“The TC Motoring Guild”
by Stanton P. Belland
This Centre of the MG Car Club is unusual in its devotion to one single model of the MG, the TC, manufactured between 1945 and 1950.
Indeed, to our knowledge there are only two other centres within the MG Car Club thus limited: the Abingdon Rough Riders of Northern California and the MG TC Owners Club Inc. of Western Australia. Both are similarly devoted to the TC.
In 1949 John Bond, the owner and publisher of Road and Track, now one of America’s leading automobile magazines, bought a TC (one of the few EXU export models made by MG toward the end of the TC production) for his wife, Elaine Bond. The TD replaced the TC in 1950, and in about 1950 or 1951 Bond conceived the idea that a group should be formed to preserve the unusual devotion that the TC had inspired. A small group of TC owners was formed in 1952, although there is no record that Mr. or Mrs. Bond ever actually participated in its meetings. They met in member’s homes in Southern California to swap technical tips and nurture their shared enthusiasm, and on July 27, 1955 the group was incorporated in California as the TC Motoring Guild.
The first directors, named in the Articles of Incorporation were: George S. Krull, William Harps, Earl Sargent, Les Weber and Harvey Schnaer. Krull was the first president and Harps was secretary. Harvey Schnaer remains active in the Guild to this day and was recently, (along with the late Earl Sargent) elected Members Emeritus. He currently serves as the Guild’s treasurer.
The Guild’s first touring event, was a trip to Southern California’s Apple Valley, held in March 1955. Thirteen TCs participated. Schnaer recalls that most of those attending who had young families brought their children, a neat trick in these little two-seaters, and impossible today with California’s current seat belt regulation.
Since then it is estimated that the Guild has sponsored over 600 touring events, ranging from day trips and weekend tours in Southern California to a three week tour of New England (for which the cars were shipped across America by motor transport).
It’s most ambitious rallies were the GRABs (Grande Rallye Around Britain).
In 1992 and 1998 twelve TCs were shipped by Guild members to England, in ocean freight containers, for a month of touring and joint events with the MG clubs of Great Britain. Each was climaxed with a pilgrimage to the old factory in Abingdon and a ceremonial visit to the “Vatican” of the MG Car Club in Cemetery Road.
We have been graciously welcomed and assisted by Bill and June Wallis, Phil Richer and other notables of the home club. On the 1998 tour, the members presented a plaque to Jean Kimber Cook, the daughter of the venerated Cecil Kimber, designating her an honorary member of the TC Motoring Guild.
The Guild has been a consistent sponsor, supporter and participant in the GOF West held in the western United States each year. GOF, for those who have not participated, is the Gathering Of the Faithful, a week-long meeting of MG devotees from all over the United States and Canada. We have caravaned our TCs over desert and mountain to GOF venues as remote as Park City Utah and Whistler, British Columbia.
But perhaps the Guild’s most revered tradition is its annual Conclave, a joint weekend celebration of the TC held with the Abingdon Rough Riders, our sister club of Northern California, similarly devoted to this single model of the MG. In 1957, the existence of our new little group was noted by Al Chalmers, one of the founders of the ARR in San Francisco and the first Conclave of the two clubs was held that year. In September 2012 we held our 56th consecutive annual Conclaves and at some the traditional line up of TCs has included as many as 40. One enthusiast, Duane Carlson, a member of both clubs, had attended every one of the first 50 meetings before his death in 2007. For each of the clubs it represents the high point of the year’s activities.
We meet monthly for a short business meeting followed by a program and have an event or tour each month. We are proud to have been a Centre of the MG Car Club since our founding and to have maintained our own traditions.
The Club’s publications, The Classic Chassis and Midget Chassis is currently published eleven times a year and sent without charge to the Club’s members worldwide.
The TC Motoring Guild membership has been about 100 for the past several years, each member an owner or past owner of a TC. We have had members from all over the United States and several foreign countries: drawn perhaps by our specialization in the TC. There have questions, and occasional criticism, regarding our strict limitation to one specific model of the MG. But the preservation and celebration of the TC and its beguiling idiosyncrasies was, after all, our unique function as a club in worldwide fellowship of the MG.
No one knows how many TCs remain around the world or where their owners may be. We are certain that we have not yet found and become friends with most of them. But we would like to. We welcome contacts from those of you out there who share our devotion to the TC. If you have one, we invite you to join us.