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orris Garages produced a great variety of cars but they are perhaps best known for their very popular sportscars, many of which were modified for racing circuit use. Not long after the Second World War, MG was absorbed into the BMC empire but the sportscars remained MGs through and through. MG has a global following even today with classic and vintage car enthusiasts.

The pre-war TC was developed after the war into the TD, and then in the fifties into the TF.

One of the Oxbridge Rejects, has: a flashy old sports car in which he roared around town, farting like an old horse – the car, that is, not him. Colin, the owner, calls it the old lady and she is very much one of the characters in the book.

She is – as Pete the petrolhead easily identifies –an MG TF.

Colin loves driving her: He was through the village too fast to read the signs. The old lady was loving it, roaring gleefully at every touch of the accelerator, swinging round corners like a dancer only just in control of her legs. It was quite dark now and the swoop of the headlights added to the sense of being in a bubble of excitement, like a fairground ride.

But these were the days before MOT tests and old cars were often barely roadworthy. Hugh, who borrows the old lady, describes her scathingly: the brakes squelch like mud, the clutch pedal flaps like a mongrel’s tail and the gear stick nearly came off in my hand. Even Colin himself acknowledges that the violent shudders that accompanied her starting-up and switching-off performances must be putting considerable strain upon the rusty bodywork.

These were also the days before the clamp-down on drink-driving and Colin thinks nothing of stopping for a few beers whilst far from home with the old lady.

It is a lethal combination: an inexperienced, intoxicated driver and a fast car in poor condition. When they hit a sudden, sharp Z-bend, the disastrous result is the pivotal event of the plot.

Pictures from Classic MGs