Me and My MGs – Dave Barton
My Relationship with MG
This month it is the turn of our chairman, Dave Barton, to recount why he is passionate about MG:
My MG history starts in March 2007 when after many years of motorcycling I thought it was time to give up two wheels but was not ready to give up motoring in the open air.
Having always had an affection for all things MG -as a teenager the must have MG was the MGB GT – I thought I would buy my first MG. With the proceeds from the sale of my last bike I went looking for an MG. It was then that I spotted an advert for an MGF just a few streets away. Off I went and after a short test drive and a bit of negotiation bought my first MG.
A few days after this purchase I looked out of the window to see my new love covered in Snow! What a great time to buy a soft top!
After a couple of years driving and enjoying the MGF I had a brilliant idea. At that time Heather had an Audi TT and I had the MGF, and I thought it would be a great idea to buy one car that did both jobs, roof off and coupe, and we would save on tax insurance etc. so with great enthusiasm I went car shopping again. We swapped the MGF and the TT for a Mercedes SLK.
What a mistake!! The SLK did not deliver; it was nowhere near as exciting to drive as the MGF as a roof off car and came nowhere near to the speed and handling of the TT. We battled on for six months, both hating the Merc equally for it’s shortcomings, and eventually bit the bullet and went back to another TT. Quite an expensive mistake.
Now came the dry years from 2010 – 2013 with no soft top, MG or Bike. During this year I also reached the grand old age of 65. I retired from working for a living and took the best job I have ever had, RETIREMENT. Now as you know, retirement brings with it a number of things you may not have had before. Time, 25% tax free sum from your pension pot (if you have been sensible and lucky during your working life), and the opportunity to do all the things you have been wanting to do but have been prevented from doing by the lack of the things mentioned above and – oh yes, family, kids etc.
In April 2013 following my retirement we sold our house in Tring and bought a new house in Stoke Mandeville, I retired, Heather reduced her full time work to three days and now down to two and I was looking to use some of the benefits from retiring and the house move.
Enter the Midget, and phase two of my MG history! In November 2013 I spotted a very sad looking Midget on the forecourt of a local Garage, Red Rose Cars in Weston Turville and went in to have a look. It was a NAIL!! It had rot on the sills, rear quarte,r wings, boot lid, the rostyle wheels were rusty, the interior carpets were tatty or non existent, the hood didn’t fit, was ripped and leaked, the engine was knocking, big ends gone, but somehow after driving it, it’s character just got to me and after some serious negotiation I bought it for a song with the intention of using some of the retirement benefits mentioned earlier to restore it to something like it’s former glory.
Did I mention that it came with an “MOT”? I drove this sad little car for a few months, joined the Aylesbury MG Club – a funny bunch of people with similar interests in old MG’s – and enjoyed my first summer of fresh air motoring for some years. As the year came to it’s end the time had come for putting all the wrongs to rights in this little MG.
Over the next year I worked on the old girl night and day, I was tired, frustrated, battered and bruised but out the other end came a smiling and happy man and a lovely shiny Pageant Blue MG Midget. It had been stripped to the shell, everything off, engine out ready for the restoration.
Engine refurb, new crank and bearings, head conversion to unleaded, carbs refurb, new steering rack and column fitted, new shocks all round, new rear springs, dashboard out re-painted and refitted, wheels beyond refurb so replaced with minilites, body repaired, prepared and resprayed, new carpets and trim fitted, new hood fitted and many many more jobs. Quite a transformation.
Now I really had the bug and was out with the club on runs and, as soon as the sun shone, out on my own enjoying top down motoring once more.
As with any obsession, one is just not enough and so it was that in August 2015 I saw and advert for an MGR V8, just down the road in Winchmore Hill. The advert stated that it was a car that had come back from Japan having been cherished and driven very little and having only 6,000 miles on the clock from new. One viewing and one test drive was sufficient to necessitate that phone call to the other half to signal the intention to further plunder the retirement funds and hoping for a favorable outcome. Thankfully the reply came, if you think it’s worth it and you want to buy it then just do it. And I did.
Well if I hadn’t, then the next person to see it would have done I am sure. You have heard the expression that nothing is perfect but this one comes close. I have done a few things to the car since owning it, added power steering, what a difference that made, new fuel tank and sender unit, and some general service and maintenance but apart from that we have just been enjoying the car and now venture much further afield than before with the Midget.
The Midget was still with us for a while being kept in a garage in Leighton Buzzard and visited occasionally for a brief drive out, but eventually with a heavy heart we parted company in March last year. I hope she went to a good home.
What did I say earlier about obsession? Well in June 2016 we visited the MG Live show at Silverstone and we saw the most beautiful black MG TF LE500 on the Trophy Cars Stand and to cut a long story short and with no little encouragement from the Club Secretary, and one more raid on the pensions fund we did a deal and bought it for Heather.
As they always say, the path of true love never runs smooth and after owning this lovely car for just a few short months it was becoming obvious that we were not getting the use out of the car that we first thought that we would. Heather’s Fiat 500 was getting a little long in the tooth and the advent of another grandchild to carry bought us to the conclusion that a new baby wagon car, with 5 doors, was needed.
At Heather’s suggestion we decided to sell the TF and the Fiat in favor of a new Audi A1, this two for one car thing is getting to be a bit of a habit! Fortunately we found a new home for the TF from within the club and so we can still see it from time to time and unfortunately compete with it in the Pride of Ownership event, can a car be allowed to win two years on the trot?
So there you have it, our MG History, down to one MG again but still looking, and as for the RV8, it is giving me the thrill I used to get when biking and, as with the bike I used to do overseas trips to France and Switzerland, I will be looking for the opportunity to do the same in the RV8. Never going to sell it. Can you be buried in an MG? Who Knows?