A History of the Chicagoland
MG Club -- Continued
In January 1986 the Natter ‘n’ Noggin moved to the Stone Cottage Pub in Elmhurst; over the next few years, this establishment occasionally changed it’s name and /or temporarily ceased operations, but the club didn’t change sites for another 5 years.
In 1986, the club took over control of the “Abingdon Regional Convention” from the AMGBA. Over the next 2 decades, this event was built up to become one of the club’s most successful annual activities; the “Abingdon Weekend” became a major event of interest to MG owners throughout the Midwest as attendance grew to 50 or more cars each year for many years. Also in 1986, club members took the lead in forming the organization now known as the “British Car Union” and guiding the organization to its first “British Car Festival” in 1987.
The years 1987 and 1988 had other important developments for the club. In April 1987, the club held its first “Tune Up Party” in a commercial auto repair facility 3 at Quality Tire in Lyons, IL. Our host, Mark Leuck, would later move to Darien and then to Willowbrook, but still welcomes us each year for this long running event.
Also in 1987, the club embarked on its first “Project Car” rebuilding effort, having secured a decrepit 1971 MGB. The ”Project Car” program would over the years provide an opportunity for technical education to members as well as a fundraising opportunity. This first car was refurbished with the intent of raffling it and the drawing was held at the Abingdon Weekend in 1987. In later years, the club would refurbish three other cars; two of these were major fundraisers for the club and helped escalate the treasury balance to a level that allowed investment in tools, library materials, autocross timing equipment, and other such uses. The fourth car would not appear until some 20 years after the first.
Club nametags first became available in 1988 in the format still used today. The first club Awards Program was also initiated in 1988, with: Safety Fast, Ambassador at Large, Maintaining the Breed, and New Member of the Year being the designated awards4. Club meetings and events were drawing larger and larger attendance: 22 cars at the Land’s End Rally, 40 cars at Abingdon, 20+ cars at the autumn brunch run, and 20 cars at the Tune-Up Party. By mid year, meetings were overflowing the room at Russell’s and the meeting was later moved to the Stone Cottage Pub in early 1989. By late 1988, the club treasury stood at $3,983.00 having benefited from fundraising efforts and effective management of club resources.
In late 1988, the club addressed a longstanding issue regarding confusion between the naming of the national “AMGBA” and the club as “Chicago Chapter AMGBA”: it was not uncommon for people to join one and think that they had joined the other, or both. Clearly, a name change was in order: in late 1988, the club was incorporated under the name
3 Previous such gatherings had been at member’s homes
4 These awards were designed to reinforce the club’s stated purpose of “promoting the preservation and enjoyment of MG automobiles” and should not be confused with various “gag” awards over the years
“Chicagoland MGB Club” as a non-profit Illinois corporation organized under the provisions of IRS code 501(c)(7). This not only helped the club achieve a unique identity but also brought all the legal advantages of being a corporation. The club Tool Library began in late 1988, with the purchase of an engine hoist funded by project car raffle receipts.
The momentum continued in 1989: the first “Chicken Rally” was held in May of that year. The awards dinner drew 40 people, Abingdon drew 40 cars, and the other now-traditional rallies, tours, etc. continued as before. In late 1989, the club acquired its second “project car”, a 1972 MGB that was to become the club’s most successful fundraising car. A MIG welder was added to the Tool Library and went into immediate use with the project car work. A new event, go-kart racing under the name “BS Grand Prix” held prior to Natter ‘n’ Noggin, made its debut in late spring. Treasury balance at yearend was $3,811.30.
The club Awards Banquet in February 1990 saw the first appearance of the “Abingdon Players” and their associates, the “Singing Magnettes” ladies choral group. In June, the monthly meeting moved again to the “Round Up Saloon” in LaGrange. Late 1990 saw a new look to the newsletter with the addition of a new editor; the newsletter would retain this new look for many years until technology moved on. The club project car, having been carefully campaigned and marketed throughout 1990, achieved a profit contribution of about $4,800 to the club treasury by yearend. In December, the Natter ‘n’ Noggin moved to Mack’s, where it would remain for many years. Treasury balance at yearend was $7,743.26.
The club moved to the forefront of national MG activity in 1991 by staging the annual AMGBA convention in Oakbrook in July. This event was the first ever among MG clubs to be promoted by a VCR tape distributed to other clubs, the first ever to have its own promotional T-Shirt (the black gangster motif with “ Be There or Else” legend), and the first ever to have a modern computerized registration process. This year also saw the first appearance of “Tales of the Mongrel”, an occasional member essay in the newsletter that still continues, as well as the first “Lucas Night Rally”. Club leadership wrestled with the question of eligibility for prizes at club driving events and concluded that MG’s only were eligible for annual driving program point awards. By yearend, membership was reported to be 260 and the treasury balance was $4,590.32, with the convention having contributed $2,414.00 to the club.
So, enough for the dates and dollars. What would you have experienced during that decade had you had been one of those now-long-gone new members in 1982? And where did all that money go (do the math) in 1991?
Well, except for a brief stumble at the beginning, it would have been a time of extended growth and increasing success and prosperity for the club. Most club events – once established - continued each year and became mainstays of the club’s annual program: Land’s End, Abingdon Weekend, Brunch Run, Chicken and Lucas Night Rallies to name a few. Attendance, according to the newsletter, might surprise today’s members with often 20-30-40 cars at these events. So you would have had a great opportunity to use your MG in a variety of driving activities.
Club meetings were generally well attended and grew in size over that period. Site relocations were generally the