2009 Pontiac G8

This is not a quiz, just a question… What country do you think built and exported John Malinowski’s Beautiful 2009 Pontiac G8?
Plus, what is with “U” John?

I grew up in Western New York, in a town called Elma. One of my first jobs was at a beer distribution company, I worked as a beer truck mechanic.

Later I took a job at IBM as a field service technician working with Selectric typewriters. From there, we moved to Yorktown Heights, NY where I joined IBM’s Research Center before finally landing in Jericho, VT in 1996.

2009 Pontiac G8 John

I have a mechanical curiosity that came from my father. My much older brother kept coming home with a variety of Mach 1s and Boss versions Mustangs and that got me hooked. Once I got my license, I picked up a ’73 Chevelle and a ’67 GTX, spending many hours keeping them going with minimal funds and the skills I picked up at the BOCES tech center in East Aurora. I earned an ASE autobody certification after high school, and found painting was fun and rewording once done right.

Somehow, I went for a hands-on mechanical life to “Imagineering” as I started a 40-year career in semiconductors where you need a scanning electron microscope to see what you were building. Yet, I still had the drive for hands on-work.

One day in Vermont, with our family growing, I spotted a remarkable new vehicle sitting in a lot in St. Albans. It was a 2009 Pontiac G8. I fell for the looks and performance immediately. RWD, a 6.0-liter LS V8 engine weighing only 4000 pounds. At the same time, I figured with my daughter going to school in Boston, we needed a reliable vehicle, newer than the 2000 van we were driving…… what a coincidence!

Not only was the G8 stunning and powerful, but it was also an import. GM had a subsidiary called Holden, in Australia, manufacturing a world car called the Commadore. Manufactured in LH and RH drive versions it was marketed in the United Kingdom (Vauxhaul VXR8), China (Buick Park Avenue), South Africa (Chevrolet Lumina SS), South America (Chevrolet Omega) and South Korea (Daewoo Veritas). The chassis is known as the “Zeta Platform” which is the same as used in 2010-2015 Camaros with most chassis and engine parts interchangeable.

After a few years, the car had been driven less and became a weekend/fun car, a unique car with daily driver manners. This G8 was built in Elizabeth, Australia on 10/22/2008. It is 1 of 1527 built in Red Passion Metallic (Sport red in USA) with premium options.

A 6L80 six speed automatic transmission sends power to the independent rear suspension.

2009 Pontiac G8

From Wikipedia…… By December 2008, the rear wheel drive G8 had not become the expected sales replacement for the previous front-drive models, with 11,000 unsold G8s in the inventory and just 13,000 sold. During the 2009 global economic downturn, market prices had dropped by $3000–5000 below GM’s sticker price for the car. By July 2009, there were only 5,000 unsold G8s in inventory, with almost 30,700 sold.

With the imminent demise of the Pontiac brand, a result of GM’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the 2009 model year marked the end of all Pontiacs, including the G8. However, in July 2009, Bob Lutz made an off-hand comment during a press review that the G8 would be revived as the Chevrolet Caprice. Subsequently, Lutz retracted this statement, citing market conditions. Nevertheless, General Motors announced the Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV) in 2009, which Car and Driver described as a successor to the G8.To fill the gap left by the G8, GM announced the Chevrolet SS, a RWD V8 powered sedan for 2014 based on the Holden Commodore (VF). Editor note…… A few Caprice Police Vehicles even made it to Vermont.

Joy in Giving

Hopefully, I haven’t been spending too much time in my writings on the fact that I am aging, and it seems to be at a much faster rate than I had ever thought possible in my “younger” years. But as they say, “It is what it is,” and so here I go again.

Probably a good share of you who are reading this have, like me, lived well over half of our lives and have thoughts that go with this time in our lives. I have been thinking of what I have that my children and grandchildren would like to have handed down to them to enjoy. If you have ever visited me, it is obvious that I have a tremendous amount of “stuff” but am certain that probably 98% needs to find its way into a yard sale or most likely a dumpster.

What I do have that is special are a few antique pieces, some of which are from family, and both my boys and grands love family-related things. They seem to become more loved if they have been fortunate to meet the family members and have seen them in use with them. I have a few pieces of nice jewelry (very few because I have never been a “jewelry person,” and I am married to a man that thought that “investing” in jewelry was a poor investment!)

