As we all know, one of the two major goals of our Club is the “preservation of MGs and the MG marque”, and the other, just as important, goal is the “enjoyment” thereof. When we stop to think about this, most of us are doing a decent job on the “enjoyment” part, and for most Club members, preserving tangible parts of our beloved MGs is a serious pastime. The Club itself is a decades-long testament to this. In 2019, we have a growing list of enjoyable activities, and our car-enhancing Tech Sessions are among the most well attended events we sponsor.
“Preserving the marque”, a somewhat intangible goal, however, is another thing altogether. Yes, if we keep our Bs, Cs, As, TCs, TDs, etc., in good “nic”, there is a better chance that they will be around for a future in which we’re no longer driving them. But, who will want to drive them? From whence will the passion come? Who will have the history many of us have with our MGs?
My history: I met my first MG (a British Racing Green ’66 B) at a used car lot on Victory Boulevard in Columbus, Georgia, home of Ft. Benning and the Army Infantry School. The year was 1970, and I was a newly minted Second Lieutenant headed to D.C. (lucky me!) and the Old Guard at Ft. Myer. I needed wheels—more than that—after a year of training and with the prospect of heading overseas in another year, I needed some fun. What fun it was! That car was my vacation, my break from the Army, and, most of all, the car I was driving when I proposed to my wife, Carol. In short, it was a part of some of the best times of my life.
It also cost me a pretty penny—I like to say I paid for it three times: once when I bought it (at 14% interest!), and twice in repairs. Of course, the pain of those costs and their memory has been overwhelmed by the pleasure I got then and still get all these years later from owning an MG. My guess is that your “history” is just as unique and meaningful to you. Or, if you’re a newcomer to ownership, you’re creating some personal MG history right now.
For the most part, though, the next generation won’t have any personal MG “history”. Sure, there are families that are steeped in the lore of MGs because generations have owned them, cared for them, raced them. However, families like these, and we have some in the Club, a far too rare. So, what are we to do to maintain an appreciation for MGs in an age when the very existence of gas-powered motoring is approaching a crossroads?
Believe it or not, there are some creative opportunities out there for capturing the attention of younger folks—for whom the idea of being around and loving 50+ year-old cars is as much a novelty as our first encounters were with our cars—but for obviously different reasons.
One is a program being sponsored by Hagerty, the vintage car insurer. Many clubs now include “Youth Judging” programs at their major car shows. Our friends at the Triumph Register did just that at April’s fine Britain on the Green show. We have made contact with Hagerty with regard to this year’s Hunt Country Classic. The idea is that several representative cars are selected to be in the Youth Judging Class (even as they also compete more generally), and recruitment efforts are undertaken to get as many younger folk as possible, aged ten to eighteen, to participate as judges. Using a scoring system that gives points for a car’s appearance, originality, and uniqueness, these young judges oversee a competition within a competition. In the process, the hope is they learn about vintage cars, share an experience not to be forgotten, and perhaps a seed of interest is planted. (If you have an interest in helping to make this happen, please let me or Hunt Country Classic Committee Co-Chair, Doug Campbell know. Our contact info is included in the “2019 MGCCWDCC Committees” listing elsewhere in this issue of The Spark.)
Another idea, and something which MG Clubs and other car clubs across the country are encouraging, is to bring our gas-powered classics to high schools for students to check out and learn about. After all, we didn’t get this far just plugging into sockets!
Beside the delight in discovering the simple, yet quirky, mechanicals of sports cars created a world away in both geography and time, there is also the fun of learning about our racing heritage and seeing why to this day there remains so much passion for MGs. Our New Events Committee is actively looking to arrange at least one such event at a local high school in our area this fall. (If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Alphonso Stewart or Ed Johannemann whose contact info is also included in our “2019 MGCCWDCC Committees” listing.)
This year we will have an “MG History” tent at the Hunt Country Classic. The idea is to give some context to why MGs have such a loyal following, how they fit into the historical landscape of vintage cars in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world. We hope to encourage spectators, families, and show participants to stop by and maybe learn something interesting. Leading the presentation will be none other than our illustrious Club Historian, Jim Byers. Jim is already hard at work creating an oral presentation on the history of the Club and the MG Story—particularly post World War II—which will be combined with photo displays and hopefully many posters and other memorabilia loaned for the purpose from fellow Club members (like you?). Look for a short article on this effort elsewhere in this issue of the Spark and for your chance to participate.
Of course, nothing will ensure the continuity of the marque more than a new generation of Club members, drawn to our activities and having fun driving, admiring or tinkering with MGs and socializing with the rest of us. The best way to do that: get engaged in the Club’s activities yourself, then become an advocate for this hobby/passion. Download from our Club website a membership application. Keep it handy. Look for chances to reach out to someone who admires your car--perhaps in your own driveway, or on a drive somewhere, maybe at a show—wherever it happens. Engage them in conversation about your car and our Club (don’t forget—you don’t need to own an MG to be a Member). Encourage their interest. You never know what might happen…