Me And My MGs – Adrian Bennett (contd)
Having now corrrected the V5 details on my TF, we contentedly used her for trips out and to attend MG events. I continued to have niggling problems with it – only one windscreen wiper would work, and periodically it would run rough because the carbs would lose their settings over time. The wiper issue was easily diagnosed – the operating cable did not quite reach the wheelbox. Not an MOT issue, because there are two knobs on the wheel boxes that can be
operated by hand, but annoying nevertheless. I tried shortening the outer cable slightly, but still no joy. So I went to see the guru on all things MG – Peter Wood at Twyford. After the usual cup of coffee and putting the world to rights, Peter disappeared into his Alladin’s Cave of spare parts and produced a new inner cable. Success!! Not quite. It was exactly the same length as the one I had, as were all in his stock. However, Peter is not one to be defeated so easily.
He is an aeroplane enthusiast, and was at the time rebuilding a WW2 Spitfire in one of his workshops (it is now flying, and last time I visited, he is rebuilding another Spit). The wiper cable is by coincidence or design (Abingdon built Albermarle fuselage sections during the war), an aircraftgrade Bowden cable, so he was able to supply me with a longer cable from his aircraft spares.
The carbs were a bit trickier. I stripped and rebuilt them, which helped for a while, but after nearly conking out on an MGCC run over the old factory test routes round Abingdon, I decided that enough is enough. I had had a conversation with a chap called Tony Hebdon, whom I had met at the MG weekend at Silverstone. He had one of the trade stalls, displaying what looked like brand new carburettors, but in fact he had rebuilt. So I rang him and arranged to visit him in Sheffield, which we duly did, combining this with a visit to Hardwick Hall. Tony showed me his workshop (formerly a spare bedroom), and described the process. When he retired, he found himself at a loose end, and was asked by several MGCC members to refurb their carbs, and it grew into a thriving small business – not surprising when you saw the quality of his workmanship. Anyway, I went away with a pair of (probably better than) new carbs, which I fitted, and had no trouble with them thereafter.
In 2001 the MGF was replaced, confusingly, by the MG TF, and early the next year MG was offering MGCC members the new car at the factory workers’ discount rate, a substantial saving. So I traded in the MGF for a TF 135 in LeMans Green with lots of extras. A very good-looking car. However, the ride was not as good as the MGF – much harder and bouncier, because MG had fitted coil springs in place of the hydrolastic suspension. So after enduring the spine-jarring ride for a while, I had had enough, and changed the springs out for a set of Eibach units, which made a big difference. At this time also, I was finding the older TF a bit worrying, because on major roads I would have huge Juggernauts breathing down the neck of my little 1950s MG, and felt very vulnerable indeed at times. So I sourced a back axle from a YB, and a higher ratio differential from an early MGB and sent them away to George Edney in Hatfield Heath to fit so that I could cruise at a higher speed without blowing up the engine. However, before I could replace the axle, I spent a week in hospital having tests for a potentially life-changing problem.
Lying in hospital and feeling bored and sorry for myself gave me plenty of time to reflect on what I wanted to do with what remained of my allocated time, and one of the resolutions I came to was that before my time is up, I had to own an E-type Jaguar, preferably a 4.2 fixed-head coupe. So, when I was finally given the all-clear (phew!!) and kicked out of hospital, I resolved to look around and see what was on the market. I put a ‘for sale’ advert in the windscreen of the old TF when I attended MG Live that year, and quickly sold it to an Irish chap who ran a seaweed fertiliser agency, whatever that is. After travelling widely to look at some horroribly neglected vehicles, I settled on two more promising examples. One was being rebuilt by a specialist at Silsoe, and the other was a primrose yellow car in Southwell. The Silsoe car was just back from the sprayshop, but further work was being put on hold due to other commitments, so I went to see the yellow one. Nice car, but such a girlie colour which didn’t suit it at all. ….However, new in the showroom was another E-type – a 5.3 V12 open two-seater (OTS) in gunmetal with red trim. Well, you would, wouldn’t you? So I bought it, depite the fact that it ticked all the wrong boxes!
What a car! Huge, turbine-like performance – you ran out of nerve (or fuel for that matter, 18 miles per gallon if you weren’t driving too enthusiastically) long before it ran out of puff. And what a head turner – wherever you stopped a crowd would gather, muttering ‘I always promised myself one of these, still, when I come up on the Lotto …….’ It wasn’t all good news though – it was a bit too big to fit in the garage until I took 9” off the back of my workbench! This lovely pair were my motoring companions for the next few years, and we had much fun with them. I attended MG events in the TF, and Jaguar events in the E-type, and quickly came to realise that the MG owners are a lot more friendly than the Jag lot!! Truly, MG is The Marque of Friendship, as the MGCC will tell you.
By 2006 I decided that I had had enough of work, and took the opportunity for early retirement, said goodbye to a life of toil, and settled into a life of leisure. …to be continued.