Friends Reunited

by Sam Skelton
26 November 2018 3 min read
Friends Reunited
The 1961 MGA

Mary Medhurst bought her first MGA in 1962 at her local garage in Ontario, Canada, just two years after passing her driving test. Fifty-six years later, she tracked it down with the help of an international effort by Hagerty Insurance.

“In 1960, I received my driving licence and bought my first car, a Vauxhall Victor, as I had qualified as a radiographer and needed a car to drive to my first job at a hospital 15 miles from my home village. My father refused to let me buy a ‘sports car’ as my first car.” Not that this stopped Mary from trying – even entering local fund raisers in the hope of winning herself the MG she coveted. “Our village GP, for whom I had worked as a teenager, had a beautiful 1961 MGA MKII. He was a big, tall man and had difficulty getting in and out of it. He exchanged it at our local garage for a large American sports car. He knew that I’d love to buy his MGA but he advised me to exchange my Vauxhall for the MGA at this garage so that I’d get some guarantee” So in December 1962, Mary exchanged $950 and her Victor for her year-old MGA.

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Mary has several stories about her time with her MGA, and recalls one particular event with fondness: “It was once stolen whilst I was visiting a friend in the city of Toronto, 50 miles or so away from home one evening. Fortunately, the police found it abandoned in a wood nearby at 2 am, the thief or thieves had ‘hot-wired it’ to get it going and done about 20 miles in it before abandoning it. The police offered to drive me to the car on the back of their police motor bike, (no helmet, no leathers) to re-unite me with my car.  By this time it was about 3 am.  We had to be rescued as the bike suffered a puncture, the driver radioed his police station, who sent out another driver on a motorbike, and so I got to my car about 4 am. Fortunately the car had not been damaged, so I was able to drive it home; I arrived there about 6:30 am, got changed and got to work at the hospital, just in time.  What a night!!!!!  I never did tell my parents…”

Four years later, Mary headed to England to gain specialist experience in London’s Teaching Hospitals – and while there, met the man she was to marry. Marrying in 1968, she returned to Canada to settle her affairs – including selling her beloved MGA. “It would have cost me a whole year’s salary to ship it to England, which I couldn’t afford at the time. I had it nearly six years – but I wasn’t out of MGAs completely. My husband, Geoffrey, owned one – and it was in his 1959 MGA that we went on honeymoon.”

Geoffrey and Mary kept this MGA until 1974 – when in the wake of the fuel crisis, it was replaced with a small Japanese motorbike.

Mary never forgot her car – and in 2004, she bought another one – a 1957 car. Following the loss of her husband in 2005, Mary and her new MG-owning fiancé set about trying to find her old MGA. They wrote to several MG clubs in the USA and in Canada, with no success… until Hagerty Insurance stepped in.

“I was speaking to Angus Forsyth and we were talking about our previous cars – our first cars in particular. I mentioned that I had an interest in finding my first really loved car which was my 1961 MGA MK II, when I still lived in Canada and would love to know if it was still on the road. Angus then said that if I sent the particulars of this MGA to Hagerty Insurance he’d have the request forwarded to his colleagues in Canada so that perhaps they could trace the whereabouts of my MGA. This was done, and within a week or two the car had been found and was still on the road in good condition! The 1961 MGA is insured with Hagerty in Canada, so that saved much searching.”

But data protection regulations prevented Hagerty from giving Mary the current owner’s details. Hagerty instead did the opposite – with consent, they forwarded Mary’s details to the current owner – who contacted Mary with a photograph of the car in its current condition.

“He had bought it from the very chap I had sold it to in 1968, about 20 years ago! The present owner then restored it and it is part of a larger classic car collection. If and when I do go to Canada to visit my brother and sister in South Ontario, I hope I’ll be able to pay him a visit. He lives about 500 miles to the North West from where my relations live – but if I’ve already flown to Canada I’ve done the majority of the journey already. Buying the car back is probably not an option.  However, if I did, I’d not sell it again!”

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