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British Cars

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09 Jan 2018 13:47 #188166 by zukebob
British Cars was created by zukebob
This is probably going to be a long winded rant. Hopefully it deserves it.

2 nights ago I found myself thinking about 11/60s post about cafe racers. I don’t know why I went back to it but I remembered the discussions about American cars in that thread. Although it did touch on it a little, I realized it never went too far into the “true” British cars. I would like to fix that.

As someone growing up in the U.S., I will freely admit that don’t know enough to really talk about this. Regardless, I will share some thoughts and memories. My first memory of cars from the UK was of the 1952 MG TD. My mother hated to drive and didn’t care much for cars either; the exception was the MG. That car was a dream (I was 16 at the time….not at the time of manufacture but during serious thought about a purchase) and it is one that never fully left. I’m sure maintenance would be a nightmare but I would still love to have one.

When I was going to college, I worked part time for a mechanic. I ended up buying a used Rover 2000 TC from him. It was a little bit of a unique car in the States but I have to admit I really enjoyed it….I enjoyed it even though it was a little bit of a maintenance nightmare too. I didn’t feel like 007 driving it but there was something special about it……even though I was stopped one time by the police and cited for excessive noise. I had some exhaust work done to silence it a little and went back to have the citation signed off. The officer thought that it was still a little too loud and I just said, “nah….that’s just British”. He let me go.

Shortly after graduating college (when I made the final decision to buy my first 4X4) I bought a brand new 1976 Toyota FJ40 Land Cruiser. Obviously that isn’t any more British than the Jimny, but I’m not done yet. Just before making that decision, I test drove and VERY seriously considered a brand new Land Rover….we’re talking a British Leyland Land Rover. There was no such thing as a Defender then. I was really, really close. Probably only went with the Toyota because I already had that one planted in my mind.

My final thought as my mind was wondering that evening was, I guess, a little bit somber. I remembered being at a training session at Armor Research Laboratories in Maryland and I met an engineer from the UK. As is often the case when men meet, it didn’t take long for our conversation to turn to cars. My new friend lamented that, while remembering the days of the British car, there was really no such thing anymore. While he was explaining to me that the British car companies are now all foreign owned my eyes just kind of glazed over.

As I said in the beginning, I will share my thoughts. What that really boils down to is the feeling that the classic British car is something that I will always look at as unique and timeless. If I ever get to England I will buy each of you (just the Brits on the forum) a pint for what was contributed to the automotive world. And I will say "thanks".

I started out with nothing & still have most of it left

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09 Jan 2018 19:47 - 09 Jan 2018 19:48 #188187 by Barry
Replied by Barry on topic British Cars
There are British cars that are truly timeless and special. The original Mini was definitely one. If you've never driven one then you've missed a real treat. It was like driving a go-kart on the roads! I passed my test in one, and I loved it. It was incredibly unsafe, but had enormous character. The Morris Minor was another with character, but it didn't have much else going for it. The gearchange was like stirring porridge with a stick. The MGB V8 was a cracker, especially on winding roads. God, I STILL love that car - even if it could decapitate you. The Austin Healey was beautiful. The Jaguar XJ6 was supreme to drive - just wafted along - fantastic. And then there's the Land Rover Defender. The Defender has a lot of character, but is just so flawed. You own one with your heart, not your head. It should be a crime that Land Rover never properly updated it. Nowadays, no car is what it seems - bits of it will be made all over the globe. I truly hate the way Land Rover has gone global and forgotten it was once a real British company. Even Bentley (German) are trying really hard to hold on to 'being British' - each of their concept cars are right-hand drive! Whereas Land Rover do every single car photo (even on their UK website) in left-hand drive!

