Octagon Newsletter … May 1988
By Ken Finnigan (Kamloops Chapter)
The year was 1948. In Victoria, it was a typical warm and pleasant Saturday morning. Working in my spare time for a heating contractor exposed me to a variety of mechanical skills. This particular day was to be dedicated to spray painting old hot water cast iron radiators. After sand-blasting and a coat of silver paint, they would look like new.
However, this was to be a special day. It was to include 'mechanics' in another sense. Bunky, my boss, had been paid in the form of a near new car with about twelve hundred miles on it. He said he had to go to Sooke to look over a job and I might as well go with him, as I would be working on the project. This would be a nice break from spray painting!
I didn't know that the road from our shop in Victoria to Sooke had recently been re-constructed and freshly paved. I also didn't know which vehicle Bunky would use for the one hour trip … thirty-five miles to Sooke. When he said, "Let's go." instead of going to the truck, in front of the shop, he went to the front of the house. There, standing elegantly at the curb, was a shiny, black, low convertible. My heart nearly left my body, for there in front of me was an MG.
I had seen a couple of these touring the streets of Victoria. The MG TC was so rare at the time, I thought I would never know anyone who owned one, let alone have a ride in one. It would remain a dream for many years before I might own one myself. My normal common sense would have me calling home to let my parents know we were going to Sooke for the day. With my head still spinning, I didn't have to be told to get in, and in a flash, I was stepping down into this gorgeous, low-slung sports car. I had never got into the front passenger seat of a vehicle on the left side before. With a slight "klunk" we were in gear and moving. A few gear shifts and we were well on our way. Then I realized that Bunky was changing gears and slowing down. I had never seen this done before and couldn't quite understand what was going on.
However, other things started flooding my mind as we were now out of town and on the Sooke highway. The road was smooth and winding up hill and down. As warm summer air whipped through my hair, something magic was happening. The zoom of the exhaust, the high revving of the engine, one down-shift and yet another, some braking, then accelerating up again through the gears to another sharp corner, another down-shift, again accelerating up through the gears! This was truly exciting sports car motoring.
The trip to Sooke and return ended all too soon and it didn't take an hour. I had to return to earth. My high school attendance had to continue and the next few years would be dedicated to education and getting established in a career.
With a few short love affairs with North American cars and a solid career established in the telephone industry, fate landed me in Edmonton. The automobile fever had really struck the nation by the mid-fifties and it didn't miss me. In the fall of 1955, I was awestruck by the new GMC half-ton pick‑up with the special package … an automatic transmission, chrome, chrome and more chrome. (Now what would a 22 year-old want with a pick-up with an automatic and chrome, chrome, chrome?)
However, my thoughts soon turned to a new Volkswagen Karman Ghia. A great looking car and a well proven engine had me taking a second look. The confusion was soon cleared when British Motor Corporation announced an entirely new MG to be called the series 'A' and to be introduced in the spring of 1956. That did it! The flame was re-kindled and the 1948 ride to Sooke in the TC came back to my mind. I sold my reliable old '47 Pontiac coupe that fall and hibernated to save enough money to buy a new MG when they arrived in the spring. Being young and restless, I couldn't stand the solitude and the length of an Edmonton winter so I bought a 1923 McLaughlin four door convertible. This, of course, would keep me busy and my mind occupied with cars. However, this didn't last long, as the first new MGA arrived in mid-February and on February 15th, I took delivery of my first MG. I believe that was the first MGA on the streets of Edmonton.
It wasn't just buying a car. It was like being adopted by a new family. Frank Minns, the owner of the BMC dealership, welcomed me to the world of real driving, signed me up in the fledgling Edmonton light Car Club and mailed my membership to the MG Car Club of Great Britain. Frank, a typical Brit, wished me 'safe driving' and off I went into the crisp 40 degree Saturday morning. With the top up, the smell of fresh leather, the purr of the 1489 c.c. engine, I headed home to a waiting, rented and heated garage. There the thought of the 1948 ride in the TC came to mind again and I just had to put the top down. I couldn't imagine the 40 degree weather whipping through my hair, so with my heavy, warm, hooded parka on, I headed down Jasper Avenue. That event, I have always believed, helped fortify the belief of some of the citizenry that people who drive those funny little sports cars must be one brick short of a load.
Return > < Return