Join a classic car club

It's never too late to join a classic car club.

The Classic Car game.

 So, now you’re retired, you at last have time to follow all those hobbies and interests that you wanted to do when you were working.  Of course, for those who have followed their hobby for decade, retirement merely means you can now spend more time on it. No problem with that! A one hobby you might want to try is to join a classic car club.

Reliving my youth.

I am what is colloquially called a “petrol head”, somebody mad about motors. Starting with motorbikes at 18, I moved onto cars in my mid 20s. I bought, rebuilt and sold several Jaguars, before I succumbed to a modern car in 1999.

However, I was back with a Jaguar in 2010, and during that year I was also able to purchase a “classic sports car” - an MG Midget, to have a bit of fun and relive my youth. The MG Midget is a two-seater sports car introduced in 1961 using the Austin-Healey Sprite as its basis. 

Come and join us.

To all those hesitating on the edge of getting a classic car, may I say, join a classic car club, “come in, you’re welcome” It’s a fascinating hobby, which has the added benefit of providing you with transport, which we all need for our busy, everyday lives.

 My Midget was sold by Woodham Motors of Weybridge to a Mr Davies of Woking on 15th October 1977 for £1791.00, with £55 for a radio £15 for underseal, making a total of £2272.14, including VAT and one year’s road tax. 

In 1987 a university friend asked me to accompany him to pick up an MG Midget he had bought.  The car was in exceptional condition, and had only done about 18,000 miles.  He later took a job in the USA, and the car was used so infrequently that after 1996 it was laid up in his garage, where it remained until 2010.

In 2010 my friend sold his UK house and offered me first refusal on the MG. I snapped it up.  Once in my ownership, I decided to improve the car a little. I replaced the wheels with a set of pattern Minilite alloys, and upgraded the brakes with a brake servo, which improves my mental well being while driving!

 Everything else on the car is original even the hood, but some paintwork scratches have been repaired.  The engine maintains its factory specification with oil pressure of 60 psi, the coolant keeps cool, and the gearbox changes smoothly. There is a tendency to leak a bit of oil, both engine and gearbox, indicating the 35 year old oil seals are now past their best.

And my wife came too.

I was a bit worried that Leslie, my wife, would not take to it. It is very small and more primitive than modern cars. However, once we started going out and about, we soon found that it was far better than I had remembered, with a really good heater, (very important when your wife comes from Italy!), and a comfortable ride.

 When I lowered hood for the first time on a nice warm day we found the car to be quieter and all the familiar country sounds were heard again – bird song, cattle lowing, tractors ploughing fields, aircraft overhead,, and so on. Of course country smells came through loud and clear too! 

A wonderful back-draught stopper from the MG Owners Club spares web site now means we remain snug and warm with the top down. The car is so cheap I insure and road tax it for 12 months so, if we get a nice day in early spring or late autumn, we can go out in it.

 What car should you choose?

So, having read about my little car, maybe you are hankering after a bit of fun with a “classic” car yourself. From experience, most people go for a car they either once had in their youth but had to sell when marriage or children came along, or alternatively, they hankered after an expensive car when young but could never afford it and had to drive a “sensible car”.

Now with time, and hopefully, a bit of money on your hands, you will be amazed to know that most of the cars you drooled about are still around and called “Classic Cars”. A £1 billion industry has now grown up to service this hobby - the Classic Car Show at the Birmingham NEC in November is now so large that two days are needed to see it all. So you too can join a classic car club.

 Getting started.

So how to start? First get familiar with what is around, and the best way is to visit a few classic car shows and rallies. For dates and locations look on the internet. In addition, there are many magazines such as “Thoroughbred and Classic Cars” for those who are perhaps richer than most, or “Practical Classics”, written mainly for those who work on their classics, and has advertisements for cars, tools, and clubs.

 Car clubs

Clubs are perhaps the most important aspect of classic car ownership.  You can join a classic car club for every make of car made since 1946. MGs have the MG Car Club and the MG Owners club. MG Midgets have their own club, the MG Midget and Austin Healey Sprite Owners Club.

Two clubs cater for Jaguars: the Jaguar Drivers Club, and the Jaguar Enthusiasts Club. Most clubs publish a monthly magazine or news sheet, and have local branches around the country that meet regularly, and organise runs, rallies, events, and race meetings. We are in both the MG Midget and AH Sprite club and two Jaguar clubs.

 


I hope this article has conveyed some of the excitement and joy of the classic car movement, and if you join a classic car club I am sure you will have a happy time. Do be aware, though, that you cannot possibly expect the reliability of the modern car in a classic car.

But usually, you will not be doing a lot of miles, and most of these will be in the summer months, so if, heaven forbid, you suffer a rare breakdown, you won’t freeze to death waiting for the recovery truck!

 

Fraser Mitchell

Crewe

 

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