The momentum continued in 1979: by the end of the year, membership was at 122 and MGB! chronicles an active program of events throughout the year. The club had some high points – such as hosting the first AMGBA Regional Convention (at the Playboy Club in Lake Geneva, WI) and especially also with supplying a few members to the filming crew of the “Blues Brothers” movie production company.
In late 1979, several club members all moved up to national level posts with the parent AMGBA organization, and the AMGBA national headquarters was moved to the Chicago area. These individuals would all continue to contribute to the Chicago club for some time to come, but the stage was now set for a coming change to the Chicago club. Also of interest in 1979 is the first appearance of contributions to MGB! from one Ken Smith, then of England, who would later become quite well known to most American MG enthusiasts.
In May 1980 the first Natter ‘N’ Noggin was held at Hippo’s in Schaumburg. The first event in Abingdon, IL occurred in September of 1980 as the AMGBA Regional Convention with about 40 cars in attendance. The initial formula was a one-day event, with a morning car show and an afternoon gymkhana in downtown Abingdon (18 cars participated); the AMGBA would continue to host this event each year through 1985, when Abingdon would be the site of the AMGBA national Convention. Meetings are moved in November 1980 to Steven’s Steak House in Elmhurst.
In February 1981 the meeting site was changed to The Mug Pub in Itasca, where it would remain for some time. June 1981 also marked the first Land’s End Rally, with a turnout of 19 cars. In late 1981, longtime member and MGB! editor Steve Glochowsky announced that he would no longer be involved with producing MGB!, due to the burden of his AMGBA duties, and the club moved into a new era. The year 1982 ushered in a new newsletter format, a new leadership crew, and a new era for the club. Membership was about 200.
So much for the timeline of events and developments: a little observation and analysis is now in order.
The early copies of MGB! show that the club had quickly assumed some of the characteristics it still has to this day: a regular newsletter, regularly scheduled meetings, and a yearlong program of driving, technical, and social events.
Quite noticeable is the sense of belonging to, or being subsidiary to, the national AMGBA organization, rather than being a separate independent group: many photos show members in “AMGBA” logo t-shirts, and much news space is devoted to local member involvement in national level AMGBA activities. Much of the reporting in these issues deals with AMGBA issues, such as national convention topics. Also, many pages are devoted to the demise of MG in the late 1970’s with reprints of newspaper articles and correspondence with Leyland officials. There are also frequent book reviews, op-ed pieces, and technical articles.
Also quite noticeable is the level of advertising ads in MGB!; the large number of ads is quite surprising, as is the number of shops still catering to the MG or British or import car crowd. MGB! issues in the late 1970’s often approached 100 pages in length.4 MGB! itself is a product of the times, before word processing and desktop publishing arrived: the cut-and-paste look, the occasional penciled spelling correction
and type-to-fit-the-page are all reminders of how challenging it was to produce this type of publication 30 years ago.
The actual political organization of the club in early years is not clearly revealed by MGB! For example, the masthead of MGB! lists the names of publisher, editor, advertising rep, etc. but never mentions any local club officials by a recognizable title; the first mention by name of Chicago club officers does not occur until the December 1980 issue with a congratulatory article, but the tone of the article suggests that these offices had been in effect in past years. Staff positions, such as Technical and Spares (i.e. classified ads) personnel are often identified by name.
There are no remaining membership lists of the club in its early years5 as MGB! was initially distributed directly to members at meetings.
You can read a scanned copy of that first organizational ad on the club website. Follow the links to Driveline archives and select “October 1977” issue.
The next installment of this history will cover the period from early 1982 through the 1990’s.
Safety Fast, -- Jim Evans
One of the very early issues of MGB!, the predecessor to Driveline, July 18, 1977, view at