In thinking of what to “hand down” and to who had been on my mind for a while but had not put any of the thoughts into motion. It all started quite unexpectedly this past Christmas. Our family celebration was split this year between families; as you all know, one is working, or the day was not working for all to get together, so we had two get-togethers.

The first was on the Saturday before with our youngest son and family. We went to the Eastside restaurant for a wonderful meal and then back to our house for a few gifts. My granddaughter, Addison, noticed I had a ring on that she had never seen before. I had not worn that ring for several years. It was a gift from my sister I would guess 20 years ago. It was silver with four diamonds. She tried it on and said how much she loved it and maybe I could put it on “the list.” (We have mentioned to the family that if they see something they might like, we should have a list.) I could see how much she liked it, so I said, You can have it! She said, You mean today? (I guess she was expecting it might be hers when I passed on to another place.) She left with her ring and leaving a very happy Grandma to remember the look on her face and how happy she was with this Christmas surprise.

As I said, Christmas was split, so on Christmas day we went to celebrate with our oldest son and family. A slight dilemma: I have a second granddaughter (Addison’s cousin, Grace), and I hoped that Grace had not gotten a text from her cousin about the ring. We had a great day, a wonderful meal, exchanged gifts, and when everyone thought it was coming to an end – Grandma gave Grace one last gift. I had wrapped up my diamond engagement ring and my wedding ring. (Believe it or not, I had the original box.) I can still see her beautiful face when she opened it and what a look, and then she burst into tears and said, I cannot talk.

It made me happier giving the rings than them receiving them. To think I could have missed seeing their reactions if I had waited and they got them as “part of the estate.”

Now my thoughts are what I can give my grandsons. Maybe cars would fit that bill.

Everything Was Aligned That Day!

If you’ll all allow me to gloat this month, I want to tell you about a very special young woman here in Vermont, and that’s my niece, Michelle Archer. You may not recognize her name, but I’m sure you’ve heard of the events of December 17 where two children fell through ice on a pond in Cambridge, VT. One child was pulled from the pond by the elderly landowner, but the second child still needed to be saved. On that day, Vermont State Trooper Michelle Archer was in the right place at the right time and went into that pond and rescued the little girl, who thereafter made a full recovery after a short stay in the hospital.

What I’m sure you haven’t heard about is that Michelle, the youngest daughter of my brother Tom and his wife, Beth, grew up in Milton, and after taking a very circuitous route after college graduation, then became a Vermont State Trooper. She is unassuming, kind and considerate, unflappable, helpful, tough, and stubborn! When she puts her mind to something, it happens. Michelle will probably kill me for telling these stories, but to prove the point of her stubbornness, when she was young, maybe 4 years old, this trait exhibited itself in numerous ways, one of which was when her grandmother would pick her up from daycare and they might stop at the grocery store for an item, Michelle would want candy and be told no, not today. Michelle would then sit in her car seat in the back seat of the car and not say one dang-blasted word to Grama on the ride from the store all the way to home. Not one! No cajoling could make her break her silence.

Another time, when she, her sister and parents were at my folks’ house for dinner and it came time to go home, even though her father would ask her/tell her/plead with her/threaten her to put her winter boots on because they had to leave, she would… take… her… own… sweet… time, whether it be 5 minutes or 15! Boy-o-boy was she stubborn.

Fast forward to today: If you google “Trooper Michelle Archer,” you will see and learn all about the rescue, but what isn’t mentioned is the fact that Michelle is barely 5 foot two inches tall and the pond where the little girl was, was 8 feet deep. You also may not see in her bodycam footage that she had the presence of mind to immediately unhook and drop her utility belt holding her gun, baton, flashlight, and who knows what all else, just before going into the 40-degree water that had thin layers of ice on it. Now, she was fully clothed in her trooper uniform, all the way down to her black boots that have got to weigh 3-4 pounds! Yet she knew she had to swim to that child and swim back to shore with her in her arms.

Michelle spent her summers growing up on the shores of Lake Champlain in Milton where our family camp is. She, being the youngest of 4 siblings at age 9, persevered to outdo them all when she got up on water skis first and skied around the lake with this big, goofy, smug look on her face. And when the time came to “put the water in” in May, she would help her dad with the chore, braving the mid 40-degree water. Just maybe that chore prepared her a little for the rescue.

Michelle’s brother has a maple grove, and she and her sisters help him place thousands of taps in the trees, so there’s always maple syrup around. Well, if you watch the video of the rescue, as Michelle reaches into the back of her cruiser for the flotation device, there sitting squarely in view is a half gallon of Vermont pure maple syrup. She is a born and bred “Vermont” state trooper.

