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MGF 10th Anniversary Event at Gaydon 16th October 2005

Report & Pictures by Steve Davies
Events attached to an anniversary number always prompt the reply “is it that many years since……”, which is exactly what we said when we saw that the MGF tenth birthday get together was going to be held this year.  It seems only yesterday that our brand new British Racing Green MGF VVC was delivered on March the 10th 1997. In fact it was over eight years ago and in that same year we were invited by MG Rover to attend the official second birthday celebrations, the actual invitation was addressed to the car, P3 SJD. It was organised for each region of the country to meet up at local starting points, ours was Knebworth House from where we competed in an organised treasure hunt that ended at Gaydon Heritage Motor Centre in Banbury where the celebrations were held. Upon arrival at Gaydon it was unbelievable there were around 2,000 MGF’s parked everywhere. We had a great day and collected our commemorative boxed bottle of Speckled Hen beer, which can be seen in the photograph below being held by a younger Mrs Davies who I had married only three months prior, after a number of years engagement, look at the hair style!
MGF second birthday, September 1997

History lesson over lets get back to present time, I applied for our tickets to the tenth birthday party in advance for two reasons, firstly they cost £6 instead of £8 on the gate and secondly it would force me to get the car polished and ensure I would still go even if it was raining on the day.  Well the car was polished and the hard top fitted as there was rain forecast, but as it turned out the sun shone all day.

On arrival we were guided to the special MGF parking and it was evident that there were around 500 F’s already there and they had already covered the vast concrete parking area outside the front of the museum and we, as it turned out ended up on a nice grassy area, brilliant for a picnic.  The only problem was that I was told to park next to a silver F with a great big FOR SALE notice in the windscreen, great for my photos I do not think!
Steve standing to attention for “on arrival” photograph

We set off and had a good look around at the other cars that had attended and also around the museum, which is not in our opinion as good as it used to be since BMW sold it to Ford in with the Land Rover sale. Even so there were a couple of things that were of interest including the first MGF off the production line and the Metro based decoy pizza delivery van, which was in fact a prototype rear engine MGF test bed that they belted round the roads, testing the engine and suspension configuration without anyone knowing what they were developing.

It was great to see many of the MGF’s eight years on from the second birthday party as they were all near enough brand new then, but now there were a few that were a bit tatty, or should I say showing their age, and a couple I am sorry to report were dirty, tut tut.  As a person you don’t go to someone’s birthday party in your muddy gardening clothes do you!

The other thing that became apparent in talking to other F’ers was that many of them have been all over Europe in their cars, South of France, Bulgaria etc. We did not bother to recount our holiday to Cornwall in 1998 as most of them it transpired traveled that far on day trips whilst they were on the continent.  Do you know that when questioned about their cars reliability on these trips, no one had experienced any major problem which is the opposite to other non MGF owners who seem to gloat in telling you how they have read about the car’s reliability problems. The statistics show that between 1995 and 2002 they made 77,269 MGF’s followed by 45,000 MGTF’s, that is over 120,000 of them which made it consistently the best selling sports car in its class.  If they were that unreliable you would expect to see them broken down every day at the side of the road, especially in the South East around the M25 area, well you don’t.  At the birthday party there were many examples of eight year old cars with mileages of 60, 70 and over 100,000 miles on the clock still looking good and the design is still desirable compared perhaps to an immaculate 1997 Ford Escort/Modeo or even Vauxhall Astra/Vectra, which now all look very dated.
As you can see in this photograph the bodywork still looks modern
and in good condition after 8 years (both P3 SJD and Marion!)

Enclosed in our programme of events was a late addition that Gerry McGovern the MGF’s principle designer was going to attend and would be available for signing autographs at 1pm.  So lunch was delayed and we duly queued up and I realised the more organised owners had their cars handbook for signing, all I had was my programme, which at my turn he duly signed and looked up at me and said “don’t I know you?” to which I replied “no I don’t think so”.  I hope he didn’t remember eight years ago when I last saw him in a question and answer lecture at Gaydon when I raised my arm and asked him if at any stage he worried about the design of a car with the engine in an inaccessible compartment at the rear, his reply was a short ….NO.  Never the less I now have his autograph to add to the mountain of memorabilia I have accumulated about the MGF.
Gerry McGovern next to one of the Abingdon Special Edition models
in the Pride of Ownership competition.

We returned for our picnic lunch to find the silver F with the for sale notice had gone, to be replaced with a shiny BRG F with a smart personalised number plate and special wheels, which looked better than ours. You can’t win them all!
Steve, caught looking the other way to ignore the existence of his new neighbour.
After a lot of walking a welcomed sit down and picnic

After lunch we took a few photos showing the F’s parked outside the museum, you can see that there were a large number of older owners who were just as enthusiastic about their cars as the younger ones who tend to go for the performance modifications similar to mine, except I also have the grey hair of the aforementioned group.
Views of parked MGF’s outside Heritage Centre

Interior enhancement tip:-

Whilst around the trade stands I noticed on the MG Owners regalia section a lapel badge with a sporty MG logo on a black and white chequered background.  It was just the right size to modify and stick to the top of our cigarette lighter mounted next to the gear lever.  £1.90 well spent.
MG lapel badge mounted on cigarette lighter.

Also whilst in the museum I came across an interesting solution that may solve the problem of taking our Granddaughter Gracie out with us in the MGF.
Perhaps not, our view of safety is a little different now compared to those days.

We left the event at about 4pm having enjoyed a great day and sped back down the busy M40 adding a few more miles on the mileometer which now reads just over 14,500 miles.

If you are interested in further details on the event or the MGF see www.mgfregister.org  or contact Steve with any F related topics you have at stevedaviesXmajorproducts.co.uk (to stop spam replace X with an @)

Steve Davies
October 2005
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