Britain has added to the automotive world something special - along with the US, Germany, Japan, Italy, and even France. So I'll take up your offer of a pint, but (and you'll like this) my favourite tipple is actually a Budweiser! Come visit Britain - just do NOT go to London! Trust me on that one.
Last edit: 09 Jan 2018 19:48 by Barry.
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09 Jan 2018 23:03 - 09 Jan 2018 23:04 #188203 by Daniel30
Replied by Daniel30 on topic British Cars
I will have a fast road mini again one day
It's on my bucket list ;)

I had two of them and loved them
Last edit: 09 Jan 2018 23:04 by Daniel30.

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10 Jan 2018 01:25 #188206 by zukebob
Replied by zukebob on topic British Cars
Yes Daniel. The Mini was another one of my dreams. Never drove one but I am sure they were fun.

Well Barry, I have to admit my Jaguar dream was an XKE. My brother owned an XJ for a while. I don't know what year but it was a nice car. I hope you drink your Budweiser cold. I just can't imagine this warm ale stuff.

Triumph TR6 was another dream. If only I had been born a millionaire.

I started out with nothing & still have most of it left

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10 Jan 2018 05:05 - 10 Jan 2018 05:06 #188210 by Lambert
Replied by Lambert on topic British Cars
Of the British cars only 3 stand out to me. First of all the Austin Healey 3000, not particularly bothered about which exact trim but less chrome is more better. Secondly just because I can a Morgan plus8 in powder blue. Thirdly even though it isn't properly British being a Ford a mk1 Mexico, preferably in full rally spec.

It's not a Jimny. It's my Jimny

Mooo said Ermintrude (black)
Boing said Zebedee (blue)
Last edit: 10 Jan 2018 05:06 by Lambert.

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10 Jan 2018 09:16 #188225 by Barry
Replied by Barry on topic British Cars
Bloke I worked with back in 1976 had a escort Mexico in black with gold wheels. After that I think he had a RS2000. The only car I have ever really lusted after was an Escort Cosworth. It was £26,000 new if I remember correctly, and I had just bought a house, so the Cossie was out of the question. They go for £30k now.

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10 Jan 2018 09:47 #188227 by Lambert
Replied by Lambert on topic British Cars
Had a mate with a cossie that was good for about 350hp. You could feel it fight for grip at each end if you put your toe in it. Mental.

It's not a Jimny. It's my Jimny

Mooo said Ermintrude (black)
Boing said Zebedee (blue)

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22 Mar 2018 14:32 - 22 Mar 2018 14:36 #190734 by Max Headroom
Replied by Max Headroom on topic British Cars
Zukebob

I know this is an old discussion now, but I am new to the forum and still cruising around it catching up on who is who and what is what in the world of Jimny.

Your article struck a chord with me because I am lucky enough to own an old MG - much older than an MG TD however; a 1932 MG J2 Midget.
I've owned the J2 since my mid twenties when I was still in the RAF, purchasing it in the mid 80s.
Unfortunately just after the first 5 years of my tenure it was badly damaged in a fire, and its only in the last four years or so that I have resurrected the project and started all over again.
It is a labour of love for sure, but I'm now making huge steps with it. Rarity of parts is something of an issue at various stages, and for some reason MGs and their parts have always commanded high market values. Having said that, once you have your foot in the door you will never lose money on them. By comparison Austin Sevens are incredibly cheap and everything is readily available, and the Austin is a car one can have just as much fun with as any MG.

