Banks Today Seem To Be Run By Liars and Crooks.
Another day another banking scandal.
Another day and another bank is hit by a huge set of fines for criminal wrongdoing that should have some senior executives facing a total loss of all they own and some serious jail time. This time it’s RBS, (Royal Bank of Scotland), and this failed organisation has just set aside another £3.1 billion, $3.8 billion), to cover claims by the United States authorities that it mis-sold mortgage products. (Mis-selling is a polite way of saying lying and cheating). This makes a total of £6.7 billion this useless bank has had to set aside to cover fines for selling toxic mortgages. RBS is 72% owned by British Taxpayers, so just who is paying these fines? Me and you, that’s who.
I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. ~ Thomas Jefferson
Name any bank or financial institution, or any of the world’s major financial centres. from ABN AMRO, Barclays, Deutsche Bank, (just fined £500 million), HBOS, to Wells Fargo, and if you turn over a rock you will find people who only care for themselves and nothing for their customers, staff, shareholders, or the wider world and greater good.
I can pull the name of any bank out of the Bankers Almanac, and without trying very hard find that it’s rotten to the core.
Another wrinkle recently to come to light is a product called Shared Appreciation Mortgages sold by Barclays and Bank of Scotland. These complicated mortgages were deliberately targeted at older people, who were then rushed into taking unsuitable loans without having had proper financial advice. Which just goes to prove that one should never buy a product or take out a loan you don’t fully understand, and you should never, ever believe anything a salesperson tells you. (Never, ever date a salesman either.) Even a salesperson working for your bank.
To give you some more examples of dodgy dealing by banks, that pillar of German financial prudence, Deutsche Bank, owes $7.2 Billion to the US department of Justice for fines and penalties imposed for Deutsche’s role in the toxic mortgage crisis. Royal Bank of Scotland remains a basket case after Fred ‘The Shred’ Goodwin ruined the venerable institution through spending more time thinking about screwing his female junior assistant than he did about proper banking. And the oldest bank in the world, Italian Monte dei Paschi de Siena, has just been bailed out to the tune of £17 Billion by the equally broke Italian Government because of chronic bad lending that threatens the savings of a third of hard struck Italians.
How in the World did Banking become synonymous with dirty dealing, thievery, and dishonourable behaviour?
It isn’t because today’s bankers are struggling to turn loss-making institutions into banks that, at least, make a profit. And, it isn’t because there isn’t honest money to be made in the world of banking and finance today. Rather it’s because today’s generation of money-men want instant results, rather than slow and steady growth accompanied by slow and steady profits.
Slow and steady profits aren’t exciting enough for today’s young Masters of the Universe, who want instant and huge money-making schemes and products to justify their equally huge salaries and bonus packages. It’s estimated that in the City of London this year’s round of bonus payments will top $15 billion.
It is our priority to seek the best outcome for our shareholders, customers, and employees. ~ Ross McEwan, Chief Executive, Royal Bank of Scotland
I don’t believe a word of it. If the banks cared anything about their employees and customers they wouldn’t keep closing branches. Not to mention paying failed politicians like David Cameron and George Osborne a fortune to schmooze in Davos.
My advice is; stop trusting your bank, always carefully check your bank and credit card statements, never buy anything your bank tries to sell you, and never sign anything you don’t fully understand. Personally, I wouldn’t buy shares in a bank either, their roller-coaster world is far too crooked and exciting for me.
Proper banking is as safe and boring as watching paint dry.
these thoughts are mine, and mine alone
there are no workable get rich quick schemes
A naive lady named Deanne Forrest lost all her savings, and some money she borrowed, (a total of £12,500 in all), by dabbling in on-line stock market trading. Specifically Deanne got involved with something called binary options trading, which is as risky as betting all your worldly goods on one spin of the roulette wheel in a Las Vegas casino.
Investing should be more like watching paint dry or watching grass grow. If you want excitement, take $800 and go to Las Vegas. ~ Paul Samuelson
Let me make one thing abundantly clear, this kind of on-line trading is not dealing on the stock market in any sensible way, this is gambling, pure and simple. It’s even called spread betting, and spread betting is a very fast way for you to lose a
hell heck of a lot of money. It’s not investing, it’s just high-risk gambling, and has as much to do with real finance as on-line dating has to do with real relationships.
Investing in the stock market is something totally different from these fast, on-line, get rich quick scams.
The stock market is a place, (real or virtual), where the prices of stocks and shares of major companies are quoted, and those stocks and shares can be bought and sold at those quoted prices. The major shares are also grouped to give an indication of the overall strength of the market; for example the FTSE 100, in London, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average, on Wall Street.
In general, one buys and sells stocks and shares through a broker, either by telephone, or increasingly these days through an on-line service. There are specialist stock brokers, but most people are most likely to use their bank to buy and sell shares. If you want to invest in your national stock market, check with your bank first. I can almost guarantee they will offer stock market services.
If it’s not a get rich quick scheme, why would you want to invest in the stock market?
