Our First Saloon
When visiting a classis car show at the Drunen Autotron Museum in 1977 my wife Suze and I were completely overwhelmed by the charming lines of a certain old MG . Back home books were researched to find out what it was. It turned out to be an MG VA saloon.
We liked it so much that we soon decided that a similar car should be found to act as a stablemate for our 1953 TD. A subscribtion was taken on the English paper "Exchange & Mart" as in those days that was really the magazine to find a bargain. And a bargain it had to be as not much money was availalable.
More then a year went by and it was in Febrary 1979 we had a direct hit. One chap offered under "collectors cars" no less then 2 VA saloons. One was advertised as running and with MOT, the other non running but partly restored. Asking price was GBP 1250 each.
A meeting was quickly arranged. We would meet in a pub called "The Royal Engineer" which was conveniently near the Railway station in Wolverton near Stoke Goldington where the seller lived. "How do we recocknise you?" was my question to the seller. "You will" was his defintive answer!
Next Friday evening, it was February the 24th to be precise, we drove by car to Vlissingen and hopped on the OLau-Line nightferry to Sheerness. Spend all night trying to sleep in a chair which ofcourse did not work out. Once in Sheerness we got the bus to the train station. The train journey to london was quick and we enjoyed being in Britain again if only for the weekend. Via the large north London Euston station we just in time managed to get the right train heading North .
Around three p.m. we safely arrived at Wolverton. We went of the train and straight into the "Royal Engineer" which was in the Highstreet very near the station. After having enjoyed a beer and some sandwiches the door into the "Lounge" swung open. A large fellow dressed in a bearskin type of furry coat stepped in and called: "MG". That must be our man. He introduced himself as Collin Warrington.
We went with Collin to his house and stables called "East Town farm" to see what he had on offer. The black VA was mostly to our liking and we decided a testdrive should be made. Me behind the wheel and Suze in the passenger seat we set off for a grand tour around the country. Before we had left the village I almost lost Suze as her door swung wide open. Luckily she's used to old cars, so no panic and nothing major happened. Although a bit noisy because of a leaky exhaust the VA was running fine. Brakes, steering all worked ok.
Back at the "stables" we decided to buy the VA and after some hard negotiating handed over the pricely sum of GBP 1000. The VA was ours !!
Next was to drive the VA back to Sheerness before darkness set in, which is not an easy task in February. Suze sat beside me in the passenger seat, well excited and door now properly shut. I got used to driving the VA pretty soon. A comfortable car. Roundabouts were a bit of a challenge because I could not see very well the traffic behind us. It was a cold journey with still snow in places
The VA was quick even for an old car. Even at traffic lights it was not difficult to stay ahead of the competition. Afterwards it turned out that the engine was a bit of a special unit prepared by University Motors and sporting a bore of no less then 75mm ! Telescopic shock absorbers all round and 18" wheels instead of the useal 19". This all garuanteed a "fast" roadholding and acceleration.
The acceleration was so powerfull that at a certain stage the floorboards could not cope. Racing away at a traffic light I heard a loud scream from where Suze was sitting a second ago! Looking in her direction only gave me a view of the tarmac rushing under the VA. The floorboards had come undone including seat and Suze who was now lying in an akward position on the rear bench!
After all was put back in place we decided to continue despite the darkness setting in. Oh dear. We feared what would happen if the lights were switched on. Could the dynamo cope? Would the wiring get hot? Well, nothing of that all. Tha VA continued smoothly through the darkness and brought us safely in Sheerness. The ferry back to Holland was missed. Sleeping in the VA was no good option so we found cheap hotel on the quay and had a good nights rest. We needed it.
Next day off to the ferry and the customs office. In those pré EEC days you still had to organise a lot of paperwork to move a car from one country to another. After the clearing of the T2 document by the customs we could go onboard ship and finally sail home.
We did not do a lot of motoring in the "new" MG as pretty soon we got the air of another saloon for sale but that's another story......................
This VA saloon is now happily owned by Pamela Springer in the UK.
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