(Jacob Rumans) #1

80


Asits firstandlatestownersreveal,thisMGBGT was
thecatalystforanunbelievablechainof fateful
eventsthat sawtheirlivestransformed
WordsMIKERENAUTPhotographyJONATHANFLEETWOOD

LifeCycle]

The Ashtons buy TNO 260K new in 1972 for £1867.12
On 16 June 1972 Noël Ashton visited the BarnGarage,
an Austin dealership near Brentwood, Essex andtraded
in his Sunbeam Rapier to buy a new Teal Blue 1972MG
BGT. Noël wanted one in British Racing Green butwas
told there would be a three to six month wait. Theblue
MG was available immediately having been orderedby
the dealer for his wife, who had rejected it. ButNoël’s
wife Jennie loved the car – which came with £136worth
of optional extras – and christened it ‘Bluebird’.Noël
was given £925 for his Rapier and paid the remaining
£689.61, plus £252.91 of purchase tax, in cash. ‘That
also included a £5 registration fee and a £14.66 delivery
charge,’ laughs Jennie, ‘even though the dealership
was virtually at the end of the road! Her numberplate
was TNO 260K which Noël told me meant, “Takeyour
Nickers Off,” to which I said, “Knickers is speltwitha
K!” He replied “Well, you have the K at the end...”’
However, within a few months estate agent Noël
found the MGB too small for ferrying aroundclients
and suggested selling it. ‘I was simply horrified,’recalls
Jennie, ‘and over a steak and a few glasses of wine
d d hi t lt di i Bl bid ’

Noël bought himself a new Ford Capri, while Jennie
sold her 1968 Mini Traveller and took on the MG as her
third-ever car. She began keeping a folder of everything
relating to her MG including bills and a record of her
annual mileage. She refers to it as ‘the MG bible’.
‘I drove Bluebird to work, shopping and on holidays;
we went everywhere together,’ remembers Jennie. ‘The
worst moment was in 1975, on a snowy day in February.
On an icy lane I braked, skidded and went headlong into
a ditch. I fractured my ribs, hurt my nose and my knee.
When I phoned Noël at his office the first thing he asked
was, “How is Bluebird?” Later that day my battered and
very muddy MG was towed past the house to a nearby
garage for repairs. At first the car was considered a
write-off but the garage then decided it was repairable.
Three months later Bluebird and I were together again.
‘People used to say to me, “Jennie, I saw you in
Chelmsford....” to which I always replied, “No, you
saw my car, not me,” because it was the only blue MG
in the area and more recognisable than I was.’ In 1980
Bluebird reached 50,000 miles, a milestone that Jennie
celebrated with 50th birthday balloons.
J i ntinued using her MG every day driving to
work as a PA, always covering more
than 3000 miles a year and sometimes
double that. ‘The offices were in a
beautiful country house just outside
Brentwood and I always parked
Bluebird in the same spot. One day in
1983, for whatever reason, I parked
one space down. The weather turned
very stormy and a fir tree fell across the
parking area. One heavy branch was
covering Bluebird’s bonnet. The car
behind, which had parkedinmy usual
space, was a total write-offbecausethe
whole trunk had fallenonit.Bluebird
had a new bonnet and a complete
repaint paid for by my employer.’

The life story of an

MG BGT


Noël with the MGB his wife
started using as her daily