In general, the stock market is an indicator of the overall health of a country’s economy. If the overall economy of the USA is doing well, then Wall Street will generally do well. If the overall economy of the United Kingdom is doing well, then the City of London will generally do well. But, every now and again the markets will go crazy, for no readily apparent reason.
Every once in a while the market does something so stupid it takes your breath away. ~ Jim Cramer
There are two basic ways of investing in the stock market;
- You can buy into a unit investment trust, (however it’s named or described). This allows you to invest in a group of shares, thereby spreading your risk. Unit trusts are the way most people get involved with the stock markets. The main downside of a unit trust is that your profits can get eaten up by the trust manager’s fees and charges.
- You can buy the shares of specific companies in your own right.
You also make money through stock market investments in two ways.
- An increase in the market price of the shares you have bought. For example, if you had bought shares in The Boeing Company on February 12th 2016, you would have paid $105.12 per share. If you’d sold those same shares on December 16th 2016 you would have received $154.50 per share, a handy 50% profit. But remember,the price of shares can go down as well as up.
- Receipt of regular dividends from the company. These dividends represent your share of the company’s earnings. For example, shares in Royal Dutch Shell, an oil and gas company, had a yield of 6.05% in the last year. It’s easy to find out which companies have paid the most back to their shareholders. The Boeing dividend yield is currently 2.82%.
Historically, investments in the stock markets have outperformed all other liquid investments, and all other personal investments with the exception of real estate, (property). However, the value of all assets can fall as well as rise. Many ‘expert pundits‘ (there’s an oxymoron for you), are predicting an imminent crash in the stock markets. These things have a nasty habit of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies.
Should you want to invest in the stock market, then your first choice is whether to buy into a unit trust, or buy the shares of particular companies for yourself ~ cutting out the middle-man. These choices are not necessarily mutually exclusive.
It’s very easy to find information on investment trusts ~ just type something like best performing unit trusts into your search engine. Whatever you do, don’t believe most of what the sales teams at these companies tell you.
Choosing companies whose shares you’re going to buy for yourself is more difficult, but you could try typing something like best performing US stocks into your search engine. If you are buying shares in particular companies in your own right, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Spread your investment among different companies and different market sectors.
Stock market investments should easily out-perform most other ways of saving and investing, with the exception of buying property, (real estate). The caveats are; choose wisely, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, never borrow money to invest, pay off all your debts before investing in the stock market, and stock market investments are for the long term. Expect to hold your shares for years rather than weeks or months.
The stock market is not a get rich quick scheme, never was, and never will be, no matter what some silver-tongued salesperson might have you believe. A good rule is, don’t believe sales people, some of them
tell lies are economical with the truth.
these opinions are mine and mine alone
Before we go any further to talk about the most common types on insurance ~ and do you need them or not? ~ there is something you should know about insurance agreements. Any contract of insurance is a contract uberrimae fidei ~ a contract of utmost good faith. This means that you must tell your insurance company everything and anything which may have a bearing on the risk they are taking on. If you keep any significant information back, the chances are you are not insured at all.
For example, if you have put bigger wheels and tyres than standard on your car, you should tell your car insurance company. If you’re an alcoholic / drug addict / smoker / overweight / pyromaniac, you should tell your Life Assurance company. If you have ever been refused insurance, you should tell your insurance company. And when you advise your insurance company of something pertinent, do it in writing.
All insurance companies love to collect premiums. All insurance companies hate to pay out for any claims, and will do anything and everything to avoid paying a claim. For example, you not telling your car insurance company that you have recently been found guilty of driving while intoxicated will most likely void your insurance entirely, and they will not pay out under any circumstances. So if in doubt, tell all, in writing ~ else you’re probably not insured at all. And, always pay your insurance premiums by automated bank transfer / direct debit / ACH transfer.
Your best friends when it comes to making a claim are photographs. Always take plenty of pictures of everything, including your home / car / self as it is right now, before anything bad happens. Store these pictures in a cloud, on your blog, in social media… so you can always get at them if the worst happens.
The five most common and necessary types of insurance are;
- Motor / car / vehicle / driver’s cover. In civilised countries it is a legal requirement for you to be insured for the exact car you are driving. The penalties for driving while uninsured are severe. In the small print of your insurance policy it probably says that you should not drive while you are incapable, and that includes driving after drinking. Have an accident drink driving and the chances are you are uninsured.
- Home and contents insurance. Because of the inflexible nature of the laws of probability, you should have your home and its contents fully insured, or face a life on the streets. Maybe add a margin of 10% in excess of the estimated values, to account for unexpected expenses while you put your life back together after your home has burned down, blown up due to a gas leak, been destroyed in an earthquake, flooded…
- Travel insurance. When travelling abroad you may, or probably may not, be entitled to medical services in the country you are visiting. You may have an accident, lose your luggage, get hijacked, robbed… any number of disasters may happen. Travel is by its very nature hazardous and stressful. Things which would be a minor inconvenience at home may become a catastrophe if they happen in a foreign country, or even a different state. If you are travelling abroad, or a very long way, you need comprehensive travel insurance. Only idiots don’t buy travel insurance.
