Peter Pickering - Words and Worlds Interwoven

Wet Behind the Ears

How My MGB Taught Me a Lesson

Ah, Warwick, England—where the castles are historic, and the youthful misadventures are nothing short of legendary. The year was 1971, and there I was: 20 years young, and the proud owner of a British Racing Green MGB. It was more than a car; it was an extension of my very being, my verdant soulmate on four wheels.

You see, I had just traded in my Triumph Spitfire—a decent ride but one that didn't exactly ooze masculinity. In contrast, the MGB was like a shot of testosterone on wheels. From the moment I slipped into that leather driver's seat, we became one. I was James Bond without the spy gig, Steve McQueen without the cinematic backdrop. Just a young bloke living life in the fast lane—literally.

And then came the day that would forever change my relationship with automated car washes. I pulled up to the entrance, revving my engine in anticipation. The soft-top was up, the latches were checked and double-checked. "What could possibly go wrong?" I thought to myself as I slowly rolled in.

Ah, the foibles of youth.

The moment the big rotating brush roared to life, and I was ready: "Thunderbirds Are Go!" The rotating brush charged up the front grille, conquered the length of the bonnet, and then—disaster struck. As the brush reached the windscreen, my soft top started lifting, shaking as if possessed by some waterlogged spirit. I panicked. Water began gushing in through the front seal. I was hanging onto the latches for dear life, praying my top wouldn't get torn off and fly away like some unhinged toupee. I felt like Captain Ahab in the midst of a monsoon, only my whale was a wayward car wash.

And then came the coup de grâce—the side windows. Ah yes, the side windows, the automotive equivalent of a sieve. As the rotating brushes continued to exert their force, the soft-top began to lift alarmingly, creating sizeable gaps above the windows that served as perfect entry points for a torrential invasion of water, which sprayed in, soaking me to the bone. I was drenched, waterlogged, a walking, driving puddle of a guy.

Finally, the ordeal was over. I sped out of the car wash, more like a jet ski than a sports car. Upon arriving home, I grabbed all the towels I could find, fervently soaking up the mini-swamp that had formed in my car. Then I changed into dry clothes, which felt as luxurious as a five-star hotel at that moment.

The lesson learned? Never, under any circumstances, take a soft-top car through an automated car wash. It's not a car wash; it's a baptism by catastrophe. But you know, despite the watery disaster, the bond between me and my MGB only grew stronger. Because let's face it, sometimes the best relationships are forged not in the best of times, but in the soggy, humbling, hilariously bad ones.

And so, drenched but undeterred, I lived to drive another day, forever cherishing the lesson my beloved MGB taught me: Sometimes you have to get a little wet to truly appreciate the ride.

MGB Early Model Specifications (1962-1967)


Type: 1.8L B-Series I4

Displacement: 1798 cc

Bore x Stroke: 80.26 mm x 88.9 mm

Compression Ratio: 8.8:1

Power Output: 95 hp (71 kW) at 5,400 rpm

Torque: 110 lb-ft (149 Nm) at 3,000 rpm


Type: 4-speed manual

Optional Overdrive: Available on 3rd and 4th gears


Wheelbase: 91 inches (2,311 mm)

Length: 153 inches (3,886 mm)

Width: 59.9 inches (1,521 mm)

Height: 49 inches (1,245 mm)

Curb Weight: Approximately 2,250 lbs (1,020 kg)


Layout: Front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (FR layout)

Body Style: 2-door roadster (GT coupe introduced in 1965)


Front: Independent with coil springs and lever-arm dampers

Rear: Live axle with leaf springs and lever-arm dampers


Front: Disc brakes

Rear: Drum brakes


Top Speed: Approximately 105 mph (169 km/h)

0-60 mph: Around 11 seconds


Interior: Leather seats, classic Smiths gauges

Exterior: Chrome bumpers, wire wheels optional

Fuel Capacity: 12 US gallons (45 liters)

Fuel Economy: Approximately 25-30 mpg (9.4-11.8 L/100 km)

The early MGB models are celebrated for their classic British sports car charm, combining stylish design with engaging driving dynamics.