MGs

I have always been devoted to MGs. The first one was a MG. M – a two-seater with boat-shaped tail. The engine was the Morris Minor OHC 850cc and it delivered about 33hp. With its single S.U. carburettor. I bought it about 1935 and when War came I stored it in the open in our shrubbery at Berwyn, Malvern.

After marrying Ann in 1943 I decided it would be nice to have it at my house at Lane End. My brother Martyn and I set forth in Ann’s Austin 10 to fetch it. The MG’s body had rotted away from the chassis and was beyond repair, but the radiator with its badge was saveable so off we set on the 110 mile journey with my brother in the Austin and me in the bare chassis. I had managed to get the engine running before we started which was to prove vital as the clutch on the Austin was on its last legs and would start slipping if provoked. So whenever we came to anything more than a gentle rise I would start the MG’s engine and we would complete the climb with the tow rope slack.

The next job was to find a body for what was still a perfectly good chassis. At that time in the war most large fields had scrapped cars dotted about all over them to deter enemy forces from using them. There were many such fields within our operating range as a training airfield and I asked my fellow instructors to see if they could spot any old Morris Minors amongst them. We had luck, although not in any of these fields. An instructor found what looked promising on the front of a small garage in Haslemere, the other side of Wycombe. I investigated and discovered it was a Morris Minor with an open 4-seater body. It had been dumped there and I was told I could have it for £10 if I would take it away. I bought it. It was a McEvoy Morris. The engine in it was the SV Morris which I didn’t need. It fitted my chassis perfectly and only required a new canvas hood – which Ann made.

It was on this car that the development of the Verdik petrol economiser was carried out and it was in this car that we set off for our first holiday abroad after the war – to Switzerland where we met Mr Frey, the head of Scintilla Magnetos who arranged to manufacture the Verdik for me.

I remember selling this MG vividly – we had moved to Colliers Corner, so the date must have been after 1951. We got £58 for it and never before or since have I seen one of my cars go away and found uncontrollable tears in my eyes.

Several MGs followed and all were enjoyed, especially the 6-cylinder Magnette with Wilson pre-selector gearbox which Ann loved to drive. Our last MG was a Midget which was bought by Linden’s Best Man at her wedding (Dave Harris) and he had many years of happy driving in it before selling it fairly recently. I sold it when I had an opportunity to buy an Alfa-Romeo Spider. This was a car I had always wanted but could never afford. It was a 1986 model entirely rust free and with a low mileage and in Alfa Red.

If I have any regrets it would only be that it did not have power steering. But perhaps this is why I was able to afford it! But it was the lack of power steering that made me sell it as I became older and had to face the fact that the time was coming when I would have to stop driving altogether. But I have enjoyed a wonderful life of motoring – over 70 years and free of accidents and insurance claims and one cannot ask for more.

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