Century of memories for MG owners

Published 7:22 am Wednesday, January 3, 2024

By Steve Stricker

This Christmas season continues until Epiphany, Sunday, January 7 – so don’t touch that tree or decorations! But I cannot let 2023 pass any more days into 2024 without recognizing a fantastic milestone in the world of my car-guy automobiles directly connected to me and Oxford, Mississippi – The 100th Anniversary of the fantastic, British sports car, the MG!  Uh, what’s an MG many of you younger folk will say?  

On May 1, 1923, William Morris, Morris Garages (MG) assembled its first cars on Alfred Lane, Oxford, England, our sister city. Between 1971 and 1975 the 250,000th MGB was built and rolled off the Abingdon, England production line. The final MGB was assembled in MG’s Abingdon plant where more than 500,000 MGB’s, hardtops and roadsters were built during that 1923 production run making it the most popular sports car in history; seventy percent of all MGB’s built were sold in North America.

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Graduating from Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) in 1968, I was immediately drafted – draft papers in one hand, diploma in the other.  The Vietnam “War” was raging, and guys were getting drafted left and right!  In one year, I went from carefree fraternity lad, Basic Training, to Vietnam!  Try to wrap your head around that – I still can’t!  

Driving a swell 1964 Chevrolet Super Sports, sold it – sure I wouldn’t return alive from that hell hole (July 1969 – August 1970).  Finally, thankfully, home, flying into St. Louis to my sister Mary Ann’s from LA, needed a car.  With typical impatient brother-in-law, reluctantly bought a 1967 automatic Pontiac Firebird – pretty, but wanted a manual transmission, couldn’t stand the beige interior or it.

Back to SEMO working on my first MA degree, loving the Pininfarina designed MGB-GT fastback and hating the Firebird, one weekend drove to Continental Cars, St. Lous, MO and traded that ’67 for a brand new 1971 MGB-GT, Bronze Yellow, (orange), off the showroom floor – it was the most wonderful drive back to Cape Girardeau and future.

I am currently a member of MGOC, (MG Owners Club) in Cambridge, England and in December 2019 had a four-page article in their posh magazine, “Enjoying MG” with photos of my MG and the story behind it. My MG has a badge on each wing (fender) identifying it as a 250,000thSpecial) as mentioned above and specially equipped with full console, clock, speaker, oil cooler, and rear window electric defroster.  

Owning it meant purchasing a workshop manual, tools (spanners), and to this day constantly fixing all the stuff that would go wrong with the unreliable British stuff!  Then in 2011, breakup with engaged Scottish lass, both hips replaced, very difficult to get in and out of MG, knee-jerk response day before Thanksgiving 2011, traded MG, Honda Element (bought from her), 1985 Pontiac Grand Prix (moms car) and my 1987 Saab SPG even for a new 2012 KIA Soul+.

A year later, totally regretting getting rid of my MG, miraculously tracked it down from a car dealer in Alabama who never retitled it and bought it back – still the only owner, unreal! Not knowing anything about MG’s, dealer pretty much allowed my car to go to rubbish!  Many months later, rebuilding, redoing everything, ah, back on Oxford USA roads, back peacefully with me once again, each drive so healing and now parked in my garage next to the 2nd car ever owned, that 2012 KIA.


Steve is an Oxford resident, received his Ph.D. in Counseling from Ole Miss and can be reached at sstricker@olemiss.edu.