The History of the Keystone Region MG Club

Compiled from our newsletter archives

NOTE: The club has a fairly complete collection of newsletters documenting more than 30 years of club history, thanks to long-time members Dennis Kuhns, Ed Haas, and Mike Jones, who donated their collections to the club archives. We are still searching for copies of the first two newsletters, published in 1977 when the club formed, as well as any other newsletters which may have been printed in the early years.

We also have no newsletters from 1982, 1983 or 1984, so that period of our history is a blank. Anyone out there who has copies from these years, please get in touch so we can fill in the gaps! If you don't want to part with them, we would be happy to make photocopies and return the originals to you.

Once, we were MOWOG

Keystone Region MG Club had its start in 1977, when about 20 MGA owners from Allentown formed "The MOWOG Group," the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of the North American MGA Register. (Remember that in 1977, MGBs were still in production and would be available brand-new from dealers for three more years. MGA owners considered them the "new" MGs.)

MOWOG Group Newsletter January 1978
So, what the heck does MOWOG mean? "MoWoG" was moulded into many castings used in MG, Austin and Morris engines over many years. It represents the merger of MG and Wolseley into Morris Motors in 1935, and the use of common parts from that point. Most agree that the "Mo" stands for "Morris" and the "Wo" for "Wolseley." There's some question as to what the "G" stands for, but many believes it indicates parts for "MG."

According to the group's typewritten January 1978 newsletter, club dues were then $2, with another $6 going to NAMGAR. Click on the image to see the January 1978 newsletter, the earliest one in our archive.

A new name before too long

On Apr. 29, 1979, the group voted to change its name from the mysterious MOWOG to Keystone Region MGA. That year, the club grew to 26 members, who paid $5 dues to Keystone and $10 dues to NAMGAR. In 1979, the group was meeting at the Tiffany Saloon in Blue Bell, Pa.  The newsletters of that year — mailed to members with a 15-cent stamp — make mention of the "petrol shortage." (Remember that?)

In 1986, the group renamed itself to the Keystone Region MG Club, and published its bylaws. At the time, the club offered two kinds of memberships: Regular, for MG owners, and Associate, for non-owners. In March 1986, the club unveiled a new logo, designed by Tom Funk and John Vito, which remains in use to present day.

In 1987, the club moved its meetings to the Emmaus Fire Company No. 1, and grew to 59 members. Dues were raised to $10 to cover increased mailing costs and expenses involved with the club's rallies. The by-laws were revised late that year by Joe Marcin.

In 1988, club meetings moved to the Broad Street Saloon in Emmaus, and were held the third Tuesday of every other month, beginning in January.

On Jan. 19, 1993, the club voted to join the North American MGB Register, a national organization which had formed in 1990. It was now an affiliate chapter of two national registers, although membership in the national organizations was not required of Keystone members.

Our first British car show

The club's first British Motorcar Gathering was held on Aug. 20, 1994 at The Meadows banquet hall in Hellertown, and attracted 70 cars. The club moved its meetings to the Hellertown Hotel in October that year, making the meeting place more centrally located for the membership.

The British Motorcar Gathering has grown each year since it began. The 1995 show drew 82 cars. The following year, a big wedding was booked at The Meadows for show weekend, so the 1996 British Motorcar Gathering relocated to the Hellertown Reservoir Park, and registered 115 cars. The club continues to stage the show on the second Sunday each June at the Reservoir Park, and now attracts 200 cars.

In February 1995, the club held a contest to name the newsletter, which became the "MGazette" with the March 1995 issue. (The name was changed slightly to "MG Gazette" in 2004, to make pronunciation less confusing. Was that M-Gazette . . . or MG-azette?)

The last meeting at the Hellertown Hotel was held in November 1996; the hotel closed a month later. Club meetings were moved to The Lantern Restaurant in Bethlehem, where the club held its first "Founders Dinner" on Jan. 21, 1997, in honor of the club's 20th anniversary.  On Feb. 18, 1997, the club held its first regular meeting at The Lantern, where it continued to meet for the next six years.