Michelle has been called a hero, justifiably so, along with Trooper Keith Cote, who arrived on scene in time for Michelle to hand the child off to him, who then ran the child to the waiting ambulance. Their boss has recommended them for the department’s lifesaving award. Also, Michelle is now a finalist in a group of 4 for the Trooper of the Year Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, awarded in San Antonio, TX, on March 14. She has been interviewed on WCAX, NBC5, Fox News, Inside Edition, WVMT talk radio, along with much more press coverage on local TVs and newspapers across the country, and it’s spread online throughout the world on social media.

But Michelle is the same trooper today that she was on patrol on December 17. And she’s still that cute-as-a-button, smart, kind, considerate, humble….and, of course, stubborn kid that I’ve known all these years. She doesn’t think she’s a hero; she was just doing her job, and, as she has said, everything was aligned that day!

Many thanks to Beth Nichols and Laura Nichols for the photographs.

1929 Whippet Engine project

After much deliberation, we decided that the “spare” engine should move into the “boat anchor” category. You can see on the front page, we have installed the anchor chain.

Pictured is Charlie Thompson and Rosie’s engine. They are discussing the future and singing their tune

Despite being rebuilt in its past, the “anchor” appeared to have run many hours since. The deciding issue was the unacceptable amount of out-of-round and taper of the cylinders. They had already been bored 0.030” oversize and to correct this issue, they would have to be bored again to 0.040” or more oversize. One of our experts noted that .040” oversize pistons are not available and would have to be custom made at exorbitant cost.

If you recall, Gary’s suggestion in last month’s Wheel Tracks was to equip Rosie with a nice air-cooled Franklin engine. You would think if air-cooled was so great, they would have put them in airplanes. Oh, that’s right, they did!

So, back to the Whippet’s (Rosie’s) original “lunch” engine. It is, by the way, not original to the car. Based on serial numbers, it is a 1929 engine in a 1930 car. No problem, those two years of Whippets were identical. Having pulled the engine from Rosie, it now sits in Gary’s shop next to the boat anchor. The bad bearing that we had surmised was a main bearing based on the sound – thump, thump – turned out to be a rod bearing. All else looked acceptable with a bit of adjustment of the bearing clearances. The bad rod bearing was repaired by using a rod from the spare engine.

According to the 1933 Motor’s Repair Manual, the main bearing clearance should be 0.002” and the rod bearing clearance should be 0.001”. Adjustments to remedy bearing clearances greater than that are made by filing the bearing caps. Most of Rosie’s bearings were close, needing only a little filing to achieve the desired clearance. We preferred to stay in the range of .0025—.002.

Of greater concern was the worn timing chain which was “toast” according to Dennis Dodd. (I’m not sure if that is a technically correct term, but you get the picture.) I just happened to have, in my garage, a cigar box with 3 timing chains.Been there for years. One was new, but only 71 links instead of the required 85. A second chain was worn. Both had “master links”. So, we set about cannibalizing extra links from the worn chain to bring the new chain up to 85. We learned how these chains were made and the difficulty of disassembling them.

Gary found a beautiful new 85 link chain on the internet, but unfortunately it was a “center guide” instead of an “edge guide” required by Rosie. These chains are one inch wide. A center guide has links in the center which ride in a groove in the gears. The edge guide has similar links on each edge which capture the gears between them. I still have two more parts engines here which might have better chains but must get out in the cold to disassemble them. We have been cleaning engine parts and Gary has applied paint to the engine block and head. I had been told that the original engine color was a grayish green. Without that color available, Gary bought a can of “racing green” from NAPA. With that Rosie will feel pretty sporty as she cruises along at her usual 35 to 40 MPH!

1930 whippet “rosie”

From Wendell Nobel:

Let’s introduce the Franken-engine syndrome. We have two fatally disabled engines which were identical when new. They are disabled for different reasons. Therefore, it should be possible to assemble one good flawlessly working engine from judiciously selected parts, leaving the other as a boat anchor. I’ve got my fingers in two of these cases right now. One is Charlie Thompson’s ’30 Whippet and the other is my own ’29 Plymouth. The judicious decisions are driven by the economics of expensive outside specialist machine shops, if they are to be found, and new parts. Meet Miss Rosie. Ain’t She A Beauty?

