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Me And My MG.

Stories from MG owners around the world.

Remember When.

Gordon Thorburn.
ISBN 978-1-84468-116-7
First Published 2011 (Hardback, 169 pages).
Book cover

UK RRP 19.99

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There can be few people, in Britain at least, who have not heard, even in passing, of MG cars. Whether they've come across the Abingdon marque via photographs in dusty old albums, or repeatedly listen to elderly relatives recalling their days of courting in a sporting MG of the 1950s, or simply ran one without being particularly enthusiastic one way or the other, most people will at least know the name. Some will be able to rattle off the model names - MGB, Midget, TA, TC, TC, TD and TF to name just a few - while others, perhaps fond of wearing MG regalia at classic car events, will be able to add in technical information regarding the engine capacity, gear ratios, and torque figures of their favourite variant(s).
Gordon Thorburn, author of several different books including "Men In Sheds", has put pen to paper and written "Me And My MG". This isn't a book of firsthand ownership experiences, rather it is a collation of stories supplied by others who have owned cars with the famous octagon on their coachwork. In his introduction, GT explains the character of person who would rather drive a classic car, complete with its inherent faults either through design or age, when compared to the hyper-efficiency of a modern, gizmo-laden, four-wheeled iPod port. Good these modern creations may be, but few evoke the passions that persisting with an elderly motor-car can raise.
Fans of classic and vintage MGs will find something of interest in this book, which is an achievement in itself given that MG books aren't exactly thin on the ground. Vintagents will quickly feel at home, as the first car to be featured is a 1926 bullnose MG Super Sports. Found as a decaying wreck, its owner exacted a lengthy restoration to end up with the finished article.
Enthusiasts of pre-war MGs will also enjoy the accounts from a former USAF Major who owned a TB for forty years, while another owner in California describes the resurrection of his own PA, of 1935.
Post-war T-series cars feature in many of the MG stories, while later MGAs, MGBs, and Midgets also receive plenty of coverage, unsurprisingly as they're probably the most numerous of all the "classic" MGs. The only downside I see to the book is that there are very few MG saloons featured. The sports cars are the "pin-ups" for the MG marque over the years, but the ongoing survival of the MG name was in part due to sales of MG saloons. Y-Type saloons do appear in a couple of stories within the book, as do a few period advertisements for the YA/YB, but where are the ZA/ZB Magnette owners for instance, or the badge-engineered saloons (MG 1100s, Farinas etc) that kept the marque alive in the minds of buyers in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s, buyers who may have yearned for an open two-seater, but needed the practicality of a saloon? Although some may look at cars such as the Farina-bodied Magnette as simply a Morris Oxford in drag, there's nothing new in MGs "borrowing" the running gear or coachwork of mainstream, usually Morris, saloons, and wrapping them up in a more interesting package, hence the origin of the name Morris Garages.
MGs of more recent times also feature, although only in moderation. In fact the Appendix in the rear of the book only lists MG models upto and including the rubber-bumper MGB of 1980, so no mention of re-badged and uprated Metros, Montegos and Maestros, or Rover 75s converted into MGs in the 1990s/2000s. Several pages are given over to a ZR 120 hatchback, a re-badged and tweaked Rover, from 2003. The ownership story wasn't one of unbridled pleasure and joy. Mechanical maladies, made worse by an errant VW camper with a dickey handbrake, lead to the MG leading a short life in this owner's care, before being replaced by a car of French manufacture. Cars of the 1980s onwards don't float my boat, but MGs of this era could perhaps have been represented a little more in this book. The RV8 is also absent. The content of the book has been guided by the stories that could be collated, but as such there are some gaps that perhaps in a future edition (if there is one) could be plugged, if suitable ownership stories could be acquired.
Although I'm not particularly an MG fan (the pre-war models do appeal mind), I found this an interesting book to read, especially where accounts of old MGs discovered in near-forgotten hideaways are retrieved, and returned to the road once again. The fact that some of the popular MGs of more recent times aren't represented is a minor point only, as the book does not set out to cover every model produced under the MG name. All in all a good read.
(A book titled MG - Britain's Favourite Sports Car is also reviewed here.)
RJ
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