Project Cars of the Mid-Atlantic
Toby Fitzkee • 1956 MGA 1500 Roadster
It was around the fall of 1965 when I purchased my first A in Harrisburg, Pa. I had just received my driver's license and was living large. It was a 1958 1500, navy blue. It was my very first car which I purchased by trading in my savings bonds and selling my drum set. I believe I paid $800 for it.
It was on March 15, 1966, the Ide's of March, which I believe was also a bad time for Julius Ceasar, that I totaled my A when I skidded into the rear end of a much larger car on a snowy, wet intersection. Fortunately I wasn't seriously hurt, just split the bridge of my nose open on the steering wheel and bruised my sternum on the steering wheel hub. (It didn't give at all).
At this point I was very depressed at having totaled my car and didn't know what I was going to do. I had paid for this car myself and had no means to pay for the repairs nor buy another one. Living large one day then feeling as low as the oil pan drain plug the next.
One morning my mother showed me a little article in the classified section of one of the local newspapers. 1956 MGA FOR SALE, good running condition.
It turned out that the owner lived on the other side Peter's Mountain from me. My parents were great folks and guess what?They bought it for me- for $600. Of course, I said that I would pay them back when I could, a little at a time. Well, you know how that went. (Like I said my folks were great people.)
I had a great time with my "new" A and actually used the wrecked one for spare parts until I sold it to a guy that was going to make a "hot rod" out of it. Don't know if he ever did or not.
I drove my A all through high school, summer, winter, spring and fall. I remember my dates in my A, driving to school, driving to football practices and just driving around with my two or three other friends that also had A's. We kind of had our own A club back then and would work on each other's.
I remember working all Saturday washing, waxing, vacuuming out the inside and polishing the chrome just to get my A ready to do some cruising that night with my date or my girlfriend.
Now jump ahead to about fall 1969. I had completed my first year of college but it was "suggested" that I attend summer school in order to return for my sophomore year since my grades were, shall we say, on the low side of the RPM gauge. At this point I made a decision to sit out a semester to see if college was really what I wanted to do.
It was at this time that I was working as an iron worker on Three Mile Island when the slave cylinder or clutch cylinder went out for the 14th-gazillionth time and I had had it with my A. I ended up selling it as is to a high school friend who lived in my town for about $400. I had a 1954 XJ Jag coupe that I bought at the end of my freshman year in college for $400 from a senior who needed $400 to pay off a school debt in order to graduate. I just didn't need another British car to work on. I then bought a 1968 Camaro Z-28. Life went on!
Now flash forward to 2005, three children later and 33 wonderful years of marriage (to the same lovely lady) have passed. It was at a memorial service for one of my uncles who had passed away in Dauphin, Pa., that I ran into another old high school classmate who, as I was told, was now the owner of an MGA. I just happened to be the EXACT same 1956 MGA that you just read about at the beginning of this article! YES! The EXACT SAME ONE!
I walked up to Jim, who was the present owner, and after some reminiscing I told him that if he every wanted to sell the A to give me a call. That was in August of 2005. At the end of June, 2006 my wife and I hosted a family reunion at our home in Fairfax Station for my side of my mother's family. One cousin asked me if I had heard from Jim about the A. I replied that I didn't but would give him a call that Monday which I did.
After a week and a half of telephone tag (Jim doesn't have e-mail at home and doesn't like to receive non-business e-mails a work) I got in touch with him. I made him an offer and after a week my wife and I were on our way to Pennsylvania with trailer in tow to buy back my old A.
I'm 56 years young and now have my 56 MGA back after our separation of some 36 years. There is a lot of work to be done to get her roadworthy, just ask Butch Smith. But it feels good to be a part of the A-team again.