- Medical / health insurance. I’m English and I don’t have any medical insurance, and that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, (for reasons that are too complicated to go into here I do have dental). In the United Kingdom we have a National Health Service, (NHS), which provides free treatment at the point of care. The NHS is paid for out of taxation. Canada has a similar system. If you live anywhere else you really, really need comprehensive medical cover. But remember, you must tell your insurer everything there is to know about your degenerate lifestyle.
- Life Assurance. (not life insurance, you are going to die, you can’t insure against it). A whole life policy pays out a sum of money when you die. You don’t need this. However, if you have a dependant family, then you may want to look after them when you’re dead, therefore most heads of households buy one or more life policies. You don’t actually need to do this. It’s actually much more cost-effective to just save the money you would have paid in premiums. But nobody has that much self-discipline. I have no dependants, therefore my life assurance policies are utterly pointless, except to pay for my funeral.
Getting life insurance is like making a bet you can’t win. If you live, you don’t get the money. If you die, you don’t get to enjoy the money. ~ Oliver Gaspirtz
There are many, many other common forms of insurance, and some really esoteric insurance policies. Lloyds of London will insure against just about anything. You could probably have got insured at Lloyds against Donald Trump being the 45th President of the United States. After all, insurance is really just a bet.
Even Life Assurance is just a bet. The bet isn’t about if you’re going to die or not ~ no matter how much you pray you are going to die. With life assurance the bet is about when you are going to die, not if. And, if you think about it, that’s just creepy.
these opinions are mine and mine alone
Nobody gets out of this life alive. Aging is inevitable. Senior citizenship isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. But it doesn’t have to be quite like that.
Old age may have its limitations and its challenges, but our later years can be the most rewarding and fulfilling of our lives. ~ Paul Silway
It isn’t all bad news. Life is full of compromises, and as we get older we really have to change the way we do things. After we have reached the milestone of 40 or 50 or 60, what we really need to do is follow that old adage; ‘Don’t Work Harder, Work Smarter‘. And remember this, you know a hell of a lot about life.
The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected. ~ Robert Frost
There is some very solid advice for the more experienced among us.
Take Full Control of Your Life. Don’t let others ever again tell you what to do. Don’t blindly follow the advice of others. This includes family, friends, lawyers, doctors, dentists, accountants, financial advisers, insurance agents, government officials, contractors, salespeople of any kind, store clerks… Always question their knowledge, experience, motives…, because usually they aren’t doing things for your benefit, but theirs. Don’t ever do things you don’t want to do. In the end, do whatever you want to do, it’s your life. If you want to take up skydiving at 70, why not? Realistically, what have you got to lose? (The statistics are interesting. If a 25 years old guy kills himself skydiving he’s lost maybe 60 years. If you kill yourself at 70, doing something stupidly dangerous, what have you lost, maybe 15 years? No worries.)
Stay Fit. Exercise needs for the older person are different from the twenty-something keen sportsman. It seems that strength and mobility training is more important than athletic training. Sex is one of the best exercises you can get.
Believe me, an old broom knows the dirty corners best. ~ Hannah Kent
Eat Right. Dietary needs change as we age. Despite anything anyone tells you, really cut down on carbohydrates and give up wheat completely. Don’t eat so much red meat. Think about a Paleo Diet. Try to really cut down on refined sugar and salt. Find a healthy drink to replace coffee. Don’t get fat, it will kill you.
Stay Active and Interested in Life. Don’t just sit around in your chair with a blanket around your knees. As soon as you do that you’ve put one foot in the grave. Live every single day to the full ~ being well-educated you know what carpe diem means. Do it.
There is no old age. There is, as there always was, only you. ~ Carol Grace.
Don’t just ‘retire’. Retiring early can kill you. You need to find something to keep you in the ‘working’ frame of mind. Start a business, volunteer for charitable work, get politically active… Whatever you do, don’t stay in bed until noon and then stay up half the night drinking beer and watching sports TV.
Be Optimistic and Happy. Pessimism and Depression will make you physically ill and kill you fast. Negative thoughts and feelings, being grumpy and miserable lead to increased blood sugar and higher blood pressure ~ and all those lead to strokes, heart attacks, dementia, and cancers. Don’t worry, be happy. As we get older it’s time to learn some spirituality and true happiness.
Realise Your Assets and Spend the Money. What’s the point of being the richest corpse in the cemetery? Having spare spending cash helps you to do all the good things in life, and it’s your life. You want to go on a round the world cruise with your new romantic interest? Why the hell not? There may be those among us who worry about a ‘legacy’ for their kids / relatives / the cats’ home… Stop worrying about that because worrying, scrimping and saving, and not having fun will kill you. Downsize your home, or rent, and enjoy the money, spend the savings you’re not actually going to need to live on, don’t buy excessive life assurance cover….
