The thing about old cars is someone’s always got a tale to tell, well so it happened one day at the office. I got into a conversation about an old MG that had been parked up with a petrol leak and then forgotten.
Now for a word of advice, any sentence that starts with “I could take a look at….” is going to end in an experience similar to trapping your knob in your fly, in so much as you have to ask “how am I going to get out of this”
Not heeding my own advice I sailed headlong into the sea of good intention with “I could take a look at that” Little did I know that voyage would end up marooned on the island of “for fucks sake”, but that’s later in the take.
The MG was slowly dissolving in a rural barn, I turned up full of the optimism of a 5 minute job followed by the glow of victory and the adulation of all concerned. Initially, like these projects often do, the MG played along. The fault had been diagnosed, by others, as a leaking fuel tank. I took that at face value and ordered a new one from Midland Sports and Classic Ltd (http://www.mgpartsuk.co.uk/store/) via ebay (seller beckerman06) and it duly arrived.
Armed with the new tank I went to meet the old girl. First thought, “thats a new tank poking out from the rear valance” and so it was. It turns out the leak was just the carb balance pipe. Sheepishly I asked if I could return the tank that was now surplus to requirements… Absolutely no problem and I got a full refund – cant say fairer than that.
A quick replacement of the carb balance pipe plus a battery recharge and she’s up and running. Nothing seized, most of the car working, it even drove…..
Whats more it drove lovely. Suddenly I was back in the early 80’s, that unmistakable exhaust note between shifts, the cosyness of the cabin and the near masturbatory flick of the overdrive switch
This hazy afterglow of 10 minutes work, like the pied piper, lead me dancing into my next offer, let me MOT it for you I said.
“If you’re sure? ”
So, off I set to take the beloved MG home before taking it to a local test station. When I say taking it home, lets say nearly home. Nearly home before it started to be a 7o’s MG again. Coughing and farting its way along the road before finally coughing to an asthmatic stop.
OMG became MGF, (actually FMG – but doesn’t fit the model line up) this icon of British motoring became the little green twat in an instant.
Now we need to consult The Gospel according to StPetrol. In the beginning there was dark, then God asked Joseph Lucas to shed some light, and there was light. However, by the end of the second day all the electrics were shagged so God created the sun and sent Lucas to work with British Leyland – or something like that.
It seemed the ghost of Lucas past had returned to the MG….
I called my brother for a tow, he was suitably concerned by my plight and, when he stopped laughing, he agreed to meet me in his Land Rover. What I didn’t know was my dad had chosen that exact time to visit, as had his eldest son. A little while later the Land Rover full of hyenas arrived and laughing round two began. All very funny….NOT.
What they didn’t bring was a rope, or tools. So this wasn’t so much a rescue mission as the evenings entertainment. What a set of Bastards.
In an effort to break up the relentless piss taking I tried to start the car again and it burst into life, so, like something from a Le-Mans start, I hurled myself inside and floored it. In a roundabout way I made it home.
Next was the MOT, but before then a bit of a history lesson. The MG had belonged to a chap who had sadly died. His daughter had decided to renovate the car and taken it to Snowden’s of Harrogate. Mr Snowden relieved her of around £18,000 to restore the mechanical’s of the car. £18,000. Sorry I need to say that again, £18-fucking-thousand
The price when new (in 1978) was £3,897 and the value now? £3,000 (Max).
This was not going to end up with a glow of victory so much as a shower of shit, but it was too late to go back now.
The coughing and farting was diagnosed as a points issue and this was quickly rectified. The MG was alive again. It passed the MOT like a pub in dry January and “all” I had to do was sell it.
I went to a local specialist, nice chap, helpful but his price was £1,000. I was going to get lynched for this. Unperturbed I went to the Colosseum that is ebay and threw myself in with the Gladiators, Tigers and fucktards that populate the site.
I got the usual questions, well I say questions, here’s an example:-
Clearly master Yoda was interested in my car, to answer his question, I am looking for cash a lot, I’m always looking for cash, in fact I am the stereotypical cash hunter. As for the second bit “not” still hasn’t got one, as far as I am aware. Though to be fair I don’t actually know who not is.
After more of the same, the bidding continued until at last the auction was over and Brian of Tarth, actually brianoftarth, bought the car. Well I say bought it, actually he didn’t. Mysteriously Brian the fuckwit lost the ability to type, but more than that he lost the ability to pay for the bloody car he bought. brianoftarth you’re a twat.
So, after Brian disappeared I waited until after Christmas and relisted the MGB GT.
This time there were nice people who were interested, asked reasonable questions and could type words in actual English – what joy. This time the auction ended with a sale to a really nice chap who wants to keep and restore the car further. Plus it sold for more than Brian of Twatt, so this little story seemed to be drawing to a close.
New owner turned out to be an exceptionally nice chap. He travelled far and brought the gift of cash money. Looked around the car, started her up, and all seemed good. She was left ticking over whilst we did the paperwork and then off they went on their mammoth first journey to take the car home. Mammoth in so much as a couple of hundred yards later the MG expired….
Much tinkering later it still wasn’t having any of it so I took new owner back to the train station from whence they came and paid a visit to the pit of despair… It seemed like all the world to be a points or condenser issue again. So a full electronic ignition system was ordered for the nice people at Powerspark ( http://www.simonbbc.com/ ). The parts turned up and in a jiffy the new system was installed and the car was running well again. Just to be safe I checked the compression, which was fine, and then the tappets (given that the rough running happened when the car was warm) I found a tight exhaust tappet and reset it.
To add a belt to the braces that were the new ignition system, I dispatched the car to by favourite mechanic. The mad Irishman looked it over, took it for a long test ride and pronounced that “derrr’s fook all rang wid it” this I took to be a good sign and the new owner took yet another long train ride to gods county.
This time the old MG made it all the way to the petrol station, received a tank full of Morrisons finest and merrily set off on the mammoth journey home.
Turns out that on this occasion, it made 20 miles before “derrrs fook all rang wid it” became just plain “fooked”. I knew nothing of this until a text later that evening to say that the MG had performed flawlessly on the back of an AA truck for most of the journey, having died 20 miles into it.
There are two lessons to learn from this.
The nostalgia of old classic British sports cars is matched only by the time it takes to fix them.
There are still some thoroughly decent people in the world, one of them bought the MG
In many ways it was good to have an MG in my life, however in more important ways is better to say good bye. I hope it becomes the car its should always have been and wish the new owner well.
So the MG chapter is over, thank fuck for that!