“A First Drive”

May, 2005

Tonight I took the TC out for its first “real” drive. A part of my afternoon was spent diagnosing the lighting system on the car which turned out to be one bad ground and five burned out bulbs. Heading out of the driveway it already felt like a real drive now that all the major systems seem to be working within reason. Since the car was running well and I had to take a leap of faith sometime, I decided to head for the hills. A 20-mile loop through the Santa Monica Mountains would be a perfect “do or die” kind of drive. Tempting fate, I turned on the lights for the first time and headed south, into the canyons.

My first smile came when I saw the front fender tips glowing under the sidelights. What I didn’t realize at this point was that the smile would not go away for the next 23 miles. Heading uphill I was pleasantly surprised at the torque and I accelerated up to 50 MPH. Completely unaware of what to expect in the first “at-speed” turn, I took it easy. The TC took the turn like it was bored with me already. In delight I had to let out a giggle. The next turn was a big sweeping left so I took it a bit faster. No problems here either. More giggles and a bigger smile. All was going so well that normally I wouldn’t push my luck any further but the car and the road begged me to give it a go, so I did.

The next turn led to a series of lefts and rights of varying types. Gaining speed and turning the wheel a bit more led to a sensation I have never experienced before in any car. We have all heard the expression “This car begs to be driven”. I thought I knew what that meant but in reality I had no idea. There reaches a certain point in a turn where this car decides you’re being a pansy and dives into it, taunting you and your ability to keep up. It’s truly amazing and my giggles of earlier turned to out-loud laughter. This was one of those moments one could easily say was “the time of my life”. Almost immediately I settled into a rhythm, leaning into the turns and feeling as if the car was leaning with me, almost pulling its way into the turns. It almost felt as if I was going to be left in the road behind if I wasn’t careful. Horsepower has nothing to do with anything in this M.G. It’s all about the road and how you handle it as a team.

By the time I made it through the canyons I felt quite at home and comfortable in the car. I had even pushed it enough to lose a bit of traction in the rear around a tight bend. All the years of neglect seemed to have been spit out onto the road behind and the TC was running like a real champ. Before reaching home, a car pulled up beside me at a light. A young teenage girl was seated in the passenger seat, and I saw her do a double-take at the sight of the car. This was immediately followed by a wide-mouthed “Oh My God!” Her delight and admiration of the car were written all over her face. As I pulled away she was still pointing, jaw dropped, and I had to wonder if she would one day experience what I just had, and become one of the lucky few who will experience the world from behind the wheel of an MG TC.