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Articles By Mike Rooth


1500 MGA

Anyone who has spent any time at all in this foggy isle of ours will appreciate that a soft top two seater isnt the most practical vehicle to own.My venture into this field was a 1500 MGA.Not only was it a soft top,it had no heater.This,at the time was still an optional extra, obviously not opted for by its first masochistic or hard up owner.To be fair I didnt really want an MGA,I would rather have had either a TR2 or MG TF,but the insurance people wouldnt wear the TR2,and I couldnt afford a TF,because even if it *did* predate the A-type it was always very sought after secondhand.

So an MGA it was,white(posers colour) with red leather seats.I fitted a radio,which I could never get to work, but it looked nice,and sought about for a means of keeping my feet warm.A scrapyard yielded a Riley 1.5 with a heater in it which was removed from said vehicle for a fiver.That is to say,I did the work,they stood around making funny comments and I apid them,presumably as much for the jokes as anything else.

The fittings unique to the MG such as the "ram effect" fresh air pipe etc I had to buy *new* from the local agent. Whereupon he offered to buy the heater off me!I nobly resisted this call to do someone else a favour and fitted the thing in.Of course,what I *hadnt* realised was that the Riley heater,although in the same tin can as the MG one was a vastly hotter version and had a bigger fan.When switched on to blow,it literally pressurised the cabin,and the hood, assumed barrage balloon proportions.Its always been beyond me why a saloon car should have a more powerful heater than a sports car.Mind you,it *was* BMC at the time,so perhaps a rational approach was too much to expect.After all they were the people of whom it was said "They exist to provide job satisfaction for graduate engineers,not to sell cars". This little item attended to,I looked forwars to a litle zoomy motoring.Hmmm.The MGA was really a sports tourer. Well biult,it was a trifle heavy for its 1500cc engine, even the 1600 version wasnt zippy.The fastest(and rarest) was the Twin Cam version.This was once demonstrated to me by a young pre yuppy(Daddy had bought him the car),in a manner I never want to repeat.A fifteen mile journey,done in TWELVE MINUTES over country roads,which included blasting down a busy city street at rush hour *on th wrong side of the road*.At a hundred and ten miles an hour,the jerk demonstratd the telescopic steering column!I got out,hung onto a convenient lamp post,and sought the nearest hostelry.

It was soon discovered that the English climate and soft tops were not in agreement.In tjree years,I had the top down twice, The last time when my girlfriend(now wife) and I went to someones wedding,and wanted to outpose am Alfa Spyder.Trouble was the bloody thing leaked.So what's new,Land Rovers do it all the time.It leaked between the top of the screen and the hood front.In desperation,I finally *glued* the sod into place. Never needed it after that,either.

Of course it had galloping gooly rot.Or rather galloping goalpost rot.And the front wing bottoms.And the sills,inner and outer. The goalposts were repaired with 1/8" steel(They held the door hinges) the rest with rather thinner stuff,but still thicker than the original.The new front wing bottoms were bent to shape round the gutter wastepipe on the house.Jigs?Why bother.They fitted,too.After that,the thing was heavier than ever,I reckon Father thought we were repairing a Main Battle Tank,except the tank probably had thinner metal. I finally got fed up with pouring oil into it.The girlfriend and I went down to London in it one weekend,and I loaded two gallons of oil in the boot.For a hundred and fourteen mile trip.I still remember getting into a lane in London and waiting ten minutes for someone to move.Finally some kind soul told me I was in a Taxi rank......What a dump!

It only let me down once.We'd been up to Cumberland(alright,I *know* its called Cumbria now,but it wasnt when I was born,so sod it!) and it was *cold*.The boot froze shut and had to have copious hot water applied to get it open,and halway back,just outside Leeming (In Yorkshire,I think)it died.Turned out the points had frozen and the camm follower had bust.No gap.We trudged a mile across fields to the nearest village,bought a new(Lucas) point set,fitted it,and awy we went.THEN ran into a diversion.THEN into freezing fog.That journey which usually took about four and a half hours,actually took eight. Note how things happen in threes.

The engine was re-ringed to cut the oil consumption,which it did, but a fifteen mile trip used a gallon of jungle juice.Further,my wife is five foot bugger all and I'm six foot.She couldnt see over the bonnet.And I was gtting married.Yeah,well,its a foregone conclusion really.But a Triumph Herald? Christ,how hen-pecked *can* you get?

 

   
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