A True Memoir of a Caramel Colored MGB, told in fairytale style…
By Paul Marshall
Once upon a time, a little girl grew up in a family where her father drove small British sports cars. Since she was a child, she dreamt of having an MG of her very own. So when she grew up, she and her dad went shopping, found a pre-owned 1975 MGB, and brought it home. The girl, whose name was Gabrielle, eventually drove the car off to college and loved her little MGB which was an unusual caramel color called Bracken by the factory. It’s a somewhat rare color, with most MGs being red, green, blue, black or white. Gabrielle, a budding artist, loved her special color.
After a time, she discovered her little car required more maintenance than a student had time or money for, so her father bought the MGB from her and was soon enjoying it himself. Then one day Gabrielle’s brother said to their father, “Dad, can I buy the MG from you?” And so, the dad, whose name was Paul, sold the car to his son, Tyler.
Tyler re-tuned the engine to pre-emission specs including twin SU carbs, and was soon seen buzzing around town in the caramel colored MGB. He discovered a bonus. Girls liked the MG too! But one day, Tyler decided to head out west to become a ski instructor at one of the finest resorts in the Rocky Mountains. Once again, Paul purchased the MG and drove it for a couple of years. Like many old English cars, the MG needed attention, and Paul, who didn’t have time, stored it in the garage. A few years went by while the MGB slept until Tyler returned from Colorado, gave her some much needed care and got her back on the street. It was running, though a bit ragged. The car still needed work on brakes, so he eventually parked it in dad’s garage where she sat quiet and alone while stuff got piled on top of it, an embarrassing fate not unknown to many other small English sports cars.
Time passed and the story of the caramel colored MG took another turn when Paul and his wife Dolly, now retired, decided to move to Sarasota, Florida. When Paul saw the MG still having life, he decided to tow the car down to St. Petersburg Florida, dropping it off with Glenn Lenhard at Glenn’s MG. Glenn was given a punch list of things to do, including the maintenance of all safety equipment, engine, installing a completely new brake system, new gas tank, clutch, pressure plate and a resurfaced flywheel etc. Other issues discovered were dealt with, so the final invoice was impressive, but the work done was of excellent quality. You get what you pay for in a good shop like Glenn’s MG.
Paul then located a man who did the physical body repairs including welding in new floors and putting new custom interior upholstery, rocker panels, repaint (same color,) some new chrome, and lowering the MG to an inch below early MGB specs. The project was then considered almost complete. Total cost of resurrection was not insignificant, but then, one doesn’t add up numbers on a labor of love that one has no intention of selling. The MGB looked beautiful; not a high point show car but a very handsome daily driver. The MG drew attention wherever it went. Pretty young girls would come rushing over singing “We just ‘LOVE’ your car!” We often heard, “My boyfriend in college had one of those.” People do like MGs and girls really do think they’re ‘cute’. Paul and Dolly only drove the car in dry weather (it had not seen rain or snow since the re-do) and as it was the perfect car for Florida, it spent many tropical nights making wind-in-the-hair runs down the coast for dinner or rides to Paul Duffy’s Irish Rover Pub in Sarasota to hear the amazing jazz group, Jazz Juvenocracyall – kids barely into high school but playing like pros! The MG was a magic carpet, designed to give pleasure to its owners and it did, always imparting a feeling of freedom, youth and the joy of just being alive.
After seven years in Sarasota, Paul and Dolly decided to move back north to spend more time with family. So, the MG was towed back to its former home town. Sadly, soon after returning to Michigan City on the shores of Lake Michigan, Dolly passed away suddenly and Paul was heartbroken. He felt he could no longer enjoy the MG without her and told his son Tyler that he could have the car. Ty’s answer was:
“No Dad, let’s call it OUR car together as long as you live.”
So, that’s what Tyler and Paul have done. They share the costs of maintenance and improvements, work on it together, and each winter the car receives attention such as an earlier head with big valves, electronic ignition, and a Moss Motors Cold Air intake which Tyler modified for more cool air ram. They joined a British car club called Michiana Brits and show the car at the club’s annual British show in South Bend, Indiana. The MGB has taken two second place awards, and last year she earned the coveted FIRST PLACE in class. The prizes are based on popular vote of the people in attendance.
Today, it’s mostly Tyler and his lady, Colleen, who take evening runs on the winding country roads. Still, sometimes son and father take in an autumn football game at Notre Dame University, or cruise for a beer and burger. Interstates are avoided as the MG is most happy on twisty back roads that wind past vineyards and farms while the faithful iron four banger sings its MG song through the header and out across the fields, the echo bouncing off red barn walls.
Paul is now thinking about selling or trading his 2002 Miata for a drivable MGA or MGC with a reasonable price tag. He feels even at 76, it’s never too late to do another one.
The caramel colored MGB has now been in the Marshall family for more than 35 years and is still lovingly cared for and driven only on rain free days. More plans are in the works for additional improvements before spring arrives. So Moss Motors will be hearing from this father son team soon. This story has no ending as the magical caramel colored MGB just goes on and on, living happily ever after!