Letter from the Secretary

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Extract from April's MGOC publication - Enjoying MG
Written by Roche Bentley, Club Secretary

Letter from the Secretary

Do you ever think of a really good idea and get extremely excited only to suffer complete deflation when it turns out that your brilliant original conception has already been thought of and is in production? It's happened to everyone at least once in a lifetime and it's just happened to me yet again. Fed up with seeing idiotic drivers behaving selfishly and even dangerously and getting away with it, I spoke with friends and relatives and then wrote to you suggesting that we considered a Revision Driving Test. We received some helpful letters, two against and six for and it seemed that we had the basis of an interesting concept. Then on Saturday 1st March I sleepily picked up my Times from the mat and started to read between mouthfuls of Weetabix. "I don't believe it!" Victor Meldrew couldn't have put it better himself. There on page three of the Car 97 supplement was an article by Brian Pedley titled "A definite improvement on a fine" and describing in detail that some police forces around Britain have been contacting motorists seen to be driving carelessly and have been sending them for retraining instead of prosecuting them. Apparently the concept started in 1991 having been originally thought of in Nottingham but pioneered in Devon. Motorists considered for prosecution for driving without due care have been offered instead the opportunity to go on a course with other offenders and they have had to confront their failings in front of the group in a similar way a reformed drug addict or alcoholic might have to do. Then at some time over a one and a half day course the driver is trained in improved driving techniques and has to satisfy an examiner that he or she has reformed. The cost to the offender is £85 and compares favourably with the alternative fine of £120 if the retraining is declined. According to The Times article, Police in Shropshire, Hertfordshire and Worcester have all copied the Devon project. Gloucestershire, Cambridgeshire, London and Merseyside are about to launch their projects too. The Government in trying to improve road safety is using this Driver Improvement scheme to try to reduce accidents by a third in the year 2000.

20,000 MGFs Produced

New Colours and Options for 1997.
Well done Rover! - A fantastic achievement and a credit to everyone involved with the design and manufacture of the superb MGF. Improved manufacturing plant has reduced waiting times from 20 to 14 weeks and buyers can now choose Tahiti Blue, Nightfire Red or Platinum Silver in addition to the existing colours, incidentally British Racing Green still accounts for over 50% of sales. Air conditioning is now available as an optional extra for £1,200 but for me the best air conditioning is driving with the roof off.

Incidentally Rover and other car sellers have to work fairly hard to sell their products and sales staff are busy contacting potential customers to offer demonstrations and test drives. There's lots of competition in the car market unlike, as I have recently found, in the new motorcycle market. Forgive me if I digress but my recent experiences confirmed yet again that Britain is set for another boom period. Having been extremely impressed with reports of Honda's CBR 600 I allowed my car to stop outside a Honda dealership and I permitted myself to enquire whether any deals were available on a new machine. "No sorry - no deals, that's the list price." Okay I thought, I'm still not put off and I asked if I could try the demonstrator bike. "No sorry - we don't have a demo bike." I was nearly speechless, so how do I try one out to see if I like it? The answer was blunt. "Unless you have a friend with one you can't, what most people do is read the test reports in Motorcycle News and then buy one." I left the showroom puzzled but happy in the knowledge that I did have a friend who owned last year's model. He lent it to me, I loved it and went back to the shop in a mood to be sold to. "Okay you want one, I haven't got one at the moment so you'll have to wait, I think I can get one in three or four weeks if you are lucky, you'll need to give me a deposit first though." Totally captured by such persuasive selling I handed over £100 and on the 3rd March I collected my bike and was handed the keys. "Sorry we don't have any Honda key fobs and no we don't have any dealer ones either, the boss doesn't think it is worth having some made." My request for a free key fob was thus refused so I tried again for a full tank of fuel if only to get a tiny reward for paying full retail price and being such a good customer. "I think there's a couple of gallons in the tank, you'll easily make it to the garage." It's clear therefore that in the motorcycle market at least, dealers don't have to try hard. And before you think that my experience was a one-off, another pal had to place a hefty deposit and suffer total indifference when he ordered a new Ducati recently. But on my part all is forgiven, the Honda is nothing less than absolutely marvellous. It's nearly as good fun as the MGF.

MGs for Sale - Classified.

Thank you to everyone who wrote in with their suggestions for a numbering system to help describe MGs offered for sale. If you can recall a feature from last year, Phil van Bergen suggested a standard which could be adopted by members offering MGs for sale to avoid wasted trips to view MGs badly described. In this month's issue we've listed the categories and their meanings on page 11 of the magazine. Club staff will attempt to persuade classified advertisers to use the listings accurately.

New Offices Anyone?

The insurance department is moving from four adjoining shops and offices in St Ives to a brand new purpose built office overlooking a local lake. We have bought two acres of land and we are building not one but two office blocks of 10,000 square feet each. One we will keep and use to expand our insurance services and the other we will lease or sell to defray our costs. If your company is interested in either the existing shops and offices or a new building please let me know.

MGs - For Everyman (or woman)

Did you know that The Prince of Wales owned the first production MGC GT? BL had lent The Prince a demonstrator and as a result the first new model was delivered to Sandringham on 18th January 1968. According to the Prince's helpful Press Officer, the Prince chose Mineral Blue with blue upholstery and extras including wire wheels, an electric aerial and a special steering wheel. Obviously impressed with big engined sportscars, the Prince drove the MGC until 1970 when he replaced it with an Aston Martin, the first of several Astons and the MGC was kept at the Sandringham museum. The Prince's father, His Royal Highness Prince Philip didn't keep the MG TC he once owned, he sold HXD 99 and maybe as a result of the article featuring Royal and Famous people with MGs, we may discover where that TC is now. Not a Royal but almost as famous, we are proud to have the fearless investigative journalist in our Club. Roger Cook (The Cook Report) has an MGB GT V8 which has been modified over the years to become a very powerful and desirable car, maybe Roger feels that extra speed is needed to escape from irate conmen and liars angry at being exposed by Roger's programme. This standard looking MG belies what's under the bonnet. A 4.2 injected engine, one of Ken Costellos own creations built from a new 3.5 V8 unit, a Costello five speed gearbox, a specially made manifold, disc brakes on the rear, an aluminium wishbone and a dashboard from an RV8! Truly a magnificent car which we would love to feature in greater detail and if you'd like to have Ken improve your MG, call him on 01322 662770. To the members of the Royal Family, Roger Cook and other famous TV and sporting celebrities, thank you very much indeed for contributing to our feature and a special thank you to Raymond Baxter for allowing us to print the superb photographs from his personal album.

Do you know of any other famous MG owners past or present? Please contact the club and we'll ask for photographs of their MGs and their feelings for our favourite marque.

In Closing

Two awful tales from members who have since been asked to resign. The first recounted that he once ran out of petrol in a country lane and was just about to go in search of a garage when a large bee buzzed in his ear. He ducked instinctively but to his surprise heard the bee ask him to open the fuel cap. He did so, the bee flew into the petrol tank and the car started. Amazed the chap asked the giant bee what it had done. "Simple" it buzzed, "BP!"

Equally bad was the follow up, the car broke down again and rolled to a stop, the chap got out and again heard a voice. "Loose plug leads", he looked around and saw no one, not even the friendly Bee, just an old brown carthorse in a field. He checked the leads, found them to be loose and low and behold the car started perfectly. He drove on and stopped at a garage where he recounted the story to the attendant who asked if there had been an old brown carthorse in the field. The chap nodded to be told "You were lucky, normally there's a white pony in the field, it knows nothing about cars".

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