My MGB-GT | Teen Ink


December 11, 2008
By John Foye, Salt Lake City, UT

When the engine turned over, and the soft purr of a newborn coupé filled the garage, the child of my high school determination came to life. My 1970 MGB-GT, a British sports car, was no longer a work in progress. It stood as a completed monument for all the jammed fingers, grease stained shirts, and cold Sunday afternoons spent working in the garage. As the fragrant scent of fresh exhaust filled my lungs, I could think of nothing but the beauty of my creation.

Since then I have had time to think back to the day I purchased my MGB-GT. I remember sliding my fingers down the shapely front fender, feeling the rust bubbling up from under the fading paint. The oil slick left by this poor car was visible through the once-solid floor pan, and I began to consider the possibilities. I knew it would cost all my money, but I couldn’t let this opportunity slip away. Under an unexplainable stupor, possibly caused by the fumes of rancid gasoline, I made an offer and purchased my MGB-GT. As a freshman, I had no idea how my commitment to $400 worth of oxidizing metal would impact my development during high school. Even less did I realize how the GT’s reincarnation would reveal a possible vocation. At the time, with a shortage of experience and an abundance of enthusiasm, I simply went to work.

There were some slow times during the rebuilding. Certain repetitive tasks kept visible progress out of reach and pushed my endurance to the limit. No more is this true than when I spent weeks drilling out hundreds of spot welds, with nothing to show for it except countless quarter inch holes and two dull drill bits. It was at these times, when frustration bordered on despair, that determination was the best motivator. These months in the garage, with a picture of the completed project in my mind, taught me the self-discipline I now apply to my daily life.

My GT was rising from the ashes as I entered junior year. All welding was completed, and the car was awaiting paint. Fortunately, my dad had experience and offered to help. Input from many different places had to come together before my project could be completed. And even though I was the one asking the questions and making the decisions, other people made huge contributions. At every car show or British Motor Club meeting, some MGB expert would divulge a tidbit of information, propelling me a step closer to my eventual goal. Since I started reconstructing my GT, the interdependence of society has emerged paramount in my mind.

My time spent working on my GT made me realize my passion for mechanical engineering. My technical knowledge was meager going into the project, so I had to spend many hours studying manuals and chatting on forums. Despite this, restoring my car was fun. Little is more enjoyable than putting something together with my hands, studying how different parts should move and interact, and then stepping back and seeing if my creation will work as designed. There is no greater reward than watching an object work correctly. However, it is the objects that rebel against my will -- malfunctioning carburetors and short-circuiting starters -- that stimulate my thought process and draw me closer to a career in engineering.

At the time the engine first fired up, none of this came to mind. I had not realized the impact my determination had on my academic life, or how interdependence gave me a new view of society. And I did not yet know if my interest in mechanical objects was simply a hobby or a potential future profession. The car was simply a massive experience; one that I had not yet had time to think about. And for this reason, I was content to sit in the reverberating silence, feeling the soft purr of my MGB-GT.

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