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The Laws of British Sports cars
Here are some laws of owning and restoring british sports cars, but I think that they could apply to any car.
The Laws for British Sports Cars
by Don Hayward
Updated June, 1997
LAWS THAT CANNOT BE BROKEN
Reproduced without consent from the "British Marque" Newspaper.
Most of us are familiar with the physical laws discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, the guy who invented gravity. He said things like, "For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Newton's laws made sense for hundreds of years, and everybody believed them. They believed them right up until the time when British sports cars were invented, when it was suddenly realized that a whole new bunch of laws was going to be needed.
Many distinguished scientists, with names like Morris, Healey, Leyland, Mowog and Murphy, shook the scientific community when they published a new theory of mechanical behavior called "The Laws For British Sports Cars". Many people are not familiar with the five major laws, so they are listed below with a brief explanation of each.
LAW OF PECULIAR RANDOM NOMENCLATURE
"The name of a British sports car shall consist primarily of letters and numbers, with said letters and numbers chosen in random fashion so that the resultant vehicle name is totally devoid of any meaning."
This law explains why British cars have spectacularly bad names, like "E-Type", or worse yet, "MGB-GT."
LAW OF CRYPTIC INSTRUCTION
"Any book, manual, pamphlet, or text dealing with the maintenance, repair or restoration of a British sports car shall be written so that at least every fourth word will be unknown to the average reader. In the event that any portion of the text is understandable, the information contained therein shall be incorrect."
Most people are familiar with this law. Here is an exerpt from page 132 of the MGA Shop Manual: "Before rebushing the lower grunnion banjos, you must remove the bonnet fascia and undo the A-arm nut with a #3 spanner." All attempts to publish an English language version of this manual have failed.
LOVE OF HARDSHIP LAW
"The more a British sports car malfunctions, breaks, and/or falls apart, the more endearing it becomes to the owner."
You buy a British sports car. You have had it a year and a half and have replaced every item on the car at least twice. When the engine is started, it sounds as if someone has thrown a handful of ball bearings into a blender. But when someone offers to buy it, you are offended because "it is like part of the family," and besides, "it is so much fun to drive." British sports car owners often stare into space and smile a lot.
LAW OF NON-FUNCTIONAL ATTRIBUTES
"All British sports cars, regardless of condition or age, shall always have at least one system or subsystem of components which is entirely non-functional, and which cannot be repaired except on a semi-permanent or semi-functional basis." (Also known as the "Lucas Electrics Law".)
RECENTLY DISCOVERED COMPONENT FAILURE LAW
"Any component of a British sports car which is entirely unknown to the owner shall function perfectly, until such time that the owner becomes aware of said component's existence, when it shall instantly fail."
Case in point: The author owned a rather natty MGB for six years. He never knew there was such a thing as a "Gulp Valve" until he saw new ones offered for sale by Moss Motors. The next day, while driving to work, his gulp valve fell off the engine and was promptly run over by a truck. He bought a new one, figuring to install it himself, but after one look at the shop manual, he decided to have someone else install it. (See "Law of Cryptic Instructions", above).
While driving the car to a local repair establishment, he notices that the MGB is performing just as well as it ever did, and that the loss of the mysterious Gulp Valve has not had any effect on its behavior. He figures this is due to the "Non-Functional Attribute Law", so he decides not to replace it after all.
Three days later, the engine had no more oil in it and promptly seized into a solid mass of metal. The tow truck operator, being ignorant of the "Love of Hardship Law", offers to take the car off his hand for $100. The owner just smiled.
Laws of Physics for British Cars
by Rex Funk*
Sir Isaac Newton, an Englishman famed for his discovery of the Law of Gravity, has a branch of Physics named for him. The real breakthrough in physics in the 20th century has been the development of Quantum Physics. Often startling and unconventional, the laws of Quantum Physics explain heretofore little understood phenomena. Yet no one has fully explained the perplexing contrivance of Newton’s countrymen: the British car. Indeed these cars, which we know and love, defy all known laws of physics. In an effort to bring some clarity to the conundrum of the British Car, I offer this treatise in hopes that it will account for some of the idiosyncrasies of these venerable but unpredictable vehicles. This seminal dissertation will no doubt be widely, if not soberly, debated. While I support the prerogative of the reader to question my conclusions, I challenge skeptics among you to propose equally plausible, lucid and concise explanations for the phenomena in question.
1. Law of Accelerated Entropy
Entropy in British cars proceeds at twice the rate of that of normal electro/mechanical devices. Entropy is the propensity of matter to break down to its simplest form (ultimately the hydrogen atom). This previously unknown law has been deduced through observation, and is supported by the now famous Lucas Corollary to Murphy's Law.
2. Law of Inverse Practicality
The most desirable British cars are the least practical to own and operate. This is also known as the Law of Sadomasochistic Attraction.
3. Law of Momentum and Inertia
Most simply stated this law is British cars are hard to start, but once you get them going there is no stopping them. Also know as Girling's Law, this explains why most older British sports cars which still run, need bodywork on their front wings, bonnets and/or front aprons.
4. Law of Inverse Complexity
Mechanical devices on British cars have twice as many parts as those on other cars. In Social Science literature this is referred to as the British Labour Party Law of Job Security and Feather-bedding.
5. Law of Obscure and Obtuse Nomenclature
The names given to parts of British cars have no rational explanation outside of certain esoteric circles. Cases in point: a Hood is a convertible top, the Bonnet is the hood over the engine, the Boot is the trunk, and a King Dick Spanner is an adjustable wrench. Recent research has confirmed that these arcane terms were coined by early British auto makers as an inside joke while in an ale-induced stupor during nightly visits to the Lucas Pub and Electrical Works in Coventry. The same beverage was consumed in quantity by writers of technical and shop manuals with similar unfathomable results.
6. Law of Agricultural Lineage
With notable exceptions, stock British car engines look and sound like tractor engines, from whence many of their original designs came. If it could plow a field, it could power an auto.
7. Cultural Phylogenetic Law of Electrical Systems
British car electrical systems recapitulate British society in that their designs are rooted in tradition, but their components often go on strike, fail to work together, and are filled with caustic and incompatible constituents. These social conditions are exacerbated by the fact that much of the populace own Lucas refrigerators, and are forced to drink warm beer.
8. Law of Inscrutable Variables
Also known as the Stealth Corollary to Murphy's Law, this law states that anything that can go wrong will be well hidden until it does, and will often defy diagnosis. This explains why British cars are chock full of so many delightful surprises and enigmas.
9. Law of Cyclic Effort in Restoration
Similar to the example of the process of painting the Golden Gate Bridge, this law states that as soon as one need or problem is solved, another will pop up to take its place. Thus a British car restoration is never completed, but always in progress.