WHAT IS ORIGINAL? (Geoff Wheatley)

I read with interest the recent article entitled “Reflections on Period Original and Modified”.

To be honest I was not sure what the author was trying to convey. Surely these terms are self explanatory. I.e. Period relates to any given time segment such as Georgian Period in respect to houses and furniture or Victorian or Colonial etc. Modified would relate to any Georgian house or Colonial house that has been modified with replacement windows, air conditioning, modern bathrooms, garage additions and all the other things that people do to such historic treasures. By the same token painting a Victorian Brass Bedstead to match the wall paper or cutting the legs off a Georgian carved table to make it fit in a small modern kitchen could be considered “Modified”!

When it comes to such treasures as a Classic Car I would suggest that its equally as simple. For my 1951 MGTD to be considered original it should fit a required criteria.  The first should be that all the parts are original, original, this means they were fitted to the car on an assembly line in Abingdon England, and have not been modified in any way.

The same would apply to the paint which should be one of the original colors, interior, dash equipment, lighting etc., should also be the same as the day it left the factory. As for after market items, as long as they were offered within the same time period such as a Period Radio, Luggage rack, Factory installed heater that in reality is an insult to the word when it comes to comfort,  Original spot and fog lights such as Halford MG equipment as sold by the MG dealers in the UK. Between 1949 and 1953. As for other after market items that may have been fitted over the years, this obviously removes the term original from the description of the car.

For the true purist may I pose yet another question in regard to my 1953 MGTD.

When I replace the original fuel pump that has given sterling service for twenty years with a replacement unit  which in no sense of the word can be described as original, even if its rebuilt, have I now reduced the car to a modified vehicle? The answer has to be yes, so in reality there are very, make that very very, few original cars in existence. Back in October 2003  I wrote an article entitled “Classic or Vintage” in which I tried to draw a line between these two classifications. In the end I had to accept the idea that such a line was almost impossible to create. However, I would suggest that this is not the case when it comes to Original or Modified based on my stated criteria.

Nit picking? Well maybe but  originality is a delicate subject as illustrated by the fact that to look at me you could say that  I am original, that is I have all the original parts that I was born with, however to be honest this is not true, my appendix was removed many years ago and more recently a new valve fitted to the old ticker so to all purposes I am a modified version of the original just like my MG.

Geoff Wheatley

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