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Who *is* this guy???

Subject: Who *is* this guy???
From: Scott Fisher <>
Date: Sun, 02 May 1999 23:23:54 -0700
A few of you have already welcomed me back, and I'm grateful for being
remembered.  Some of you may put two and two together after reading some
of my postings (I mean, who *else* would compare rolling the top on an
MGB with making sushi?)

But there may well be others who echo the subject line, and worse, ask,
"And where the heck does he get off talking about M.G.s this way?"

With that in mind... I'm joining this list after having signed off the
original british-cars mailing list in about 1994 or '95, where I'd been
an active participant since 1988.  In fact, I had the pleasure of
working with the fellow who started the original british-cars mailing
list (the ur-list) -- Dale Cook, Ovr Fovnder -- well before then, when I
had my first M.G. and he had Grandfather MGB.  (Should you be inclined
to look me up in the archives, or you're still trying to figure this
out, I was for most of my e-life;
unfortunately, when I joined Cisco there was already an sfisher here, so
I had to stick in the middle initial.)

I recognize many of the voices here, some from email and some from
personal contact; in fact, it's rewarding to see Lawrie Alexander
participating here, as I remember him with pleasure as the keynote
speaker at the AMGBA national convention in June of 1985, at the Miramar
Hotel in Santa Barbara.  That was also the first time I talked my wife
into going on a car-related holiday over our anniversary -- but not the

Anyway, you know those nature specials where they show a baby duck that
saw a mother cat as soon as it hatched, and grew up meowing instead of
quacking?  Scientists call it imprinting.  Well, I must have imprinted
on M.G.s somehow, even though the earliest ride I can remember in a
British sports car was in my dad's friend Dick Well's XK120.  (I think
that writeup is still on the welcome page of the jag-lovers mailing
list...)  While there are many cars I think are beautiful, exciting, or
just plain desirable for one reason or another, M.G.s (and in particular
the chrome-bumper Midgets) just set my heart to leaping, for no good
reason except that they just do.  I suspect I don't have to explain that

My britcar credentials: I drove The Green Car, my '71 MGB tourer, for 8
or 9 years and never took it to a mechanic.  Never had to have it towed,
either, nor did it ever strand me (though I did learn the trick where
you bonk the fuel pump with the wire-wheel hammer, how to push-start a
car and then hop into it before it rolls away, how to set the points gap
with a library card, and many other things that people who lease a new
Lexus every three years will never know the joy of.)  Oh, I took parts
of it off from time to time and took them to the machinist, but that's
different.  Did the front and rear suspension, the brakes, the interior,
the wire wheels, the SUs, all the basic maintenance... and then got
speed-crazy one day and swapped in the motor from my old SCCA driver's
school car, also an MGB, and that was the beginning of the end for the
fine old Green Car.  

What do I mean?  Well... the driver's school motor was originally built
to run on race gas of 104 octane.  I dropped it into the Green Car and,
stupidly, ran it on 92 octane (figuring I'd swap out the cylinder head
eventually).  One day, on the way home from work, a fellow in an M5
decided he'd try to squirt around me on the right from a dead stop.  He
was about a carlength behind me when I shifted into third... but I
limped the rest of the way home on three cylinders.  I still have that
piston, with the chunk missing from between the face and the top ring
land, as a reminder about hubris -- and also about power-to-weight

The next version of the motor ran smoother, using a different cylinder
head shaved just a bit to give me a more reasonable compression ratio
(and ported *much* better than the bargain-basement head used on my
driver's school motor).  That's the one where the #2 wrist (gudgeon) pin
came loose one morning, causing me to park the car several years ago.  I
didn't know that's what the horrifying rattle WAS, I just knew I was
going to have to pull the motor again.  So... eventually that car went
to a friend of a friend, someone who was buying his first M.G.  The
rebuild was handled by \the friend, who kept me apprised as to what he
found inside the motor.  For a first engine, it was pretty good, but I
think I'll stick to the stuff you can do from outside the block from now

