History Repeats Itself, So Let’s Do It Again!

Photo for History Repeats Itself, So Let’s Do It Again!

This article is about my thoughts on long distance driving in an MGA, or any of the other amazing MGs I have encountered. Some people have little faith in these old cars. They feel they will not go more than a few city blocks without a major breakdown.

But I am here to tell you, along with many other people who have driven their cars to many GTs, that with the proper preparation, these cars will take you anywhere you want to go in the U.S. and Canada. This is particularly true with the MGA.

My longest drive began in 2010. It was at GT 35 in Delevan, Wisconsin, when my wife, Cyndi, heard that the next GT was to be in Reno, Nevada. She said we had to drive our MGA to Reno in 2011. I said “are you kidding me? My body will not take a drive that far.” I did not think for one minute the MGA would not make the trip. She said that the trip was something we had to do, and she knew my old body could make it. Since she sets up our travel schedule, we were going to Reno!

The discussion for the trip began with decisions - are we going to trailer the car, drive the car, or ship the car? Cyndi decided we would drive the MGA to Reno, and that we should go on to the coast after the GT. We should drive all the way across the country. As planning began, along came the Rally to Reno announcement. Many people were going to drive to the All MG event in various MG types. The announcement included a plan to drive to San Francisco, and to ship the cars back to the East coast on a car carrier. This was the perfect solution to a long trip. We were going to do it; drive a 1959 MGA 3000 plus miles. This is not just a mile or so from its home. It is a drive to the West coast!

Next began the preparations for the trip. I felt my car was reliable, but it needed to be checked out for a long trip. I had put 4 new tires on it in 2010, so I began by changing all the oils, lubricating all joints, inspecting and greasing the front wheel bearings, inspecting the condition of all the brake components, inspecting all the suspension components, adjusting the valves, and checking anything else I could think of at the time!

We packed the MGA, and set out on our journey, with the top down and with great expectations. The drive turned out to be another great drive in an MGA. It was outstanding. My wife and I met George Kress in Pittsburgh, and we joined up with other MG enthusiasts in Cincinnati, Ohio. We had a wonderful time meeting new people and enjoying the ride. The car ran great, and my body was doing fine. It really was not a test of body endurance as I had feared. Each day was a new adventure. We went up in the arch in St. Louis, we were in the hot sun in the plains states, we were in the mountains having a snowball fight in Colorado and tinkering with old cars at night. It does not get much better than that. All was going great.

St Louis

Then in Carson City, Nevada, the engine started to lose power and misfire. I suspected a head gasket had decided it was time for a serious test of our good time. It was a blown gasket between numbers 2 and 3 cylinders, with no water in the cylinders. That is why I was able to drive it the remaining 60 miles to Reno. When we got to the hotel in Reno, the pool was closed for maintenance. What else to do for an afternoon without a pool, but to put in a new head gasket. With a lot of people offering tools, if we needed them, and a basic knowledge of what needed to be done, by late afternoon we were finished with a new gasket installed. By late afternoon the MGA was “on the road again”, as the song goes. This was just another day of MG fun!

After the Reno event was over, we drove on to San Francisco to complete an ocean-to-ocean drive. These were great times and lots of fun. In San Francisco we put the MGA on a car carrier, and shipped it back to New Jersey. This was the option I chose for the return trip. I was not taking any further chances with my body. I am planning on doing it again next year, and I hope to see many of you with the same big smile on your face as I had when I returned home. Because there is nothing like telling someone that you drove your old 1959 MGA to San Francisco and seeing them react. Just set your mind to it and LET’ S DO IT AGAIN. Plan to join me on another great coast to coast adventure to GT 42 in Solvang, California, in June of 2017.

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Reader Comments (2)

Picture of Michael Tooke
Michael Tooke (Santa Paula, CA)
on October 17, 2016 12:25am
Good story! I love road trips and have driven coast to coast six times in the last 15 years...but not in a vintage British car. My wife says that when we lived in Connecticut we would have gone to Europe more often if I could drive there.
Picture of Han Volkers
Han Volkers (Europe / The Netherlands)
on January 23, 2017 5:38am
Hi Ben,

Do you agree when we use this nice article in our magazine 'The Octagon'?

Best greetings,

Han Volkers
Chairman of the MGA Type & Magnette Owners Club Holland (MGATO)

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Last updated on October 16, 2016.