The MG Magnette ZB

WHAT a car! It sat on the drive outside my study window like a wellbred sheepdog, crouching, poised, waiting for its master’s call to action. She was the 1956 64hp Magnette ZB. Inside you found comfortable leather seating, superb steering, cornering like a dog after the rabbit. She would do 80mph with power to spare. Not that I can remember travelling at 80, but that’s what the experts tell me.

Many felt that she had broken tradition, losing the familiar sporty look, low-slung and roofless with headlights squatting on mudguards. Yet in the parking lot by the track she still fitted calmly into the sporty scene. She carried five of us round the country on many summer holidays, roof rack and boot loaded to bursting point with luggage and all the must-have paraphernalia of childhood.

Our two boys, whilst not exactly falling over themselves to do so, liked washing her. In the shot above they are assisted by our older son’s friend from across the road. Our daughter was otherwise engaged upon, I feel sure, some household duty. A dutiful lot, our three.

I don’t remember breakdowns happening; the only incident I remember causing the furrowed brow was when I had visited my very elderly parents and taken them out for a spin. We stopped as near as possible to a coastal beauty spot, parking hard up against an ancient stone wall. I got out via the front passenger door, helped the parents get out and went with them for a gentle stroll down the hill to the beach area and had a lovely hour or two. We returned to the car, I flourishing my keys and preparing to help my parents get back in. But I came to an abrupt halt at the front passenger door by which I had exited and carefully set so that it locked when closed. It was, very naturally, as I had left it – locked from the inside.

I had never registered that the ZB passenger door handle is not blessed with a keyhole.

And, do you know, I cannot remember how we eventually got in.