I've owned five M.G.s so far, counting the race car and a parts car I
bought and then resold as a shell; there's a picture of my first one on
the Web, at this URL:

It's 160k, so load it when you've got a minute.  The sweet young thing
climbing into the car is my lovely (and famous) wife, Kim; that picture
was taken, in fact, as we were leaving for the AMGBA convention in 1985,
just after our sixth anniversary.  Neither Kim nor the car look *quite*
like that today, but that's because the poor little car was totalled
while parked in 1986, and Kim has had three children in the thirteen
years since then (the youngest of whom, my 2-1/2 year old son Charlie,
is on my lap as I type this, wondering in an almost catlike manner how
anything I could be doing with this keyboard could be HALF as
interesting as playing with him; come to think of it, I think agree with

My oldest daughter, Torrey, is now a willowy, beautiful 11 year old --
some of you may remember my articles about taking her to preschool, her
kid-seat strapped into the passenger's bucket of the Green Car, top down
unless it was raining.  She recently sat in a friend's yellow '67 Sprite
and said, "I can reach the pedals... I can see over the steering
wheel... I COULD DRIVE THIS CAR!"  My youngest daughter, Bronwen, just
turned 8; she barely remembers the M.G., but she's been my companion on
most of the Britcar tours I've led through what she calls "the deep dark
forest" for the past several years, and she was my companion on a trip
to a swap meet for my other marque just this morning.  And then there's
poor Charlie, who has never ridden in a convertible of any kind. 
However, when I try to take him out of my Alfa (after he holds the wheel
and makes vrooming noises), he screams and wails and kicks his feet and
throws a total, certifiable tantrum.  As far as I'm concerned, that's
better proof of parentage than a DNA test.

In addition to M.G.s, I've owned an Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite project
car, a Mini wagon with wood trim, a Lotus Cortina, and a part interest
in a couple of weird Spridget-based race and autocross cars.  Almost had
a TR-3B about four years ago, but ran out of money before the deal got
far enough.  Had some other cars too, some of 'em daily drivers, some of
'em weird old cars from other places on the globe.  I've spent the last
five years happily learning how to identify the size of metric fasteners
by eye, with the other great love of my life; those of you who aren't
entirely closed-minded about other grand marques may enjoy looking over
Bella, at various pages that can be reached from here:

But I signed on the list because I'm getting back into the LBC game at
the end of the month, with -- and who here has seen "Vertigo"? -- a
round-arch Midget.  That car is currently in the garage of our host,
Mark Bradakis, who is vetting it carefully, installing some bits to make
it safely driveable, and planning to drop it off on Memorial Day
weekend, when I can finish the cosmetics (interior panels, carpets,
upholstery, the other fun stuff).  I can't wait.

So while I am passionate about the Alfa, there's something about M.G.s
that I suspect I'll never get out of my blood.  And as much as I loved
driving The Green Car -- my '71 MGB -- I always used to feel almost
apologetic in my praise of it: I'd say things like yeah, I guess it's
more comfortable than a Midget, and the extra room makes it more
practical, and surely it's a more reasonable car for long-distance
cruising, and the extra torque of the 1800 is nice, and you can't beat
that synchronized first gear in traffic.  But in my heart of hearts, I
was always comparing it with the Midget I'd lost, and love it or hate
it, nothing feels like a Spridget.  I'll have the chance, soon enough,
to find out whether my memory is more golden than the truth.

Meanwhile, it's time to get back in the conversation about LBCs.  Oh,
and while I'm passing out URLs, anyone who's planning to be in northern
California for Rick Feibusch's Palo Alto All British Car Show this
September is invited to check this out:

That's the URL for my annual "Day Before The Britcars Day" tour, which
I've run for the last seven years (this'll be the eighth; it's free, as
always).  It's a blast, and I hope to meet some of you folks in the
Santa Cruz mountains this September, if not before.

 --Scott Fisher
   Sunnyvale, CA

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