So why did I buy an MG? Well, its quite a story - my father bought a 1979 MG for me for me, when I was 20 years old, in order to try and get me off motorbikes (I was looking at buying a Laverda Jota with a view to racing it at the time, and my father thought it was a step too far). The Abingdon factory was being closed as Leyland losses bit hard, and dad said "Get yourself an MG - they'll be valuable one day" - but to be honest Iwasn't interested - I wanted to race bikes.
A colleague had a new MG Midget and noticed me taking a look at it one day, he asked if I was thinking of getting one and I said no, but my dad wanted me to have one instead of a new bike. He offered to take me for a spin in it that afternoon. It was a glorious summers day in Pembrokeshire and we went out with the roof down along all the coastal roads for a good few hours ...The bike idea quickly began to evaporate and I became hooked on the concept of open-air motoring and my father eventually bought me a 6 month old Midget which stayed in my possession until 1999 when I left the RAF and very regretfully sold in order to help finance a house purchase.
During that time with the Midget I not only enthusiastically got involved with the MG fraternity but became fascinated about MG history and dreamed of owning a historic model, and soon I bought a basket-case J2 in 1986 with the intention of doing some kind of 'running' restoration, but instead it quickly became a ground up, every-nut-and-bolt restoration.
I also spent a huge amount of time researching the car's history, eventually tracing its first owner, still alive and well, and we met up. He told me masses of stories about the J2 although he didn't keep it longer then 18 months. For the next few years we exchanged a lot of letters which I have to this day.
A fire in 1990 wrecked everything and the old boy never got to see the J2 returned to its former glory - in fact, I never even had the heart to tell him what had happened, and he passed in 1996 without ever knowing.

After the fire, I shelved the project and only started it again some four years ago. This time however, I was starting from scratch with less parts than ever.
Shortly after resurrecting the project a very strange sequence of events occurred...
I accidentally stumbled on an old photo of the J2 on the internet clearly being driven in a trial. (The first owner had told me he had never driven it in any type of motoring event leave alone taken it to any event as a spectator!)
To cut a long story short, the photo was taken in Dec of 1934 when it was with the second owner a fairly well-known trials driver of the time.
The 2nd owner had lived in a neighbouring village to my girlfriend at the time,
Then three original log books suddenly turned up out of nowhere dated from 1953 to 1965!
Then research found the same photo on the internet had been used in an article reporting on the London to Gloucester trial of 1934 and included the same photo.
Genealogy sites helped me trace the son of the second owner and we are now both firm friends. He believes he may still have his fathers car badges that were on the car when it was photographed - quite something if they could be reunited with the car after some 80 years!

To top that, last April, my old 1979 white Midget that my dad had bought me came up for sale; i found it by complete accident on eBay and bought it back!

Over the years having all the rusting parts around me left over from the fire, I have many times come close to selling the project on, and thought about buying myself a 'going concern' such as either a later T type like the TD or another pre-war MG. Owning one is not the problem; parts are available, maintenance is very simple and easy to do. Its rebuilding a basket case that is the challenge.
However tenacity overruled me and J2 is now back on its wheels (just) for the first time since the fire, and I can feel that progress is at last being made - there is a light beginning to appear at the end of the tunnel at long last.

The TD is well-catered for in terms of back-up and spares and there is even a conversion for it giving it a 5-speed g'box. It's easy to drive as it has 'modern' front suspension so the practicality of owning a late T type go far beyond that of my J2.

So in conclusion Zukebob, I really think you should treat yourself in honour of your past connections to the TD and give in to temptation. Who knows - that car may well have survived and still be out there waiting for you!

As for me, my love of open air motoring has never diminished and is the reason I now have an open-top Jimny...


IF IT AINT BROKE, KEEP FIXING IT UNTIL IT IS
Last edit: 22 Mar 2018 14:36 by Max Headroom.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Lambert

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22 Mar 2018 15:28 #190738 by yakuza
Replied by yakuza on topic British Cars
I just love that you guys are so.. British! :)

Here in Norway the closest i got to owning a british car was a 1987 Ford Escort that i think was actually german...
Norwegians owning british cars is often kind of extraordinary lovely people.
I guess you got the same thing in britain with people that own saabs.. or other not so ordinary cars.
Allways something to talk about with people like ourselves that love strange cars..

2005 Jimny M16A VVT, 2" Trailmaster, 235/75-15 MT
1987 SJ413 lwb, G16BB, 4" trailmaster, 2xARB, 4.16:1 transfer, 325/60-15 MT -project in pieces..

