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Sir Alec Issigonis and synchros…

My old MGB had synchromesh on the upper 3 gears but none on first.  It did have one healthy second gear though, and for most purposes that stood in for first unless you were at a dead stop. Now it seems there was serious reluctance at British Motor Corporation to synchronize first gear at the very top of the company.

picture of Morris Mini
Morris Mini.. 1959 car with non-synchro first gear. Picture by Wikimedia contributor DeFacto

In a 1962 interview with Motor Magazine about the new Mini Minor, Sir Alec Issigonis said, “I don’t like synchromesh on bottom gear. I find that it is difficult to get into gear with it.” Which not only included cars that his company designed, but others in Europe at the time, “I have driven most of the small continental cars which have synchromesh on bottom gear, and found engaging bottom when the car was stationary was almost impossible.”

Well, that may be, but modern cars seem to have synchromesh down, including reverse. But synchromesh transmissions were only ten  years old when Sir Alec made that statement, being introduced on Porsches in 1952. And even then, Sir Alec had to bow to consumer demand with all BMC cars going all-synchro for the forward gears in 1968.

picture of 1967 MGB
1967 MGB

I have driven a 1968 MGB and thought the shifter too far back, but I might already have been emotionally invested in the ’67 car. There were other things that put me off, padded dash and smog controls and such.  But in the end I do have to admit synchro trannys are much more desirable than crash boxes.

picture of MGB interior
Non-synchro shifter for MGB

The MGB above is for sale in Connecticut.

This old Jag…

I ran into this car after coming home from an all expense paid vacation in Southeast Asia in 1972.  The owner had died, and there were two jags in his garage, this one and an E-type.  I could barely afford this one but should have gotten both.

picture of jaguarThe car was partially disassembled and pieces of trim and the interior missing, but the distraught widow wouldn’t let me search the house for the parts.  I took it anyway as it had been my dream car for quite some time.

It was kind of different in the handling department.  The front end did all the work, and the rear end just kind of followed behind… but it did roar, it had the c-type cylinder head, and the modified chassis… an XK140MC.  And as you would imagine, turned heads everywhere you went.

picture of jag and othersOf course, as time went on, I had run into some marital troubles.  The wife at the time wanted a new house to save our marriage…. I sold the jag to buy the house, and wouldn’t you know I have neither now.  However, it was a wild ride while it lasted!