Swapping a good crankshaft to another engine means rebabbitting bearings and line boring, if available within driving distance. Regrinding out of round or damaged crankshaft journals can’t be done in Vermont. Getting correctly sized pistons for oversized rebored cylinders is doable but expensive. With help from a faithful lab assistant, Igor, we will ultimately breathe new life into both car’s engines. We’ve got a good supply of Igors, but a limited supply of funds.

From Gary Fiske:

Like Wendell, we all have engine “stuff” going on. I might have mentioned something about a Franklin I recently brought home from Toronto. I got a good deal on it, and I am glad I have it, but… I need to find out why I have low compression in three cylinders. These old cars always have surprises!

We less experienced mechanics, with confidence issues, are always looking for early ways to test our engine before completing assembly. A few of Rosie’s valves were found to leak a bit by using compressed air and Windex bubbles. Those bubbles were also used to find over-worn valve guides. Some simply put the engine upside-down and squirt a little gas into the backside of the valve head. A good valve and seat will hold the gas back very nicely. A compression check is also planned the minute Rosie’s engine head is fitted in place.

Do you think we give enough credit to the early 19th century engineers and mechanics who had no “experts” guiding them?

1914 Cadillac Touring

Bill Fagan’s beautiful 110-year-old Cadillac has some stories to tell. That includes being found in this Maine barn, to the left, when the 2nd owner came along in 1943 to buy it.

There is a picture of the Caddy (below) when Bill became the 4th owner.

Do you remember the Cadillac engine story from the March 2020 Wheel Tracks? It was about an engine that Fred Gonet restored. There is even a video, on our VAE website, of Fred starting the engine for us. I remember the sound was fantastic!

1914 Cadillac Touring in the barn
When the 1914 Cadillac came to Bill’s Barn

That engine is now back in its home of Bill Fagan’s 1914 Touring Cadillac, and Bill has completed his multi-year restoration project. The second owner had driven the car until the mid-1950s when it was put into storage for many years. The family had tried, unsuccessfully, to get it running when they damaged the rear engine seal, so it continued to languish until it made its way to Bill’s barn in 2007.

Bill told how he was on a Brass Era Frostbite Tour in Massachusetts when a friend said he had just run across this barn find ‘14 Caddy.

“I was interested, needless to say, and drove to his place in NH the day after the tour to make the deal. Because the car sat in the barn with a damp floor, the fenders, splash aprons and wheel rims were quite rusty and had to be repainted. The body and upholstery are original and in excellent condition. I’ve gone through the running gear and the frame, painted them and the wheels and nickel plated all the bright work.”

1914 Cadillac Touring

The car made its debut at our Waterbury car show this past August, winning 1st place in the brass category. You could purchase this car for about $2000 in 1914 when a Ford Model T touring car sold for about $500. That was when Henry Ford was in his second year using an assembly line to build his cars. Henry often bragged how he could build a model T in 33 minutes at his factory. 202,667 Ts came off the assembly line that year.

There was no assembly line for these beautiful Cadillacs. They were hand built in 1914. A total of 14,000 Cadillacs were built that year.

Age is Just a Number

Maybe it was the fact that the year turned to 2024 and we were inundated with all the happenings of 2023 that got me thinking of my age. I admit, I dwell on it more than I did 40 years ago, but do not think I obsess about it, knowing full well I cannot do anything about it and am extremely grateful, especially when I am with my grandchildren, that I am “still aging.” Because if you stop, well, you know what that means. My sister and I talk about when we stopped being able to do such and such and wonder why we did certain things like store your favorite salad bowl on the top shelf and now must ask your son to get it down or do not use it this time.

I do not think I thought about a broken limb as I traversed the Alps in Austria and Switzerland years ago, but now going from my house to the car, or car to store, I think about it. I have a “plan” for every scenario. Like I have my cell phone in my pocket with a car and house key when I am taking out the trash on pickup day. If I go down, I want to be able to call someone. Or if the house door locks by accident, I can get in. I have a lot of these “little plans.” Did not have them 40 years ago because I did not think I needed them!

Last Tuesday I was confronted by my “age” big time! We have had a problem with blocked calls (calls we DO NOT want blocked), and I have spent hours on the phone with Xfinity trying to correct the problem, to no avail. So they sent Tony, an Xfinity technician, to help us out. Within 15 minutes he found the problem: US! We were hitting the “Block Call” button in error – thus, blocked calls!

