News from Safety Fast! (September 1996)

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I would like to welcome to the M.G. Car Club: Mr Morten Olsen of Kissimmee, Flordia, Mr Ray Frazier of Arlington, Texas, Mr Steve Wagoner of Dover, New Jersey, Mr Horneff of Waldwick, New Jersey and Mr Thomas Vinccon of Piedmont, California.

This month's article comes from the MGB Driver, the magazine of N.A.M.G.B.R.


As I think back, it is very hard to believe that it has only been nine months since I purchased my first MGB, but it's true. This is the story of excessive compulsive behaviour, that I feel I must tell, with the hope that it may help some of you who may be going through a similar stage in life. If this article touches just one person's life in a positive way, I will be pleased with the result.

It was an early April afternoon, not so long ago, that it happened. I'm a home improvements contractor and I was working a few blocks from my home. I had pointed out the house I was working on to my 14-year-old son Adam, so I was not surprised when he rode up to the house on his bicycle. One look at his face and I could tell that this was not a social visit. He told me that my 1980 Fiat Spyder had been hit while parked in front of our home, and it did not look good. Adam did not want me to arrive home and see it without prior warning for fear the shock may be too much. I was not overcome with grief, nor surprised. This had been my fourth Fiat in about six years, and all of them had met their final fate in a similar fashion. Say all you want about M.G.s being temperamental but at least I can fix mine when something goes awry. My Fiats had put me on a very personal level with a local towing company. If I was going to the 7-11 on the corner in one of these cars I would call the towing people to check on availability and if they didn' t hear back from me in 20 minutes to come and get me. To this day whenever I see a Fiat I can still hear the voice of the towing company phone operator in my head saying, " Hi Dave, sure, where are you?" I was overdue for a change in the roadster department.

I needed another roadster and I needed it quick. I had that "mouth full of cookies and you open the fridge to find you're out of milk" feeling! It was getting warmer outside every day and I wanted - no I had to have - that feeling that can only be had by dropping the top and hitting the highway hard and fast. I was on a quest, but for what I did not know. I thought about an Alfa, but it was too close to the Fix It Again Tonys I had just sworn off. A week went by and Eileen, my wife, ordered me to go and find a car, or she would stay with friends until I did. I was having nightmares, waking up in cold sweats and honestly couldn't recognise myself in the mirror. Eileen suggested I go buy a Miata. I love her so much, and even more when she makes suggestions that proves that there is still some innocence left in the world.

Nine days after the demise of my Spyder, I found the car which was to change my life as I knew it, my first MGB for $1200. It was a Black '75 and ran great, but the body and unibody were in much worse shape than they first appeared. I was looking for parts in Hemmings, when I came across an M.G. event that had been put in by Dave and got a referral to another British car enthusiast and restorer, Bill Schmit. I called Bill and told him I needed a mohair canvas top installed, and would like an estimate on complete restoration. He was very polite and assured me that for $10,000 he would make my B a very nice $5,000 car. I didn't have to be hit over the head with a castle section to understand that I needed to find a more eligible candidate for restoration. Dave told me of a Red '77 with a decent body, so I went "to look" at it with Eileen. It was $1,500 with no apparent rust and had undergone a very amateurish restoration. At a glance, passing at anything over 60mph, it is a pretty nice looker. According to the seller it only needed a carburetor adjustment I bought it and soon found out it was going to need much more than a carb tweak, to put this car on the road. I filed it in the garage under the future project heading and decided to see if I might be able to do some work on the black to make it more presentable. It was late July when I jacked up the car to look for where a strange noise was coming from. While under the car, checking the universals, I got a real scare. The passenger side front leaf spring support had pulled out of the floor in the front and two sides and was now being held in by the rear of the support by about 3" of sheet metal. This had moved the position of the rear right wheel so far back, I could not fit my little finger between the tire and front wheel well. Now I was back to no usable roadster status again and about to panic, but I had a few leads to go on. By this time I was hooked on MG's and I knew what had to be done.

I went to look at 2 cars in one day. The first was a bracken color '74 rubber bumper that my friend and fellow club member John Morris had found and told me about. It was in a service station with a "For Sale" sign on it. The second was a '75 British racing green that was being held hostage by a bitter ex-wife of an attomey, who was going to get the ultimate revenge by selling one of his most cherished possessions. I wanted the '75 so I made an offer of $1000, sighting the need of a new top and not knowing whether it ran or not. She said she would get back to me in a few days. I called and left a message several days later. She never got back to me, so I considered it a dead deal. I went back to the '74 instead. This car was owned by someone who moved to Michigan and left it with the local mechanic to sell. The asking price was $2500. I offered $1000, and after a heated discussion with the owner, (I had been the only offer in weeks), he counteres with $1,100 I gave him the extra $100 under the condition that he drive it the eight miles to my house to save my towing costs. Now I was on the road again.

One week later I got a call from the divorcee who apologized for not getting back to me. She countered my original offer with $1200. All of a sudden I've four MGBs and a wife who is not as understanding as usual. I had to assure her that this will be the last MG. I agreed to relinquish one of the cars. Since the black '75 had been tagged as an engine donor for the red '77, and the green '75 was up and running after minimal front end work. I sold the '74 to my next door neighbour, Ed Horbach. He bought it to replace a car that was totaled in the same accident that took out my Fiat.

The first Tuesday evening in November, Ed came over and was all excited about finding a parts car in the parking lot of a local fire station. He had stopped in and asked the dispatcher what was going on with it and was told it had been donated to be used for rescue training. Well train they did, using hydraulic "jaws of life" to force the doors open and break every piece of glass. It was a sorry sight, especially since from the best as I could tell it was a good solid car with only 68,000 miles on it. I'm guessing the owner did not feel like dropping several hundred into it for a clutch replacement. Ed had been given permission to remove anything he wanted. We started to disassemble the car at 8.30 PM in a dark parking lot, with a couple of flash lights and two tool boxes. After two hours, having removed everything we could and ready to call it a night, Ed said the words I will never forget, "Hey Dave, do you think it has an overdrive transmission in it?". Well sure enough it did, and the next day I was having that towed over to my driveway. Now, I don't really count this as a car, it's more like just a lot of parts, but I don't think Eileen sees it that way.

A couple of weeks went by, when John and Ed came over and decided we should go out and look at a couple of cars we had heard about. So off we went to look at a '79 I had found on the Internet classifieds for $1,650 and one '74 John had found in the local paper for $3,500. The '79 had new tyres, Weber downdraft and a decent JVC stereo. I told the seller the last thing I needed was another car, but for $800 I'd take if off his hands. It wasn't his but he would ask his friend and get back to me. He got back to me the following day, agreeing to the offer. Trying to kill the deal, I told him he would have to deliver it. Well, the next day there it was. I tried to hide it under a green car cover so my wife would not see it when she came home from work. She spotted it though. I tried to tell her that I had the landscapers plant shrubs and shape them like a B and that he didn't want anybody to see it until the next day when he finished, so he covered it. She didn't buy that either, so I guess I was busted. I then promised that this would be my last M.G., and I meant it.

It's now a couple of months later and I've been true to my word. I'm slowly acquiring all the needed components to complete a chrome bumper conversion on the '79 and plan to paint it Midnight Blue instead of its present Electric Blue. The remaining section of the original Black B is slated for tag along trailer duties, later this year.

I hope to see many of you out on the show fields this year. I would suggest to those of you who are getting a little flak about a second or third car, to show this to your spouse, buy the car and say these words "This will B the last M.G., I promise".

David Deutsch also maintains the list of events in the N.E USA

Images of David's cars

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