1965 MGB

Acquired: Spring 1980; Sold: Spring 1981

Firsts: 1st car period; 1st British car; 1st MG; 1st inline 4-cylinder engine; 1st dual-carb; 1st stick shift; 1st convertible; 1st 2-seater; 1st wire wheels

It was the Winter of my senior year in high school. I had a job on weekends and evenings as a lifeguard at the indoor municipal swimming pool. Since it was my first job I didn't really know how to spend money yet, and by Spring I had managed to save enough to start thinking about buying my first car. One night while checking the paper I saw "1965 MGB $600." The following night it was mine.

It was a 2-seat, open British roadster with a small 4-cylindar engine and rear wheel drive. It was rusty, but essentially still solid. It had all the cool sports car shit like four on the floor, rack and pinion steering, dual carbs, and real wire wheels with knock-off hubs. It also had a lot of after-market crap that a previous owner had put on it, like chrome rails going down the edges of the hood, a chrome band across the back above the bumper, and chrome handles on the rear deck so that people could sit up on it rumble-seat style.

The engine wasn't very powerful, but the sport suspension and low center of gravity made it remarkably nimble. You could take exit ramps at unbelievable speeds with no major effort. And with the seats practically on top of the rear axle, it gave a whole different perspective to maneuvering the vehicle. The whole thing seemed to rotate in front of you as you went around turns.

I really couldn't think of a more perfect first car. I was immediately the envy of all my friends, and even some of the jock's I'd never seemed to be able to impress. My date and I arrived in style at our Senior Prom. That Summer I got a job as a lifeguard at one of the outdoor municipal pools, and I was stylin' as I drove back and forth to work every day in the sunshine with the top down. When I wasn't working I'd go zipping off here and there. At one point I just took the convertible top right off the vehicle. Without the folded top obstructing the rear of the interior compartment, it could be seen how it formed a cockpit in the body like in the old WWI airplanes.

It was my first experience at do-it-yourself car repair and maintenance. I had no idea what I was doing, and wound up doing more harm than good most of the time. I also tried my hand at paint and body work, and again just made things worse. I took it to a nearby British car specialist to get it properly sorted out. After waiting weeks I finally got it back only to have the clutch fail. By then I'd had enough. In the short time I had it, MG had discontinued production of the model, and it proved to be pretty easy to sell. I wound up getting the same amount of money that I had paid for it, despite the fact that it was in significantly worse shape.

I'll always cherish my memories of that car.

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