When Good Cars Go Bad

While out driving last Monday night, I came up behind one of my favorite English cars, an MGB GT. This classy two-seat coupe was, to my mind, one of the best modern MG’s made and I’ve always wanted to own one. But not this one. It was battered and beaten and slowly losing the battle to rust. This made me wonder why this car —and others like it— ended up like this.

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When the original owner purchased the MG in 1966 he or she was surely proud of this car but something happened to start it down the road to get it looking as it does today. Maybe the person who bought it received it as a graduation gift and not every kid who gets an expensive present treats it with as much respect as if they paid for it themselves. Just like when a child begs for a pet and a parent warns them, “if you get a dog, you’re going to have to be responsible” but after the puppy arrives and the cuteness wears off, the child ignores the pet —or the MG (not that’s its a dog)— as it gets older.

Every now and then a car deteriorates for less selfish reasons. Make no mistake about it, old sports cars are expensive to maintain. After all, parts have to fly or float in from Germany or Great Britain and that’s a much longer haul than Kenosha or Dearborn. When the car starts having a few problems —or someone crunches it—and the owner can’t afford to fix it right away, it begins to decline, even though they intend to get it repaired, even restored, real soon now. But just like on the road to hell, these good intentions never materialize and the car is sold to another person with stars in their eyes. Over time, this epitome of the British Sports Car art begins slipping into an unrestorable condition and another sports car bites the dust.

If you just need to put your car in storage for a while until your economic situation improves, here’s a few tips:

  • Remove the battery: While it’s out, use baking soda and water to clean any acid residue left in the battery compartment. Don’t store the battery where it can freeze and set it on wood instead of concrete.
  • Raise the car on jackstands: This will prevent the tires from getting flatspots.
  • Once a month, start the car and let it run for 15 minutes. This will prevent the seals from drying out and is a better idea than draining the fuel tank, which can cause carburetor problems because of dried out diaphragms.

And lets hope you get your car back on the road soon — they way it ought to be.

photo credit: By Thomas doerfer (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons