the business in 1927 and subsequent developments being but one example – but this is a review, not a summary.

Visit www.sucarb.co.uk to purchase a copy – it does have a ‘Part Number’: ALT 9527.

In the News! – British Leyland Motor Corporation 1968 – 2005

BrLeylandBook This book tells the story of the constituent parts of British Leyland, later Rover Group, from the merger in 1968 to the end of production of the last MG Rover in 2005. The story has been told before, but this account is different. It is told by three people who were part of it, in senior roles, with the opportunity to observe and understand what happened and why. It is not another neat analysis by journalists or academics, using facts in the public domain and fitting them to a theory. The story is a complex one and the authors’ views are not necessarily those held by academics and previous commentators. There is still much that is relevant in a re-telling of the path leading up to this, for economy and society today.

Mike Carver, the author became Group Executive Director in charge of strategic planning. He was responsible for setting up the relationship with Honda and was awarded the OBE for services to the motor industry in 1986. Nick Seale joined Ford as an engineer, moving into finance. Later he returned to engineering, heading up the Rover Power Train under BMW. At Land Rover he ran concept engineering of future products. Anne Youngson started in sales and marketing at Longbridge, moving to Pirelli Tyres, but returned to work on Honda. She moved to project management for Land Rover and Rover and was the only woman at this level. Her final position was head of Land Rover Special Vehicles Operation.

Paperback: 160 pages

Publisher: The History Press (June 1, 2015)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0750961449

ISBN-13: 978-0750961448

Lane Museum and Donation

by Frank Ochal

On the way back from Meet 2015 in Myrtle Beach which was postponed due to the weather. Bruce Magers and I stopped at the Lane Motor Museum in Nashville, Tennessee. The collection consist of numerous micro/mini cars produced in France, Czechoslovakia and other countries. The smallest vehicle on display was a 1965 Peel Trident made on the Isle of Man (Britain). I would urge any of you “Car Guys” to put this on your “Bucket List” as you will see the most complete collection of micro/mini cars ever assemble under one roof. There are over 45 different marques representing Asia, Europe, North and South American. Many of the cars are a one-of-a-kind.

While visiting the museum, we noticed that they had posters in the art gallery area entitled “The Magnificent MG – The Early Years” and “The Magnificent MG – The Middle Years”. We happened to have in our vehicle “The Magnificent MG – The Later Years” which we were going to auction off at AMGBA Meet 2015. We weren’t able to auction it because of the cancellation. We decided to donate our poster to make the collection complete and Jeff Lane, the Museum Director and owner personally thanked us for the addition to his gallery.

If you get a chance, please stop by the museum and check out the Art Gallery Room to see the complete set. Take a picture of the 3 posters and send it to us so we could see how it is displayed.

The Lane Motor Museum Story

In 2002, Jeff Lane established Lane Motor Museum. Jeff has been an automotive enthusiast since an early age. He began restoring his first car — a 1955 MG TF — when he was a teen. His personal collection was the donation that began the foundation. Lane Motor Museum unveiled its collection to the public in October of 2003. As director, Jeff Lane continues to search out cars for the collection that are technically significant or uniquely different. The goal of Lane Motor Museum is to share in the mission of collection and preserving automotive history for future generations. The Museum is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. The Lane Motor Museum is one of the few museums in the U.S. to specialize in European cars. It is a working museum with the goal of maintaining all vehicles in running order. Some cars are in showroom condition, while others represent typical aging. Efforts are made to restore each vehicle to near-original specifications.

The Museum has been developed in a well-known Nashville landmark, the former Sunbeam Bakery at 702 Murfreesboro Pike. Home to the bread company beginning in 1951, the 132,000 square-foot facility was the largest and most modern bakery in the area at the time of its opening. The bakery building, outfitted for the museum’s needs but left with many of its original characteristics, has a high ceiling, natural light, and hand-crafted brick and maple wood flooring. The architectural style complements the age of the cars represented. The main floor has approximately 40,000 square feet of open space, ideal for displaying the collection.

