Written by Bas de Voogd – basdevoogd.nl
Oh my God, we have been discovered. Where is my wife? It took me minutes to recover, but it seemed ages… She was already talking to the apparently unfriendly guard with his dogs, explaining that we were not thieves and that we were advised to go into the yard by the nextdoor neighbour.
The yard attendant did not seem to be impressed at all by my wife’s story, but as he could clearly see my only tool was a camera, he let us escape. Phew…. That was an unpleasant experience.
Next year I decided to make my way back to Phill Passey’s yard to see what could be salvaged from the saloons. As usual on these sort of excursions, we took the trailer down as well.
On arriving at the yard we had no trouble finding the owner this time. We enquired about the MG SVW (SA, VA and WA models – Ed.) cars that we had seen in his yard in the past, but it seemed he couldn’t remember having any. “Ah”, he said, “You mean those large bangers?” And then: “we have had a fire, you see, down the back of the yard and they are all gone now. We cleared the lot. Hang on a bit”, he said, “we kept one that wasn’t damaged by the fire, but it won’t be of much use to you. It’s totally collapsed.” I said I was interested to see it anyway, so we made our way to where it was. On seeing the car it turned out to be the VA saloon in which I thought I had seen the old man. Obviously there was nobody in it now, but there was a certain atmosphere around it which attracted me. The car was a total mess, lying flat on its chassis with no wheels etc……
It was however a saloon which, if not salvageable as such anymore, could be useful for parts. And also, if I could find out its chassis number, there may even be a bit of history to be found. So a deal was struck. Found some wheels that fitted to get it rolling. Loaded the VA onto the trailer and towed the lot to Harwich.
After the usual discussions with the Dutch customs people in Hoek of Holland about the value of the MG we made our way to Hellevoetsluis. Late that night we arrived at our home. We had been lucky as it had been remarkably good weather all the time so the VA was still dry. We put it straight into the shed with the other cars.
Usually, after such a new acquisition, you wander back to the shed before you finally go to sleep. I wish I had never done that this time! As soon as I opened the door there was again this smell of rotting upholstery and believe it or not… sitting in a kind of deck chair beside the collapsed VA was this old chap who had been sitting in the VA at the scrapyard the year before! As he was not looking my direction there was no eye contact, but again I was frozen to the ground. I was unable to move for some time. I do not know how long I have been standing there, but it seemed ages. Suddenly the man faded away and I seemed to be able to move again. When I walked towards the VA there was nothing at all, no man, no deck chair, but Oh dear that indeterminate smell of rotting upholstery! Finally went to bed… I did not tell my wife as I did not want to bother her with it. Did n’t sleep well at all that night.
Next morning straight back to the shed. Looked: nothing special. Not even that smell. Nothing special happened for the next couple of months.
One day, late in October, I decided to do some work on the carburetors of my MG TD. As the weather wasn’t too good I decided to do the job inside in the shed with the other cars. Took the carbs off, cleaned them, fitted new cork seals and put them back on. The TD fired up instantly, but as usual they needed balancing and tuning. So, completely taken by this job, I was sitting on my knees next to the running TD and busy adjusting the jets. Suddenly I got that feeling again that somebody else was watching to see what I was doing. Remembering the strange experiences with the collapsed VA I hardly dared to look around. Apart from the usual petrol and exhaust fumes I also noticed again the smell of rotting upholstery.
Oh my God… He must be back again. I tried to act as normal as possible and continued with what I was doing, but suddenly I could not help the urge to look in the direction of the old VA saloon.
Yes, he was back again. I could now clearly see the man, sitting in the VA again this time, wearing a brown leather jacket. Somehow we made eye contact and it seemed he was trying to explain something to me. Strangely enough I was not afraid this time. There was a strange feeling that I wanted to communicate with this fellow. It also seemed as if the old man was trying to say something to me. I stood up and walked towards him. Just when I was close enough to notice the wrinkles in his face he started to vanish again, but before he had totally disappeared I could clearly hear what he said: “Thank you for saving me from the scrapyard, but please bring me back to England”.
The minute he had disappeared the smell was gone as well. I ran back to the TD which was still running, switched it off and ran into the house to tell my wife what had just happened. As she had never seen the man in the VA she could only laugh and say that I was imagining things. ”You spend too much time with these old MG’s” she said and walked away still amused. Well, I wasn’t at all. Why did this “ghost man” want to return to England?
Next day I decided I had had enough of this VA. Anyway, it was not worth saving it as a complete car and so I decided it must go back to England. Advertised it and back it went.
Apparently it was converted later on into a special and might still be driven around now. Anybody noticed the ghost?