GT-42: Another One For the Ages

Photo for GT-42: Another One For the Ages

No, not “For the Aged,” though there are some of us who have earned that title; and our beloved MGAs (Magnettes and Variants) are seniors now at 55 years of age or older.

The 2017 NAMGAR Get Together in the Santa Ynez Valley was a success by all accounts. There was a plentiful mix of MGA models, variants, and other MGs. The schedule was very full with enough to wear-down any MGA nut. The weather was hot inland, especially on arrival day, but moderate nearer the coast and on succeeding days. The car show was set in a beautiful historic location, next to the old Spanish mission in Solvang, right near the host hotel. Car show day started with coastal fog and cool temps.

OrganizersOrganizers Lorin Cuthbert (l) & Mike Jacobsen (r)

The car show field almost turned out to a bit too historic. This year’s last minute worry ensued when an archeological survey found the bones of 1000 or more Indians buried in that field. However, they only asked us to avoid the small area next to the mission where digging was in progress.

Show FieldCar Show Field

The heat on Sunday in the approaches to the GT was a burden to many folks. Even Californians got caught by the heat on Highway 101 north of the Valley. And bridge work caused an added delay for some folks right in the hot hours of the afternoon. Many attendees arrived ‘medium well done.’

Event Organizer Andy Preston of Sonoma County reported, “Marla and I left on Sunday and drove our MGA Coupe the 350 miles to Solvang on the hottest day of the year. And it was hot, hot, hot with the mercury in three digit range for most of the way. Passing through Paso Robles it was 105°F outside the car and just a little warmer inside the little bubble roof coupe.

“Even though we were toasty I was more concerned about the engine temperature which slowly climbed to 212°F and stayed there for the next 100 miles. As we approached Solvang it climbed to 225°F when we got stuck in traffic. I thought the engine was going to explode, but it just kept on going and we made it to the hotel safe and sound.

“Everyone had stories about the heat and their cars as most of the ‘A’s were running at over 212°F. One guy had his temperature gauge reading in the oil pressure side of the dual gauge at 100 psi. As someone said, these are very tough engines and I’m inclined to agree with him.

“I must admit to being somewhat exhausted when we arrived after driving 350 miles, but that was nothing. The Ocean-to-Ocean Caravan, a group of eight cars, started in Virginia and drove coast to coast covering around 3,200 miles in MGA roadsters (and one Magnette) in ten days! Now there’s a hardy bunch of MG enthusiasts and they all made it.”

The stories of those who drove to California from the Northwest, the East, and the Midwest are adventures worthy of note and a sense of achievement. See the NAMGAR website for a report on the Ocean-to-Ocean journey.  Peter and Anne Tilbury write about the caravan that started in Vancouver, British Columbia on the website.

The Santa Ynez Valley was perfect for car drives. We had a BBQ dinner one evening at a waterfall park. Solvang is a fun town for tourists with no shortage of pastries and ice cream. The four days just zipped by with more activities packed into each day than anyone could do.


Among the events organized were tech sessions, John Twist's Rolling Tech session, brewery and wine tours, a winery dinner and entertainment, a Santa Maria-style BBQ held at Nojoqui Falls Park, tours to the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum, Mendenhall's Museum of Gasoline Pumps and Petroliana, and Moss Motors in Goleta. Some folks drove as far as San Simeon to tour the majestic Hearst Castle.

ChowSanta Maria-Style BBQ at Nojoqui Falls Park

From Event Organizer Mike Jacobsen, “Unbeknownst to us, our wash rack was illegal. There's a Solvang city ordinance about directing oily or soapy water into a storm drain instead of a sewer. On Wednesday the police showed up to ask that the wash area be closed. We were okay with that, since the car show had started and there was no longer a need for the car wash area. The hotel thinks the police were tipped off by an unhappy employee. I think it was nice of them to wait until the show started, whether or not the delay was on purpose.”

Hard to believe, but there was a young twenty year old at the GT with an MGA! Daniel Harrison had watched most of John Twist's videos, and also called him several times while restoring his ‘A,’ so when he met John at the Rolling Tech Session, he was thrilled and thanked him profusely. Daniel brought his car to the tech session because it just didn't seem to develop as much power as he thought it should. He and a friend had done some work to increase the power, but he couldn't tell much difference when driving. John checked some things, and then told Daniel that the lever arm on his throttle linkage was at 45 degrees instead of at 90, and that if he repositioned the arm, the throttle plates would open all the way and he'd find the missing power. Hallelujah!

Daniel Harrison's MGA

Daniel's car license plate read "Hell On Wheels" to me, but later I learned that the proper translation was "Helen's Wheels." He started restoring the car, a gift from his mom, Helen, who had a terminal illness. She died before it was finished, but she saw a lot of the work. He'd bought a ticket to the banquet, and after talking to John, he bought tickets for his dad and kid brother too. At the banquet he received a special award for "Keeping the Flame Alive" from Larry Pittman. It was a very nice touch.

We had a small raffle at the awards dinner. The first item we raffled was the new chrome-over-brass MGA grille that Cecilia Bruce had developed. It went first so that everyone would have a chance. The winning ticket was held by Brian Woodhams. We told him that he must have won because it was also his birthday. (Alan Magnuson spilled the beans on that, and everyone there sang Happy Birthday.) But Brian made a short speech to say that while he was pleased to win, he thought there was someone else who really deserved it, after driving across the country. Brian said that during the trip this fellow hit a dog, really damaged his car, and now needed a new grille. He then gave the grille to George Kress. (George assured us that the dog survived.)

So that’s the story of GT-42…another grand NAMGAR adventure is in the books. Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, from Mike Jacobson, Lorin Cuthbert, and Dan Shockey, to the behind the scenes warriors who sent everyone home with sunburns and smiles. It was a great event!

Queue for John TwistThe line up for John Twists's Rolling Tech Session.

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Last updated on September 26, 2017.