Never Pay For Advice. You know more about money, risks, and life than any young ‘professional’ you are ever going to meet. What’s more you have the time and experience to do the proper research. So, when you’re working out your pension plan, don’t let some financial adviser tell you what to do ~ all they are interested in is their own fees and commissions. So very many older people discover that their nice little nest eggs have just vanished due to avaricious fund managers and insurance companies. Keep your own cash and manage it yourself. You can always borrow money if you really need it.
Never Let Anyone Treat You Like A Senior Citizen. You’re wiser, better educated, and more experienced than some young doctor, nurse, government official, member of your family… They will all expect you to be diffident and compliant, maybe take the ‘happy pills’ ~ just tell them to fuck off. Don’t ever do things just because someone else thinks it’s best for an old person like you. The only time to admit your age is if it leads to getting a discount somewhere.
There is a fountain of youth: it is your mind, your talents, the creativity you bring to your life and the lives of the people you love. When you learn to tap this source, you will truly have defeated age. ~ Sophia Loren.
Sadly there are some things you should give up or cut down on. You must stop smoking, you should at least severely restrict the booze, salt, and sugar. And, don’t take too many drugs, prescription or stuff you buy on the street. Follow some of this advice and you will want as much time as you can get.
The wisest are the most annoyed at the loss of time. ~ Dante Alighieri
Don’t spend your life looking over our shoulder, maybe regretting what you did or what could have been different. Enjoy each new sunrise and make the most of your life.
these thoughts are very well researched,
but in the end, they are mine alone
Most of the news media has confidently predicted that Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.
Most of the news media confidently predicted that the United Kingdom would vote to remain in the European Union in our referendum of 23rd of June 2016.
In the event England decisively voted to leave the European Union, and a new word entered the language; Brexit.
Leave aside the political rights and wrongs, and instead look at the effect that politics has on the Pound or Dollar in your pocket.
The immediate impact of Brexit has been twofold.
- The value of the pound fell dramatically on the foreign exchange markets, (FOREX). There was no good reason for this other than the Political Establishment creating alarm and despondency in Project Fear, in an effort to persuade voters to opt to remain in the hated European Union.
- The price to the consumer of all kinds of goods and services has been increased by mostly unscrupulous suppliers and retailers off the back of Brexit and the fall in the value of the pound. Some of these price increases are fairly justifiable, for example the UK price of petrol, (gasoline), has soared. But then oil is priced and traded in US Dollars. Some price increases blamed on Brexit are just fatuous, for example Walkers Crisps, (chips), have increased their prices by 10% and blamed it on Brexit. Walkers crisps are made in Britain from British potatoes.
There is one lesson to be learned from this. Markets, manufacturers, retailers, service companies, and politicians will use any change in the world order to justify price rises / tax increases / rapid falls in the financial markets. What they are saying to the man in the street is; ‘don’t blame us, it’s all your own fault for voting for the wrong result’.
What you didn’t know is that the major players in any market; banks, brokers, governments, insurance companies, speculators and the like, can all make money in a falling market, (aka a bear market). Principally they do this by ‘selling short‘, that is they sell stocks, commodities, foreign exchange that they don’t actually own for delivery at a future date. Then, when the market concerned falls, they buy the stocks, shares, commodities, foreign exchange they need to complete the contract ~ but here’s the thing, they buy at a lower price because the market has fallen.
Now, you or I can potentially make money in a falling market by selling short through our broker, but this is a very bad idea, because what you are doing is creating a risk where none exists, and that’s just gambling. Entering into this kind of deal is a very fast way to go broke.
However, it benefits the major players in any market to create uncertainty, because where there is uncertainty and chaos there is profit for them. And, where does this profit come from? Actually it comes from you and I, the average man in the street. Because of political uncertainties the cost of just about everything I buy, including my overseas road trips, has gone up. The value of almost everything I own has fallen, including stocks, bonds, and hard cash.
Should Donald Trump be elected President it is likely that chaos will hit the US financial markets. You can even take a bet on what will happen to Wall Street after the election. I can firmly predict that if Clinton loses the value of the US Dollar will fall, as will the Dow Jones Industrial Average. And why is that? Because it suits the speculators to make it so.
As it happens, nobody yet knows what will happen to the UK economy now that we are committed to leaving the European Union. Nobody yet knows what kind of President Mr Trump will make, nor what kind of handle on the US Economy Mrs Clinton has either. Most of the short-term economic impact of politics is down to speculation and not fact.
Personally, I disagree with just about everyone in that I believe Trump will make a better president than Clinton, (as far as the US Economy is concerned), and that Brexit is better for the UK Economy than staying in the European Union and Single Market could ever have been.
But then, I’ve never been one to have fashionable views.
these opinions are mine, and mine alone
No woman is going to want to admit that she’s had casual sex in an Edsel. The Ford Edsel is not a cool car, it’s not even so ugly-pretty that it’s cool. The Edsel is just one of the worst cars ever made.
So what makes an Edsel such a terrible car? Start with how it looks, and it looks as though it was designed by a committee of the most boring preppy men Ford could come up with after searching through the worst colleges in America. I mean, who would design a grille that looks like a surprised toilet seat?
