Tales of the Mongrel
“That Very First Time”
I was thinking back the other day about that very first MGB I bought when I was 16. It was a 1967 yellow MGB roadster. I wish that I still had that car today! Although I drove it through college and beyond it was the MG that “I learned on”. It was the guinea pig from which I would better understand and care for MG’s that came later. But after many years I simply could not save it from the salt and cold of Connecticut winters…and said good-bye to it.
However, this story actually starts some years before that event. The year was 1966 and I was 12 years old. I had a much older cousin who had just graduated from college. His dad was a doctor. Well, my cousin “Skip” received a great graduation present. A brand new 1966 Austin Healy 3000 and BRG to boot.
The family I had become used was a Plymouth station wagon…..a kind of boring car that I sat in with my mom on route to the local grocery or to get that much hated hair cut. Walking up to my cousin’s funny looking two seater with all that wood on the inside and toggle switches was an experience for me at 12. Did I say “funny looking”? By funny, I meant different and in a very cool way!
My cousin Skip took me for a ride to pick up some Cokes and as I sat in the Healy’s cockpit and Skip brought that big straight 6 to life and I heard for the first time in my life a throaty English exhaust – heaven! That experience changed my life forever!
A top-down, two-seater, English roadster! I knew I would have to have one someday. Ads for Healy's, MG’s and Triumphs (British Leyland was still around) covered the wall by my bed and actually getting hold of the occasional dealer’s new car brochure became a sought after Crusade.
I just never shook the bug!
Four years later, I got my drivers licence and immediately started to save for a British roadster. Then, one day I saw it while riding the school bus to high school – a little yellow 1967 MGB sitting in a Shell station on Route 7 in Ridgefield, Connecticut. The rest is history.
I doubt I am any different from any other MG Club member in the simple fact that today I still get such a kick out of driving those cars. The Mongrel (my mixed breed MGB) is my latest “fix” in my need to own and drive a British sports car.
However, it is interesting to think back to those very early days when that “spark” of need for an English roadster initially flashed.
-- Ralph Arata
Spring Chicken Tour 2008
Sunday, May 18th
I headed up to the lake a day earlier than the tour. I had lots of things to get ready, yard mowed and other stuff. After a full day of work, I grabbed a cold one, sat on the patio and watched a buck cruise across the yard 20 feet away from me… it doesn’t get any better than this!!! Then the rain came down in buckets. Talk about anxiety, 30 people are heading up here the next day and it is pouring rain.
Well the rain held off on the day of the tour, but it was a whole lot cooler out than I had hoped for. There were 14 cars that braved the weather (some even had the top down, those brave souls) for a trip around the south side of Lake Geneva, touring some rustic roads and driving past the Wrigley horse farm, Green Gables, on Snake Road. The back rustic roads were certainly my favorite part of the driving. The roads curved and rolled along with the farmland. Several spots ran along brooks and streams. The entire driving tour took about an hour and a half.
As the MG’s were pulling back in from the tour the chicken was coming off the grill for some hungry drivers and navigators. We had representation, with crossover members of three different clubs; CMGC of course, but also The Vintage Club as well as British Boots and Bonnets of Rockford. I even found a CMGC neighbor across the lake. I’d like to thank John Schroeder for his help and guidance with my setting this event up. Also, John was kind enough to create dashboard badges for each of the participants. I hope that everyone enjoyed themselves and I’ve started looking for some new roads for next year!
-- Bill and Jan Reece