North East MG owners tinged with eccentricity
PUBLISHED: 17:59 28 June 2011 | UPDATED: 19:37 20 February 2013
They're mildly mocked, occasionally outrageous and invariably envied, but MG owners mostly are fiercely proud of their great British sports cars
If you listen to the comments of a rather tall fellow on a popular television motoring show he would have you believe that anyone who drives an MG wears a funny pompom hat, a strange looking sweater and most certainly has a beard.
Well, that couldnt be further from the truth.
Yes, the members of the MG Car Club do include among their number a smattering of eccentrics from a very broad background but the stereotype MG owner as portrayed by Messrs Clarkson & Co are deliberately and provocatively exaggerated.
The other image of the members being old boys driving old cars is also very wide of the mark and whether the car was made in Abingdon in the early days of the company, later at Longbridge or under its new Chinese owners, matters not to the Club.
It is not even necessary to own an MG, merely to have an interest in the marque.
The MG Car Club is the original club for MG owners. Based in the heart of MG country - Abingdon in Oxfordshire - it is a non-profit-making organisation, with six full time staff running the club entirely for its members.
The club was formed in 1930 by the MG Company in Abingdon and has been providing support for generations of MG owners ever since, making it one of the oldest single-make car clubs in existence.
The clubs factory connection means it possesses a wealth of historical material at its headquarters at Kimber House in Cemetery Road, Abingdon, sited on the edge of what was once the MG Car Companys headquarters and factory where Cecil Kimber (Managing Director from 1935-1945) and John Thornley (General Manager and subsequently Managing Director from 1952 - 1969 ) ran one of the worlds best-known and well-respected car companies.
The Club is organised in two main ways. There are 12 regional centres looking after the interests of members in a specific geographic area and there are registers that look after the interests of owners of a specific model of MG. The centre in the North East is known as The Tyne-Tees Centre and covers an area from the Scottish border to the Yorkshire border and from the east coast to the Pennines.
There are also branches that organise the more competitive elements for members.
In addition to the MGCCs presence here in the North East, the clubs family of MG enthusiasts is of truly global proportions. After the Second World War companies were warned they should export or die and the MG Car Company rose to the challenge and became a major exporter, with the iconic sports cars being sent to the far-flung corners of the world.
Many members travel the world to meet like-minded enthusiasts, show off their cars and swap notes, thereby fulfilling the clubs motto: The Marque of Friendship.
So, what do members get for their money? Well, the club offers a very wide range of activities that can meet the needs of anyone who enjoys driving a car. The Tyne-Tees Centre holds events that are echoed around the country from merely social gatherings at monthly Natters, road runs of some 80 to 100 miles designed to gently test the navigational skills of the occupants and then we have even gentler pursuits of Luncheon Runs in March and October and in the lighter nights, monthly Supper Runs to a restaurant or hostelry to enjoy a meal and good conversation.
However, if a member likes the action to be more full on, there are hill climbs, sprints and full race meetings including an annual international event at Silverstone on the Grand Prix track.
Some of the historic sports cars are becoming increasingly rare and valuable so many of them spend the winter in hibernation, to be brought out for enjoyment in the warmer months when roads are clear of salt. The first major run of the season is thus known as The Cobweb Run, giving an opportunity for owners and cars to have the cobwebs blown away. This event is linked to the national Drive it day organised by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs Association in April to celebrate the anniversary of the 1,000-mile trial that began in 1900.
The Tyne-Tees Centres second major event, held in June, is The Prince Bishops Run, starting at York and ending in Durham City, retracing the steps of the Prince Bishops when they travelled between those two magnificent cities. Finally, there is the Tyne-Tees Old Speckled Hen Run in September, so named after the Morlands beer brewed to commemorate 50 years of MG production in Abingdon.
Anyone who wants to experience how friendly the MG Car Club is can find out through visiting the main clubs website at www.mgcc.com and following the clear links to the Tyne-Tees Centre or by contacting the Centres Secretary Barrie Hope at firstname.lastname@example.org and come along to any of the events. You will be given a very warm welcome indeed.
The print version of this article appeared in the July 2011 issue of North East Life
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