Automotive Stories
By Geoff Wheatley
Index 1

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The 1910 to 1912 American
Road Race

The 1910 to 1912 American road race in Savannah, Georgia,

American historical writer is looking for photo images of the Savannah, Georgia, races that were held on the streets of the city from 1910 to 1912. If any one can be of help please contact this web site.

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pic MGA

A Look at the MGA Oil Pan

Last spring I managed to hit a rock on a South Carolina dirt road in my MGA. (We have more than our fair share of both rocks and dirt roads!) No serious damage was done apart from a dent in the oil pan almost dead center and some paint off the front swing arms. As I was driving at about thirty miles per hour I guessed that the impact was modest and I could easily live with the dent especially when it was out of sight under the car.

I drove the car throughout the summer putting on about 2,400 miles with the same oil reaction, no illustrated oil pressure until I hit top gear or close!
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pic Geoff Wheatley

Women in Racing

In many sports women have proved that they are as good as any male and in some cases even better. However in the world of Motor Racing we see very few female drivers and even less champions. Given the fact that they should be able to compete on equal terms I find this a little strange.

Historically it was a different situation, women did race and win many international road events especially in the 1920's and 30's. As far as I can tell the first recorded woman racing driver was a French lady, Madam Labrousse who was placed fifth in her class when she competed in the 1899 PARIS TO SPA Road Race.
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pic Geoff Wheatley

What Car Would You Buy? or

How often have?

How often have you said?. "When I win the lottery I will buy an expensive car or even two!"
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pic Skoda


Back in the mid sixties when I lived in the UK several East European Cars were offered to the British public like the LADA from Russia, the Wartburg from East Germany also the Škoda from the Czech Republic. To be honest none were a threat to any British vehicles despite the problems that certain UK manufactures experienced.

The attraction of these imports was simply price as each car was subsidized by its respective government in order to obtain Western Currency. To my knowledge none of these cars were ever offered in the U.S. so the American driver was denied the pleasure of owning these Communist delights that often spent more time in the garage than on the road. I recently visited Prague and noticed that there were several versions of the Škoda available. Furthermore they were modern in design following in the footsteps of the attractive European styling.
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Morris Mini

Austin Mini History

In the fall of 1959 a rather strange looking front wheel drive car was presented to the British public. Its first attraction was the claim that the car would give the driver in excess of 40 miles to the gallon, also that its 850 cc engine required no special attention apart from an oil change every 4000 miles.

Of course I am talking about the Morris Mini Minor Mark One that was offered to the motoring world for approximately, based on the current exchange rate, $800.00. Not quite the cheapest car at that time but close!

It could carry four grown individuals in modest comfort and if pushed you could squeeze a couple of youngsters in as well. There was even a boot that would take a decent size load assuming that you were not going on a sea voyage for a month and for a few extra bucks a heater and radio could be fitted.
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Morris 8 1937

Austin and Morris; Some History

By Geoff Wheatley

There is little doubt that Morris and Austin were real competitors as far as the British Motor industry was concerned. Morris had built his name and fame on the mass market Family car and Austin had soon followed in his foot steps. Like Ford they were products of their time who saw an opportunity and went for it. The only difference between these three men who commanded almost a third of the world's car production in 1925 was how they saw their potential market.

In 1923 Austin got lucky in his quest for a "Peoples Car", his words not Adolph Hitler's who is often credited with this title in respect to the development of the VW Beetle.

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MG - Morris and Morris Garage

By Geoff Wheatley

Most people who own a MG will know that the MG badge on the front of their car represents "Morris Garage" however how many of such owners are aware what "Morris Garage" was and why it existed. Billy Morris who started the Morris motor company in a garden shed in the rear of his parents home, was, by any standards a shrewd business man who saw the development of the motor vehicle as a mass market product, not simply a toy for the rich and famous. He left school at the age of twelve and was apprenticed to a bicycle repair shop in Oxford, England. Bicycles were the most popular means of independent transport at that time, both in Europe and America. They were as popular as the computer is in today's world.

