Chicagoland MG Club: Driveline October 2013
Feature Article

Tales of the Mongrel
My First “Real” Trip to England

NOTE: This story is in 4 parts as there is enough material from 30 days in England to do that. This is Part #2 with Part #3 following next month.

My brother and sister-in-law (Sarah and Ted Clover) live on a farm in Willingham England which is a 25 min drive north of Cambridge but only a 15 minute drive from Swassey England which is the headquarters of the MG Owners Club.

I made my hajji to this MG Mecca which was a must-do on the trip! England’s MG Owners Club is the Mother of MG clubs and boasts over 45,000 members world-wide. It is the international home base for the MG enthusiast. The building in Swassey houses the club executive offices that manage memberships, its publications and many MG events in the UK and Europe. They also provide administrative and technical support to their membership from here.

The MG Owners Club also does technical work of its own in offering members “performance packages” for MGs which it develops and tests itself prior to putting out to the general membership. One such example is the MGB Supersport. They do specialize in V-8 conversions both is restoring Leyland factory B-GTs and custom as the “Supersport” demonstrates. By the way, being a “B” vs the stronger bodied “GT” (for the V-8) I checked to see what the they did to the underside of the car to make it stronger. No leaf springs but rather traction bars built ingeniously into a frame superstructure to support and stabilize the car…..WOW!!

The MG Owners Club has a warehouse in access of 50,000 square feet that houses MG parts (spares) of every kind, size and price range. The day we were there I saw several heritage body shells stacked high in one of its bays. Moss Motors purchases many of its specialty parts from here!!

The shop has an abundance of MG memorabilia of every kind – apparel, ties, blankets, caps, jewelry, wine kits, coffee carriers, key chains, grill badges, toiletry kits, playing cards, etc, etc, etc….. Parts of every kind adorn the walls. I saw 2 complete MGB dashboards in 1967 style which were complete with all the gauges and switches in 2 different kinds of walnut!! I am sure they were not cheap!

The MG Owners Club main event is MG car restoration. Below are photos of 5 separate restoration bays a dozen mechanics and everyone is busy with several cars waiting in queue. They do the ‘full MG Monty’ from tune-up to complete restoration to race car preparation. I talked with one mechanic that said he will normally have 60-70 MG car projects annually (these cars do NOT stand around – they are finished and moved out so the next one can get in). Figure something like 500 projects annually and that does not include the single day tune-up and small repair.

This I went in armed with my birthday present from the family i.e. 125 quid ($185) in gift certificates. Needless to say I bought a few things some of which will be given away at our next Christmas Party.

As is the same case in the USA, one does not see MGs (except for the “F”) on the roads much anymore with the assumption being that the classic MG has made its way into garages for the sake of shows and posterity. After this trip to Swassey it is most apparent to me that our “Marque” is alive and well.
~~Ralph Arata

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