The Laws for British Sports Cars

Updated June, 1997


Reproduced without consent from the "British Marque" Newspaper.

Most of us are familiar with the physical laws discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, the guy who invented gravity. He said things like, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."

Newton's laws made sense for hundreds of years, and everybody believed them. They believed them right up until the time when British sports cars were invented, when it was suddenly realized that a whole new bunch of laws was going to be needed.

Many distinguished scientists, with names like Morris, Healey, Leyland, Mowog and Murphy, shook the scientific community when they published a new theory of mechanical behavior called "The Laws For British Sports Cars". Many people are not familiar with the five major laws, so they are listed below with a brief explanation of each.


"The name of a British sports car shall consist primarily of letters and numbers, with said letters and numbers chosen in random fashion so that the resultant vehicle name is totally devoid of any meaning."

This law explains why British cars have spectacularly bad names, like "E-Type", or worse yet, "MGB-GT."


"Any book, manual, pamphlet, or text dealing with the maintenance, repair or restoration of a British sports car shall be written so that at least every fourth word will be unknown to the average reader. In the event that any portion of the text is understandable, the information contained therein shall be incorrect."

Most people are familiar with this law. Here is an exerpt from page 132 of the MGA Shop Manual: "Before rebushing the lower grunnion banjos, you must remove the bonnet fascia and undo the A-arm nut with a #3 spanner." All attempts to publish an English language version of this manual have failed.


"The more a British sports car malfunctions, breaks, and/or falls apart, the more endearing it becomes to the owner."

You buy a British sports car. You have had it a year and a half and have replaced every item on the car at least twice. When the engine is started, it sounds as if someone has thrown a handful of ball bearings into a blender. But when someone offers to buy it, you are offended because "it is like part of the family," and besides, "it is so much fun to drive." British sports car owners often stare into space and smile a lot.


"All British sports cars, regardless of condition or age, shall always have at least one system or subsystem of components which is entirely non-functional, and which cannot be repaired except on a semi-permanent or semi-functional basis." (Also known as the "Lucas Electrics Law".)


"Any component of a British sports car which is entirely unknown to the owner shall function perfectly, until such time that the owner becomes aware of said component's existence, when it shall instantly fail."

Case in point: The author owned a rather natty MGB for six years. He never knew there was such a thing as a "Gulp Valve" until he saw new ones offered for sale by Moss Motors. The next day, while driving to work, his gulp valve fell off the engine and was promptly run over by a truck. He bought a new one, figuring to install it himself, but after one look at the shop manual, he decided to have someone else install it. (See "Law of Cryptic Instructions", above).

While driving the car to a local repair establishment, he notices that the MGB is performing just as well as it ever did, and that the loss of the mysterious Gulp Valve has not had any effect on its behavior. He figures this is due to the "Non-Functional Attribute Law", so he decides not to replace it after all.

Three days later, the engine had no more oil in it and promptly seized into a solid mass of metal. The tow truck operator, being ignorant of the "Love of Hardship Law", offers to take the car off his hand for $100. The owner just smiled.

Contributed by: Tim in Dallas

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