Backyard Mechanic Circa 1980



A few weeks ago I was going through some of my father’s old 35mm slides and came across some shots of myself and my 1972 MGB-GT. Memories I didn’t know I still had came flooding right back. Some priceless, some painful.

I bought the harvest yellow coupe right after high school in October of 1980 for $500. The car lived in Lake Bluff its first eight years and with me for 2 more. That fateful journey north exposed me to the wonders of Sheridan Road and the glorious mansions along the North Shore. I also discovered the local proving ground known simply as the “Ravines.” The smell of the burning leaves, burning oil, and the crisp fall temps are still etched in my automotive mind today.



I didn’t have any real wrenching skills other than constructing a 12 foot half-pipe for my earlier skateboard obsession. I did attempt repairs to the brakes, suspension and body, but with the results you’d expect from an 18 year-old. It didn’t help that all work was done outside in my parents’ driveway with cheap K-mart tools. They didn’t last long once I figured out the power of leverage with my 6 foot persuader pipe. I still have it to this day, resting next to the big Wilton “Punisher.”

Most of my driveway repairs resulted in broken bolts and bloodied knuckles. But I wore those scrapes and bruises with honor, thinking they complimented my beard and feathered blond hair… especially at those Northwestern fraternity parties… not!

I always loved the styling of the MGB-GT and prefered it to the drop top, still do today. But I did learn a thing or two, ok hundreds, about British engineering, and that’s don’t try to figure out any logic, of any kind… period.

Now 31 years and 59 German, 7 British, 1 American and 1 Japanese (only car I owned that blew the engine) cars later, my beautiful bride has a fantasy. A fantasy of her own blue MGB-GT puttering up Sheridan Rd. on a crisp autumn morning. I can smell the burning leafs and oil already.





One Response to “Backyard Mechanic Circa 1980”

  1. gaycarboys Says:

    I liked them both but the fixed top didn’t have the kaffufel with putting the top up which was trying to put up a tent. I also liked the V8 with the rubber bumpers (not the awful 80’s version of course) . The beauty of British cars up until fairly recently was if you went out on it you could lay odds as to whether or not you came home in it. The electrics was a point of particular concern. But they always get looks

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