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The Red MG Diaries

2006-05-25 07:13

This classic MGB Tourer is only 37 years young

Chris Emmanuel

Times they are a changing... in fact they are changing so fast that change is now the only constant. Time to maybe push pause, or just slow things down a little.

Some may argue that driving at 190km/h in an ABS and airbag clad, out-of-the-box car is what motoring is all about and in fact the argument has a mass of merits behind it but who is sticking up for the other guy, the one that looks at the heritage of the automobile and decides to ditch the low emissions micro car of today and replace it with the engine noise, whistles and rattles of the past.

37 years ago my newest arrival rolled off the production line. New to me, but very old to us all, this dream of a car has been bringing pleasure to its drivers in more ways than one for years gone by. Enter my new red, oh so red, 1969 MGB Tourer.

Not surprisingly, no one talks much about these cars, except for the few insiders who sit in quite pubs and smoking rooms and revel in the joy of owning one, the remnants of the gentleman's clubs of the past.

It reminds me a bit of that thing that Capetonians say when you first arrive in their confusing, windey roaded city. "If you get lost, just keep THE MOUNTAIN on your right!"

What a croc, for those of us not from this area, ok I exclude the Natal Midlands, molehills are considered mountains, and in case you people in the Cape haven't realised, you have lots of real mountains to go around with the flat part of the starring one only visible form one angle!

My point is, people just don't tell the truth about classic cars, as Captonians just don't tell the truth when they give directions. It's a conspiracy on both fronts to keep the outsiders at bay.

Unlike the 10 years it took me to become an 'official' Capetonian, it only took a second to be let in to the secrets of driving an MG. Is driving an MG like having a love affair? Firstly you will know the one for you at first sight and secondly it is bitter sweet.

So much weighs on your mind when making this move from leather interior and low road noise, to the conspirators description of very unreliable and expensive to maintain.

It's a leap of faith into the past. The minute you start that motor you know that the quirks are gonna start, and keep on coming and that's what makes it all worth while.

Right choice

OK, just a point to note! If you have 2.5 kids, a Labrador and a miniature Daschund and a heavily pregnant wife this is just not the choice for you, unless you are trying to get thrown out of the whole equation.

However, if you are 29, as I am, have no impending marriage or family plans, are sick of massive repayments and don't really mind taking a bit longer to get from A to B I am yet to find the pitfalls.

Not only did I laugh out loud, as I do a lot these days, when the insurance company told me how little it would cost to insure this car, but since purchase, now a month ago, every day has been a driving pleasure.

It's hard to conceive that a car so old, hold your hats and scarves, can hit 160km/h, at a major push!

Even more surprising is that my fuel bill is likely to go down as the consumption figures to date seem to be beating my now sold modern machine not to mention that for the price I paid you can't even buy the bottom of the range Citi Golf. And wait for it, if you need it, you can even get financing on it.

Driving with a Cheshire cat grin the other day, my rev counter and indicators stopped working. I thought, here comes trouble.

Somewhere in the recesses of my memories, I recalled an old tale my grandfather used to tell about something called a fuse, could it be that simple.

Three seconds after popping the hood I had found the fuse box, all of 2 fuses in a plastic casing, all of 5 minutes later I had a new fuse from one of the hundreds of electrical stores, and all of one rand later I had fixed her myself.

Try that little magic trick with a computer controlled modern wonder.

Next six months

I will try to be objective here. My task is to take you on a journey for the next six months through my words. The joys and sorrows, pleasures and regrets of trading in my brand new car for a brand old one.

Maybe it will give you all the courage to go out and buy one, or maybe it will make you sink deeper into your plush leather seats and let the aircon cool your brow while knowing you are in the right car for you.

Either way, we all have a dream of owning a classic convertible, I just went and bit the bullet and have taken the chance. So come with me, the passenger seat is all yours, after all, what's a joyride without good company...

  • Read the next chapter of Red MG Diaries at the end of June

    Bullet: Name, set and match!

    2012-04-16 16:47

    Inside Wheels24

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