History of the Classic MG Club
Before we get into the history of the Classic MG Club, you need to know about Sports Cars from the end of World War II. Many American service men were stationed in England during the war. There they became acquainted with the English sports cars and found them exhilarating to drive compared to what they were used to driving back home, enough so, that some brought them home with them after the war.
This was noticed by the English Business Community, which geared up production for this new market. MGs and other sports cars targeted their production so that most of their cars were sold here.
Who was the target for this new car that had so much in the way of performance and handling while at the same time lacked creatures of comfort such as: tops that do not leak, roll up windows and air-conditioning? Wait a minute. Who would call say a TD had performance and handling? Well, anybody who compared it to the likes of a Dynaflow Buick, Chrysler High drive or other similar American car built back then.
It was young people who liked to do exciting things with their cars. They related to other sports car drivers by blinking their lights when they passed. They would rather be caught dead than to have the top up. (I remember one cold rainy day in the 50’s – I passed Bob Parker in his Healy. A few blocks later Bob pulled up to me at a red light and said: “Don’t tell anyone what you saw.” I replied, “What did I see Bob?” He said: “Me with the top up!”) They competed in driving skilled events such as: Rallies (one hundred or more cars would participate in the monthly Orlando Sports Car Club’s rallies), Autocrosses (Again a full field participated at the Martin Company Sport’s Car club’s monthly events and even raced their cars at abandoned airports.) In short, they enjoyed driving their cars for fun. They used and abused them. You might say they used them hard and put them away wet.
It is my opinion, that as Sports Cars became more civilized as creatures of comfort were added, the new owners more and more used them for transportation rather than for the “fun of driving”. This led to the end of the era of the Sports car being used for “Sport”.
MG’S IN THE LATE 50’S AND EARLY 60’S
There were many people in the Central Florida area that owned T-Series MG. They loved and enjoyed their cars like all other sports car owners of the day. However, the MGA came out in l956 and the B was due out in 1963. Parts for the T series were becoming hard to find. Also, if you took your car to the dealer for work, they would say: “Why don’t you trade that old thing in on one of our newer models?” If you took it to an independent garage, they would say: “We don’t work on T series cars – we don’t have Whitworth tools and we can’t get parts.”
ENTER THE CLASSIC MG CLUB
In the fall of 1962, Will Bowden, John Camichos, Blair Engle and others decided they needed a club to help T owners solve the problems they were encountering just to keep the cars on the road. (You could buy a rebuilt engine and/or a top from Sears, but the quality left something to behold.) They printed up flyers telling of the Club in formation, which were put on every car they ran across. Finally, in early 1963 a meeting was held and the Classic MG Club was formed. Membership grew by word of mouth. They were even getting members from outside the area from people starved for information on the cars.
Members shared parts they had for the cars and held work parties on the weekends to keep the cars on the road. They participated as a Club in the Orlando Sports Car Council and in local events as a Club. (Who can forget the famous story of Will Bowden and John Camichos who were running a night rally in John’s TD. The oil line to the head cracked around midnight. They found some chewing gum in the glove box and were able to plug the leak and continue the rally.) At the monthly meetings, movies were shown of racing and other car events from the past. They were loaned to the Club by Ship and Shore Motors of Miami, who was the importer and distributor of MG cars and parts in the Southeast.
Members were encouraged to join the MG Car Club of Florida, which was formed in the mid 50’s in Jacksonville. It was a chapter of the MG Car Club out of England. By joining that Club, they were able to receive Safety Fast Magazine and also their T- Series bulletins. After a period of time, there were more members in that Club from Orlando than from Jacksonville. Overtures were made to bring the club down to Orlando. They were rejected, as no one wanted to take on the added responsibility. (Yes, this was the same Club that went dormant for many years, before Jerry Keuper revived it and moved it to Brevard County where it now is going strong.
Soon after our Club was Formed, Dick Knudson and Frank Churchill got together and formed the New England MG T register, which provides a “National” organization for T – series MG Cars. Many of the Classic MG Club members were their first couple of a hundred members. As that Register grew, they started holding meets twice a year in the New England area which were named Gatherings of the Faithful.
In 1967, the members of the Classic MG Club who were also members on the NETR decided to put on a Gathering of the Faithful for the Register in Florida that T owners could attend without making the long trip to New England. They used the same pewter cups for awards, which said New England MG T Register and not Classic MG Club. The profits from the event were sent to the Register. This went on for the first four or so GOFs, South, however after the first two, there were no profits due to bad weather and light attendance. It made sense that if we were going to be responsible for losses, we should make it our own event. However, the pewter was ordered from the Register for many more years to come. It had both the register and the Classic MG Club engraved on the cups.
CLASSIC MG CLUB IN THE 1970’s
GOF, South was growing and attracting car owners from around the State. With the help of our Club, the Classic MG Club, South was formed in Miami. Soon the Suncoast Classic MG Club in Tampa and the MG Classics of Jacksonville followed. Our car badge first said, Classic MG Club, Orlando. Then it said CMGC, Orlando – Miami and finally CMGC, Florida. To date you will find all three badges still in use on member’s cars. For a long time, one newsletter served all the Clubs. As the “Satellite” Clubs grew, they were able to operate with their own newsletter and were able to cut all ties with the Classic MG Club.
The Classic MG Club is operating much the same we have since inception. Monthly meetings are still held on the Third Thursday of the month. It is followed by a post meeting get together at a pizza joint or the like where the members bond in fellowship. There is an event at least once a month that involve driving the cars when weather permits. Every year, we hold an overnight tour to a quaint hotel or B & B in October and January. Many of our events have become tradition like the November Flankey Picnic, which has been held annually for over thirty years. With the coming of the electric media, we find we have no need for annual dues to run the Club. We joke, “we don’t have dues, but it cost $15 to quit.” No other club can make that statement. If you have a love for MG automobiles and an e-mail address, you are most welcome to be part of the CLASSIC MG CLUB.