For a brand-new design the Edsel was about as innovative as a horse and cart. It was big and heavy ~ over 18 feet long and weighing in at two tons. It had a newly designed ohv V8 Ford MEL engine, (Mercury, Edsel, Lincoln), which was big at 410 cu in, (6.7 litres), powerful with 345 bhp and 475 ft lbs of torque, and very heavy. The Edsel had a slush-pump auto-box, and Hotchkiss live axle rear suspension that dated back to the 1930s. It also had some weird features, such as push-button gear selectors on the steering wheel.
And then the Edsel had the second worst marketing and sales campaign in the history of road transport, only eclipsed by that even bigger disaster, the Sinclair C5. From a teaser campaign that heralded the Edsel as the car for the future, to setting up a separate Edsel division within the Ford Motor Company and a separate dealership network, everything about the Edsel’s sales and marketing is a textbook example of how not to sell anything. Small wonder this dog of a car sold only 110,847 heavily discounted units ~ peanuts by Ford standards.
The Edsel was also relatively expensive, costing about the same as a Mercury, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Buick and Dodge, which were much better products, with much better and more well-known names and images.
Because the Edsel was built on the same production line as standard Fords, the assemblers had to interrupt their routines when an Edsel came along, and many workers just didn’t bother to put the right parts in the right places. Therefore the Edsel was very badly built and suffered from consequent reliability problems. Issues ranged from a leaking trunk, (boot), in wet weather, to bad welding, and catastrophically dangerous power steering failures.
Allegedly, the Edsel drives like a canal barge. That huge V8 delivers pedestrian performance with a top speed just short of 120 mph, a 0-60 time of about 11 seconds, and terrible fuel consumption figures. The suspension is nothing to write home about, and so pressing-on is supposed to be accompanied by a lot of tyre squeal, initial understeer and then mad oversteer. Have I ever driven an Edsel? You have got to be joking.
Luckily there are only about 6,000 examples of this terrible car still in existence. There has to be more than that, everywhere I go on my various road trips I seem to come across an Edsel, or maybe they’re just so bad that they’re memorable. You can expect to pay about $10,000 for an immaculate example, if you were ever insane enough to want an Edsel.
Don’t buy an Edsel. They are not cool, an Edsel won’t make a satisfying hobby, they will make a terrible investment, and no cool girl will ever want to have sex with you in that car.
Monday morning and the poor working stiffs are getting out of bed to earn an honest crust, as best they can.
I spent long enough doing some of that. But now it’s your lucky day, because I’ve decided that Mondays I’m going to give you some money advice, whether you want it or not. Look at it this way, back in the day I used to get paid $500 an hour for doing this, so listen up. I’d tell you my qualifications, but unless you’re the type who is having a heart attack and asks the heart surgeon where he interned, there’s not much point. (If you are the type who asks a heart surgeon where he interned, then just fuck off and don’t read my blog again.)
So, the most important thing right now is to ask yourself is; are you broke, or do you have any money in the bank and / or cash under the mattress?
Interest rates are an historic low. If you have more than $1,000 in spare cash you are a fool. Money is worthless, (that’s complicated, but trust me), if your cash isn’t doing anything you may as well stay in bed on Monday morning.
So, what would financially intelligent people do right now?
- Pay off your debts, until you only have the magic $1,000 left in your pocket-book or bank account.
- Pay off those debts in order of the highest interest rate first. Unless you are an utter wassock this will mean #1 credit card balances, #2 store credit, #3 personal loans from a reputable provider such as your bank, #4 your mortgage.
- Get rid of any and all bank accounts, credit cards, store cards that charge a fee. This is a sick practice, and I should know, I practically reinvented the idea of ripping-off bank customers.
- Start putting any cash, bank balances, and ‘credit monies‘ you have left to work for you.
- Do not fall for get rich quick schemes. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. An honest annual rate of return right now is 6%.
OK, number 4 above is difficult. But this starts with the fact that the stock market as a whole usually shows an annual rise of 3% to 6%, plus you get dividends. Google this if you don’t believe me. Rule #1, don’t buy a managed portfolio / product. The people advising you about / selling financial investments are jerks and crooks. Don’t trust them. If you have a little spare cash buy a couple or four blue chip stocks or a tracker investment.
Never, ever, trust a financial advisor / banker / friend when it comes to financial investments. (And, you are a fool, and or a woman, if you lend money to a friend or member of your family.)
If you’re a guy with a lot of spare cash, at least spend it on your girl, or any woman, rather than being that utterly boring and useless fart, the contemptible Scrooge who thinks he’s watching his money grow. Your money isn’t growing, it’s dwindling away. Idle money loses value over time, always.
insults advice for the financially naive next Monday.
The MGB is a reliable, understated, practical, economical, and fun quintessentially English sports car. It can also be a little boring and old-fashioned at times, which is another reason it’s quintessentially English. Perhaps that’s why I’ve never fallen in love with the MGB in the way I have loved some other cars. I can’t quite bring myself to believe the MGB is a cool car. Yet the MGB is a huge success story, the biggest selling British sports car ever.
