John and Mary Braybrooks
Octagon Newsletter … August 2002
By Wayne Watkins
Victoria MG Club members' MGs and other British cars - they are the source of many stories. This month we look at some of the cars of John Braybrooks. For those going on the Dinner Run, you will see John's Jags, the MGA and his ultimate garage.
John started his motoring days with a Frances Barnett motorcycle. It was a 250 c.c. 2-stroke Villies engine. John recalls riding it slowly into a barn one day and almost stalling it. When the engine picked up speed again, it had started running backwards!
John's first car was a 1934 Singer Le Mans which he bought for ten pounds. It had a Ford flathead V8 which he took out and sold to an agricultural contractor and replaced it with a Singer Nine engine and made a profit to boot. The closest John ever came to owning an Aston Martin was when he bought a David Brown tractor with a bench seat (for courting?). The owner needed one pound as he had just put new tires on it. John then sold it for five pounds! (You will recall the Aston Martin DB models - DB2 through DB5 - DB stands for David Brown.)
John then bought a 1959 Morris 1000 Traveler woody wagon for 728 pounds. It was at this time that he belonged to the Snetterton Motor Racing Club where races were held at the airport. He recalls that one of the club members had a D-Type Jaguar Le Mans for sale for 500 pounds but John passed on it. With face buried in his hands, John notes that the same car today is worth a million dollars.
Now to MGs. John bought a 1958 MGA in 1961. Even at three years old, it was perforated with rust and had patchy grey paint. Repairs were done and the colour changed to British Racing Green. He then traded in the MGA for a Peerless which John compares to "a poor man's Aston Martin DB4". It had a fibreglass body and Triumph running gear and was unbelievably loud. He recalls it had the worst seats ever - it was like sitting on a branch. It was also very low - he couldn't drive it over the railway tracks by his office so he had to park on the road and walk to work. He kept it only two months. Then he bought a 1961 Mini Cooper which was ridiculously fast and almost got John into a heap of trouble. Never to leave things until the last minute, Mary recalls, that John was up late doing repairs on the Cooper, the night before their wedding!
The next MG was a 1959 Magnette in two tone grey paint called Veritone. The next car was an old London mini cab (mini, not Mini). It was an Austin A60 Countryman with a diesel engine. John best describes the engine power, recalling that it wouldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding! Then across the pond to Canada.
The first British car here was an Austin 1100 which John and Mary kept until they went to Kenya.
The person, who bought their house, wanted their St. Bernard and then agreed to purchase the 1100 because he didn't want the dog in his Lincoln with black velour seats.
After John and Mary came back from Kenya, they went to the UK for a holiday and while there, John bought his right hand drive MKII Jaguar and shipped it home. It remained his daily driver for many years until he bought the Jag XJS he drives now. During this time, John bought another 1958 MGA which was a California rust free car. He remembers buying leather seat cover replacements and struggling for hours to put them on to no avail. He then realized the DPO (dumb previous owner) had replaced the MGA seats with MGB seats.
The only real problem with his 'A' was the water pump which came apart just outside of Bend, Oregon when a group of Victoria MG Club members were on their way home from the 1992 Portland - Lake Tahoe tour. Well, not quite the only problem. Just the other day, we saw John pull the hand crank out of the trunk and start the 'A' the old fashioned way because the starter is giving him a problem. Typical MG spirit, wouldn't you say?
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