John H 1971 Porsche 911 T 2dr Targa

My First Two Loves: a 1959 MGA and Bonnie

It was the summer of 1966, and I had just graduated from high school. My whole life was ahead of me, and I just needed wheels and a girl. Money was no real problem since I had a good paying summer job working in a Niagara Falls, New York abrasives plant. Naïve, impulsive, and with no mechanical knowledge outside of changing spark plugs, I purchased for $600 a good looking but high mileage black MGA with a red interior and wire wheels. After I learned more about the car, I noticed the right turn signal went on when I pressed the brake, its oil pressure dropped when it got hot, and the top leaked a bit in a hard rain as all good MGAs do. But what a thrill to drive a car that wasn’t a family Chevy! With the top down, the wind, sounds, and smells introduced me to a world that I have never gotten over.

But then there is the matter of the girl. And it just so happened that during the summer I met a thin, long blond art student named Bonnie, also a member of the class of ‘66. Bonnie, about as idiosyncratic as the car, was a wonderful road trip companion. One late afternoon I took her on my first short top down road trip through the Allegheny Mountains into Northwestern Pennsylvania. I will never forget the twisty roads around Chautauqua, Bradford, and Oil City, the cool night air and the illuminated dashboard, and Bonnie’s swirling, shimmering blond hair! It was a prelude to what heaven must be like.

On both accounts It was a summer romance, and it did not last, as they often do. As attractive as Bonnie was, she was a flaky art student and I was a serious would-be scientist far more practical adn intense at the time. AS teh summer ended so we parted. I often wonder what happened to Bonnie, for she had a great heart. As did a car that never failed me. Well, once it did, but it was my fault as I replaced the points ignoring all the little fiber washers that should have gone somewhere in the assembly.

The MGA was placed in the garage as I left for college in North Carolina, and soon sold by my parents. At Thanksgiving I saw it once in my neighborhood, showing its age. At the time there was no seller’s remorse, later replacing it with a used Mustang that was far more comfortable and reliable. Sadly, I have no photos left of the car or the girl, but maybe that is better, as I mental images are no doubt far more striking than the reality that was. Perhaps now its parts are transplanted to other better maintained MGAs, keeping this great marque alive. It does still live with me, every time I take a drive with the top down. And so does the ride with Bonnie, every time I see a young girl with blond hair.

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