My last drive with Goldie, by Terry Lake.

Goldie Update

It’s always great to hear from old friends who were an important part of my life—even the gal who now speaks in tongues or the psycho chick whom I’m not exactly sure why I dated in the first place. Hence, I was thrilled to hear about Goldie today for the first time in two years. It’s not like she can compose a thoughtfully typed out e-mail or post a status update on Facebook. She’s a British roadster, you see.

But, thankfully, her current owner—Steve G. of Quebec, Canada—keeps me in the loop now and then, including tonight. He called with a couple questions but mainly to tell me about the yellow ’69 MGB that he is enjoying immensely. Remarkably, since taking delivery of the MGB in November 2007, Steve has driven the car from Buffalo, NY to his home near Montreal along with subsequent trips to Toronto (Ontario) and Vermont. These were trips of hundreds of miles in which Goldie did not break down once and had gotten only one flat tire. In light of my epic 1,150-mile drive from California to Colorado where she got three flat tires and was reduced to running on three cylinders, I consider this amazing. Miraculous, almost.

Not that I had completely lost faith in her. After all, in 1997-1998 she made it down to Los Angeles, Death Valley, Yosemite and San Diego from the San Francisco Bay Area without leaving me stranded or making me lift her bonnet more than a couple of times. But that was over a decade ago when she was decidedly less tired. Since then her not-so-ingenious-even-when-new British engineering had degraded even further, and even with her rebuilt engine of 2002 the rest of her had aged quite a bit less gracefully than Madonna.

Happily, Steve is a true MG enthusiast who has been trying to get Goldie back into tip-top shape. This is what he has already done:

  • Got the windshield washer jets working. I had replaced the washer motor with a new one but thought I had burned it out before getting the jets working; apparently, the motor was still good.
  • Got the horns working. They used to work before, so I’m not sure exactly what happened to them.
  • Got the lights working (but these always worked for me too).
  • Replaced the seat bottom on the driver’s side, which was very worn.
  • Replaced the left rear leaf springs with used ones off of an MGB that was sitting level. Unfortunately, Goldie’s left side still sags a lot more than the right.
  • Took off the original driver’s side mirror off the door and the right-side mirror of the right front fender, and installed round mirrors on both fenders instead.
  • Replaced the tires from the stock (but hard-to-find) 165SR/70s with 185/70s (?).
  • Replaced the engine mounts. He might have replaced the transmission mounts as well (I can’t remember).
  • Replaced the white/translucent plastic bushing on the bottom of the ball joint of the shift lever—now the gearshift no longer rattles. I tried that in the past too but was not successful in solving that the rattling problem.

Work Steve intends to do includes the following:

  • Replace the front left fender, which was from a 1962-1968 MGB.
  • Replace the seats—currently the seats are from a 1970 MGB/GT, and they are quite torn (especially the driver’s side one).
  • Take out the gauges I installed in the wooden center console and install a CD player.
  • Replace a couple of the dented chrome wire wheels—and the painted spare wire wheel—with some he picked up in Montreal.

Phew! Just typing all that makes me tired. Working on vintage sporting machines is a labor of love, something that Steve is clearly keen on doing. I wouldn’t say I have completely lost the passion for working on beautiful, heart-stirring machines, but I am rather glad the type of automotive tinkering I do nowadays is limited in scope to routine maintenance on brilliantly engineered vehicles like the Audi TT as opposed near-restorations. It’s like doing light exercise versus undergoing liposuction and plastic surgery.

Speaking of plastic surgery, that is one thing Steve is not focusing on performing on the MGB for the meantime (aside from replacing the front left fender). Aside from having rather pronounced tan lines, the car (Steve reports) still looks good so he is focusing on mechanical soundness and reliability in the meantime. To him—as she was to me—she’s a fun daily driver and not a trailer queen that does nothing but pose at car shows.

It was one thing I was delighted to hear about my old friend. Now if Steve would only send me some photos of her. Once he does I’ll be sure to post them here.

My last drive with Goldie, by Terry Lake.
My last drive with Goldie, by Terry Lake.