The Boneyard: Tripping Over a Metaphor

Photographed on May 25, 2023

While scouting for a project I’m currently working on I came across a yard filled with the remains of sports cars made by British Leyland. I was a big fan of these cars, and I owned a series of MGBs and Midgets in the 1970s. In those days, I was able to buy them up cheap since many owners quickly got tired of all the fussing and maintaining. (Have fun synchronizing Skinner-Union carburetors — and don’t mention “positive earth” Lucas electrical systems, Whitworth thread, Armstrong shocks, Smith’s gauges, RUST, and on and on.)

I started my professional photography career at the Chilton Book company in 1972, making photographs of repair procedures for various Chilton automotive, truck, and motorcycle repair manuals. During my time at Chilton, I was deeply involved in automotive culture. I spent a lot of my time at races, in garages, and at trade shows. It was natural that I would have some sort of personal “hobby” cars. (I did have a mostly dependable car for daily transportation, too, a ’74 Plymouth Gold Duster.) The MGB was a great fun car to drive, though not in the rain, or snow, or dark of night, or HEAT, or….

I finally gave up on the MG’s when I had to crawl under a “B” on a frozen January night to pry a stuck starter motor off the flywheel. That was it. I also got married, moved to Georgia, and started working as a photographer for a newspaper.

So, I haven’t looked at an MG since 1978. Haven’t really thought about them much in the intervening years, either. It was a bit weird to see a yard full of these old departed friends moldering and rusting away, some with trees growing up through the engine compartment and out fenders.

It was a bit disconcerting to think about how I’ve held up in the intervening 45 years. I wonder if I’ll be useful for salvaged parts.