The Open Road was Featured in the February 2016

Edition of Enjoying MG Magazine

Enjoying MG MagazineThe February 2016 Edition of the MG Owners' Club magazine, Enjoying MG contained a 2 1/2 page article on our experiences of renting out a number of MGs for over 18 years.

 

 

We started The Open Road Classic Car Hire back in 1997 as my early retirement escape plan from corporate life in IBM. I was still working full time, but mainly from home which meant that I could do my day job and start my own business at the same time.

The first car we bought was a 1969 MGB Roadster, then a Frogeye Sprite and a Lotus Elan Plus2. Over the years we have ploughed money back into the company changing cars and increasing the size of the fleet to 10 cars, but we are still hiring out the same MGB 18 years on. We have also hired out an MG RV8 and a MGB GT. We bought the MGB in 1997 which had been re-built with the original yellow bodywork resprayed red, most of the mechanics overhauled and the seats were trimmed in black leather, piped red. Checking it over I found that some of the work hadn’t been done quite to my standard, anything that should have had 4 screws, only had 3 and there were no spring washers on any nuts so I spent some time working through the car bringing it up to my standard.  

 

Right from year 1 the MGB has been a consistent hirer and it continues to be popular, hence still hiring it out after 18 years. Normally either our 1970 Jaguar E-Type or 1965 Ford Mustang Fastback are our most popular cars, but when the recession hit, the MGB became the most popular. Customers obviously still wanted a treat, but just seemed to cut back on the costs of the treat. Between ourselves and our customers the MGB has been driven 95,000 miles in 18 years including when we completed a Euroclassic tour down to Marseilles and back. About 80 km from Calais on the return leg, I pressed the clutch pedal to change gear at a roundabout and the pedal went straight to the floor. We coasted safely to a halt and had to call the RAC for help. We were towed to a local garage where the mechanic just gave a Gallic shrug and said they couldn’t do anything on an old car. The French recovery truck took us on to Calais and dropped the car off on the ferry and an RAC van collected us from Dover and took us home. The problem was just the slave cylinder, if I’d had one in the boot I could have fixed the MGB at the side of the road. Since then we now carry a comprehensive set of spares in the MGB and all our classic hire cars: clutch master and slave seals or cylinders, brake seals, wheel bearing, plugs, points, fan belts, hoses etc.  

 

While still at IBM I ran an MG RV8 as my company car for 3 years and added this to our hire fleet. I thought that as the ultimate incarnation of the MGB, with a better looking body and a V8 engine, it would be very popular. Surprisingly there was very little demand for it although the MGB continued to prove popular. I thought the RV8 was a brilliant, shed loads of torque, better road-holding than the MGB, better brakes and aircon being a Japanese re-import, but the ride was always a bit harsh and my Elaine hated it. When the original tyres wore out I replaced them and the ride was transformed, a bit softer, more comfortable, better road holding and the steering lightened up. The old tyres had obviously gone hard with age and the Japanese climate, and now if I buy a car with tyres on it more than 10 years old, I’ll replace them straight away.

 

I haven’t run a modern car for 20 years and decided that an MGB GT would be a good option as an everyday car that would be usable all year round. After a bit of hunting I found a suitable one, complete with full length Webasto sunroof and added this to our hire fleet. The Webasto meant it was a good compromise for customers who didn’t want a full convertible but the Roadster was still much more popular. A few filaments on the heated rear window didn’t work so I replaced the whole rear window. I ran the MGB GT for about 4 years but then rust started to come through in all the usual areas, edges of bonnet, wheel arches, wings etc. Sadly as GTs aren’t worth anything like as much as Roadsters I took it off the road and decided to break it. The interior and MiniLite wheels and tyres were worth more than the rest of car and I sold the interior to my local garage who was refurbishing a GT for a customer. I am still slowly dismantling the rest of it, occasionally cannibalising it for spares..........................

 

To read the Article in full go to The Open Road's Blog.


 

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