Introduced in 1962 the B is a two-door, two-seat, soft-top, sports car with the engine at the front, four-speed manual gearbox in the middle, (with optional overdrive), and a live axle at the back. In looks and construction it was modern for the time. The monocoque construction was very modern for 1962 ~ strong, light and with built-in crash protection. Yet, the monocoque still harks back to the old days because there large are longitudinal chassis rails welded to the bodyshell. Belt and braces, very English.
The best I think I can say about the MGB’s appearance is ‘inoffensive.’ It was designed in-house, when an external car design studio may have had a lot to offer, and resulted in something a little less bland.
As far as the drive train is concerned, well it’s antediluvian. The B series engine was lifted out of the 1955 MGA, and bored out to 1,798cc, which gave the MGB some 95 bhp at a leisurely 5,400 rpm. USA specification cars came with a strangulated 65 bhp lump.
There were two major revisions to the MGB a potential owner needs to consider. Firstly the engine. That B series cast-iron lump originally came with only 3 main crankshaft-bearings, which is less than ideal. In a 5 main bearing block was introduced, and given a choice, this is what you want. Then in late 1974 the grotesque, and very unpopular, rubber-bumpered version of the B was introduced in response to California’s Ralf Nader inspired road safety campaigns. Unless you want to do major work to lower the suspension and take off the ugly black appendages, do not buy one of these cars.
The MGB is a fairly practical car, but if you want real practicality and having a convertible isn’t at the top of your list, then you could seriously think about the MGB GT (what a great name for a car….???). It’s better looking than the soft-top, has more luggage space, and was a hatchback before anyone came up with the term ‘hatchback’. If you really must have sun and practicality, then try and find an MGB GT with a dealer-fitted full-length sunroof by someone like Webasto. Around 125,000 MGB GT were sold. I’ll publish a separate post on the MGB GT.
Right from the start it was obvious that the MGB could use more power, and someone had the ‘brilliant’ idea of sticking a big heavy iron six in the front to create the, inherently flawed, 2,912 cc MGC, (which was actually intended to replace the Austin~Healey 3000). Only 8,999 of these nose-heavy brutes were ever made, so this is now a seriously expensive car. You would have to be insane to try and drive one of these fast on an English country road. I think you would have to be insane to buy one.
In 1970 a garage owner named Ken Costello stuck a Buick / Rover all aluminium 3,528 cc 137 bhp V8 in the front of an MGB GT, to create the legendary MGB GT V8. Despite the clunky name this is a seriously desirable car. Sadly only 2, 591 were produced by MG between 1973 and 1976. A final development using the V8 engine was the MG RV8, (and for my American friends this was not a RV in your sense of the term). Good luck finding an RV8, and congratulations if you can afford it.
Tuning and ‘personalising’ and MGB offers the keen mechanic endless opportunities. There are a plethora of firms offering parts and specialist tuning services. The MGB can be turned into a seriously fast car ~ it did well at Le Mans. All one has to decide is how much you want / need originality, against how much you want a car that looks and drives really well.
From 1962 to 1980 some 387,000 MGB roadsters were made, so it isn’t exactly a rare car, even though 87% were exported. You can expect to pay above £10,000 for a decent example. And, you can consider an MGB as a pretty good investment. If you’re considering buying an MGB, first join one of the owners’ clubs. You want an example with all it’s paperwork intact. Rubber bumpered versions may look OK, but beware of hidden crash damage and rust behind those black appendages. Rubber bumpered cars are a lot cheaper than the chrome bumpered cars. Look for bodged repairs and rust in the sills, which are structurally crucial, (beware of oversills, hiding rot underneath). If you can see any bodywork rust at all, walk away unless you are prepared to do a major structural rebuild. A good test is to jack up the car using the original jacking points, if the door gaps open up at the top, then the car is bending because it’s rotten underneath. The suspension needs regular maintenance, and if this hasn’t been done it’s likely that much of it will need replacing.
The good news is that you can buy just about everything you need to make an MGB from scratch, including brand new bodyshells. (about £10,000) Personally, if I wanted an MGB, I’d look for a rubber bumpered heap of junk and rebuild the thing to my own standards and specification. I would have £500 in my pocket and expect to have the thing trucked back to my workshop.
A long road trip in an MGB? Magical, you can cruise or hustle along, but make certain to take your tool-kit along with you.
So, now we are into 2015, do you want to own the cutest little classic GT? Buy a Triumph GT6
So, now the holidays are over, do you want a reliable and practical GT? Do not buy a Triumph GT6
Some say that the Triumph GT6 is a baby E-Type Jaguar. And, that it’s practical enough to drive every day. All I know is that the Mk3 is an incredibly pretty little car. Stick a V12 up front and it could have been a Ferrari.
The Triumph GT6 was in production from 1966 to 1973. Some 25,100 were built. Like the Triumph Spitfire, the GT6 traces its heritage back to the Triumph Herald via the 6 cylinder Triumph Vitesse. All are built on a rather flexible separate chassis-frame with all-independant suspension ~ wishbones at the front and very problematical high-pivot swing-axles at the rear. This combination gives an incredibly tight turning circle and catastrophic snap oversteer at the limit of grip. A Mk1 GT6 that hasn’t its suspension properly maintained or upgraded is going to stuff you into a hedge on rainy day.
