That feeling of a "new" old car.
Never in a million years did I ever picture myself as a proper car enthusiast, but I'm able to blame my other half for this little venture of mine into the world of petrol.
I grew up in and around various cars, a '57 Chevy Belair was my first memory of motoring, and when I was 3 1/2 I vividly remember seeing the man who came to purchase my dads pride and joy (I was always #2) and seeing the aquamarine beauties taillights disappear down the street.
That car was everything to my father and I quite often see Youtubers purchasing cars for their parents to give them back a piece of what they gave up for their family. Dad sold that car to put a down payment on a house that would eventually be the house I grew up in, so to him it was well worth it.
I grew up, obviously, but we'd dabble in cars here and there but it was something that my father never really wanted to talk about. He was a mechanic in the Vietnam war but he always was a very closeted person when it came to talking about anything with a motor. Sad really. We dabbled with motorcycles and various trucks but nothing seemed to really catch my eye, but I remember one time going through an Auto Trader magazine and finding a photo of an old Austin Healy, in red of course, and pointing to it and telling my dad "I want that car one day," to which he beamed from ear to ear and started telling the statistics about the car. Being about 12 at the time I had to raise an eyebrow because everything that was coming out of his mouth was like a foreign language and there was no Google Translate back then.
Since then I always kept a soft spot for the Austin cars but it wasn't until I moved across the world that things started to change.
Eventually I found myself in England doing freelance illustration work which I still do, so don't worry I didn't steal any jobs, I pay my taxes and bring outside currency into the British Economy. Win-win! When I had met my other half he was a client of mine and didn't live too far away but one of the first images I had drawn for him was of his car #171. I hadn't met this car in person so I thought it was an interesting design.
We started dating and quickly #171 became the third member of our relationship but not necessarily in a bad way. I wasn't jealous of her, I was more jealous that my other half Stuart got to drive her. She was a beautiful Monogram Mirage MG 260 V8 and zooming around all over the country made me so happy. We spent afternoons washing, waxing and polishing her and I began to understand the love my father had for his baby #1 when I saw how Stuart looked at his car. The sense of pride in ownership. Eventually I started feeling the same way though knowing his car was not MINE it was a little difficult.
Over time we decided to purchase a house and tried to figure out how to get our deposit together. We dabbled in selling #171 but we wanted to do what ever we could to not go down that route but sadly it seemed that was going to be one of the only options we had. Gutted. We both were. I suddenly understood that feeling my father had when he had to sell his car for the exact same reason, we were walking in his foot steps.
We polished her up and she was ready to go to her new owner. We waited for him to come with his other half and Stuart kept it together signing all of the documents and handing over the keys. I came back into the house myself because I wanted him to have that private time alone when #171 left. I was gutted and flashed back to watching the tail lights of my fathers car disappear as the tail lights of our baby went around the round about and the drone of her exhaust eventually faded away.
We knew. We knew what it felt like. Granted #171 is a modern "classic" car now that MGRover is no-more-ish, and there are many of you die hards out there for the classic MG's and there is no discrimination from me. I'd love to get my hands on an MGB (preferably in red of course, even though I refuse to own any other red cars.)
Sorry Austins, you've lost out this round. In the end I'm thankful that it was #171 that brought me into the MGR scene. I've met so many fun and amazing people through this outlet and they're all like minded. It's definitely an enthusiasts brand with loads of people taking the piss out of us, but when you find the right one.. you know.
After settling into the house we decided to keep on with the MGR rides and I eventually was able to buy my very first car. I can already feel the classic car enthusiasts grinding their teeth, sorry gents!
Meet Jiji, named after Kiki's Delivery Services black cat (Studio Ghibli fan.) She's a 2000 W reg MGF, not quite the B that I'd dreamed of but she'll definitely do. We've got more work to do on her before she's 100% where I want her to be but I am so pleased at how well she was previously taken car of before. I understand the feeling that Stuart had with having HIS baby, even though I loved her too, but Jiji is mine.
This brings us to today.
Another chapter is about to start in our lives. We're on our way to pick up the next of our babies, though she doesn't exactly have a number aside from a cheeky #1 at the moment, or a proper name to go along side her.
We are finding dabbling back in with monogram MG's and instead of a V8 it's only a V6 (which I won't complain, its better than our CDTI at the moment..) but it ticks all of the boxes for us. Again I can hear the collective cringe from every enthusiast as I say this, it's the 1st of 2 ZT-Ts built in Moonshine, my dream colour of the Monogram range, and yes.. it's the 180. (I know I know.) I'm a Teflon license... non stick, so all of our cars are Automatic or Steptronic which is why I couldn't drive #171. Oh well, I'll get there. (I have had an accident in the past which involved a clutch so I've got a deep embedded fear of sticks which is totally unreasonable and irrational, and I'll gladly accept that.)
Still, I'm proud that we're staying in the MG scene and will be pouring our love into our two babies to keep them proper and on the roads. I don't want to ever lose the love that we have for the brand, the pride that went into what the cars were. Even with Longbridge being vastly changed the community keeps them going. We have people stop us when we're in Jiji to talk about the cars with that little twinkle in their eyes.
Even with MG being what they are now I'm so pleased that it's us that keeps them going.