Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline July 2010


Third time is the charm!
You see, I have entered three different Lands End Rallies, but only once did I get home intact. My daughter Denise went along as my navigator on the first Lands End, that took us up to Dodgeville. We finished, but ten miles out of Dodgeville, my newly-installed engine threw a piston and I wound up on flat bed tow truck for the 120 miles home.
I talked my wife, Marion, into navigating for the second. I promised her a nice day in the sun and that the car would hold up, like a quality British product should. This was a test run for the new early MGB engine I had just finished installing. Everything was going great as I got on I-355 at Roosevelt Road, heading north to the rally start line. The MGA was flying up the highway like a well tuned car should. But just as I approached North Avenue, I heard the ugly sound of screaming main bearings as they ripped apart! It seems the newly installed B engine did not come with the correct piston rods. Oh well! At least I was only 6 miles from home, which is a lot closer than Dodgeville, Wisconsin.
Now here we are on a beautiful June day in 2010, and my third Lands End Rally attempt. Boy, am I ready! I convinced my wife that the car was in top shape and was sure to finish the rally in one piece THIS time! I neglected to tell her that the new 3.91 differential that I recently installed had just let loose with three chunks of ground up brass nuggets that fell out when I changed the rear oil at the Club‘s Spring Tune-Up Session in April. (All the MG experts present agreed it was probably the bearing cage that keeps the ball bearings going round and round inside the rear differential.) But since I did not have the time to get it fixed, it‘s off to the Lands End Rally 2010.
Eighteen cars assembled at Geneva Rd and Rt. 59 in St. Charles at1 p.m., a good turn-out. Rallymaster Jim Evans gave everyone their instructions and sent them off in an orderly fashion, each car departing one-by-one.
The sun was shining and clues were popping out one after another as Marion and I tooled down the winding country roads. At the first Check Point, to my wife‘s pleasant surprise we got


all the points that one could get, because I had everything in the trunk they asked for: oil, duct tape, wire, screwdrivers, pliers, tire patch, water for the radiator, a spare fuel pump, water pump, and car jack. This was a vintage rally, and as you can see, I was as prepared as someone travelling in 1925.
There is nothing to compare to riding through the countryside on a summer‘s day, with top down, looking for answers to the clues on the rally sheet, with the sun smiling down. But just about half-way through, everything got dark and ominous, the skies opened up and the rains came down in buckets. I saw an open garage door to a cabinet maker shop, so I pulled in to put my top up. The owner was surprised but not upset. We put the top up and headed on our way.
Now it‘s a whole new ball game: no defroster, can‘t look out the side windows as I am too tall, not to mention the great wiper system the MGA has to take care of the heavy rain. We missed a few turns but always made a quick recovery. Soon, it dried up and the sun came back out. Marion kept finding the clues and before we knew it we were at Nicko‘s Restaurant, which was the Lands End.
Despite the rain, all cars completed, and the food was great. And to my surprise, Marion and I came in third place tied with none other than ?Mr Rally,? Barney Gaylord. If you can tie with Barney, it‘s almost like taking First Place. Jim Evans put together a great 30th annual Lands End Rally, thirty years of tradition for the Chicagoland MG Club. The Lands End is based on the vintage rallies in England, dating from 1925, that so tested the early British motorcars on cross-country tour.
And I am here to tell you that the third time was the charm for my MGA! Finally, a successful completion! Please don‘t take this as a horror story of what can go wrong. Look at it as ?What‘s the worst that can happen, and Carry On with a stiff upper lip, in the British tradition!? A great day enjoyed by all! And, of course, I look forward to driving my ?A? in next year‘s rally, (and, of course, most of the way home). So bring your car out next year and see if it can pass the test! (If you bring your wife, don‘t forget your AAA card!)

By Jim Michel -- 1957 MGA 

Vintage Sports car, LLC.
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