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The November business meeting of the MGCC Western NY, the last meeting of 1996, was called to order at 7:52 PM by Chairman Phil Parisi. The meeting started after members had a chance to view a regalia sales display. The minutes of the October meeting, were accepted as written.
No guests were present; one new member was welcomed. Phil reminded the attendees that new member's and guests get red-bordered name tags so that new members can more quickly meet them.
Matt Ribis gave the treasurer's report. 1996 Charitable Donations have been distributed. All accounts are in order. An early reminder ...... Dues will be Due January 1......
Anne Faust discussed activities next. The Halloween Rallye and Garage Tour were both quite successful with large turnouts. The last event of the year is the Holiday Party on Dec. 14. Anne introduced Suzanne Glanville. Suzanne spoke briefly about upcoming events in January, February and March: wine and cheese party, March Steak Roast and others. Details for all events can be found elsewhere in Spokes. Many thanks to Anne Faust for a job well done as Activities Chair.
The November meeting included a special Regalia sale, coordinated by Dave Chase. Dave reported that a special stainless steel fixture for mounting badges to the front of rubber bumper MGBs (without modifying/drilling the car) may be available for an approximate price of $7.00 each. Also, an MG gold pendant is available. Dave will be purchasing a sample to show members with the aim of possibly placing a group order. Please contact Dave Chase details.
The Spokes report was given by Vince Capaccio. There will be a December issue (which will be obvious by the time you read this...). Vince and Cindy are interested in getting photos for the January Calendar issue.
The Vice-Chair's report was given by Jim Priestley. Jim reiterated the Regalia Sale theme and explained the prizes for the biggest spenders. The January, 1997 meeting will feature a 20 minute performance by a Rockabilly band following the meeting.
Car Show publishing efforts will need to start in a timely manner this year. George Herschell is searching for recent photos from the show (black/white or color, will be returned if labelled). These photos are needed ASAP.
Phil gave this Chairman's report. Business cards are completed and available. Roadster Factory provided a Christmas idea book which was available for viewing. A company called Sports Car International has developed a cross-flow cylinder head for MGA/MGB engines.
Elections for 1997 offices were held next. By majority vote (of the quorum present), the entire slate of nominees was elected.
Phil noted that the Charitable Contributions committee for 1997 consists of Gil Langswager, Ted Hershey, and Al Wagner. Please provide input and suggestions to them for 1997 donations.
In New Business, Phil described the current situation with the Treasury computer. It is an extremely old 80/86 model (approximately 5 generations back from current units). The club has its financial records on "Quicken" software. In recent years when Wendy Priestley was Treasurer, she used her own PC to update the records. More recently in 1996, Matt Ribis has found the club computer to be ineffective. Phil is therefore searching for a 386 or 486 processor with 4 MEG or RAM for use by the Club Treasurer (2 or 3 generations behind current but more than sufficient for the club needs). Can anyone provide a unit for the club? Lease contact Phil
In other New Business, it was suggested, discussed and agreed (without formal vote) that additional money would be shifted from checking to savings. It was agreed that this would be generally done at the discretion of the Board while maintaining balances greater than the Cash Reserve policy specifies.
Next, a discussion was held regarding the previous practice of the club where a dinner was held prior to the meeting at the previous meeting location. Wendy Priestley agreed to investigate interest and availability and report back to the club with some potential options for 1997.
In Old Business, Charitable Contribution letters were sent out in early November....
I bought an MG. Hence, the title of this piece. Last year I was driving down a street in Jacksonville, North Carolina and I saw a 1970 BGT sitting in someone's side yard. I've been by that place every three months for the past two years and the car wasn't there before, so I knew it was parked sometime recently. They don't have front license plates in North Carolina. I couldn't tell if it was tagged and on the road without getting out to look. Which I did. No plate.
Out of curiosity, I got on my back and looked under the thing. I saw all original sills and spot welds and no rot. It looked solid but I didn't know much about to look for so I was skeptical.
The interior didn't look right. Some kind of odd fabric on the seats, but it fits well and doesn't look bad. Someone had installed a sun roof, probably as an alternative to air conditioning.
No one was home and my son-in-law agreed to stop back later and inquire about the status of the car. He did that and was told that the car needed some carburettor work and was not for sale. That was OK, I was only midly interested anyway.
In the meantime, I looked at a lot of Bs, both roadsters and GTs and began to get an appreciation of the problems that they can have. I learned a lot about rot, rust and sagging doors and began to get discouraged. For some reason, the GT has always appealed to me and I've had a nagging desire to own one. But I hate body and fender work and the prerequisite to avoid that is to spend a lot of money, which I also hate.
The North Carolina GT stayed there in the back of my mind.
During another trip last April, it was still there, in my mind, and parked in the same spot. I drove by it every day for a week and each time I couldn't resist looking at it. Other cars were parked in the driveway from time to time, Firebird, late model T-Bird, the ubiquitous pick up. Still the GT sat there nestled up next to a chain link fence, without even a plastic tarp to cover it.
