As of last week, I’ve owned my ’71 GT for 31 years. Over that span of time I’ve spent plenty of time crawling all over the car, including numerous hours under the bonnet. You’d think after all that time I would know everything there is to know about the car. This past weekend though I had a surprise.

Under some grime on the right wall of the engine compartment, a bit forward from the fusebox I found an ignition key, held in place by screw and lock washer. It is surely an MG key. It’s embossed with “UNION” and “made in England”. How did I miss this thing for 31 years?

A bit of background will help explain. This was a Texas car and somewhere in it’s early years it was fitted with air conditioning. It worked fairly well until about 10 years ago when the refrigerant leaked out. This was the old Freon stuff which can now only be had at great expense, if at all. My solution was to roll down the windows on hot days. The A/C hardware remained in place, drawing a couple of horsepower until last November when it was finally removed. Over the spot where the key rested was a canister, also screwed to the sheet metal. I had not yet cleaned up residual gunk after stripping out the A/C (too cold in November). That at least explains how it remained hidden. But there’s more.

The key doesn’t fit the car! It’s cut differently from my ignition key and won’t even insert very far into the lock. Makes you wonder why somebody went to the trouble of screwing it onto the car. I also wonder why anybody would hide a key in the engine bay, since the doors would have to be unlocked in order for the bonnet release to be accessed.

So… a triple mystery. Any theories are welcome.

  • Bob Welch

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