If you mend it you can tend it

| 4 Feb 2013

I had a bit of an emergency before Christmas when one of the Scimitar’s wheel studs snapped. Fortunately it happened in the car park at the office and the car wasn’t even moving at the time but it did rather leave me stranded because it was a Friday afternoon and a replacement stud wouldn’t arrive until Monday.

It would all be okay though – I’d have a chat with sister magazines Autocar and What Car?  who both occasionally have the odd spare car sitting around waiting for its turn in the hands of the road testers and they might be kind enough to lend me the keys… except neither of them did have anything going spare as it happened, which actually left me stranded.

Of course, we’re not a selfish bunch here on C&SC (normally), and Clements immediately offered me the keys to his MGB GT… providing I could fix it first.

I won’t steal the thunder of his running report in the March issue (out on Thursday), but in short, the MGB had been suffering from a rather severe electrical woe which so far had gone undiagnosed. But with the light fading and willing to do anything but tackle the journey home by public transport (not an easy one given my location), I dived in to see if I could get the car running.

With advice from an electrician friend, I found a work-around to the issue which meant I gladly hopped in and headed West – naturally choosing the option of taking Al’s MGB rather than let him take it and me enjoy the comfort of his Ford Focus instead.

Despite being 12 years newer than either of my previous ‘Bs, it was definitely a case of being reunited with an old friend as the experience immediately conjured up familiar sounds, sights and smells.

The MGB was, at one point, my dream (achievable) classic, and when I finally bought my very own 1967 BGT it was everything I thought it would be, except for the tired engine that wouldn’t rev, the wobbly wire wheels and the badly patched rust that is. When I subsequently ‘upgraded’ to a ’67 roadster, it really was a dream come true and the adventures that followed both on the road and in the workshop sealed my love for the little sports car.

So, after a decent period of absence, getting back into one and treading familiar sections of tarmac was like being transported back in time and dredged up all of those pleasurable emotions. Unfortunately it did remind me how I used to struggle to get any worthwhile heat out of the heater (seized valve or not), and how a standard 'B motor wouldn’t cut if for me any more, but Clements’ loan did make me seriously consider returning to the Abingdon fold once again.

That’s an idea I’m going to keep hold of for now and stash in the back of the wardrobe for later in life. Like a comfortable jumper or an old pair of shoes, it’s definitely something I can see myself slipping back into in years to come when the need to ‘do something different’ has well and truly gone.

Oddly, that’s very reassuring – a bit like knowing that the pension you’ve been sinking money into for the duration of your working life will definitely be enough to live on when it’s time to take delivery of the carriage clock for your mantelpiece.

Thinking about it though, if there’s enough in the pension pot when I do retire then perhaps I can finally fulfil my desire to trace the old Targa Florio route in a works-style ‘B.