As long as I can remember, my father’s 1980 MGB — which he bought two weeks after I was born — has been part of my life. He even tells me that at less than two weeks old I was his first passenger the day he drove home from the downstate dealership where he bought it. He’d had to sell his first MG years earlier when he broke his leg and couldn’t get into the car. When he heard that MGs were being discontinued he knew he had to have one of the last ones. In fact, he found two black MGBs, one of which my uncle bought on the same day.
Apparently, Dad drove it a lot for the first couple of years he had it, but after my Mom had twins the car sat a lot more as they now had three young kids.
My first clear memory of the MGB has to have been when I was about 6 or 7 and I had a close up view of my sister, Shannon, scribbling her name in the dusty door of Dad’s pristine black MG. Since then he’s polished the door many times, but you can still see the faint outline of her signature.
Dad has always doted on the car and taken great care of it. In fact, he treats it just like a fourth child. But he’s also enjoyed it a lot, often with one of the three of us along. We all loved going for rides with the top down, and he always used it as a way to spend time with all of us, whether it was running out for ice cream or going out to dinner.
I can’t imagine not having that car in the family, but we had a close call when I was in high school. An escaped prisoner broke into our house, loaded Dad’s hunting and camping gear into the MG, and headed for Canada. Thanks to an APB, a woman spotted it and called the police. The fugitive was stopped just before the border. Unfortunately, the convertible top was torn and for the first time ever, someone else had put several hundred miles on the car.
The first time I ever drove the MG wasn’t quite as awful, but it was my first effort at driving a stick shift. I was so focused on how I was handling the clutch and gears that I slipped out of the driveway onto the main road without watching for traffic. I barely escaped being side-swiped and couldn’t imagine what I would have done if I had wrecked Dad’s beloved car.
Dad has always had a very special relationship with the MG, and after 32 years he still lights up when driving it. He says it will never leave the family, and I’m counting on that.