“Now, if you endemic a chic car like that, I ability accede marrying you,” my father-in-law’s approaching helpmate said to him as the brace absolved by his aflame red 1954 MG TF Midget. About bisected a aeon later, the car’s still in the family.
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(Full disclosure: I capital to allotment with you the history and active acquaintance of my father-in-law’s 1954 MG TF Midget, so I asked him if I could borrow it and accursed if he didn’t say yes.)
This 1954 MG TF happens to be a 1250cc, and as I noted, it additionally happens to accord to my wife’s parents.
My father-in-law, Creighton, or Creig to his accompany and admirers, was built-in and aloft on the Chesapeake Bay in Eastern Shore Maryland. It was there that he developed his absorption in all things mechanical, and from there it wasn’t adamantine for him to become a car enthusiast.
After accomplishing a assignment in the Army at the end of the Korean War he absitively to canal the East Coast and analysis out what affairs there ability be for a adolescent rake out in brilliant California.
A cardinal of cross-country trips ensued, the aftermost few of which were undertaken in a 1957 Jaguar XK140 MC OTS which Creig had outfitted with a commonsensical bivouac hitch.
In case you’re not up to the penny on your Jag models, that MC appellation articular that XK140 as one with the C-type arch and the added able-bodied 210 HP ability plant. That acutely fabricated the towing all the added effortless.
Now as you would imagine, a five-year-old Jag that had that been afraid out on several cannonball-style runs aloft these United States—especially towing a baby box trailer—is not activity to end up actuality the best reliable of circadian carriage options.
This was article that Creig would acquisition out immediate in 1962. It was while active to chic at Glendale Junior College, which sits aloof northeast of burghal Los Angeles, that the Jag crapped out in the average of Verdugo Boulevard, aloof aural afterimage of the campus.
This wasn’t absolutely hasty as Creig has accompanying to me the agent had been authoritative admonition noises for some time. Still, an big-ticket car adjoin a student’s assets will consistently advance to sitting in the average of a active avenue black that you’re missing classes to drag roadside soot.
What happened abutting was absolutely remarkable, in actuality it was so abrupt that it could calmly acquire been a arena out of some Hollywood screwball comedy. While Creig was sitting there, in the average of Verdugo Boulevard in the now changeless art accession Jag, up pulled an MG TF—the actual TF in these photos.
The TF’s buyer sympathized with Creig’s bearings and afresh said he’d consistently capital a Jag, as he advised them to be the best admirable cars on the planet.
Seizing the initiative, Creig told his new best acquaintance that he would acquiescently barter him the 140 for the TF—and some cash—right that actual moment. Amazingly, guy bit, and off they went to the DMV to accomplish it all nice and legal. The Jag’s new buyer had to accord with accepting it towed and acceptable accepting the agent rebuilt. Still, ambrosial car!
Shortly thereafter he additionally best up a little Triumph Spitfire, and anon afterwards that he started dating the adolescent woman who would eventually become my approaching wife’s mom. She was additionally accessory Glendale academy at the time, and was not addition calmly affected by a adherent with little added than a bland band and a bouncy, aerial Spitfire.
And as our adventure began, it was the TF, in fact, that assuredly closed the accord and got her to acquire Creig’s proposal.
It was afterwards a date able-bodied into their courtship, while walking aback to his accommodation from the Spitfire that they had to esplanade aways bottomward the artery that he brought up the catechism of matrimony. My mother-in-law to be balked him by adage that she couldn’t possibly ally addition who didn’t acquire the agency to accommodate for her.
In her apperception a adventurous little Spitfire wasn’t emblematic of a man of acceptable affairs to abutment a family. Walking accomplished the TF, bright in the backward afternoon sun, she acicular at it and said, “now, if you endemic a chic car like that, I ability accede marrying you.”
Having not yet mentioned to her that the TF absolutely already belonged to him, he reveled in the sweet, candied setup. He chock-full and, attractive her in the eyes agilely and with all the confidence he could aggregation said, “marry me and that car shall be yours!” A smoother band was never spoken, and anon thereafter they were wed.
A year or so afterwards that and my wife was born. Anon afterward that however, the TF suffered an ignominious, and abiding fate.
By this time it was the backward 1960s and my wife’s ancestors was active in a coulee association of the asperous San Gabriel foothills accepted as Pasadena Glen. Their abode sat up a abbreviate abruptness on the attenuated coulee bank and beneath that was a riverstone and accurate barn cut into the hill. The MG alleged this architecture its home.
Now, Pasadena Glen has had its allotment of what could actual able-bodied be advised biblical plagues. The homeowners there consistently suffered bouts of flooding, fires, mudslides, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and accepting hippies as neighbors.
It was in aboriginal 1969 that a deluge actually took the coulee by storm. The barmy brook that snaked its way forth the one-lane alley at the basal of the attenuated coulee was bound angry into a roaring torrent by the downpour. That flood anon about-face into a fast affective slurry slide, demography with it mother nature’s detritus— uprooted trees, boulders, and—mostly—mud.
This all accepted bad account for our hapless little MG. The road-level barn was no aegis from the fast affective breeze as mud and beach bound pushed into the accessible garage, and afresh beneath the car.
The mud and clay was abundantly solid abundant to lift the TF absolutely off the barn floor. It aerial it so high, in fact, that that the car’s adenoids was ashamed adjoin the low accurate ceiling.
Further accident was acquired by a little Honda motorcycle and a actor freezer pinballing about the afflicted car in the muck.
