1971 MGB Roadster – Dave Bennett

The Bennett Clan has a new addition. A 40-year-old MGB Roadster has been placed under the care of Tora. How did the acquisition take place? Well, it was a present for her 21st Birthday Party. How can that be, some of you readers who know Tora are probably asking? The accuracy of the Birthday years is quite correct if you introduce multiples. Tora recently celebrated her 3rd 21st Birthday Party.

To explain the choice of gifts, it is first necessary to go back in time some 27 years to the ‘DINK’ period in our lives. Double income, no kids of course.

During the early eighties, Tora was the proud owner of a Mk111 ’68 Midget maroon in colour with a black interior and chrome wires. Tora used to drive it everywhere including to work with the top mostly down and only a tonneau cover when parked. A stereo was fitted under the centre dash with two 3 way 6 x 9 inch speakers mounted about 40 cms or so behind the driver’s head. When 1st gear was selected the driver’s left thumb lined up exactly with the on/off/volume button. Occupants experienced severe forward whiplash when the speakers on full volume kicked in. Anyway, being the resident mechanic and body detailer, I used to insist that Tora mostly use the Midget in dry weather as it took ages cleaning and polishing each chromed wheel spoke. When an opportunity for promotion came up for me if I transferred interstate for a couple of years, we decided that selling the Midget was the only option as parking on Sydney streets overnight did not seem terribly clever. Tora never ever let me forget that promotion, interstate transfer and sale of the Midget.

Now fast forward to May 2011 when the date of Tora’s 3rd 21st was drawing closer. What special present could I purchase for Tora? I remembered the wonderful freedom of the early ‘80s ‘sans enfants’, the intervening years of bringing up two children with the associated sacrifices and hard work by Tora and my choice of a birthday present was made, some type of MG.

I examined Midgets versus Bs and due to our more mature years and less agile physical abilities, I felt that adopting the crab stance and movements associated with entering and egressing a B was much easier than with a Midget. So once the choice was made, I commenced researching. I treated the exercise like a work related problem of defining the objective, time and resources available and logistical aspects associated with achieving the objective.

The Internet and Ebay are wonderful sources for conducting research and purchasing items. In no time at all, I felt I possessed sufficient rudimentary knowledge to at least feel half way confident in making an educated guess regarding a suitable B. Unless a GT was exceptional for the money and included a large sliding Wibasto type sun roof the choice had to be a Roadster.

I soon identified through the Internet, a suitable Roadster only a couple of suburbs away. An inspection and test drive confirmed suitability for Tora and once purchased a new problem arose, where was I to secrete the car until Tora’s birthday as I wanted the event to be very special for her.

The previous owner agreed to permit me to use his carport for a several weeks until I could organise another hiding spot. My mechanic friend then assumed custody of the B whilst he performed numerous tasks to bring the Roadster up to complete, reliable, roadworthiness condition.

Some weeks thereafter, I approached a car club friend passionate about Mercedes Benz saloons and coupes who agreed to provide undercover storage whilst I detailed the B. A couple of days before the party, I moved the B closer by parking it in my son’s garage and during the afternoon of the party, I parked it under a car cover outside a local restaurant.

Later that evening at the appropriate time, I presented the Roadster to Tora. The ’71 bright blue with black interior MGB roadster has since been named Abigail and has been on a run to Murrumbateman with the Morris Owner’s Group, a lunchtime meeting with the MG Club at Yarralumla and a longer run to the Bredbo Pub with the MG Car Club. So far, Abigail has been running like a dream. Enjoy the B Tora, you really deserve it.

Dave Bennett

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