This article was written in 1982 by Earl Sargent.
“In the Beginning”
In June of this year the TC Motoring Guild attained its twenty seventh birthday! This surely must be regarded as a noteworthy achievement for a group that faithfully adhered to its founding principle, i.e. dedication to the perpetuation and enjoyment of the last classic model of the MG sports car series.
This milestone of long span devotion is even more remarkable when one considers that only two thousand and one TCs reached our shores during its four year production period.
However when looking back along the road the Guild has traveled these many years we must bear in mind that it is not only the car but also the many people whose affection for this particular model inspired them to contribute a great amount of dedicated work that has kept the club going over this past quarter century.
Therefore this review of our previous adventures (and misadventures!) must inevitably be one of tribute to those past TCers whose loyal efforts and enthusiasm forged the TCMG into the fine organization it is today.
Now let us turn the calendar back to:
1954! Ike was president, gas was 30¢ a gallon and our own domestic carmakers were deep into Styling Rococo. However for the discerning individual who was not enraptured by fender fins, projectile bumpers, hoods garnished with illuminated Indian Heads or other applications of chromed festoonery, there was the pleasurable alternative of driving a sport car, and what an abundance of choices we had! Marques such as the MG-TDs, Austin Healey, Triumph, Porsche and Alfa-Romeo were only a few of the many exciting imports that were offered to the enthusiast of that golden era! . . . And then there were the many ways the cars could be enjoyed as every weekend was a busy scene with races, rallies, concours and etc. organized by sports car clubs which had proliferated almost at the same rate as the sales figure for the imports!
1954! And somehow in the midst of all this hectic activity the TC midget which had played a large role in starting the sports car rage rather than sweeping the country, was somehow sadly forgotten and downgraded to the point where one could be acquired for 300 to 1000 dollars: But there were a few perceptive souls around who cherished the little Abingdon beauty and two such kindred spirits were destined to park their TCs side by side on a Glendale street one fine summer day. One of the cars be-longed to Ivan Galonoy, then editor of Road and Track magazine and the other was owned by “Mr. TC” himself . . . the late, beloved Frank Mason.
Frank was a TC devotee of long standing, in fact he had traded a very nice TD for the TC he was driving, and you can’t get much more devout than that can you?
When the two TCers were finished with the mutual admiration bit they got around to discussing car clubs. They agreed that the Long Beach MG Club was wonderful in its own way, but was not restrictive enough. It had relinquished its original MG exclusiveness and was making its membership open to all makes of cars.
Frank suggested that perhaps a club limited only to their favorite model (TC what else?) might be welcomed. Galonoy was taken with the idea and was enthusiastic enough to invite as many TC owners as Frank could round by the next day to meet in the Colorado Street office of his magazine. And that is how and where the TC Motoring Guild was born, appropriately a Road and Track, Glendale Baby!
This meeting was held on June 19, 1954 and was of course a somewhat informal get together of the owners Frank had managed to contact on such short notice.
However it is of interest to note that the basic tenet to which we still adhere, i.e. one make, one model was unanimously established as the number one by law. It was also decided the groups major objective would be one of mutual assistance in the repair and refurbishing areas. This decision is not meant to imply that the founding members were anti-social, it simply indicated the majority of the TCs around at that time required lots of attention to keep them presentable and in operational condition because the spare parts and restoration services we now enjoy were practically nonexistent in the mid-fifties! Another item of interest in the minutes of this first get together was a proposal that the club set up and publish an international register of TC owners. This publication would record not only the owner and their locale, but would also include the cars known history. This book took a long time to get underway, but was finally to be completed in fine fashion several years later.
The small band continued to meet monthly on a low pressure basis, in fact the group was so loosely knit that they didn’t even select a club name or elect officers until later in the year!
George Krull, a Lockeed engineer, who had devoted much time and effort since the initial meeting to keep the enthusiasm flowing was the first elected president. The other officers were Bill Harps, Earl Sargent, Harvey Schnaer and Les Weber. The majority of the 1954 activities were of workshop nature and were held at the Montrose home of one Bill McGuire.
The effectiveness of these shop sessions may be judged by the fact that host, McGuire, learned enough to restore his TC to impeccable condition, so impeccable that he received a buy off so lucrative he couldn’t resist and promptly sold it!
In 1955 the Guild under Krull’s capable guidance really widened its activities. This new scene was kicked off by our very first group tour. It was a dawn start to the Apple Valley Inn for breakfast and the crews of thirteen TCs found that even the cold, cold desert wind of that memorable March day couldn’t chill the warm camaraderie of an all TC gaggle! Many things have changed since that long forgotten run to the apples, but the fun (and security!) that these early birds experienced on their tour is still to be found on our present day trips as any Guild member can attest.
