Director's Blog - How to Define a True Classic
Cherished Director Pete McIlvenny explains his decision to choose an MG Midget for a classic restoration project.
Of course, the Midget might not be that far removed from the Mini’s own Austin heritage, the original design having been inspired by the Healey Sprite. I know that some people say it is not a real MG because it has a Triumph engine, but the Midgets were Austin-Healeys originally, weren’t they?
And besides, like all BMC/Leyland cars, they were always cobbled together out of whatever was in the company parts bins at the time anyway. I do notice a difference with the longer stroke of this engine, but I must say I was very pleasantly surprised with how well it went and how enjoyable it is to drive.
It is always hard to compare one car with another, though. You are going to get a different sensation to the Minis anyway because it is rear wheel drive, but my last Mini was fuel injected which was very different again.
It might have been bought more or less on a whim and a click, but the Midget has already proven its worth, not necessarily financially of course, but in the pride, the affection, the attachment it engenders.
It’s not a museum piece either, as I plan to get it out on the road as frequently as possible, to really enjoy it. That will include using it whenever practical to journey to the pub meeting Carole Nash plans to host quarterly as a way of engaging with fellow enthusiasts and, well, having a classically inspired crack.
I had the idea of getting (Carole Nash ambassador) Fuzz Townshend for a pub meeting, not to try and sell insurance but just to get people together and meet them. What we want to do is get people from very different clubs talking. We hope to run them at various venues around the country, ideally one each quarter.
It is just a great chance to meet people. We do meet them at shows, it’s true, but to be honest, car insurance is not the most interesting subject for people. If they have a renewal due they might come up for a quote, but the majority probably hurry past, fearing they might be grabbed. This gives us a better chance to talk to a wider variety of clubs.
The fear that might be troubling you, dear reader, is that these might be anti-social rather than social gatherings as, having lured you to the pub, the Carole Nash posse round you up for some hardcore sales pitching.
We give presentations to clubs, as members always seem to have lots of questions to ask about things like agreed value and the relaxing of the MOT requirements for older vehicles.
They are generally pleasantly surprised when we show up and turn out to be human and just as enthusiastic as they are. Either that, or it’s because we hold the meeting in a pub and there’s free food!
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Meanwhile, I continue to enjoy a charmed life having cunningly managed to combine my own love of classics with the day job – and occasionally highlighting just how lucky I am by breezily commuting to the office in a marvellous, if underrated, thoroughly British star of a car.