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22 Mar 2018 18:59 #190750 by Lambert
Replied by Lambert on topic British Cars
Max Headroom, good writeup and thanks for sharing.

It's not a Jimny. It's my Jimny

Mooo said Ermintrude (black)
Boing said Zebedee (blue)

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23 Mar 2018 00:24 #190764 by zukebob
Replied by zukebob on topic British Cars
Oooohh....+1 on Lambert's comment.

A 1932 MG J2 Midget....yeah, that'll do.

Unfortunately, my lusting for a1952 MG days are done. After retiring, I moved to the Philippines. Finding one here is impossible, importing one would be even harder and supporting it (mechanically) would be a nightmare. I am left simply with envying what you are doing. I hope you can post some occasional updates.

In spite of the downsides you mention, which are the main reasons I never considered a prewar MG, I do have to say that there is something that has always attracted me about the cars with those skinny spoke wheels. At first the term "elegant" comes to mind but that isn't really it. I think it is really what defines the term "classic".

Well done.

I started out with nothing & still have most of it left
The following user(s) said Thank You: Max Headroom

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23 Mar 2018 06:09 - 23 Mar 2018 06:13 #190769 by Max Headroom
Replied by Max Headroom on topic British Cars
Yakuza,
I just sold my beloved SAAB 93 TDi Vector Convertible for the Jimny! I'm still a moderator on a SAAB Tech Talk forum and they don't want me to leave because they love the on-going updates on the MG front!
The SAAB was a fabulous car; I bought it about 7 years ago when SAAB was lurching from one unknown future to another, and I was gutted that GM finally pulled the plug them as if saying "If we cant have SAAB nobody else will either". I swear I will never buy another GM car because of what they did to SAAB.
On a different note, I have had some great times in Norway with the RAF operating Puma helicopters out of Voss (I learned to ski in Voss) , Bergen, Trondheim, Bardufoss, Tromso and many other places. We were always there during Jan Feb and March every year, but I'd love to see Norway in the summer months - but its expensive there for us Brits :( . I also remember being stuck there in a place called Hell!
The last time I was in Norway must have been when we rescued a broken HS125 jet from Bergen that had a collapsed nose undercarriage leg back in 2010.

Lambert,
Thanks for your comment (and not getting mad at me for resurrecting an old thread :) ) I'm always pleased to share this stuff. The really old cars like the J2 are only in my tenure for a relatively short time and will be passed down to someone else after I have gone; I am only the caretaker of it - that's the way it is with something so historic.
Hopefully the little white MG Midget will also continue to be loved after I eventually part with it again. But for now I will drive it as much as I can (it keeps me feeling younger :woohoo: ). The difference between owning the J2 and the 'modern' Midget is that the J2 is on a restoration order, the Midget is on a preservation order - unfortunately I cannot afford to restore both! Although the white Midget looks good in the photos, there is a certain amount of work that needs doing; rebuilding the brakes ready for this summer season is just one.

Zukebob
Sorry I had no idea you had escaped to the Philippines! I'm sure there must be the odd old MG out there - the most odd place I saw an old MG was in Bahrain! I think it was a TC (1946ish) Driving in Bahrain was literally taking your life into your own hands and chancing it - the driving out there was so dangerous - not as bad as in Jordan but still bad.
I know the Philippines are full of old Willys Jeeps from the American presence that was there. A friend of mine here in the UK owns one - a worthy classic - well worth finding examples of them there and selling them on over here?
Keep your eyes on the Jimny forum I will certainly add updates on the progress of the J2 from time to time B)

Just for fun I made this.... It's a bit arty-farty but I intend to add to it sometime later... MG MIdget returns


IF IT AINT BROKE, KEEP FIXING IT UNTIL IT IS
Last edit: 23 Mar 2018 06:13 by Max Headroom.
The following user(s) said Thank You: zukebob, yakuza

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