Gilbert Morales & his '71 MGB

It was summer of 1971. I just graduated from Tampa Catholic High School and was headed to Indian Rocks Beach, Florida for what was then called… “Beach Week.” By the end of that week, I was in LOVE. I met Val Sumner, (now Mrs. Valerie Morales). That was also the summer I met, “THE COLONEL”, Bob Sumner, Val’s dad and his 1953 MGTD, affectionately known as “Old Red One” (OR-1).

I quickly recognized the pecking order in the Sumner home.

#1 Mrs. Sumner (Dottie)

#2 MGTD (OR-1)

#3 Any daughter of THE COLONEL (Val)

Needless to say, I never forgot this pecking order and every entry into the Sumner home always included my respects to Dottie, OR-1 and Val.

Fast forward 1 year… Spring of ’72. I just completed my first year at the University of Florida. Val and I were not dating anymore, college got in the way. Oh but how I loved her. I needed some way to convince her to re-consider me. You know, something she just couldn’t refuse about me. I GOT IT… I’LL BUY AN MG. I’ll be like her Dad and that will win her heart again. The search was on…

Some weeks later, there it was. A 1967 British Racing Green MGBGT, wire wheels and all. Now I’ll be like her dad “THE COLONEL”, I’ll have an MG. If this doesn’t win Val’s heart, nothing will.

I was home for summer break from UF and hadn’t seen Val in 8.25 months, but who was counting. But I knew where to find her. She was in nursing school and working at a local department store called ‘ZAYRE’. My plan was simple, just go to ZAYRE at closing time and surprise her when she walks out of the store. (Anyone feeling good right now?) I was young and stupid.

I drove the MGB to ZAYRE that night and starred at the front door of the store for nearly one hour. No sign of Val. I waited patiently outside the store until 11:00pm, the store closed at 10pm. Still no sign of her. I wanted the MG engine running when she came out; you know to impress her. My heart was pounding now… and the MGB was overheating. Or was it me?

THEN, like a princess, she glides out the front door of ZAYRE and starts walking towards her car, a 1970 Simca. (Societe Industielle de Mecanique et Carrosserie Automobile) Gotta love a girl that drives a SIMCA.

But WAIT…she wasn’t noticing me… but WAIT… “look over here at the cute guy in the MG” I said to myself…OH NO…SHE DOESN’T SEE ME. OK, plan B. Desperate times call for desperate measures, I’ll rev the engine… Varroooommm goes the 1798 cc, 5 main bearing MOWOG, blue smoke and all. And like a military soldiers’ daughter she snaps to her left and starts to run. (Yes toward me, I know what you were thinking). At that moment, I was so happy. It had worked.

But something was wrong, terribly wrong. She was not smiling. She has noticed me, and she sees the MG, but she’s not smiling. In fact, she looked like she was about to rip my heart of and hand it to me. At that point, just seeing her was reward enough. So what happened?

Now, let’s face it, young men weren’t built to think. What I had failed to recognize is that she too wanted an MG, but I had one first. This was not good… I am not sure about holding grudges, but we were finally married 14 years later! And now the proud owners of MGB/BT and MGTD (OR-1).

Moral of the story… Get and MG, no matter what the reason, not matter what the cost. Safety FAST.