About a year ago I took a picture of my grandson, Hunter, standing in front of my son’s restored 1977 MGB, as if he was a salesman. Well, this year Hunter, at three, has moved up a peg and is now representing a 1961 BT-7 Austin-Healey. If I ask him if he wants to go for a ride in the “little car,” he races to it and waits very impatiently.
My son Barry owned the MGB in the mid-’80s. He sold it to a woman named Marge in a neighboring town. In 2003 I saw it under a snowdrift with a For Sale sign in the window. I bought it and gave it back to Barry as a project for the two of us. We restored it in the shop at my office and it has been on the road now for the past several years. It runs great with the few normal MGB quirks. Moss Motors has been the main supplier of the parts for both the MGB and the Austin-Healey, along with a few other British cars we have dealt with over the years.
We kept Marge up to date on the progress since she had owned it for most of its existence. At one point I made a comment to her about some of the work someone had done on it. She rolled her eyes and said a boyfriend had done the work, and that he wasn’t any good at that, either.
When I found the BT-7 it hadn’t run in eight years but had been stored in a garage, and only moved once or twice. As to be expected, all the fuel and brake lines were dust, and the brake cylinders were solid blocks. But the engine spun, and oil pressure and compression were good. And it only had 42,000 miles on the odometer.
We took it apart, and after a lot of metal (actually rust) cutting and welding—with most of the replacement sheet metal from Moss—it went back together last year. It’s 99 percent done with a few minor interior trim pieces that need sprucing up when time allows. It runs great and draws a crowd wherever it goes.
There is a drive-in burger place dating from the 1950s nearby that has a small outside music venue. As we were leaving one night, the girl performing stopped in the middle of her song and announced over the speakers that she “loved our ride,” and then went right on singing.
We are up in the Northeast corner of Connecticut, and I can’t remember seeing more than two or three big Austin-Healeys over many, many years. And I’ve definitely never met as charming a sales guy as my grandson.
By Bob Brandriff.