Noise, Vibration, and Harshness: 1962 MGA 1600 Mark II

Tim Marrs

Then it started to rain. I felt very alone, even if my car and my white knuckles had lots of company, being surrounded on three sides by manic truckers carrying heavy loads. A temporary concrete divider separated our two lanes from oncoming traffic and served as the fourth side of the 75-mph box I'd deposited myself into.

One might experience this kind of nerve-racking scenario behind the wheel of any vehicle. And although the potential bad outcomes one can imagine are all just as gruesome, somehow, in the MGA, it feels more real. You hear from a mile away the furious sounds made by semis weighing forty times more than you, big, roaring noises that scare men, women, and children, with not so much as your Calvins to come between you and the shredded retread that a truck could at any moment launch directly at your head.

That's because you are not hermetically sealed inside an air-conditioned bubble in an MGA. The side curtains are stowed, so there aren't even windows to shelter you from the facts on the ground. The MGA driver stands in awe of mass and acknowledges big trucks' potential as a force for evil, like every motorist should but few do, because the presence of others is filtered out of the modern driving experience. In an MGA, even the sound of a Toyota Yaris commands attention.

Creature comforts are few, passive safety nil, save owner-installed seatbelts. There are no air bags to cushion blows, no stability control to prevent you from putting a foot wrong. You must count on wit, coordination, sobriety, and, above all, your machinery. Which is forty-six years old.

It's funny, I remember when driving an MGA as daily transport was only slightly more kooky than driving any other eighteen-year-old car. But the passage of time has relegated habitual MGA-driving to the netherworld where devout religiosity rubs shoulders with clinical insanity. Which is why I continue to highly recommend this deviant practice. When you arrive somewhere in an MGA, you feel like you've actually accomplished something.

But - as with any deeply spiritual journey - be prepared. It can get kind of lonely.

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