pic BMW  Greenville  South Carolina 2013

BMW Plant Tour Greenville South Carolina 2013

By Geoff Wheatley

The professional tour guide advised everyone that no cell phones etc., were permitted inside the plant as they could affect the workings of the Robots. (More on that later). Each visitor was given a headset and a pair of safety glasses that were to be worn at all times. We were divided into two groups and set off to walk approximately one mile and see one of the most modern assembly plants in the world. Greenville makes all of the BMW SUV vehicles which are sold in Europe, Asia, South America, India etc..
The real wonder of the total assembly process is the way that Robots have taken over most of the work. These machines, if that the right word to describe them, can fit a complete windscreen in fifteen seconds.

pic Arnolt-MG


By Geoff Wheatley

The creation of the ARNOLT MG is interesting if only because the MG Company in Abingdon had little to do with either the design or the marketing of this vehicle. An Italian coachbuilder by the name of Nuccio Bertone teamed up with a young Italian designer in 1951 with the idea of creating a special vehicle for the 1952 Turin Motor Show, one of the top European motor events at the time.

pic Corvette Porsche

Corvette & Porsche 911

By Geoff Wheatley

This year, 2013, we have fifty years of the Porsche 911 and you can also add Sixty years of the Corvette. Not many cars survive that time span and still come out as being both desirable and classic. In the case of the Corvette it was not generally accepted as a real sports car until the first V 8 Engine was installed in 1955...Fuel injection in 1957 in company with a four speed box. (Strange that any company promoting a sports car should have stayed with three gears for so long!)

pic 2013 Cadillac ATS diesel

Diesel Cars in America

By Geoff Wheatley

I have never quite understood the reluctance on the part of the American driving community to accept diesel engines. Sure I know the truck industry embraces these power units but not the private vehicle owner. On a recent visit to my family in England I rented a German mid size Ford with a diesel engine.

Fuel economy is not the first thing one considers in these circumstances however I decided to see what MPH I might achieve with my diesel engine. Over a period of ten days traveling 1600 miles either on crowded roads, equally crowded towns and/or six lane motorways with flowing traffic cruising at 80 mph I recorded 48 miles to the gallon.

On top of that you would never know that there was a diesel motor under the hood in fact if the hire company had not posted a large notice on the dashboard informing me and any other driver that diesel was the required fuel I may well have stopped and filled up with gasoline with somewhat distress results.

pic Geoff Wheatley


As you are reading this item I think it's safe to assume that you have owned a semi vintage British Car. Semi vintage being anything that rolled out of the British Motor Industry between 1945 and 1970. (Please Note my term not any official designation!) I am also sure that at some time you have skinned your knuckles using a spanner, a sorry wrench that looked like it should fit the bolt or nut but did not!

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pic Goodwood

Goodwood & The Revival

By Geoff Wheatley

In 1948 a new race track was opened in War Weary Britain named Goodwood. It was the first designed track in the post war world and drew a lot of attention from both sides of the Atlantic. Most of the world's top drivers raced at Goodwood in company with unique and certainly fast, post war cars. However by 1966 other modern race tracks had been established that attracted the latest design in both drivers and vehicles.

Later some truly brilliant and obviously keen car buff's suggested that Goodwood should be reopened as an exhibition of the glorious past and that events should be staged utilizing the post war history of Britain's contribution to auto racing. The name Goodwood Revival was suggested and accepted the theme being simple, to turn back the clock.

pic Delorean

John Z DeLorean

By Geoff Wheatley

John Z DeLorean was by any standard a man who left his mark on the Motor Industry.

A one time V.P of General Motors, obtained by working his way through the ranks of the American Motor Industry. However, he is seldom remembered for his time with G.M. but for a remarkable car that he conceived and produced, simply called the DeLorean DMC-12.

The rear mounted engine was a unit developed by a multi-venture between Volvo, Renault and Peugeot. The engine was an all alloy design and had been successfully tested for the then new US emission regulations.

DeLorean did get his way with the body being made of brushed stainless steel panels bolted to the fiberglass frame of the car.

