My More Than Fifty Years Involvement with MGAs

Photo for My More Than Fifty Years Involvement with MGAs

I have been involved with MGs since I was in high school in the late 60’s. From an early age, I was always tinkering around - taking things apart to see how they worked from an early age.  My mom would yell at me to “get those parts out of her sink”.  

I bought my first MGA in 1971, and still own it. I had a choice of two different cars to buy and restore. The first one was a Ford Galaxy 500, and the second was an MGA. We all know which one I chose to work on. The stars in the sky must have been aligned correctly as my father happened to have an empty warehouse at that time.  It had a big empty loading area, where I was able to take the car apart and spread things out. I had never worked on a car before so I was going to learn under fire. I had to buy a shop manual. This was my guide to fixing the running gear and electrical system. My car of course had a Lucas electrical system and, as usual, it had burned out wires, and had shorts in the system. I bought a can of Lucas Smoke for Electrical Systems. As we all know that when we let the smoke out of the wires in our cars the electrical system fails. It was a great idea, but back to reality.

Jeff Becker and his MGA

After school I would go the warehouse. The car had a bad battery that would not start the car but gave me enough power to test circuits. I installed an inline fuse from the battery to the car, so the fuse would blow and not fry the electrical system. After hours of checking the MG manual wiring charts, the system was repaired. I was taking auto shop courses in college while I was in high school. I was able to use the shop to rebuild my engine head, brake system and so on. It was now time to start the engine. The engine would not turn over. My friends and I had to push the car out of the loading bay, and put it in 4th gear to the street to loosen up the engine. I tried to start the car again and finally it roared into life. The engine did not run smooth, and would not achieve full power. I looked at everything but could not figure it out. I called my cousin to help me. I thought I knew everything about getting it started. He asked me when I wired up the distributer cap, did I have the inside of the cap towards me, or did I have the top towards me? I told him the inside towards me and he changed two wires on the cap, and we tried the engine again. This time it roared to power with the sound of a Space Shuttle taking off.

This MGA was a part of my life in high school and then college.  Being a young man and looking for a date, the MGA sure helped out. Our MG club did road rallies, and sometimes I did not have a navigator. I was always able to get a girl to go with me. People that went with me still mention how much fun they had.  The car helped out again when I went to the sorority, and I was able to meet people because of my car. The MGA was only a starter for me to meet girls and I had to do the rest!!!!.

We now fast forward to 1991 to my wedding day. My wife was taken to the restaurant where we got married, and of course, I drove the MGA there.  After the evening of dining and music, my new wife and I had a 3-hour drive north to Santa Barbara. All I just hoped for was that there would not be a problem with the car.  We arrived and no problems. I thought this would be a great honeymoon.

The next morning we took off to Carmel, and we went for some mountain driving. I spoke too soon. On the way up the hill, the car overheated. We ended up sitting for about an hour to wait for the car to cool down. A Highway Patrol Officer came by and asked what was the problem. We told him what was wrong, and he then told us it was only ¾ mile to the top of the mountain. We took off and it was a cool drive down the hill.

We love to travel, and now get to meet many people in the MG world in many countries we visit. I have gone to visit our suppliers, and met the person I have been communicating with by phone or email. I now can put a face to the company I have ordered parts from.

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Reader Comments (2)

Picture of Joe Schandl
Joe Schandl (New Smyrna Beach, FL)
on July 20, 2016 3:58pm
Great story.My first car was also an mga purchased in 1971.Still have it.Going over a major rebuild now.I know the feeling of the car being part of your life.Happy motoring,enjoy the road.JOE.
Picture of Fred Woller
Fred Woller (Jacksonville Beach, FL)
on July 28, 2018 1:46pm
My first car was also an MGA purchased in 1976 between my sophmore and junior year in college. I still own it today 42 years later, and it runs great. Just a little harder to get into because of my knees. I'm now trying to teach my daughter how to drive a stick.

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Last updated on June 24, 2016.