Len and Bonnie Smith
Octagon Newsletter … March 2002
By Wayne Watkins
Victoria MG Club members' MGs and other British cars - there are some we haven't seen or known about. This month we look at some of the cars of Len and Bonnie Smith.
Len's and Bonnie's first sports car was a '65 Austin Healey Sprite, which they bought in Vancouver in 1966. Len had just sold a '64 Pontiac convertible and had enough money for the Sprite, but not quite enough for a '65 E-Type Jag he had been looking at. Not wanting to finance, the Sprite got the nod. (Hmmm - thinking ahead to the prices of both those cars today - yes, I know - slap palm of hand to forehead!) The Sprite became the daily driver complete with ski rack. Interestingly, the colour was blue, identical to Kim Passmore's '66 Sprite. The Sprite was then traded in on a brand new custom ordered '67 MG Midget, British Racing Green of course. Len recalls that the Midget was used to tow a full size tent trailer. Motorists following this combination could not see any part of the Midget from behind. Len had to replace front brake pads after every summer trip that included towing this rather large tent trailer. Many years later, we find that many of the parts of that Midget have been transplanted to Daphne Lee's Arkley.
Remember the land crab? Len and Bonnie were looking for a reliable used car some time later and found an Austin 1800 - sort of a big Mini with the 1800 c.c. engine. A very efficient package but subject to the infamous woes of this model. They owned a total of six of these cars - all purchased for $275 to $300 each. When Len was out fishing (that's work fishing, not weekend fun fishing), it was easier for Bonnie to switch plates from the one that developed a problem to a still good one. When Len came home from the fishing trip Bonnie would give him a list of what needed fixing on which car. Len says that was easier than trying to stockpile a bunch of spare parts.
Moving on, Len bought the first of a number of '71 MGBs. He still has that first one which turned out to be a bad restoration done by a previous owner and sits in line as one of many restoration projects. "It should be done in the Spring."
In the late eighties they bought the '58 MGA. Len considers it a rolling restoration. Len is so enthusiastic about this ongoing restoration, we have seen him "restoring" certain parts on the I5, the motel parking lot in Salinas, on the way to Revelstoke and other unlikely places. Many of us have joined Len and Bonnie as their red MGA with the custom built aluminum trailer has traveled to Laguna for the Monterey Historics twice, the Portland All British Field Meet twice and to the Okanagan for the Rally in the Valley.
One of the highlights was when a group of us followed Len and Bonnie into British Wire Wheel in Santa Cruz to watch the installation of a set of new shiny chrome wire wheels. Our enthusiasm was rewarded when the manager of British Wire Wheel gave each of us a set of MG or Union Jack valve caps. True enthusiasts, Len and Bonnie.
Come to think of it, I cannot recall ever seeing their 'A' with the top up.
"Top - what's a top?" Asks Len.
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