To somewhat redeem Gary and I, I had thought of that but could not find any place to unblock. I even went to YouTube to see if there was an answer for it, like when I could not open the panel on my dryer, YouTube showed me how. Anyway, in 30 minutes tops, Tony had unblocked my blocked calls; taught me how to get on Netflix, Amazon, and any other app that might suit my fancy; tested the wiring (suggested upgrade); showed me how to record shows, delete all the shows (we didn’t know we had recorded); looked on my computer and found the password I was needing for my Wi-Fi but thought I had changed. Must admit, I was embarrassed as I watched him do all this as easily as I could read a recipe and hope I have not forgotten something! Gary is always saying, “Why don’t they make a start-to-finish instruction book now?” The reason is that most young people do not need all the steps. They know them.

There will always be a gap between ages, what the young ones know as “common knowledge” and some of us “born earlier” trying to catch up. Of course, the young nowadays do not realize that they too in a few years will be trying to catch up.

Another subject, AI, or Artificial Intelligence: What most do not realize is that it isn’t new. Artificial intelligence has been around longer than me!

1930 Ford Model A Pickup

1929 Ford Model pickup Travis Cook

Travis Cook found this 1929 Ford Model A pickup, with a blown engine, listed for sale in Wheel Tracks six years ago. Since he had a fine “pickled” engine at home, he bought it. Here, you see the model A 3000 miles later, at our 2023 Waterbury Show.

Evidence indicates this Model A might have begun its life in Mississippi. Travis speaks of a windshield inspection sticker from that state. There is also a gas ration sticker on the truck from October 1st, 1942. It’s interesting how these old vehicles can “talk” to us!

Travis answered a Wheel Tracks ad in 2018, and that is when the truck found a new home in his Connecticut garage. It had been owned by VAEer, John Gray of Proctor, our VAE president in 1982. How many have heard of a “pickled engine?” That was a new term for me. When Travis explained, I could only see a huge crock, full of oil, with an emerged engine sitting in it. Wrong… the engine was simply well oiled while waiting to pull a vehicle down the road again.

Travis said all he had to do was install the engine, replace the rusted aprons and buff the old paint. Last year he did do a major revamp of the front end, and the braking system. The pickup sits with two other Model As, a 1930 Murray bodied 4-door sedan, and a 1931 slant-windowed A. It seems like “that old car thing” also exists down country. One old car is good, but more than one is even better!

1929 Ford Model pickup bed

Travis says he and his buddy of 40 years, Pete Johns, will be coming to next year’s VAE car show with a 1977 Chevy Caprice Classic. He describes the car as having a lot of horsepower and maybe a bit more noise than normal. I can’t wait to see it. He has been a club member for 20 years and speaks of his many adventures in Stowe and Waterbury. Over the years he has become friends with Stowe restauranter, Franke Salese, thus the “Salute” advertisement on the Model A’s door, in honor of his friend. Sign making and advertising has been Travis’ career, and his handywork is evident. BTW, friend, Pete Johns, can be seen, on the front page, sitting at the rear of the pickup. The easy banter between the two was what drew me to the Model A that day in Waterbury. I remember saying that I hoped they were friends, which caused another round of funny cross-comments between the two.

Travis was married to Pauline for 47 years whom he lost her four and a half years ago. She was mentioned many times as he told me of their old car adventures over the years. He is also a proud Army vet. Thank you for your service Travis.

Model A production ended in March 1932, after 4,858,644 had been made in all body styles since 1928. From that total, there were about 482,000 pickup trucks built. Travis said the Model T line ended in 1927, and that Ford used many of the leftover model T parts in the 1928 models. By 1929, the pickups used no leftover parts.

Ford’s 1929 Model A pickup truck was based on its Model A car. It used the same four-cylinder, 40-horsepower engine. Ford’s pickup was available in open and closed-cab versions. Factory price for the open-cab pickup was $430, while closed-cab trucks started at $445. Ford sold more than 212,000 trucks in 1929.

The road manners of these trucks are surprisingly nimble, thanks to stiff suspension and quick steering. Speeding tickets probably won’t be a major concern, as a Model A feels happiest running along at around 45 MPH.

