Anyone who knows anything about classic cars is aware that the MG is an integral part of British motor history.
Despite the lowntaggered history surrounding Morris Garages and the recent rocky reappearance into the Australian market (which was met with a dubious lack of enthusiasm), the MG will forever be associated with the romanticism of suave open sports cars. We take a look at the appeal of the MG, and one man’s personal, if somewhat tumultuous, relationship with his 1967 MGB Mark 1.
Sexy vibes at an affordable price
“Grip the wheel of an MG, and you can feel generations of good times built into its DNA,” describes MG Motors Australia. There’s no denying that classic MG’s (namely those predating 1980) enjoy sleek designs, an air of freedom and a distinct association with adrenaline junkies. “It’s the everyday person’s classic sports car, particularly if you want a bit of a thrill in owning something like a race car,” says Kurt, the previous owner of a red 1967 MGB purchased in the late 90s. To put it plainly, it’s not the kind of car you buy for a family, but the kind you buy for yourself. He describes the satisfying sound of old-school twin carbi’s roaring through tunnels and the feel of switching gears on a mountain road, with a glazed look of happiness reminiscent of better times. But it wasn’t all fairy floss and rainbow-tinted glasses.
Imperfections that increase character
“The fun is in the imperfections,” Kurt explains, recalling all his MG’s quirky characteristics, including doors that continually slid out of place, no matter how many times he fixed them. “It’s a great car if you like the view, sitting beside the road because it’s just overheated for the 27th time in a month,” he comments with a wry smile. It’s clear the MG wasn’t manufactured with Australian conditions in mind. Kurt advises that the best time to drive an MG is in Autumn or Spring, commenting that the climate control is “a bit bullshit,” for an Aussie Summer. “If you put the top up you bake like an oven, if you put it down you bake like a grill.” Likewise, encountering wet weather on a freeway with the hood down and no immediate exit can be a bit of a whirlwind of disaster where you end up trying to out-gun the rain. Slow down and you get drenched, speed up and you need wipers on the inside of the windscreen too.
An ongoing project
“It’s not necessarily a bad thing,” Kurt assures, however, considering what many would view as vehicle ‘faults,’ “because it’s bonding with the car, knowing all the bits and pieces that are broken and that you’re going to have to get around to fixing.” He also explains that it’s often about “accepting that you’re going to own it for five years or so and you’re never going to get around to fixing all the things,” and that this is ok. Kurt is a strong believer in the fact that buying a vintage car in perfect condition “ruins the fun,” a sentiment many car enthusiasts and confessed tinkers tend to agree with. He reminisces about the joys of tuning the car by ear and test driving it to get that exact balance. “When you’ve nailed the variants you feel like you’re driving a race car because it has a tone to it that feels right.”
Kurt took out all the suspension and gutted the car. He describes the MGB as a fun, straightforward project car that’s easily modifiable. And modify it he did, changing out standard features such as the twin SU carburettors for Weber side draft carbi’s and replacing the standard muffler for an extractor, amongst many other tweaks. “It’s the sort of car you want to be passionate about because you’re going to be working on it all of the time,” he says with no trace of regret. As hobby cars go, it was definitely a winner.
His favourite memory? Driving down long, winding, mountainous roads, testing the grunt and enjoying the scenery and feel of the car smoothly kicking into overdrive. “It’s kind of like an Alpha in that it isn’t particularly great in the city. Like a proper sports car, it begs for you to get out on the freeway.” There’s a small twinge of regret in his voice when he admits to selling it and when I ask him for parting words he emphasises that “It’s just a great open winding road car and the fun really is in its quirky characteristics, like many classic cars.”