Number 44 Returns

Photo for Number 44 Returns

Imagine the scenario... You are a young Australian; it is 1977 and you are traveling around North America in a VW Combi with your new wife. You meet someone at an MG rally in Florida who invites you to visit them when you are in their area next.

You eventually visit your new friend and he shows you around his workshop and introduces you to his mate next door – a panel beater. In the far corner of the panel beaters yard, in the open with plants rooting in the passenger compartment, lays a rust bucket and you casually ask – “What is that?”

Ian & Pam's Sebring MGAIan & Pam's Sebring MGA

Fortunately this is a true story and it turned out to be a Morris Garages, Abingdon factory, 1961, race prepared, pushrod engined, Deluxe, Sebring MGA and Ian & Pam Prior became the proud owners of the only MGA that ever won its class at a 12 Hour Sebring race meeting – in 1961! (Also in the picture is a Talbot Lago).

Ian is a long time, passionate MG owner who lives in Melbourne and our friendship started when Ian & Pam, Gary & Anita and Laurel & I, shipped our MGA’s to the UK in 2005 to take part in the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the MGA to the world in 1955.

Original Sebring MGAsSome of the original Sebring MGAs

As March 2012 was to be the 50th anniversary since a factory-prepared MGA had entered the 12-Hour Sebring race meeting in Florida, Ian planned to “tart up” his beautifully restored, Deluxe MGA and ship it to the USA to meet the other MGA that ran second in the same race in 1961 and to show the Americans what #44 looks like today!

After a torrid time spent at customs in Savannah, Ian and his Aussie friends received their three MGs and headed for Amelia Island Concours and Sebring to take part in these two prestigious events. The sight of nine factory-prepared Sebring MGAs assembled in a row on the 18th green of Amelia Island golf club in full sunshine was seriously a privilege to behold! It will never be repeated and I am so grateful to have been invited to share the experience!

Then it was off to Sebring and the excitement of attending a 12 hour race meeting – 10.30am to 10.30pm! It was electrifying, to say the least, to mingle amongst the drivers and mechanics in the pits, to see the vast number and range of classic cars ready for battle, to hear them start their engines, to watch their helpers scurrying around before their steeds head for the start line and to hear them roar down the main straight on full song and in perfect weather – 3 days of hard racing, warm friendships and perfect weather! I know I am an MG Tragic, but does life get any better than this?!

The highlight of the weekend – and there were many highlights to choose from – was meeting the current owners of 8 of the 10 known surviving Sebring MGAs in the world. Needless to say, all were passionate about their cars and had collected pages of history covering the exact set-up of their cars, details of previous owners and drivers, lists of race tracks each had driven on and how well they had done.

Laurel and I and the Aussie Contingent – as we were referred to - were made welcome everywhere we went and proved that the MG International Family is alive and well in the USA as well!

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Reader Comments (1)

Picture of Paul J McCurdy
Paul J McCurdy (Ridgway, PA)
on April 25, 2012 2:59pm
That is a tale worth the telling. I would enjoy reading or hearing an expanded more detailed version.

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Last updated on April 22, 2012.