Shifting to Winter Mode

Well, it happened again. It was like shifting from first to reverse, going from summer to winter gear. It usually happens sometime in the end of September when I start thinking about getting ready for winter. All the summer chores and projects, most of which never got done, get put on “next year’s list” and I think about putting all the summer stuff to bed. Should I put the lawn mower away or will I need it the whole month of October, like this year? Is it time to clear the porch off and put the furniture away or will we still have some warm weather? Do I get the storm windows out or can I wait a few more weeks? Eventually, it all needs to be done and the weather forecast usually is in control.

The first mention of snow and that’s when there is a mad scramble to get it all done. The trouble is, at my house, all the places that the summer stuff goes is filled with other stuff that accumulated during the summer. That stuff never goes away.

There’s the talk around town… When are you having your snow tires put on? Do you think you have enough wood for the winter? Did you notice all the holiday things in the stores already? The weather usually gives us enough time to get it all done, but then one day you realize you finally have to shift to that winter mode. Everything gets done, sort of, and the porch is filled with wood once again. It happens quickly but it usually all gets done. Then, I’m in winter mode.

Yes, I do need new snow tires, and Phil Potvin of Phil’s Automotive in Underhill has ordered the new set. I have found the snow scrapers in the barn, and the snow shovels too. Winter boots and coats? Yes, I know where they are. Gloves too.

The one thing that really throws me off is setting the clocks back. That’s when winter officially starts for me. It’s dark so early and I’m ready for bed about 8.

Somehow, I muddle through the holidays with less enthusiasm every year. A sign of getting older? Do I bake the fruitcakes that Gael liked or not? All the grandkids are adults now so a quick trip to the gift card rack usually takes care of that. Winter sets in. Then, one day, you hear someone talking about the fact that he noticed that the days were getting longer and there is talk about tapping trees. Someone has seen their first robin and someone else has noticed a crocus in bloom somewhere. Is it time to think about shifting from winter mode to summer mode? Maybe not yet, but it always happens. Get out that summer chore list that you put away and throw away that winter list that never got anything crossed off. Reading a book instead has always worked for me.

Winter mode 2023 is here, folks, like it or not, and I’m going to bake fruitcake today.

1980 MGB Mark IV

This MGB beauty is owned by VAEer Jim Adams of Jericho, Vermont.

Jim Adams writes:

Jim Adams and his 1980 MBG

In the spring of 1983 on my daily drive to my office, I drove by Al Martin Motors which then was on the Williston Road. In the showroom was a reddish orange sports car just begging me to stop and look at her. One day I could no longer resist and thus started a 40-year odyssey with a 1980 MGB MK IV.

My experience with cars began in 1960, when I was 15. My neighbor was a car salesman and one day he brought home a 1936 Chevy 2-door sedan and parked it in front of my house. A good sales pitch! After persuading my parents to lend me $25, I was the excited new owner for a total sum of $50.

Needless to say, I learned much about mechanics and body work. That 1936 Chevy was followed by a 51 Ford, a 55 Chevy and then back to a 51 Chevy which was my daily driver in 1970!

By 1983 I was married with 2 children and was ready for another car adventure. Growing up in the 50s and 60s I became interested in British sports cars such as MGs, Austin Healeys, and Triumphs, and their successes on the European race tracks. In 1962 I had the thrill of driving my oldest brother’s newly acquired Austin Healey Sprite. The car was quick and responsive and a blast to drive with a 4-speed transmission. I knew then that at some point I needed to have a sports car! MGs have a history going back to the 1920s when Morris Motors was in its infancy building primarily sedans. A group of the workers began experimenting with building more sporty models and soon spun off another company with the famous MG moniker. In the 1940s MG sports car models took off with the MG TCs, MG TDs, MG TFs, MGA and finally the MGB.

From the model year update in 1975 until its demise in 1980, the MGB was looked down upon by MG purists. In mid -1974, US regulations required the original MGB to have better crash protection which resulted in raising the car 1 inch and adding rubber bumpers. In addition, new pollution regulations caused MG to add a quirky emission system of air pumps, a catalytic converter, and a single Zenith carburetor. This emission system caused a real decline in performance and purists actually expressed hatred of the rubber bumpers.

My 1980 MGB has 95H, a 4 -speed transmission and an electronic overdrive. I believe the overdrive has been instrumental in reducing the wear and tear of high RPMs on the engine allowing it to effortlessly reach 100,000 miles. During the 40 years I have had my MGB, it has been well maintained with the expert help of Arlo Cota and his team at Imported Cars in Williston. The IC team performs mechanical magic! The car has been annoying at times and has needed some emergency intervention. I have had two gas line leaks which have been the demise of many MGs. I was fortunate to catch them early before flames erupted! Once the catalytic converter literally fell apart at the top of Smugglers Notch after becoming fiery red. Recently the engine quit coming down the east side of the Notch. Cause was Lucas electrical!

