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6 Sep 2009
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British Invasion Car Show, Stowe, September 18 - 20

A boy and his car.

My first car was a 1959 MGA. I bought it for $350 and sold it a few months later, a deal I had to make with my parents to get them to acquiesce to what I thought was one of the greatest ideas of all time: me in a sleek, fast, and nimble car to try out my inestimable driving skill

I sold it for the same amount I had bought it for and I broke even except for gas plus all the polish, wax, and other chemicals I put on or in it.

I enjoyed - no, make that - LOVED, driving the MG that summer. I spent hours each day driving or working on that car. It has rusted out rocker panels which I carefully scrapped out and painted rust-proof silver. With a meticulousness worthy of a new category of dementia, I sanded each wheel and sprayed them in short stages with the leftover paint from the rocker panel project. There was not one run in the paint. Of course, it took me more than a week of light spraying to achieve that. And I had to mask the tires each time to keep overspray off them

The tires were so old they had dried out and developed hundreds of fine cracks. New tires would have been the only sane solution but to a teenage boy with more hormones than money, I found a better answer in a product called tire paint while I was wandering the aisles in an auto parts store. The first thing I thought of was that if I had found it earlier, I could have just painted over any silver overspray. Oh well. You learn to say that a lot when you own an old car but especially old British sports cars.

I had tried tire dressing first but the tires simply soaked it up and kept asking for more by displaying the same faded gray color they had before I spent an hour applying multiple coats of dressing.

This was back in the days before Armor-All so you never saw cars with shiny tires. But my MG's tires were beyond shiny - they looked absolutely glossy with their new coat of tire black. I didn't like the look but most of my friends and family did not mind too much. That may have been due to their bewilderment that someone would actually take the time and money to do such a time wasting thing. I had a car with super black tires but all they could see was a black hole.

A year or two later, I scored the ultimate achievement, an MG TD. It had been restored and didn't need much of anything until a few months later in upstate NY when a plug on the engine rusted out, draining all the water, and turning the engine into a stationary metal grinder.

I sold it and began my VW beetle period. But I never fell out of love for those old MG's and I hope they are still on the road. That's one reason why I look forward each year to the British Invasion car show in Stowe VT.

I'm sure it is one of the few places in the country where you can go to see a large gathering of old British motorcars as the British call them (to distinguish them from non-motor cars I guess - pedal cars and so on?).

Last year, 610 cars and motorcycles were entered in the British Invasion. Perhaps with the economy the way it is, there may be a drop in attendance but certainly there will still be more than enough cars to see. And they will all be magnificent examples - they don't allow junk or near-junk like my old MGA.

If you enjoy cars, especially old cars, you will certainly want to be there. I have to work that weekend but I'll try to find a little time to hop on my old British motorcycle and blast up there.

(c) 2009 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
posted by  grunhaus at  14:11