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My Classic Car: Ralph’s 1971 MGB


Ralph and Zelda
Ralph and Zelda

I owned two MGBs long ago — a spanking new ’78 and an old ’73 — but both were gone from me by the year 1985. I spent a quarter of a century bemoaning the absence of a British sports car in my possession, but life kept getting in the way of getting another one in the form of mortgages and kids and making ends meet.

Finally, in 2012, I retired and I bought my own retirement present, Emily, a beautiful, shiny black MGB I resolved to keep forever.

For a year Emily and I were happy as a twosome, but one afternoon a fellow sped out of a parking lot and t-boned us, totaling Emily.

I sold her for parts and chalked the experience up as something that was not meant to be.

I was heartbroken and sad.

Then, about two weeks later, my old mechanic called me up and told me to get on eBay and look at a car. You might want to bid on this car, he told me. I’ve checked it out via email and such. It’s a good buy.

The car was a 1971 MGB in Renton, Washington. I was in Nashville, Tennessee. I had never bought a car before I had not driven or touched or seen in person, but I threw caution to the wind and invested the insurance money I’d received from the demise of Emily. I put in a bid and waited to see what happened.

I won!

I had the car shipped from Washington (took a week) and then went and picked her up. She was green and pretty and ran like a top — ran better than all three of my previous MGBs combined. I’ve had her three years now and she is my sweetheart.

Her name is Zelda. We love each other.

Love is lovelier the fourth time around.

— Ralph Bland, Madison TN

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  1. Good for you Ralph. It looks like a nice car – and nothing beats the wind in your hair. I worked in the parts department of our local MG franchise holder here in New Zealand for twelve years up till 1988 and I liked all the MGs. Mind you, we were agents for Rolls-Royce as well (I liked them too) and I bought a Silver Shadow in the mid nineties. I should’ve bought an MG. I’m sure my retirement savings would be in a better state now.

  2. Over the years I’ve owned some unusual cars. My first was a 1952 Henry J Kaiser, a gift from my maternal grandparents. I’m afraid the enthusiasm of teens stomping in glee to such early cross-over hits as Ray Charles’ “What I Say,” and Gene Vincent’s “Be Bop a Lu La” were too much for Hank J’s dreams of automotive dominance. Next came a pair of Nash Metropolitans, and an introduction to the Austin engine. Actually the “Met” was a fine sports vehicle, despite its “unusual” beauty. One was sold off and the other decided to smash into a concrete bridge abutment while I was minding my own business, peacefully sleeping. A 1954 Mercury bridged my days of J’s and Mets and my next foray into interesting vehicles in the form of Sunbeam Alpines. After my red one died a natural death (It simply went to sleep one night and never woke up), it was quickly replaced with a white version of the same model. Throughout my college days, the “Pine” could be found hauling me to and from various gigs, packed with my drums, along with my buddy’s guitar amp strapped to the luggage carrier. Kids, mortgages and a brief infatuation with the maturity that comes with the tensions of adulthood kept me sans sports car. Eventually, however, Middle-Aged Craziness caused me to seek out and acquire a 1970 MGB, then on to a 1972 split rear bumper MGB Roadster. A year of tender care at the hand of capable artisans restored it to its original condition. Last summer, I decided a soft drink from a local burger drive through was appropriate. Having pulled over in the fast food lot, I was placing the soft drink in a drink holder when my attention was alerted to the sound of a high-reving engine. I looked up just in time to see (and feel) the impact of a Cadillac SUV slamming into the pristine front end of my beautiful roadster. The driver of the SUV explained than he was storming back to see the folk at the fast food kitchen who had forgotten his french fries. Also, he said that he simply did not see the low-riding MG in the mirror iff his monster car. Well, back to the shop. Another major re-do is being accompanied by addition of a roll-over bar, and a new tan soft top to set off the soft yellow tone of my joy and pride. It’s going to be done in plenty of time for Spring. which will find me again driving my MG with all its goodies, while I am adorned with sunglasses, driving gloves, and my authentic Scottish cap. I can’t wait.

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