It was also in 1955 that the Guild became a legal organization with the completion of incorporation procedures and Yvonne Schnaer (Harvey’s artist wife) fittingly commemorated our new corporate status by designing a very nice badge for the group. Another highlight of the year was the acquisition of our first lady member, Terry Mason. It was a very fortunate addition as coming events were to prove.
The Guild closed its first full year of activities by staging a gymkhana for the Glendale Chamber of Commerce. The event was held on the old Glendale airport and attracted 75 entries. (including 9 TCs)
In 1956 Bill Harps was elected president, but unfortunately was transferred to an out of town locale shortly after taking office. The club, owing to lack of leadership hit its nadir as far as activities were concerned. It was at this dark moment that Terry Mason, who was then the secretary, foreseeing the disintegration of the organization, got busy and put things back together.
She put out a newsletter, organized tours to races and concours and collected dues. Her efforts proved to be so effective that in the early Fall she was able to generate enough interest to hold a membership meeting at the home of the late Jim Bradeson, a meeting that will live for all time in the memories of those present, for Jim had brought his lovely TC right into the house as a fitting way to celebrate the resurgence of the Guild spirit! This gesture undoubtedly helped to stimulate enough interest toward reactivating the group on a going basis and elections were held for the first time in nearly two years. The Guild, thanks to Terry and Jim, finally had the leadership and support it so sorely needed.
The renewal of Guild spirit was reflected in the election of new officers for 1957. Ron Simon was the elected prexy and despite his busy racing schedule managed, with the able assistance of the new board, to keep activities going well throughout the year. The new board members were Dwane Carlson and the Stones with Terry Mason and Jim Bradeson continuing to serve as before. Jim also furnished the meeting place and refreshments for the group. (Remember Time Clock Sales, Harvey?)
There were many interesting events for the TCers in 1957, but one was destined to become the oldest and perhaps the most cherished traditions of the Guild. This of course is the annual conclave with our Northern counterparts. . The Abingdon Rough Riders . . . . This annual get together came about thru the efforts of Ron Simon and Lucien Remy (the head man in the ARR). They set up a September date in San Luis Obispo and managed to attract no less than 21 TCs!
The event was voted a huge success by all concerned and on the final day in the San Luis park with the 21 cars furnishing an unforgettable background. The two groups made their farewells and swore a mighty blood oath to perpetuate the affair from then on . . . and happily it’s been so for these many years!
An interesting sidelight to this first conclave lies in the fact that two of the participants in this initial caravan have remained Guild members right down to the present time!
One is genial Dwane Carlson who has the unique distinction of being the only TCer that can claim attendance at each and every one of the twenty-five conclaves! In addition Dwane has served in capable fashion in several important positions on the Guild board and in view of his past services and all time attendance record it was only deemed proper that he receive a token of esteem from the two clubs at this years get together.
The other veteran is enthusiastic Bill Fulton. Bill was on his first TC those days, (he called it “Genevieve” and it was a beauty too!). Bill must certainly be counted among those stalwarts who have helped in a big way to make the Guild what it is today, inasmuch as he handled important officer functions almost from the day he became a member. He has been the secretary, treasurer, board member, vice president and rounded out this long period of dedicated effort by being elected to the presidency in 1971.
In 1958 Bill Stone was elected president with Earl Sargent vice-president and Bill Fulton and Dwane Carlson as secretary and treasurer. Unfortunately Stone found it necessary to sell his TC shortly after taking office so the gavel was turned over to Earl with the amiable Harvey Schnaer assuming the vice-presidency.
The organization continued to grow both in size and activities. The end of the year found the membership numbering sixty with an added international flavor of several TC owners from North Africa and South America. The activities averaged and event each month; were varied and well supported. The events included tours, rallies and group entries by Guild members at the prestigious Disneyland and Devonshire Downs Concours.
Probably the most unique event of the year was the “Moonwatch Summer Rallye” put on by the Schnaers and Larry Alcox. Ynonne Schnaer almost made it a one-woman rallye inasmuch as she helped to layout the course, prepared a delectable luau at the finish and created the striking mosaic trophies for the winners. Truly a versatile gal!
Another outstanding happening of the year was the Alcoxes securing our Montrose meeting place. It was the first permanent “home” the group had enjoyed since its inception.
Another first was the Floyd Burt shop nites for TC people at his Inglewood garage. These occasions gave owners a chance to tune, repair, and keep their cars in good shape. This helpful gesture was continued for quite a long period in the sixties by Mike Goodman, Harry Culp, Larry Alcox and others, some of whom held similar helpful sessions in their own home garages.
Ah yes, at this concluding point you may be wondering about the second conclave with the Abingdon Rough Riders? . . . well it took place alright, but it was an adventure so wild and bizarre that it will require a write-up of its very own to do justice (?) to this particular affair. (Hopefully it will appear in a future issue of the TCMG Quarterly).