- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 29, 2011

Half a century ago Maury Cagle had a couple of MGs that were so much fun to drive and looked so good that he could forgive any of their shortcomings, of which there were many.

Last April the antique car bug bit him and he began looking for a suitable automobile. His selective memories of his two MGs included only the good times. Still, he thought, “It would be fun to relive those days.”

It wasn’t long before Mr. Cagle had located a 1955 MG TF 1500 for sale in Washington, Mo. The description sounded like a nice car and talking with the dealer at Wilson Motor Co. made the MG sound irresistible.

Early on the first day in May Mr. Cagle caught a plane and flew to St. Louis to see the car in the flesh, as it were. At St. Louis he rented a car and drove west less than an hour in the rain to Washington, Mo., where Wilson Motor Co. is located.

He saw the MG in the showroom and it looked as good as he had remembered. The dealer was reluctant to take the freshly restored MG out in the rain. He suggested Mr. Cagle have lunch and said if the sun was out later he could take the car for a test drive at that time.

Sure enough, after lunch the sun was out, the streets were dry and Mr. Cagle was at the wheel of the MG. After the test drive Mr. Cagle decided to leave his memories intact and politely declined to purchase the MG. It was nice but couldn’t live up to his expectations.

As he was about to leave he saw a freshly restored 1955 Triumph TR2. “The recessed grille of the TR2 is my personal favorite,” Mr. Cagle says

He slipped behind the three-spoke banjo steering wheel on the right side of the car and off he went on another test drive. He came back as elated with the Triumph as he had been dejected with the MG.

Mr. Cagle returned to his Herndon home with the bad news about the MG and the good news about the Triumph. His wife, Alied, agreed that the TR2 was the car for them. He called the dealer and the deal was done. The car would be delivered by truck.

Much of the car’s history is a mystery but records show that in 1963 it was registered in California to one owner who kept the car for 24 years. After that it remained in California until it was moved to Missouri and restored.

Originally the 12-foot-7-inch-long sports car was painted black and the 165x15-inch tires were wrapped around steel disc wheels. The dimensions of the car remain the same, but the sparkling white paint make the 4-foot-7.5-inch width look wider. The 88-inch wheelbase, now supported by 48-spoke wheels, permits the car to be turned in a 32-foot circle.

Somewhere along the line the original TR2 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine was replaced with a more powerful TR4 2.2-liter, four-cylinder engine, which places 108 horsepower at Mr. Cagle’s disposal.

May 17 was the day the TR2 arrived. Mr. Cagle took his place in the red leather driver’s seat, hit the switch and the engine fired right away. The rarely raised top is black and has a tiny plastic rear window. Consequently, there is no need for the rearview mirror to be more than 5 inches wide and 1.5 inches high. That size mirror is all that can be used to view through the rear window.

On the rare occasion the top is raised, there are 10 snaps on the windshield frame to secure it as well as 14 more snaps behind the seat. Mr. Cagle is more inclined to use the tonneau cover with only eight snaps to secure it along the top of the dashboard. “The right-hand drive gives me perverse pleasure,” Mr. Cagle says.

In a nod to the Triumph’s racing heritage, the car is only 4 feet 2 inches high, weighs a trim 2,107 pounds and the 15-gallon gasoline tank can be filled from either side through the centrally located gasoline cap.

The four-speed transmission is shifted on the floor. The all-red-leather interior features an all-business instrument panel. Beside the 120-mph speedometer is a 6,000-rpm tachometer with a redline at 5,000 rpm. The car was built before rev-limiters so close attention to the red line had to be paid or the engine could blow.

In the center of the dashboard are three switches. From the top they control the instrument panel lights, the windshield wiper and the headlights. At the bottom left is the starter, which the driver needs to push, and at the bottom right is the hand choke, which the driver needs to pull.

“With only six inches of ground clearance and the cut-down doors, you get the kick of high speed while tooling at a safe speed,” Mr. Cagle says.

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