Safety Fast

Safety Fast
Car Safety Check used by MG clubs
Published by: All Car Central Publishing
Date published: 12/11/2013

Safety has always been associated with the MG as illustrated by both pre-war and post war advertising for the marquee. Back in 1989 the MGT Register in the USA decided that it would be helpful to provide some form of safety check for cars attending Register Events. Sure, the average owner can check his oil, turn on the lights, slam on the breaks at twenty miles an hour and even change a spark plug but real safety goes a touch further than that especially when you are driving cars that at best, are fifty years old and some like the pre-war veterans can go back to the 1930's.

1948 MG TC

MG TC 1948

At the "Gathering Of the Faithful" in 1989, (a yearly event within the American MGT Register,) Rick Smith, a veteran member decided to introduce a voluntary vehicle check for any Register member who was brave enough to allow Rick and his colleagues to thoroughly inspect their vehicle. Rick convinced the organizers of the event that this was a useful free service that would be appreciated, and went on to say; "I hate to see cars that are shiny and beautiful on top but underneath can be dangerous to drive". He managed to find a set of two foot ramps and with about eighteen inches to spare from the ground to the car and started inspecting cars throughout the three day gathering. At least two of these beautiful cars were found to have serious defects and the owners were strongly advised to get the problems fixed, post haste. After the second year of free inspections the service became so popular that a portable lift capable of lifting the vehicles six foot off the ground was introduced and the inspection process was extended to include no less that thirty items. To mention just a few, Clutch linkage, brake hoses, general wiring, ball joints, rear suspension etc., would be checked for wear or decay.

Each item was recorded on an inspection sheet and assigned a result. Example: Good. ..Serviceable but should be watched... Needs Work... Unsafe. After the Safety Check the owner is given his inspection sheet which they can use as a reference for repairs as if and when needed. Each car is also given points for each of the inspection items with a perfect total of 100. However, Very few cars ever get that rating! Most of the general problems can be fixed on the spot and of course usually are with the help of a friend and a six pack of beer.

1956 MGA Rick Feibusch Photo

1956 MGA

However from time to time a real killer vehicle is found, something that should never be allowed on the road. A few years ago at a National MG event where the Register had its Safety Service a MGA was driven on for inspection. The car looked quite attractive and gleamed in the sunlight. The proud owner stood by with his good lady by his side. Rick Smith placed his hand on the front ball joints and pulled. One came off in his hand and the other was held in place by a couple of threads. Needless to say the owner was both shocked and grateful and I suspect so was his companion! At another event a truly beautiful MGTC was inspected but when the fifty year old brake line was pulled to see if it was secure it came off in the inspector's hand! On top of that the front arms were held in place with two of the original eight nuts and those were only hand tight. The owner's wife/girl friend who had been watching the inspection was horrified. It seems that they had driven the car over a hundred miles to be at the event! In a shaky voice she declared to the assembled onlookers that she was flying home and he could get lost, drop dead or something similar! Rick Smith and his Colleague Paul Allen have, over the past twenty five years inspected hundreds of classic MGs. In fact too many to remember.

Their inspection sheets are now used in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. by various MG clubs.

Most owners start the inspection with confidence and usually believe that their car will make the 100 point level. Sad to say very few ever do including three of my cars that have been subjected to the Smith inspection over the years. Thank goodness they were deemed Satisfactory as my wife is usually present as they are driven on to the portable life, just to make sure that we can return home in reasonable comfort and of course security. An idea introduced by a fellow enthusiast back in 1989 has certainly saved a few lives over the years and I suspect a few marriages! To my knowledge no other US Classic Motor Club offers this free service which is a shame..
Geoff Wheatley ©

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