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Looking back over 1996 it's been another successful year for the club and we have had a very enjoyable season of MG events.
The MGF was even more popular than Rover dared hope and waiting lists for new cars have got longer and longer. Secondhand MGFs have been selling at 110% to 120% of their price new and over 1300 MGF owners joined the MGOC as a result of the dealer club membership scheme.
In January the replica MG Van owned by member Ian Hutchison was sold to Japan, and parts availability for MGAs improved with accessories added such as walnut dashboards and replacement interior kits. Issues Two and Three of Insight were published which revealed how insurance companies catch fraudsters and showed honest policyholders how to get the best from their insurance policies. The publication ends with Issue Number Four in 1997 and Insight then evolves into a paperback booklet.
The British Motor Industry celebrated its 100 Year Anniversary in style and fashions turned away from new, robot built cars with Jaguar's hand built XK8 clearly influenced by the 1960's E type and Rover stole the British Motor Show in October by relaunching the 60s Mini!
Members insurance benefits expanded too this year with members' non MGs being accepted onto the scheme, the Low Quote Guarantee we launched ensuring that the club could undercut its competitors by always being at least 5% cheaper than another like for like policy. The members' house and contents cover with free annual travel was also very successful and its protected parts bought for restoration but not yet fitted.
In Spring we read about MG ownership in Cuba, a country still in a 1950s time warp where MGs and other classic cars are run as daily transport and replacement parts come from Russian cars and Spanish tractors. MG Bodyshells were relaunched too, first the MGB at £2614 and then the Midget at £2185 (including panels and vat).
Rover got tough with MG specialists. Individuals and companies who had been keeping obsolete marques going for years received unsympathetic letters from Rover's solicitors threatening injunctions for copyright infringement. During 1996 Rover had internal changes too with Chief Executive John Towers leaving to make way for BMW Herr Hasselhus and his team. The new sportscar the BMW Z3 was launched looking like a cross between an MGF and a BMW 7 series but making no impact on MGF sales which continued to lengthen waiting lists still further.
At the end of the year, Germany followed Austria's lead by banning unleaded fuel. Brussels discussed banning leaded fuel for other EEC countries but the UK won a stay until at least 2003.
What do we look forward to in 1997? We'll have a general election which will result in lots of huffing and puffing but no real improvements as Labour move right of centre to be indistinguishable in the middle with votes being cast on personalities rather than policies.
MGs will continue to be restored and more members will have two and sometimes three MGs, one to use, one to restore in the future. MGF sales will continue to absorb production and a price increase is likely in Spring. There'll be talk of a new model but nothing more than that. Rover will agree a fair licensing system with classic marque specialists which will protect its trade marks and ensure that older models will be served by enthusiast traders and a policing system will deter the crooks from passing off inferior parts.
The Club National Event will return once more to Duzford by popular demand and again Northern and Southern Events will be blessed with fine weather and thousands of MGs too.
As we settle down to our Christmas break we can look back fondly on 1996 and prepare ourselves and our MGs for a year of long sunny days and economical and enjoyable MG ownership.
CLUB COMPETITIONS -
Members were asked to define a classic car.....
A car which by its unique style and design is distinctive, innovative and yet functional, providing a satisfying driving experience a real pride of ownership.
Graham Smith, Stourbridge.
A classic car excels on sight declaring the vintage it creates in style of enduring memorability.
Oscar Naddermier, Walsall.
A car with an aesthetically pleasing body style, having a lasting appeal, originally well designed and built by an established manufacturer.
Peter Meredith, Ludlow
Members were also asked to describe the car in a hundred years time.
Jon Parsons from Gwynned predicts that a cultivated herb, mixed with water will produce a rich non toxic fuel to power a highly efficient water cooled gas turbine power unit. Two types will be available, one terrestrial for local use, its bigger sister will be common at mini airports for low level atmosphere travel (you mean light aircraft Jon?)
Wolfman Halupka from Braunschweig in Germany is in Vehicle Research and Development and doesn't believe that cars will change that much. The car of the future will be four wheeled on a lightweight alloy frame supporting lowdrag exterior panels.
Engines will have higher output with direct injection piston engines and valve control by separate actuators, fuel probably CNG (he's lost me know - Roche) Fuel based electric propulsion (Ah yes the old favourite electric car), hub mounted motors, computer adjusted torque. Steering will be fly by wire , enhanced computer control and active suspension allowing cars to lift their feet over obstacles perceived by look ahead sensors. (A sort of electrically propelles horse perhaps?)
Sorry but whilst I am moderately impressed with the classic car definitions, the two car of the future descriptions must be a good attempt at a joke and funny they are.
I forecast that the car of 2096 will need no spares, no accessories and it will not allow the occupants to drive. Pre determined co-ordinates will be programmed in and the capsule will lift off the ground in a hover and will move silently and without consuming energy along a electro magnetic field. The constantly changing positive/negative field providing the speed. No collisions will be possible as lateral magnetic force fields will brush off contacts.
There will be no classic cars except in museums and it will be an offence to start a petrol engine unless at an authorised public display of bygones. There will be no MGs and no MG Owners' Club though historians and enthusiasts will meet to cry over the good old days. Copies of Enjoying MG containing the better In Closing tales will be changing hands at two hundred shopping credits each.
Have a wonderful Christmas. May you and your family and friends have a peaceful rest during the holiday and awake recharged and excited ready to enjoy the New Year and all that 1997 has in store for us.
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