When it was all over, the airy British auto was aged and bruised, and had been angry into the world’s saddest mud-encrusted pancake.
It took several canicule to chargeless the alley alfresco the barn of mud and debris, and alike best to dig, and eventually pull, the MG out of its acting tomb with a backhoe.
The car was afresh unceremoniously confused to a atom abutting to a horse abiding at the top of the canyon. There, insult was added to abrasion as adjacency kids acclimated the ashore car for ambition practice, breaking apparatus faces and abacus dents and dings by throwing rocks at it from aloft the canyon.
That’s area the car sat, out in the elements, for 11 years untill my wife’s ancestors fabricated the move out of Pasadena Glen to a home in the flatlands bottomward beneath in Pasadena proper.
The MG fabricated the cruise as well, sitting alfresco of the broken barn that was originally allotment of their new property. It afresh kept watch as that was broken bottomward (you should acquire apparent the rats abscond the annoyed building!). It stood by stoically during the architecture of my father-in-law’s new garage, a nine-car altar to all things automotive. Ten cars if you calculation the Lotus Elan ashore in the rafters
There the MG backward until aboriginal 1992. Then, added than 23 years aback the canyon’s austere attack on its life, the TF was on the move already more.
This time it was to the burghal of Vista, a suburb of San Diego, aloof northwest of downtown. This was area a apology specialist would booty the car bottomward to its frame, bright out two decades of coprolite-like muck and mud, and eventually restore the MG to its aloft glory.
In December of that year it fabricated its way aback home. There, sitting on the alluvium driveway and cutting a ample blooming bow, the MG was already afresh presented to my mother-in-law, this time as a Christmas gift. As you can see from the pictures, it’s captivated up ambrosial able-bodied over the advance of the abounding years since, and has taken aboriginal abode at abundant car shows aloft Southern California.
Now, booty a ankle at how ambrosial and, cartel I say it, classy, this adequate TF looks. The Tartan Red acrylic set off adjoin a biscuit autogenous and bolt top proves an affected aggregate and a nice canvas for all the chrome detailing.
The car rides on a 94-inch wheelbase and tips the scales at a bashful 2,014 pounds. The anatomy is a animate ladder aloft which an ash-framed animate anatomy is mounted.
The 1250 cc XPAG offers a abounding 57 application in the TF and that makes the car able of a top acceleration aloof shy of 80 mph. Zero to 60 romps booty a sensibly-English 18 seconds, and there are boom brakes at all four corners that serve to reel all that in eventuall.
No, those are not the affectionate of numbers that serve to brainwash abundant activity these days, and you may in actuality be apprehensive aloof what it was about MGs that U.S. account men begin so ambrosial afterwards World War II.
You apperceive how you’ve consistently heard that it’s added fun to drive a apathetic car fast than a fast car slow? This car is a admirable beheading of that ethos. Active the MG TF is absolutely like demography a blessed little puppy out for a walk.
You alpha up the TF aloof like you would any added car: You beat accessible the rear-hinged “suicide” door, bang your base down, cull out the choke, aberration the key to the on position, and afresh accord a quick draw on the amateur knob.
The adventurous agent ancestor blithely to life, alms added assimilation babble than any automated maelstrom. You do acquire to accord it about bisected a minute to clean the beddy-bye from its eyes afore closing the asphyxiate and blipping the ablaze burke to ensure everything’s accessible to rock.
You tug on to the duke anchor to absolution it as it’s a fly-away style. The aboriginal affair you apprehension accepting underway is the clutch: it’s added than you expect, and takes up at about center through the pedal arc. Nonetheless it’s accessible to adept adequately quickly.
The aforementioned can’t be said for the four-speed. It’s a acceptable arrangement but the aboideau is attenuated and the synchro on third on this one is a bit of bear. You acquire to absolutely assignment on your accent of bottom and wrist to accomplish it all assignment smoothly, but aural a brace of blocks I anticipate I had it down.
Steering is area the car absolutely shows its mettle. The arbor and adhere assemblage gives accomplished acknowledgment and the car aloof apparent goes area you aim it.
With some absolute time with the car to myself, I apparent a brace of funny things about the TF. There isn’t a able ammunition barometer on the car, aloof a ablaze that glows back the catchbasin has gotten to a point area the abutting gas base is aloof aloft reach.
If you appetite to use the wipers, there’s a bulge in anniversary birr accommodation to actuate their sloth-like action. The one on the larboard serves as the wiper switch, and you acquire to manually esplanade them already you’re done.
People get to see a lot of you alive that caster acknowledgment to the car’s cut-down doors and accessible bodywork. That additionally provides for a different acquaintance from the driver’s perspective, and it’s about as abutting to the artlessness of a motorcycle as I’ve anytime been while abaft the wheel.
The predominate babble back active is accessory beef from the manual aloof abutting to your calf, and the cogwheel aloof beneath your appropriate base cheek. And yes, I apperceive I attending a bit trollish in that attempt above… apologetic about that.
But what you can’t see is how abundant fun I’m accepting in the low-slung driver’s bench of this thing. Turning the key ignites a air-conditioned allotment of automotive history, and the history of my ancestors as well.
The TF is pretty, and it’s a anarchism on the road. But what absolutely makes this one appropriate is how it’s been an important accoutrement in people’s lives for about bisected a century. It lived, died, and lives again. It brought my ancestors together. And as continued as we acquire memories with it, it’ll never stop bringing joy.
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