Freedom is an MGB: Terry Waite, Home at Last, in the Car He Dreamed Of

Freedom is an MGB. Initially, it sounds like a cliched advertising slogan thought up in days of yore, when the sports car was a symbol of wind in the hair and the type of freedom that comes from driving along country lanes with the hood down.

However, freedom, in this instance, stands for something very different and is coined by one of the few men who would know the true meaning of the word, Terry Waite. The slogan isn’t part of some new campaign for the relaunch of the MGB, but part of a scheme to raise money (or and promote the work “Y” Care International, the world relief and development agency of the YMCA in Britain and Ireland. Terry founded ‘Y’ care in 1984 to raise money to fund community based projects run by local YMCAs in developing countries.

Why use an MGB to promote the project? The idea came as the result of a letter sent to Terry at RAF Lyneham on his return to England. Bryan Howells, MG Car Club Director, suggested as a gesture to welcome Terry home, that the Car Club should offer to get Terry’s by now famous MGB, back into running order after being off the road for so long. Lyn Jeffrey, Club Secretary, ensured that the letter wouldn’t get lost in the many sackfuls of post arriving daily at the base. There was pandemonium in the club office two days later when Terry phoned to accept the offer.

Will Corry, Club Chairman set about the project of putting Terry’s MGB back on the road. One of his first jobs was to make a hit list of contributors. Mansell McCarthy Motorsport was enlisted to carry out the work and set about recovering the vehicle from its long hibernation. Apart from a seized handbrake from being left so long.

(Terry later explained, “Well, I only in tended lo be away for a week!”), there were no real problems. A thorough examination revealed sound body work, but extensive corrosion to the brakes, suspension, steering and fuel systems.

Some new parts would be needed and naturally the Club turned to the advertisers in their own magazine Safety Fast for free contributions. When Pete Buckles at Moss Europe was first approached, he, like all of the other MG specialists the Club contacted, was more than willing to offer any parts and support that was needed.

While the car was stripped as necessary and rebuilt with new parts, it was not totally restored, as the objective was to reunite Terry with his old familiar MGB. The MG Car Club planned to hand over the keys of the car at a presentation ceremony at the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden. However, with the care and consideration of the man ever present, the Waite family suggested that a promotion of the event should be used not only to celebrate his freedom but also to benefit a worthy cause. The slogan ‘Freedom is an MGB’ was quickly endorsed by Terry and he decided to dedicate the promotion to “Y” Care. The MG Car Club agreed to promote the campaign and that “Y” Care would benefit from the proceeds.

The day of the presentation was thankfully clear and sunny. Adam Blackaby, Group Marketing Manager and Mike Standring, Group Sales Manager, attended the event on behalf of Moss Europe. The shining and polished Midnight Blue MGB was initially hidden away in the Transport Museum, where it was unveiled in front of a gaggle of press and television crews. Terry then drove the car outside into the sunshine for further photo opportunities. He looked very proud of the car, his famous bearded grin offered to the many calls of “Terry, this way!”, “Terry, over here!” as the press clamored for just the right publicity shot. Terry didn’t seem to mind, alter all it was all in good cause and he did have his MGB back. Freedom at last!

(We’re sure you all join us in welcoming back Church of England Envoy, Terry Waite, from 6 years of captivity in Lebanon. Here at Moss, we were thrilled to be part of the team that provided the parts to that enabled his MGB to be restored. -Ed.)


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