Confessions of a Generation X Classic Car Fan!
I need to let you into a secret. As a young child no older than 5, I remember my dad telling me his old car would eventually be mine. Over the course of the next four decades - before I got the keys - his 1959 MGA Twin Cam was shipped from the UK to Barbados to Canada. Over this time it was lovingly restored, further modified and enjoyed as an extended member of the family.
"So what is my secret? Well in the course of these forty years, I discovered a gap in my life - likely representing the MG and my connection with dad - which I filled by collecting various items of MG automobilia!"
My passion for classic cars started as a toddler on my dad's knee (and that's the subject of a future blog!) and has always been more than skin deep. For me it's hugely sensory. The look, the feel, the smell and the sound. Then their stories, their history and their memories. I'm here to tell you they're real world time machines! In my younger days, living in the UK and in the absence of both dad and the car, classic car events and period automobilia provided a welcome bridge and path towards my ultimate promised period of ownership.
Through my research and collecting of automobilia I learned so much; uncovering the DNA of the MGA series. I admired its development and racing history as well as the world speed records held by MG and the MGA through prototype design development. MG boasted a supercar lineage for the man and woman on the street.
Fast forward to now and supercar development and halo brands have transformed. As an ownership proposition they are low volume series for owners with the deepest of pockets. I love the reaction of today's public to the MGA - both on roads and at shows. But I ask myself what triggers their smile, nod, wave or comment? A sensory memory? A memory of times past? Of times our families and forebearers enjoyed? Simpler times maybe? No coincidence these are all questions. Feelings and emotions are entirely personal. I consider all of these words I write in light of my dad's journey with Alzheimers. Memories are, like life itself, one thing we likely take for granted - until Mother Nature reminds us otherwise.....
I never once imagined when, or even how, the transfer of his MGA Twin Cam would take place. Little did I know - whilst dad's wish would ultimately come true - that his beloved MG would actually have to leave our family first.
This entirely understandable decision was made to fund his long term Azheimers care in Canada.
Fast forward two years and I randomly found it for sale back in the UK on eBay. Dad was alive when I found and bought the MG back but he did not recognise me and his memory and awareness of the MG was non-existent - as it was for his own life story.
This gallery contains pictures of some of my most precious items.
Today the MG Car Club's Twin Cam Group offers reproduction MGA Twin Cam brochures and user manuals. Additionally, copies of the Twin Cam's press release and photos accompanying the Cobham model launch. I've also secured a reproduction warranty certificate and bound service book. Considering I had never seen period original copies - and none have ever knowingly existed for our MGA - these were so important for me to own.
I recently added to this collection with a period original BMC dealer accessories brochure. In over two decades I had never seen one of these and it was immaculate. The image gallery shows the accessory items on offer from the MG BMC dealer - including the NINE different designs of tartan picnic blankets up for grabs! And, of course, the leaflet itself bears its BMC part number for re-ordering from the factory!
"Is it just me or does this type of collection enhance and enrich an ownership experience? When dad bought the MGA it was 3 years old and the availability of these documents was likely of little significance to him. He may have received some car centric copies at handover but none were to survive his 53 years with the car on road and track...."
Fast forward to today. New car launches and brochures are largely only available electronically, in PDF and fully interactive. Online configurators allow us to build and spec vehicles virtually. Service history, as well as mileage, can be held in one of a car's many ECUs. Drivers handbooks are available in printed and electronic formats. The latest GDPR data protection requires dealers to redact personal details on all invoices and associated paperwork. DVLA can no longer provide ownership information histories. Yet MOT history - largely irrelevant as historic vehicles are exempt from the annual road worthiness test - is available in the cloud to all to assist with mileage and history checks.
How times have changed. I think a full and unabridged ownership history of a heritage asset remains one of its most endearing, charming and valuable features - other than the sensory pleasure it gives to others!
If we aren't emotionally invested and connected to the past then how will our future benefit?