MG World

1998 San Diego British Car Day
(A view from the side of the road)
by Doug Pulver

Photo by Christopher PulverThe 1998 San Diego British Day experience started out as one of the best ever. The weather could not have been more perfect - cool and sunny. Chris (my son) and I jumped into our 1955 MGTF and headed off to join the San Diego MG Club for the tour north.

Photo by Douglas S. PulverThe MG Club caravan left Sunny's Donuts just after 8:00 A.M. Chris and I found ourselves at the rear and immediately were stuck at the first traffic light. By the time the light turned green the rest of the club was long gone. I told Chris, "Not to worry we now have a 3.9 MGB rear end in the TF we'll soon catch up". And so we did.

Photo by Douglas S. PulverAs we entered the beautiful grassy field of Fallbrook Farms, we passed by a row of T-Types preparing for the day. We waved to our friend Bill Harkins who was supervising his wife Joan as she cleaned the TC (just as Bill told me she would be doing). After parking the car we headed off to visit vendors and friends.

After lots of picture taking and chatting, Chris and I headed home. As we were pulling the grade by Deer Park in Escondido, all of a sudden steam exploded out from under the TF bonnet and I felt some power loss. We pulled over and saw a 50 yard trail of coolant behind us on the side of the road. Checking under the bonnet revealed no obvious problems - hoses, radiator, radiator cap, thermostat and water pump were all new or rebuilt. Hmmm. I was later to decide it must have been a blown head gasket.

Photo by Douglas S. PulverSoon after we rolled to a stop, a very nice gentleman in a new 500 series BMW stopped. We used his cell phone and called for a tow truck. The young woman on the phone said the truck would not arrive for another hour and a half . She then asked the year a make of my car. I told her it was a 1955 MG to which she replied, "Who makes that?" When I explained that MG made the car she responded with, "Oh yeah, I think I have heard of that". Chris expressed great disgust at our plight. I explained that such was occasionally the case with old cars and besides, maybe something good would happen. (As a father it is important to sound optimistic, even if you don't mean it.) Little did I know how true that was.

For the next hour and a half Chris and I were to witness the most phenomenal event. British Car Day came to us on the side of the road. There were over 25 British sports cars that pulled over to help us, not to mention the ones I was actually able to wave off.

First on the scene was a Hillman panel truck whose owner seemed hurt that I did not need to borrow his tools. A very nice woman in a blue TR250 stopped. Next was Steve Kirby in his red MGTD who offered me a beer since I apparently would not be driving any more that afternoon. A woman stopped and said our TF looked like her husband's car and she wanted to make sure he was O.K. Dennis Yard stopped in his Land Rover and Bob Segui (founder of SDBCD) jumped out to ask if Chris would like a ride home with them.

Photo by Douglas S. PulverIn the next hour, we were visited by some wonderful automobiles including a red Austin Healey, a burgundy MGA, a blue Sunbeam Tiger sporting a personalized plate which read "Bad Beam", a yellow chrome bumper MGBGT, a red Jensen Healey, (3) rubber bumper MGBs (one of which gave us soft drinks), a white Lotus Cortina, a black MG 1100, a black MG YA, and John Barnard in his beautifully restored MGTD. John offered the use of his cell phone to check the status of the tow truck. It was now 10 minutes away.

By the way, the only marque which 100% ignored us was Jaguar. There were 3 XKEs that passed by without so much as slowing down. My guess is that they saw no sign of full roadside catering complete with finger sandwiches (to which they are so accustomed) and they decided it was not civilized enough to stop. Besides they probably would not have started again.

Photo by Douglas S. PulverI must say that the whole experience was a wonderful one. British car enthusiasts are the greatest group of people ever. Thanks to all of you who stopped to help. British Car Day #2 by the side of the road was truly special. By the end of the day, even Chris agreed that sometimes it's O.K. to take the long road home.

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