Me & My Car: MG Roadster still pretty as a picture
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You’re driving a 1961 MGA roadster?
I am a retired mechanic by trade and I have spent my years buying and selling cars. I have had 55 old cars in my life. This 1961 Mark I 1600 MGA roadster is red, it’s manual and all original. Very few of that year were produced.
MG, which stands for Morris Garages, turned out a total between late 1955 to 1962, of 101,081 MGAs. Many were exported to the US and only 31501 were produced 1600 Mark Is.
It had a top speed of 96 mph (which is 154.7km/h) I tis one of the most successful and sought-after MGs made. But it was a low production run compared with MGBs.
When did you buy it?
I bought it 17 years ago, it came from England.
Reasons you chose the roadster?
It is a pretty motor car. It is totally authentic, it is nice to drive something that isn’t souped-up etc etc. It still drives beautifully. I love genuine white wall tyres, hence they have been on for 17 years.
That was a factory option if you wanted them. It has the factory sun visors, a stainless steel luggage rack on which I carry a picnic basket. It has won many prizes at MG club and vintage car shows.
Is this your first MG?
I have had seven over the years.
Have you done much work on it?
It was refurbished 34 years ago in England and still retains that paint job, it still shines. The colour is authentically right and it still runs on a four-speed manual gearbox.
Most MGAs have been upgraded to five speed gearboxes out of other cars and they have also been upgraded to MGB motors. But that does not suit me one bit. So there are only a few around that are still authentic like mine.
How do you think your car fits your personality?
I’m an outgoing sort of a person and I like all sorts of old cars. Hence I have still got my first car, which is a 1929 Austin 7 that I have restored. I have had it 54 years. But that’s another story.
What else do you have in your “garage”?
I have downsized lately. I had a 1990 New Zealand new Mazda MX5 I found in a basement 12 month ago that had been sitting there with all flat tyres for 10 years, unused.
I have a 1989 Toyota MR2 in absolutely perfect condition. The other one is a 1955 Austin A50. I am a British enthusiast, I served my time as an apprentice mechanic on Austin cars.
Who else drives your roadster?
Only my son now and again if I can’t, but I am usually driving it.
What do you keep in this car?
A fire extinguisher and tools if I need them. It has let me down only once in 40,000 miles since I restored the engine.
Any vehicles you regretted selling?
There would be some over the years but you have to move on.
An Austin Healy would be one of them.
Who taught you to drive?
I am self-taught. I was driving
on dad’s farm — he had a farm where the Mangere aerodrome
Today the farmhouse would be in the middle of the domestic terminal. I learned to drive in an Austin A40 pickup truck, bringing in and picking up haybales from when I was 10 years old.
I went for my licence in that Austin A40 Devon pickup when I was 15; l I got my full licence straight away and I also got my motorcycle licence. I have 10 mopeds, dating back to the 1950s and ‘60s, which are all mobile.
Advice to young drivers?
Show respect on the roads — and they do; driving an old car like this, I have never had any trouble. And please leave me enough room to stop because I don’t have power brakes.
Do you prefer manual or automatic?
Definitely automatic, being an older person. Although I love to drive the MX5, I do wish it was an auto.
Most memorable road trip?
Driving from Cape Reinga to Bluff. And the South Island road trips I have done with the car club. You’re a big bunch of MGs all together. The MG club is a wonderful car club. It has over 500 members, and they are all wonderful people.
What do you listen to when you’re driving?
The sound of the exhaust. It is a beautiful noise they make, especially the MGA, I just adore it, you go under a bridge and it goes burble burble.
Technology and cars, will you embrace it?
No definitely not. I can see the day coming when all cars are electric, but by then I will be pushing up the daisies. It has to happen but I wonder where all the electricity will come from.