It all started when my friend Chris let me drive his ’74 MGB a few years ago. I only drove it for a few miles but there was something about it that made me feel connected to the road and the machine I was sitting in. The steering took some effort as did the brake pedal. The shifting was smooth and I felt the car was responsive; it handled very well. When the gas was mashed the speed climbed with a throaty exhaust note; pleasant for a 4 cylinder. The power draw between gears wasn’t neck breaking, but there was appeal in the anticipation of reaching shifting speed. Was this for me? Heck yeah, I liked it! However, owning a classic car wasn’t high on my priority list at the time.
Fast forward two years and my Dad and I found that our neighbor who owned a ’72 MGB since it was new was looking to donate it to a radio station. He hadn’t driven it since 1982 (30 years) when he garaged it and planned on replacing the master cylinder himself. He never got around to replacing that master cylinder but kept it covered, took care of it, and pushed it out into the driveway on occasion to wash and wax it. We never knew it didn’t run. We just assumed he drove it all those years! We made him an offer and we were the new owners of a MGB in BRG with 42k original miles.
After some work (finally replacing the master cylinder) and restoring the interior. The 72 was rolling. My Dad and I decided to split its time between Reno (where I live) and Sacramento (where he lives).
This didn’t last long. We both liked the car too much.
I started looking for other MGBs and less than a month later I found a ’74 MGB. It was a driver and the owner was asking a fair price; I think the ugly rubber overriders dubbed as “Sabrinas” were a turn off to non-enthusiasts. It needed work but the body and paint were in great shape. After replacing the interior, fixing electrical issues, replacing the rear brake lines, steering boots, windshield, and a few other things, the ’74 was rolling.
Fast forward two months. Feeling confident in our MGBs we planned a 900 mile road trip from Reno, NV to Santa Rosa, CA up HWY 101 to Arcata then to Redding and back to Reno.
The trip was amazing. The cars ran flawlessly and at the finish of the trip we were all begging for more miles.
There is something about these cars. I don’t know what it is. When I’m driving my MGB I feel connected. Connected with the car, connected with the road, connected with my surroundings, connected with myself. Perhaps it’s the time I’ve put into learning their mechanics, maintaining and repairing them that makes me feel connected. I don’t do that with my other cars.
Maybe this isn’t a feeling I have to try and explain. Sometimes you find hobbies that just strike the right notes and resonate with you. Driving and working on my MGB suits me through and through. You’ll find me on the road, looking for more.
By John Dunlap
Photos by John Dunlap III, Chris O’Neil and Benton Collins