Pearline’s Story

Pearline was born in England (more details forthcoming), some time in 1971 or 1972. After crossing the Atlantic, she was sold to someone that lived in a small town northeast of Dallas, Texas. I know this, this plate fell out from behind the glove box as I was disassembling the interior in 2020, prior to having body work done.

From my understanding, this plate was used by the dealership service department to mark the logs when a vehicle was serviced. It probably was put into an embossing machine, like an old-time credit card imprinter, so that multiple copies were made–one for the customer, one for the service department, and one for the billing department.

Pearline Joins the Family

At some point, in the late 1970’s, my sister’s father-in-law, Ben, purchased the car. My brother-in-law remembers that he was still in college when his dad pulled up in this car. Most likely, it was 1978 or 1979. Ben was a physics professor at a small university in western Oklahoma. I got my undergraduate degree at that same university and I saw him driving this car several times a week. Ben was probably 6’3” (190 cm) and weighed at least 300 pounds (135 kg). It was quite a sight seeing him get out of that tiny car.

When Ben retired from teaching in the 1990’s, he no longer drove the MGB. His daughter drove it for a few years when she was in college and then parked it for good. It had sat in the garage for several years without being started, and it was covered in boxes. They decided they were going to sell the car, so I jumped at the chance to purchase it.

My Story Begins

At the time, I was living in Austin, TX. I put in a new battery and new tires put on. I had a brake cylinder replaced that continued to leak brake fluid for the next 20 years and had a shade-tree mechanic adjust the carbs. But, it was driveable. I used it as my “more or less” daily commute vehicle, taking the windy roads around Lake Travis to an office building a bit north of downtown Austin.

In 2001, we moved to my hometown in Oklahoma to raise our kids and be closer to family. I still drove the MGB, but it wasn’t practical with 2 kids. The MGB became our 3rd car. I’d take it out on occasion, but I probably didn’t put 2,000 miles total on the odometer after we left Austin. I loaned it to my sister, whose father-in-law owned it previously, for one summer and then she returned it. After that, it spent a few lonely years in my back garage, gathering dust.

In 2016, my wife lost her battle with cancer after 12 years. As part of my “cleaning”, I decided to gift the MGB to my niece, who had given our daughter a loving home while my wife and I were at cancer treatments. It felt great to see her and her own daughter driving the car around town. After a few years, her interest in the car faded and she returned it to me.

My Story, Redux

It was during this time, the car became a “she” and her name became Pearline.

In 2020, my daughter was a junior in high school when COVID stopped the world. She was understandably disappointed that her prom was cancelled. She’d already purchased a dress and wanted to do “something”. So, we took the MGB out to a wheat field and took pictures of her and a friend in their prom dresses. It wasn’t much, but it’s a memory.

On the way home from the wheat field, the MGB stalled out going down a hill 2 miles from home. The spot where it died is on Route 66 and a lot of traffic goes by. The carbs were flooded and there was nothing to do but lift the hood and wait a while. While we waited, friends drove past and some stopped to offer help (or to provide a smart remark). At that point, I decided to do some restoration work on her.

The Restoration

Much of this story has been described in various blog posts. If you want to read them individually in chronological order, they are tagged with “restoration”. I am not a purist, but I wanted to keep the car “as original as possible”. I used plenty of after-market parts in this project, but I deliberately didn’t want to make a “restomod”, with features that would’ve looked out of place in the 1970’s.

The goal in April 2020 was to get Pearline running so that I could enjoy her every week. Even if for a few hours; not a car that I take out every 6 months for a few minutes to keep the cobwebs out. Time will tell if I meet that goal.

The Future

I’m looking at a couple of big purchases to go along with the restoration project. I suppose my blog posts will determine if I follow through or not. Here’s the 2 year plan:

  • Buy a trailer that I can tow Pearline to auto shows further than 100 miles. I have a utility trailer but it’s not made for this kind of use. I need at least a 16’ trailer that’s made for towing a vehicle.

  • Build a receiver hitch for the back bumper. There are plans on the internet where some talented designers have figured out a usable design. I need this because…

  • … I want to get a tear-drop trailer to tow behind the MG. We used to love camping and exploring, but the 2 fifth wheels we’ve owned were a pain to get out of storage and on the road. I’ve been looking at “retro” tear-drop models from a couple of manufacturers but they are 15-18 months out on production. There’s a local man that builds off-road tear-drops for Jeeps and he has some designs on a model for classic cars. I may work with him on a design for the MGB.

I’m doing all this work because I don’t see myself riding a motorcycle in 5 years. Too many bad lifestyle choices have left my lower back in a mess. I’ll be much better off driving a slow classic car than a motorcycle that tempts me to drive 150mph.

Credit Where Credit is Due

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