Catherine – Part 1

Please note that Catherine is one of my cars. More precisely she is a 1966 Vanden Plas Princess 1100 – a small British four-door sedan that I cherish immensely. I am writing a series of posts to document how I came by her, why she is important to me, and why I am crazy enough to anthropomorphize her and call her by name.

My history with Catherine actually goes back further than when I got her in 2010, further back than when I met her in about 2002, further back than when I became friends with her previous owner back in 1990, all the way back to the job I had during college back in 1984.

Back then I was attending the College of Charleston as an English major. I was young, idealistic, and I wanted a car.  Unlike most of my friends who either got hold of the cheapest thing the could afford or saved up for American muscle cars, I was determined that my first car was going to be an MG. Yup, I wanted a small British sports car that was no longer imported into the US. The first time I got to drive an MG was between high school and college, and the car belonged to actress Stockard Channing. She was living in Charleston at the time, and I was working for her then husband, a local marketing personality. She was nice, friendly, and had an MGB that I got to drive occasionally. It was great.

MGBGT with MG1100I left that job, but didn’t forget about the MG. That is what I really wanted. About a year later I found and bought my dream car. I fell in love with an orange 1971 MGB GT. The GT is a hardtop coupe vs the more common convertible. I was quite happy – and promptly learned that although I might have been able to afford the car, I couldn’t afford the maintenance or repair bills. Seeing as I wasn’t going to give up my prize, the only alternative I could see was to learn to do my own work. Slowly I learned to change the oil, rebuild clutch hydraulics, tune carburetors, and eventually about every other automotive task. Through that process I became good friends with the owner of the foreign car parts store at the front of my neighborhood, and eventually an employee.

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