There was no plan to build the GT6 when the Spitfire was conceived, and the first iteration of the GT6 design was a coupe version of the Spitfire. Only one prototype Spitfire GT was built ~ it was too heavy and underpowered with the 63bhp 4 cylinder engine. This car was quickly redesigned to take the 1600cc six from the Vitesse.
This was still underpowered so a 95bhp 2 litre version of the six was installed, along with a close-ratio, all-synchomesh gearbox with optional Laycock overdrive. The weakness was still the chassis and swing-axle rear suspension. However, the Mk1 GT6 could be made to handle very well indeed, at the expense of ride comfort. Please do not buy a Mk1 GT6, unless you also intend to do some / a lot of work on the rear suspension. There are plenty of magazine articles and parts still available for the GT6.
In 1968 the Mk2 was introduced. This had more power, (104bhp), a revised rear suspension, a better interior and better ventilation. A GT6 can get very hot inside due to the big engine in a small body. The much prettier Mk3, (to my eyes), came in 1970. This did away with external seams on the front wings and had a much better looking tail-end.
You could drive a well-sorted GT6 across continents. The smooth straight six engine, overdrive gearbox, and high final drive make for very relaxed cruising. But in a hot country you are going to get very, very warm in a GT6. The cockpit is small, and the straight six chucks out a lot of heat. If you want to keep cool think about a GT6 with a Webasto sunroof. What the GT6 isn’t cool with is coping with roads like the Stelvio Pass at speed. Unless you are very good, and the suspension is in first-class condition, any cowardice in the corner will give you snap oversteer and see you going backwards to your doom. The handling of any GT6 can go from acceptable to lethal in an instant due to lift-off snap oversteer. It isn’t only a Porsche 911 that can send you backwards through a garden wall.
The GT6 is strictly a two-seater, but the luggage space under the rear hatch is big enough for a week’s family shopping or the luggage for a continental road trip. Unless you mess with the engine a lot, you should get in excess of 30 MPG, and the 8 gallon fuel tank will give you an acceptable range.
You can expect to pay anywhere between £2,000 and £12,000 for a GT6, depending on condition and originality. You can spend thousands of hours and thousands of £££$$$£££ keeping the thing running and improving it. There is no such thing as a GT6 soft top / convertible. That is called a Spitfire, however it is engined.
Like all Triumphs of this period the GT6 rusts. Like the Herald, Vitesse and Spitfire, the GT6 also rattles. The footwells can get very hot in summer. The six cylinder engine leaks oil and has thrust washer problems. (At least the perpetual oil leaks help protect the front chassis from rust.) The differential should not whine, if it does, it’s probably worn out. The gearbox is weak for the power it handles. The suspension requires regular and careful maintenance. In particular the transverse leaf spring at the rear will sag over time ~ this does not improve the handling. You will need an appropriate workshop manual.
Rust is the main enemy of cars from this era, with accident damage coming a close second. Rust in the rear chassis is almost to be expected, and it is terminal. A new chassis is no longer available from Rimmer Bros, although plenty of repair sections are. It’s no laughing matter taking the body off a GT6 chassis, and it’s bloody difficult to get it properly back on again. Beware of any car where the panel gaps are uneven and the doors do not hang properly. The huge bonnet is available new at something like £1,300, again from Rimmer Bros. Rust in the sills of a GT6 is very serious as there is no outboard chassis framing. The Herald / Spitfire / GT6 chassis is strictly a backbone.
There is endless tuning / upgrade potential for the GT6. Swapping the 2 litre engine for the long stroke 2.5 litre version will give anything up to 150bhp. Take this engine out to 2.7 litres and you should easily get 180bhp. Personally, I would not have the Lucas mechanical fuel injection system again for any money, (that is unless you have a wide experience of older diesel engines). Instead I would fit triple Weber 40 DCOE carburetors, (or 45’s). Putting more power into a GT6 will give you a seriously fast car, but you will also need to upgrade the brakes, suspension, gearbox, differential…. And, the already hard ride will probably get harder.
Alternatives to the Triuph GT6 include the MGBGT, Reliant Scimitar GTE, Ford Capri, Lotus Elan Plus 2, and Nissan 240Z.
Like all classic cars a GT6 will need lots of care and attention. I would suggest that, if you are going to spend money on a GT6, then cure the rust, get the suspension and brakes into first class working order, and improve the cooling. Don’t bother with wheels any wider than 6 inches.
