Ron Cherry: A lifelong love of 2+2 coupes
The 2+2 coupe is a sporty, two-door car with two seats in the rear as well as the usual sports-car front buckets.
While those extra two seats are normally rather cramped and uncomfortable, they do provide the option of a couple more passengers.
For as long as he can recall, Phil Kember has had a love of 2+2 coupes. Although the 911 Porsche is the first one he can remember falling for, the second was the MGB GT.
“It was one of my parents’ favorites,” he recalled. “I’m sure that had a lot of influence. My mother liked it a lot and that rubbed off on me. They were rare, but you would see them on the road.”
There was something about the look of the car that was strongly reminiscent of the old Aston Martins, the James Bond cars.
“When MG had (Italian coach-builder) Pininfarina design it, they gave them a picture of an Aston Martin DB2 and said, ‘Make it look like this,’ so it’s no accident,” Phil said. “It’s even called the ‘poor man’s Aston Martin.’”
Phil said the Aston Martin was also a favorite make of his, but said it was ‘a bit out of my reach.” Since Hagerty lists a ‘55 DB2/4 (2+2) coupe in good condition as worth almost $300,000, that’s true for most people. So Phil started looking for a good-condition MGB GT. While the MGB roadsters are fairly plentiful, the GT coupe is rarer. He found a nice one about two years ago on the British Sports Cars car lot in San Luis Obispo.
The ‘67 MGB GT was in great shape. Its original 95 HP, 1798 cc four-cylinder engine with twin SU carbs purred. It was bone stock, even with a generator rather than an alternator. The four-speed trans shifted nicely and had the highly-desirable factory electric overdrive. The drum rear, disc front brakes stopped well and the rack and pinion steering was tight. The interior had been redone with factory-style black leather. The only non-stock items were a wood dash and steering wheel. The chrome had obviously been replated not that long before. Although the paint needed some help, the car was rust free, which was unusual for MGB’s of that age. The price was reasonable and the deal was made.
Since bringing his MG home, Phil did a repaint himself. Now he enjoys driving it around.
“I drive it once or twice a week to get the oil circulating, but I never drive it in the rain. I take darn good care of it,” Phil said. “For a car that turns fifty next year, it’s pretty faithful. It’s a good car.” Phil appreciates the MGB GT for what it is: a ‘60s sporty British coupe.
“In its day it was brisk. Never super fast, but brisk and good to look at.” With the .802 overdrive that makes the 3.9:1 rear gears seem more like 3.13:1, the MGB GT has a higher top end. “It (the overdrive) turns it from a 75 MPH car to a 100 MPH-plus one,” he said. “Not that I can imagine driving it at that speed, ever, but it’ll do it in theory.”
Part of the reason he has no desire to push his MGB GT to the max is the very reason he enjoys driving it.
“It’s a return to 100 percent driver involvement. No computer, no power brakes, no power assists. The feedback is a precise response to what you do.”
That means the driver must focus on driving. No texting or gobbling a hamburger while driving. But then, that should be true of anyone driving any car, shouldn’t it? Just more so for the MGB GT.
Recently, Phil added a new “garage mate” for his MG. He bought the first car he gave his heart to, a Porsche 911.
“The first supercar I saw was a ‘75 911 Turbo. A boy could put a poster of it on his wall and drool over it.” Like they did with the Farrah Fawcett poster of the same era. The 911 Phil bought was a 2009 Carrera S model, which is far different from his ‘67 MGB GT. “Looking at the 911 and the MGB GT side by side, they’re a similar concept, but what a difference. They’re both 2-seater coupes with jump seats in the back, but polar opposites. A 50-year-old version of a 2+2 coupe and a contemporary one. Both made an impression on me at different times in my life. Both are beautiful.”
Although it would be dangerous or possibly fatal to have such an attitude towards women, a guy can freely give his love to two different cars and, for Phil, they are both 2+2 coupes.
Ron Cherry’s four books, including the Morg Mahoney detective series, are available on Kindle and in print copy at Amazon. His latest is a Celtic saga, Three Legs of the Cauldron. For more about his writing, go to http://www.rlcherry.com.
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