What happened to DeLorean?

pic Geoff Wheatley

Concours Judging!

As I have been a Concours Judge for a number of years may I offer the prospective from the other side of the check board!

There are simple things that some exhibitors simply do not appreciate. Example: Do not fit modern aircraft style branded fuel hose to a pre war car it may stop the leak but will lose you points.

If it's an acceptable modification by that I mean something that was available during production there should be no trouble,....

Remember that to be a judge you have to have an extensive knowledge of the cars you are evaluating ... (and) None of us get paid.
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pic Radiator Mascot

Car Radiator Mascots

By Geoff Wheatley

Some people go to car events and take lots of pictures of the cars on display others seem less interested in the actual cars but contort themselves up and down, or side to side in order to take a picture of a car mascot. Apart from the famous Rolls Royce lady and of course the leaping Jaguar, I have never taken that much notice of whatever was stuck on the top of the radiator until a few months ago when by chance I picked up a second hand, well worn book on the history of car mascots written about fifty years ago when such things could still be found on certain new cars. It all began around the turn of the last century when some owners of motor cars placed a lucky mascot in the radiator filling cap.

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The MG, Models: SA, VA, WA

By Geoff Wheatley

If I say MG to the vast majority of people they usually think of a small open top sports car that most people wanted when they were young. However, there are some rather special vehicles that came out of the Abingdon factory that only share a fraction of the MG story and today are often forgotten.

A unique range of luxury cars were produced that completely changed the image of MG if only for a brief period of motor history.

pic Geoff Wheatley

The Power of Advertising.

I often look at the advertising pages of various Classic Car Magazines. OK its being a masochist especially when the car you have always dreamed of turns up at the same time as the next mortgage payment and/or the winter heating bill!.

The use of various standard phrases to describe a car makes for an interesting evaluation of the power of advertising. Example: "Very Rare Example of the Marque". Which really means nobody liked the car when it was new, either. Another favorite is: "Older Restoration". This means that you would never know the car had ever been restored.

How about; "Needs Engine Work" which is another way of saying that the power unit has been frozen for at least ten years and three previous owners gave up on the project. "Uses No Oil", could mean that the oil seldom stays in the block for very long to check or, the famous "Rough But Restorable", which usually translates to the fact that the car is too bad to lie about. If you get excited when the copy reads, "One Owner", remember it could also mean that the owner has never been able to sell the thing! "No Time To Complete The Restoration", can relate to the fact that the seller has never been able to find the necessary parts. "Needs Interior Work", usually identifies the fact that the seats are missing or worse still are still there but unrecognizable. Other favorite terms are; "Low Mileage". (Third time around). "Multiple Coats Of Fresh Paint". (To cover the rust). "Clean Exterior". (It sat in the rain yesterday). "Prize Winner". ( Hard luck trophy three times in a row) "Stored 25 Years" (Under a tree in the back garden). "Easy Restoration". ( Parts will come off in your hands).

If the words "Good Investment" convinces you to buy it might be that, (The car simply can't depreciate any more).

Good hunting and if you find that gem in the barn after thirty years of hibernation remember despite what it may look like at one time it did go, but someone eventually gave up on the car!
Geoff Wheatley

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Scottish Malts Trials

By Geoff Wheatley

The "Historic Endurance Rallying Organization", based in Worcester. England, have organized a six day "Scottish Malts Reliability Trial"

For the past six years "HERO" The "Historic Endurance Rallying Organization", based in Worcester. England, have organized a six day "Scottish Malts Reliability Trial" starting in the fair city of Edinburgh with the final leg to Scone Palace, once famous as the home of Scottish kings. Like many others I had been aware of this annual event since it was first staged in 1998 and often told myself that one day I would scrape up the Four Thousand pounds, (approx $6,500 US) to enter. In December a few years ago that "One Day" arrived as I sat looking at the winter snow falling over my back garden in New York State. The classic cars were in deep freeze in my garage. Obviously, I could not ship one of them over to the UK in time for the Trials, so who, in the UK would lend me a car to be a competitor?