Rich and Joannie Powell

Octagon Newsletter May 2002

By Wayne Watkins

Victoria MG Club members' MGs and other British cars - there are some we haven't seen or known about or even knew existed. This month we look at some of the cars of our events coordinator Rich Powell

The first British car Rich was interested in was his grandfather's Standard 8 but he wasn't old enough to get his driver's license. As soon as he was a legal driver, he bought a BSA motorcycle. That was fun, but as soon as it turned to winter in Montreal, Rich decided to buy a car. It was a 1951 Hillman Minx and it was very unique as it had four wheel steering! Actually the floor and frame had rusted to the point where the axle attachments could come loose and shift back and forth. Next came a Morris Minor race car. Rich saw the louvers on the hood and thought it was definitely cool. What was more important was what lay under the hood. It had an Alta Minor cylinder head and a two inch exhaust system.

As he terrorized the streets of Montreal he spotted a group of unusual looking cars behind a wire fence in a storage lot. The cars were small and had funny headlights. He saw an Austin sign and phoned the Austin dealer and quickly learned about the brand new Bugeye Sprite. Just $1,895.00. Hmmmm. Quickly the deal came together. He sold the Alta Minor cylinder head for $150 and replaced it with a standard head. He then sold the Morris Minor for $150 and had $300 to put down on the $1,895 Bugeye. It was a fun car but not so good in the winter. The snow off his boots would collect in the floor-well and melt a little bit (only a "little" heater) and then turn to a solid block of ice. It was hard to drive with his feet sliding around on the ice.

The Bugeye was sold and replaced with a Farina styled 1961 Austin A40. Then on to Victoria in the sixties and where a new second car was bought to augment the larger North American family sedan - a 1965 Anglia station wagon. Then Rich spotted an unusual car while driving home one night. He motioned to the driver to pull over so he could figure out what it was. It was a "trials" car.

Turns out there was a whole group of them around. They were Anglias and Prefects with 20 inches taken out of the frame and fitted with an MG looking body and had fiddle brakes where each wheel could be braked independently. They were run in autocrosses/hill-climbs where the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre is now and in slaloms on the Woolco parking lot (now Wal-Mart). Rich is going to write a story on this in the future as there are some current club members who were involved in these shenanigans.

The trials cars all met their demise with the opening of the motor vehicle testing station. Time passed and Rich saw Harry Pillars's MGB GT and he and Joannie decided that an MGB GT was the car for them. They found one. It needed a little more sorting out than was first thought, but is looking very good today ... British Racing Green and wire wheels. Rich notes the similarities in the roofline design of the Austin A40 and the MGB GT. Rich and Joannie were attracted to the Victoria MG Club on an ice cream run four years ago and joined the club in July 1998. Rich, our events coordinator, still loves the fun and socializing on the ice cream runs and tooling around in his very nice MGB GT - BRG.

1967 MGB GT

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