Some Early Experiences with British Motoring

Every now and then we have the pleasure of sharing motoring stories from fellow fans of classic cars and driving. If you would like to share a story from your time owning, running, developing or finding your MG please do reach out and let us know.

Today’s story is thanks to Classic TF & Illawarra registrar Michael Hough. It looks back at some of his early experiences with British motoring driving a Riley 9 and MGTC. Enjoy!

Some Early Experiences with British Motoring

Thanks to Michael Hough

I was born in the World War II era. By the time I reached legal motoring age I had just completed what was then the Year 5 Leaving Certificate at Newcastle Boys’ High School. I had photos of the exciting new MGA on my bedroom walls and had been selected by the BHP Group for a full time scholarship to study Mechanical Engineering at what as then the University of Newcastle College of the University of New South Wales, commencing my studies in 1960.

At the same time as I was employed and sponsored by Commonwealth Steel Company limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of BHP). I also joined the then CMF with D Company of the University of NSW Regiment, and as a young bachelor with lots of time on my hands, earning quite reasonable money and with access to considerable technical equipment and expertise, I quickly was able to afford to own my own transport.

I started with a 125 cc BSA Bantam motorbike from which I upgraded fairly quickly upgraded to a 650cc Triumph Thunderbird (ex-NSW Police bike). I would keep my motorbikes in parallel with the acquisition of my first car.

The very first car was a somewhat quirky late 1930s Riley 9 four-seater sports soft top saloon. I recall being fascinated by its very large tachometer in front of the driver, the aero screen for ‘boy racer’ mode and the accompanying folding down main windscreen. It was a great car for my image, but really quite an impractical first car.

I mainly recall how often it broke down (with some minor and usually fixable problem) and I suppose it was an excellent introduction to the quirks and challenges of maintaining British designed cars of that WW2 era!

I followed up the Riley with a very well kept and presented MGTC. The TC sustained me through many very happy years of growing up and living in the Newcastle of the 1960 and early ’70s, during which a Saturday evening was mainly spent driving up and down the very long main street – Hunter Street (Remember the song “Newcastle”, which celebrated the Hunter street Saturday night parade of teenage hopefuls!)

My main memories of the TC were that it had different rolling size wheels, with spindly 19 inch diameter wheels on the front, and 16″ wheels with fat tyres on the back. The local folklore was that this gave much better handling, but it meant that unlike a later car I owned, a Morgan +4 with two spare wheels and tyres, the TC owner of the day had to decide in advance what particular size wheel and tyre combination would go on the back as the spare!)

I had an enjoyable and trouble free ownership of the TC and it certainly laid the foundations of an enduring and fond relationship with British cars – with sports cars in particular

My current two cars are:

  • 1962 Jaguar Mk 2 3.8 Litre Mk 2 manual overdrive saloon
  • 1953 MGTF 1250 Classic TF sports

I hope that this brief review has inspired you to write something similar about your history of owning interesting cars- and as an unexpected ‘bonus’, I found it quite stimulating to dig back through the old family photo albums to get the photos included.

Enjoy your motoring!

Michael Hough,
Classic TF Registrar

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