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Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline
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  Chicagoland MG Club:Driveline
Left hand drive The Steering Column
from our President

Jim Evans
Left Hand Drive

I decided to take a break from winter recently and drove down to Florida to attend an event that has piqued my curiosity for some time: the Amelia Island Concours (Amelia Island is located near Jacksonville, FL). The object of my interest this year was the advertised presence of the actual 1908 Thomas “Flyer” that participated in the original “Great Race” in 1908 – and won. You may remember the mid 1960’s movie about this race, or you may have read about it elsewhere over the years: cars “raced” from New York to Paris on a westerly course. And of course “raced” is not exactly correct as much time was spent on steam ships and rail cars as the entrants worked their way along the course. In those days, it wasn’t Ferrari versus Jaguar, or Landretti versus Rahal, but instead was France versus Germany versus America versus etc. so the victory produced a national excitement such as an Olympic gold medal does today.

The 1908 winning car was found in good condition some years ago and has been held in several museums over the years. At this time, it has been not been restored to showroom condition but, rather, has been doctored to look as it probably did on the finish day of the race – with brush painted parts and mud on the wooden wheel spokes. Ropes and pulleys attached to the coachwork. Extra tires and tubes lashed to convenient points. Crew member initials carved into the body panels.

What a neat car! What a neat thing to be able to stand next to such an historic vehicle and see the same cockpit instruments and controls that the racers did 100 years ago. What a neat thing to speak with the current owner and hear his knowledgeable discussion of anecdotes about that race. And can you imagine yourself sitting there in that buckboard style seat, looking over the barrel shaped hood to a Siberian landscape and hoping to find gasoline along the way? Hoping to find some resemblance of a road? Hoping your acetylene headlights will offer some help after dark? Hoping to not get shot and end up in the stewpot?

In addition to the Thomas “Flyer”, there were numerous other intriguing automobiles including a group of historic MG’s. Yes, that’s right – MG’s right in there with the Duesenbergs, Talbot-Lago’s, Rolls-Royces, and Ferrari’s – and a master of ceremonies who advised the crowd several times that MG had a strong history of competitive victories and performance products in their day. We sometimes forget that our humble cars come from a very strong performance heritage.

If you haven’t been to a car show like this, you should consider putting one on your “must do” list. This year, there will be a similar show in the Detroit area (Meadowbrook Concours), one in central Ohio (Glenmoor Gathering). And a more recent entry locally in Barrington, IL (Barrington Concours). Also, this year the club sponsored excursion to the University Motors Summer Picnic in August will probably include a side trip to the Gilmore Museum in Kalamazoo MI which houses many historic collector cars of the type seen at these Concours d’Elegance.

And if you can’t make it out of town this year, the club once again will be encouraging members to attend several Chicago area car shows. You may not see a Delahaye or Isotta Fraschini at them, but there will be plenty of other interesting vehicles and people to help provide an enjoyable outing for you.
Safety Fast, - Jim Evans

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