The summer has come and gone. I put a new motor in my Morgan and subsequently, put a good number of miles on it. I got to work on several different British cars. Each time, learning something new. And, I made up my mind about something.
Twice now, I've passed up pretty good deals on cars I really wanted. My reasons were; no place to store it, I'll be moving soon, it needed a lot of work, etc., etc. In retrospect, this was the attitude of a non-enthusiast. However, I am an enthusiast and those passed up deals are gone forever. That's not going to happen again.
Back in North Carolina last week, I boldly went to the house where the GT was and knocked on the door.
The man who answered didn't look like my idea of the MG type. Tall, thin as a dipstick and a huge mane of thick, wavy red hair. He wore a pure white terry cloth robe and no shoes. At least $4,500 worth of gold chains and bracelets were draped around various parts of his body. He reminded me of a cross between Opie Taylor and Barry Gibb.
I asked if I could look at the GT and if it might be for sale. He began to mumble at me in a thick alcohol induced drawl. Eventually I was able to figure out that he worked nights and was just getting ready for bed. He really didn't want to sell the car, but he had his eye on a Corvette and I might have caught him at the right time. He said I could look the car over so I started looking at in detail and he went back in the house. He re-appeared in a few minutes with his jeans and a shirt on, still no shoes though.
The car is solid, no rot in the sills and the doors close with no droop so the hinges are still in good shape. From what he told me, it sounds like the fuel pump stopped working and he couldn't get anyone to fix it, so he just parked it. Other than that, it's a driver.
I made him an offer and started waving cash his face. Typically, he thought it was a lot more than what I offered him but I could see his mouth water at the sight of the cash. He said he'd have to think about it so I gave him my daughter's phone number and told him he could call me there the next day.
About two hours later he called and accepted my offer. Egad! I thought. I own an MG. Did I pay too much? Where will I put it?
"Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." I am an enthusiast and I saved an otherwise good British car from a probable ignominious fate. That's what I keep telling myself.
Mr Webster describes the word "patina" as " surface appearance of something grown beautiful especially with age or use." Mr Webster also give two pronunciations for the word, but like most people I prefer pa-ti-na.
Now that we've had our English lesson for the day we can get on to the small point that I would like to make. Simply put, "Some cars should not be restored". Now that I have opened Pandora's box, and before you all start ringing my phone at 3 a.m. let me explain the purpose of this statement.
Several times over the years I have viewed cars that were very old and still in original condition. These are not rust buckets or clinkers but cars that have been properly maintained, lubricated, and polished so that, although they may well be 50 or 60 years old or older, they have the original paint, leather, and carpets. It is also possible the engine has never been removed from the car or even rebuilt. Why restore a car like this?
Several years ago I was examining a really nice Bentley at Lime Rack and I couldn't help but feel a sort of attraction to the car because it was in original condition. The car had its original paint, even though it was rubbed through to the primer in several spots of warm glow that only leather can get if it is used repeatedly over the years. Even the engine was well wiped off but the old oil stains were allowed to remain and it gave the engine a sort of used but not abused look of something well looked after for some 60 odd years.
Now let me explain that I am not at all against restorations because many times it is the only way to go for a car that has reached a certain state of deterioration. What I am saying is that some cars in very fine original running condition should be left that way. It has also occurred to me that many of these such cars frequently are left at home when there is a car show or like event because they are not in the competition. Isn't it time for these cars to be bought out and appreciated? How about an award for the best original car or a class for original unrestored cars?
Recently I had the opportunity to talk on the phone to the man that purchased the Ford-powered Bugatti, "Scrambling Egg," about which I wrote a story a two years ago. (How this came about I will cover about I will cover at a later date.) I mentioned to him that I was happy to read that he was going to keep the car in its original state and not restore it. He said it was in very nice condition and really didn't need restoration. Besides, it had spent most of its life with the Ford power so he decided to leave it that way. He also said he used it regularly to run short errands.
In the antique business, in the last several years some people are beginning to appreciate the look of an old piece of furniture with half a dozen coats of paint or "patina" on it instead of a beautifully refinished or polished piece. In the antique firearms field, pieces that are reblued and polished are considered over restored and their value plummets.
This, of course, is mostly a matter of personal taste and to each his own. It just seems to me a shame to restore a car that is in fine original condition. My dad had a friend who had a Mercer Raceabout that he purchased just after the war for something like $750. The car was never restored while he passed away several years ago it was still in pretty much original condition, although it was painted once many years ago. It had a wonderful patina to the paint, leather and working parts. I have often wondered what happened to the Mercer and a 1931 V-16 Cadillac that he had purchased new.
I'll get off my soap box now and leave you folks to our holiday shopping. If you find a really nice original condition Ferrari or some such beast, just send it my way for the holidays. I'll keep it in fine original condition and promise I won't rub off the patina.
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