Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline June 2009

More Spring Chicken Pictures

Tales of the Mongrel
“Uncle Lee, Me and His MGB”

There are always people in your life that have a special impact on you other than family. People that see something in you, take a special interest in you, although they have no real reason to do this except they like you.
My dad had a very good friend who we called Uncle Lee. Lee Messner was an engineer for Sykorsky Helicopter in Bridgeport Conn. He supervised the technical editing department which drew up all of the aircraft schematics.
In any case, it was Uncle Lee that helped me “learn” about working on my first MGB, a yellow 1967 roadster. He was very mechanical and perhaps one the best auto mechanics I have ever met and thru college helped me in so many ways to become self sufficient with the car!
Uncle Lee retired in 1984 and moved down to North Carolina not too far from where my parents went when my dad retired. Uncle Lee and I stayed in touch and he was always there if I needed some extra help with the “B”!
Well perhaps a little of me rubbed off on him or else he simply got the “bug” because one day he bought a 1968 British Racing Green MGB. Apparently, he had a colleague in FL that had the car and could not keep up with it i.e. rust, bad interior and an engine that simply did not work very well. Uncle Lee got the MGB and took it to NC.
First, he pulled the engine took it into the basement and spent the winter rebuilding it top to bottom. He re-wired the car, restored all of hydraulic components and refit the interior. He rebuilt the instrument panel, the cooling system and ignition system. He had the car painted 3 times to get the BRG just right….it was beautiful!
Uncle Lee did not have much faith in the SU carbs though!
He drove the car for a decade and then gave it to his daughter in Vermont who drove the “B” for 3 years and then sold to a man in Boston.
Uncle Lee is 87 years old and still kicking up a storm!! Quite a guy and person who gave me some very good memories which I will cherish for the rest of my days!!

-- Ralph Arata

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