MGs are spice of life for collector
ENTHUSIAST RACKS UP KILOMETRES IN THIS CLASSIC BRITISH MARQUE
You could say Tony Bushell is MG mad. He’s even got windows shaped like the MG badge.
“I told him he could clean them,” said his wife, Margaret. They’re a bit of a double act, when she can get a word in.
He’s got MGs tucked all over the place — the 1958 MGA I’m here to see, a 1950 Y Tourer he’s owned for 40 years, a 2005 ZT 260 packing a Mustang V8 engine, another Y under a tarp, an assortment of oddities with MG engines, some of them rusting ...
He owned his first MGA 20 years ago and sold it after “a joker rang me every day for a month”. Five years later he had a quadruple bypass, decided “life’s too short”, and started looking for another.
It took years to find a good one.
“It was in Blenheim, restored, it had 2000 miles on the clock, now it’s got 24,000 [38,624km].”
The couple don’t just sit back and look at their cars.
“I broke an axle the first rally we used it in, got a spare part locally, fixed it and drove home.”
He’s since changed it to fine-spline axles. “The 1500s, TDs and TFs came out with coarse splines which were renowned for breaking, the 1600 engine came out in 1959, they were breaking axles so they put the fine-spline in.”
He also got the hard roof, replaced the petrol pump with a modern one, but that’s about it.
The car’s finished in the original colour combo, though the fabric roof is black, “I imagine it’d have been red.” They put the hard top on for winter, or long trips, “otherwise you sit in the sun and fry”. The couple have just returned from a trip to Greymouth in the MGA.
“We’ve been to the South Island about four times in it, with the hard top as it’s more waterproof. It’s only four bolts so it’s quicker than the soft top to remove, and we leave it in the motel and take part in events.”
The boot isn’t very roomy, hence the boot-mounted luggage rack, which he’s fitted upside down with the upright “shelf” at the top.
“It’s designed to hold the suitcase, but I carry the spare wheel on it when the boot’s full, and fitted it that way as it protects me from the wheel flying forward in a sudden stop.”
They take the MGA out quite often, though Margaret doesn’t drive.
“She doesn’t like constructive criticism — don’t say I said that!”
The car uses a 1500cc engine with a four-speed transmission and drum brakes all round. It has the same suspension as the Y, which uses a ladder chassis with the cabin sitting atop it.
“With the MGA the chassis curves round the sides and you sit down in it, you’re much lower, so the suspension acts quite differently.”
It’s firm and it doesn’t have a sway bar. “It needs one, but they haven’t made 40-hour days yet.”