1980 MBG interior

Quoting from the April 2013 Wheel Tracks page 15, I consider my car “Perfect but not Correct”. In order to improve the performance from its original configuration, a Weber downdraft carburetor along with new headers and a Triumph Trophy exhaust from Moss Motors was installed. Just recently my B was upgraded with a Pertronix electronic distributor resulting in a marked increase in power.

Other “not-correct” changes include aftermarket wheels with 185×14 tires mounted (original were 165×14). Ongoing maintenance during its life have included a clutch replacement, engine seals, suspension and brake repairs. The MGB’s body and frame is solid with no rust . The only body repair was the need for a new hood resulting from a sled dropping down on it from my garage rafters.

I have enjoyed this MGB even though I think an Austin Healey 3000 is the ultimate in English sports cars! With all the performance changes made throughout its life, this car is fun to drive through Vermont’s beautiful countryside with the top down and its 4-speed gear box and overdrive.

I recently spent some time on the VAE’s web page “Member Vehicles.” Interestingly, the brand with the greatest representation is Ford with 437 entries. I found 11 English brands totaling 114 and 44 of them are MGs. I also agree with Jim as my daily driver, for 12 years, was one of these 11 marques. To this day, SU carbs and even Lucas electric holds, almost, good memories for me.

From the editor

Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!

My mother celebrated her 90th birthday last month. It really got me thinking about how we throw around the terms “old folks,” “elderly,” “getting up there,” etc. That is definitely not my mother. She is in great health, lives by herself a couple of miles from my husband and I, still drives, and takes care of others in her condominium neighborhood who are 10-15 years younger than herself. She’ll get a call from her across-the street neighbor asking if she would take her to Shaw’s. Yep, in the car and off to Shaw’s. Another neighbor calls on my mom to accompany her to doc appointments. Does my mom ever say no? Nope. Never.

Can anyone say they’ve had a best friend for 90 years? That’s ninety years. Yep, Mom and Barb still chat every couple months, and the stories they reminisce about that I overhear are just too funny.

At the beginning of the pandemic, before we were all buttoned up in our homes, Mom, at 87 years old, had knee replacement surgery, and after 2 weeks of the VNA physical therapist visiting her post-surgery, that was to be no more, so I took over as her personal physical therapist. I went over every day, and we’d lie on her bed and we’d start off with whatever the first exercise was on her list. I’d say, “Up, 2, 3, 4, 5; down, 2, 3, 4, 5. Up, 2, 3, 4, 5; down, 2, 3, 4, 5.” Over and over and over again. It wasn’t just “up.” It was more like “uuuuuup.” And then we’d start laughing and laughing all the while getting the exercises done. It turned plain old PT into a fun time! At her post-op appointment, her doc commented that she was the oldest (there’s that word again), healthiest patient he had ever done surgery on! What a compliment to my mom! He then asked her when she wanted her other knee done, to which she promptly replied, “Now.” And it happened soon after that.

My mother was born during the Great Depression. She remembers little things from childhood but, thankfully, wasn’t as affected by the depression as others were across the country due to her age. But she does remember walking up to the creamery for her family’s ration of butter and eggs, and collecting metal for the war effort. And one of her most memorable stories happened when she was in grade school, which was just around the corner from her house. The school caught fire in the dead of winter, and everyone was evacuated safely though without coats, hats, boots. She remembers looking over her shoulder on the way out the door to see the curtains in the gym going up in flames! Her father happened to be driving down Main Street at that exact time and glanced over to School Street and wondered to himself why all the kids were outside without their winter coats!

It’s hard to reconcile the terms “old,” “elderly,” “aged” when my mom is going strong. Yet we at times flippantly use those terms to describe friends and family members in their 70s and 80s who are sick or suffering from dementia or dying. I often wonder what my mom thinks when we use those terms, and I’m noticing myself more and more trying to downplay the age as opposed to the condition because, to me, my mom is not old, elderly or aged.

Is life fair? No, we all know life is not fair. We take the good with the bad and keep on plugging away hoping to reach whatever magic age number we choose happy and healthy. And I hope to follow in my mom’s footsteps.

Happy 90th Birthday, Mom!! You’re the best. And Happy New Year!