EVERYONE WHO STILL LIKES THE STONES OR THE BEATLES ON VINYL HAS PROBABLY OWNED A MINI
In a poll of 10,000 readers of Autocar magazine the original Sir Alec Issigonis designed 1959 Mini has been voted the best car ever to be manufactured in Britain. In a bizarre headline the results of the poll are said to show that; Original Mini voted best British-built car of all time. For those of us who have lived with a Mini, (including one of its various siblings, Wolsey Hornet, Riley Elf, Cooper, Moke, Van, Traveller, Pick-up, K, Innocenti, & etc…), that headline is a bit of a joke. The original mini was an incredibly well thought out little car, but owning one could be a nightmare. Everything on a Mini went wrong, all the time. When the little coolant pipe between the head and the block failed you were in for some fun. The electrics went wrong if you drove through a puddle. Then it all fell to pieces. Meantime, any Mini was simple fun.
The original Mini famously starred alongside Michael Caine, Benny Hill, and Noel Coward in the 1969 caper movie, The Italian Job. The film shows three Mini Cooper S’s running rings around Italian police cars among the streets of Turin, (and a tunnel, river ford, & etc…). Which is how it would have been. On tight roads and city streets the Cooper S was one of the fastest point to point road cars of the time, (of all time?). Introduced in 1961 the Mini Cooper S won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965, and 1967. (The Cooper S also placed 1st 2nd and 3rd in 1966 but the Cheese Eating Surrender Monkeys got their judges to disqualify them because of a dimmer switch in the headlamp circuit. The eventual ‘winning’ Citroen DS also had non-regulation headlights, but they were French headlights.)
If anyone is thinking about buying an original Mini Cooper S, then don’t. It will cost you a fortune, especially if it has any competition history. The investment value of classic cars all depends upon fashion. The Mini Cooper S would have been a very good buy 20 years ago, these days I’m not certain that I wouldn’t be buying at the top of a trend.
The Cooper S was very little different to the standard Mini of the time, other than a tuned 1275cc four pot A-series engine and twin fuel tanks. And, by all the Gods, they are noisy little beasts inside. Your Lady will not like wearing her best Little Black Dress in the thing because they leak rainwater through various holes in the floor. The smell of hot coolant and oil can pervade the interior, the seats are middling uncomfortable, and getting in and out of a Mini in a short frock is a lost art. (Unless the young lady in question is trying to show a lot of leg.)
For those with any mechanical engineering expertise, (and if you don’t know what 1/2 inch AF means you shouldn’t even think about owning an original Mini), then you can build yourself a perfectly good Cooper S replica using a new body shell from British Motor Heritage. That will set you back about £6,500. The rest of the bits are very available and about as basic as they come, including a tuned A-series engine and gearbox. The A-series was first used in a car in 1951. It’s a three main bearing, five port, cast iron unit and in 1275cc form with twin SU carburettors can be made to reliably produce 78 bhp and 78 ft pounds of torque, still with decent fuel economy. For road use I would not recommend fitting a close ratio gearbox, but wide wheels and some decent brakes are a good idea.
While even a fast Mini will struggle to top 100 mph, the original brakes were tiny drums. Front discs are available as are special cast alloy rear drums. The best wheels are still the original Minilite, although you’d be looking at aluminium rather than magnesium alloy. First port of call Minspeed http://www.minispeed.co.uk
The BIG thing about Mini’s is that they are small and light. The whole car was only 120 inches long, 55 inches wide and 53 inches tall. It ran on ten inch wheels. (The spec called for a complete car that could fit in a 10 x 5 x 5 feet box, allegedly.) At the kerb, even a hot Mini would only weigh in at 1,400 lbs. A new Mini could be had for £679. In comparison a brand new BMW-Type Mini Cooper S hatchback has an high-technology 2 litre engine, weighs in at over 2,500 lbs and will cost upwards of £20,000. The New Mini is not a good comparison against an original Mini. A Citroen C1 is far similar to an original 1961 Mini than is a new (BMW) Mini Hatchback.
For those classic car enthusiasts the rest of the Best of British top 10 from Autocar are;
- McLaren F1
- E-Type Jaguar
- Range Rover
- Yamaha Motiv.E
- McLaren P1
- Jaguar XJ220
- Aston Martin DB5
- TVR Griffith
- Ford Escort Mexico
The full Top 100 Autocar list of the Best of British is at http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/motoring/top-100-best-ever-british-cars
Of the above, anyone with any ounce of sense would only consider owning the; Mini, E-Type, Earlier Range Rover, Ford Escort Mexico. Of these I would consider building myself a Mk 1 Escort. I am informed that original manufacturers Gartrac ( http://www.gartrac.com ) can make you a new bodyshell, I have no idea what that would cost. Crossflow engines and 5 speed gearboxes are readily available, in states of tune up to 150 bhp. A more modern Ford Twin-Cam engine could also be made to fit. However, the more work that’s done on any classic car, the quicker enormous bills are run up, and the less original the car becomes. Some collectors prize originality, but for real road use I’d want as many new, (and more modern), parts as I could afford.
The Yamaha Motiv shouldn’t be on this list as the Gordon Murray designed car hasn’t even gone into production. I would replace it with no. 14 from the Autocar list, the even more brilliant Lotus Elise.
The bottom line is; The original Mini is a brilliant little car, if you want to experience anything like it, then buy a Citroen C1, (Peugeot 107)