INFORMATION:
Lane Motor Museum, 702 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN, 37210, PHONE: 615-742-7445
Lane Motor Museum closes each year on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Open Thursday thru Monday, 9am to 5pm, Closed Tuesday and Wednesday

1962-’74 MGB: Classic Chrome Bumper is still a Crowd Pleaser

by Mark J. McCourt from Hemmings Motor News

The new-for-1962 MGB’s up-to-date envelope body shape was a product of its new monocoque construction as it was of contemporary style. This sports car’s low, wide nose, deeply scalloped headlamps and its 1,800cc engine’s need for 120 square inches of radiator cooling area called for a new interpretation of the traditional chrome-surround/vertical-slat grille that had graced all MG’s since it debuted on the PB Midget in 1935.

The 1962-1964 MGB’s grille shell was chrome-plated brass matched with separate stainless-steel vertical slats, an it attached to the body with three riveted brackets. The were 18 slats per side, separated by a chrome-plated center bar that had a shield-shaped nose which held the plastic emblem with a chrome-ringed red MG octagon on a black field. A material change carried that grille on all MGBs and MGCs built from late 1964 thru 1969.

British Leyland felt the MGB needed a facelift for 1970. The traditional chrome grille was replaced by a trendy black, deeply recessed affair that was actually inspired by the grille design of the 1968 Ford Mustang.

The final grille to be fitted to the chrome-bumper MGB in 1973 and early 1974 production was a brilliant move by a British Leyland executive in New Jersey. He suggested combining the pre-1970 grille surround with a black mesh insert.

The 5 mph “rubber bumpers’ used from September 1974 to end of production in 1980 combined the front bumper and air inlet into one unit. While clever and traffic-friendly, this couldn’t compete with the original grilles in style or popularity.

NewGrilles1 NewGrilles2

90 Years of MG

90 Years of MG
from Auto Express
We celebrate MG’s special birthday in 2014 with a round-up of star cars old and new
It’s been a roller coaster ride for MG, but 2014 marks 90 years since founder Cecil Kimber registered the company as a car manufacturer. And what better way to celebrate than to bring some classic MGs together with the brand’s current cars, and see how far it has come?
It all started when Kimber was working as a sales manager at Oxford-based car dealer Morris Garages in the twenties. He turned his hand to upgrading the regular Morris models on the forecourt, and these proved so popular, he branded them as MGs through his newly founded company. In the years that followed, the MG badge became synonymous with sporty and affordable roadsters and saloons.90YearsMG
It’s suffered a rocky path, though, with a takeover by Morris Motors in 1935, before being absorbed into the huge BMC conglomerate in 1952. MG suffered in the seventies under British Leyland, and was taken over countless times, until the doors closed on the factory in Longbridge, W Mids, in 2005. But MG is back, with a new owner aiming to turn it into a global brand.
Nine decades separate Old Number One from the latest MG3, and while the 90th anniversary is the perfect opportunity to reflect on MG’s history, the company’s current owners are very much looking forwards.
Car assembly has returned to Longbridge, but perhaps more importantly the West Midlands plant is a hive of activity, with designers and engineers working to develop future MGs. Marketing director Guy Jones said: “Our long-term plan is to establish MG as a global brand. We have a development team at Longbridge because the UK has the talent that will allow us to deliver strong products.
“Having a leading manufacturer [Chinese owner SAIC] behind us gives us the resources to expand.” And development is progressing quickly, with the MG6 diesel already made more efficient, and new engines in the pipeline.
But this progress doesn’t come at the expense of MG’s traditional values, according to chassis man Andy Kitson. “I always liked Cecil Kimber’s philosophy that an MG didn’t necessarily need to be fast, as long as it handled well,” he said. “That’s what we’ve aimed for, and is why the new cars are developed on UK roads. The forthcoming SUV [opposite] will stick with this tradition.”
The company has the foundations for global expansion in the MG3, MG6 and SUV, so when will it return to its roots and build a sports car? It’s not on the cards yet, but is a definite consideration for the future. “Once we’re established, we can think about building a sports car flagship,” said Jones.