WHERE THERE’S MUCK…
We invited Chris to take our ZR out for an evening at a classic show – but unfortunately we forgot about the trees it’s been parked beneath
THE STORY SO FAR Miles driven 59 Total mileage 79,638 What’s gone wrong It looks like it’s been abandoned!
CHRIS HOPE Although this is the first time I’ve written about the ZR, it’s by no means the first time I’ve been behind the wheel. My introduction to our £500 MG came a couple of weeks ago, when editor Simister and I drove almost down to the bottom of the country to visit a classic car dealership in Basingstoke. David volunteered for driving detail on the way there, while I handled the return leg. It was impressive enough from the passenger seat, but I’d grown even more fond of our bargain British hatchback by the time I’d driven it back to Peterborough.
It didn’t get much use following that six-hour round-trip, so I thought I’d take it along to the evening classic car meet at Stibbington Diner, just up the road from our Peterborough offices. Associate editor David has attended The Great North Road Vehicle Gathering before and fancied a return visit in his Rover BRM. The more the merrier – especially since the two of them hadn’t been photographed side-by-side in the year or so that the ZR has been on the fleet. This way, we’d be able to compare notes on two different takes on enlivening the Rover 200 formula. David Simister was up for a drive in his Eunos Roadster, too, so our convoy of British Racing Green modern classics was complete.
On the evening of the show, I strolled out into the carpark in search of the MG, only to discover that whoever had used it last (not that I’m pointing any fingers) had elected to park it under a row of trees. Not a problem in itself, but having remained there during countless consecutive downpours, only to then bake in the early summer sun, the result was a once-proud MG that now looked more like a particularly shabby barn find.
It was covered in bits of tree ( leaves, buds, seeds – even a twig or two), dirt and a liberal coating of bird droppings and sticky tree sap. I doubt that I could have made the poor thing look any less show-worthy if I’d tried.
As desperate as I was to set out in search of a nearby car wash, fearing the embarrassment of turning up to a classic car meet in a car looking as ropey as this, there simply wasn’t the time. Both the Davids were peckish, and too busy sniggering at my predicament – the show had to go on, even in a sapsaddled hot hatch.
We arrived at Sibbington Diner just after 6pm, to find the adjacent grassy area already full of classics. All credit to organiser Mark Fishpool for allowing an MG that looked as though it had been dragged through a hedge backwards to join them; if it had been me, I would probably have turned it away.
Having parked up and posed up for the obligatory owners-with-theirclassics photos, the two Davids went off in search of sustenance while I had a look around. It’s fair to say that the ZR was lowering the tone of the show – inevitable, given that it was in the company of a gleaming Sunbeam Rapier H120, Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray C2 Convertible and a pair of Daimler SP250 ‘Darts’.
And yet, for all of its currently calamitous appearance, it still drives beautifully. The slick gearchange and well-weighted steering are particular highlights for me as they allow you to really make the most of what little pep its 1.4-litre K- Series engine has to offer. The ride is far more compliant than I was expecting, too, and aside from the notable travel on the clutch pedal, it drives much better than a well-used £500 car has any right to.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, I’ve booked the MG out for my drive up to Newcastle this coming weekend and I’m genuinely looking forward to it. It will be parked on my in-laws’ driveway, though, and they’ve made it abundantly clear that I’ll have to give it a thorough wash before they’ll allow it anywhere near the house.
Oh well, I suppose I’d better go and find a bucket and sponge, then…
Chris tries not to look too embarrassed about the state of the MG, while Davids S and B try to suppress their sniggers.
Rookie error – don’t park cars under trees for long periods… Would you take a car to a show looking like this?
SP250 and Viva HC exemplify variety at The Great North Road Vehicle Gathering.