In January 1998, dues went from $10 to $15, with the extra $5 being collected from all members to include a subscription to the British Marque Car Club News, and postage at 32 cents per newsletter.

We get incorporated

The club added the "Inc." behind its name on June 23, 1998, when it was incorporated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a non-stock, non-profit corporation.  The stated purpose of our corporation is listed as "social/recreational/educational."  Attorney Harry Newman of Bethlehem filed the papers with the state on the club's behalf.

The club began a members' library in November 1998 with a $100 initial investment to purchase books. The club now has 18 books and five videotapes and DVDs available for members to borrow.

Dues were increased to $20 a year for 2004, to cover a hike in the cost of the British Marque subscription, the cost of photocopying an 11-month, 12-page newsletter, and increased postage costs of 37 cents per newsletter. All members of the Keystone Region MG Club who pay their annual dues by mid-March continue to receive a British Marque subscription as a benefit of club membership.

In February 2006, a change in ownership at The Lantern and erratic food service led to a discussion about changing venues, and on March 21, 2006, the club held its regular monthly meeting at The Meadows banquet hall in Hellertown. We held a few more meetings at The Meadows, but many members felt it wasn’t central enough to our membership to be a good regular meeting place. We returned to The Lantern for most of our meetings in 2007 and 2008, until it closed for renovations under new ownership again.

At the annual meeting at the end of 2008, looking to hold the line of club expenses and avoid a dues hike, members voted to distribute the MG Gazette to members by email, thus eliminating the rising cost of printing and postage. Members may receive a paper copy through the mail only by “opting out” and requesting it on their renewal form.

In February 2009, we began meeting at Gregory’s Steakhouse on Schoenersville Road in Allentown, until it was closed by a bad fire.

After a few years of trying out different venues, in 2017 we settled on Rudy's Diner in Bethlehem, where we continue to meet during the spring, fall and winter.

The Keystone Region MG Club today

The Keystone Region MG Club is now 100 members strong, and growing.  As of the most recent roster, our members own four MGTCs, six TDs, four TFs, 23 MGAs, 47 MGBs, four MGB-GTs, and eight Midgets. Some members are multi-MG owners, others are looking for that perfect MG, and some just enjoy the cars without the trials and tribulations of ownership.

People join for many reasons. There is a core group of members living in the greater Allentown area, about 20 or so MG lovers, who enjoy the personal club fellowship and attend almost every meeting and event. Others live farther away and can't make the meetings, but enjoy supporting the club and getting the MG Gazette and the British Marque, two monthly publications that keep them informed of the many local and regional shows and events scheduled throughout the driving season.

Our regular meetings are held the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m., generally February through May and then October and November. (Meetings in the summer and early fall are held at various locations in conjunction with club events, and include picnic meetings at members' homes and rallies to interesting places.) Many arrive early for our regular meetings when held at a restaurant to eat before the meeting starts. Most of what we talk about is upcoming shows and events, such as: 

January: The Founders Dinner. A festive "post-holiday" gathering, featuring a guest speaker on an automotive or MG-related topic. We join forces with our sister club, the British Car Club of the Lehigh Valley, for this fun evening out, which features a lively gift exchange.

April: We usually have out first club outing of the year in April, if the weather is cooperative. The planning gets serious for the British Motorcar Gathering in June. The show chairman holds a number of meetings to get the details in order, and all are welcome to help out.

May: The first club caravan usualy is the drive to Britfest, the first car show of the year, hosted by the MG Car Club of Central Jersey in Succasunna, N.J. May also is big for the three-day Import & Performance Nationals show in Carlisle, Pa., where the club hosts a cookout for members and friends. Carlisle is a major event, and provides a good opportunity to find those elusive parts you need. The last week of May is " British Car Week." Get in your car and drive it!

June: Our own big British Motorcar Gathering, otherwise known as the Hellertown show, is always held the second Sunday in June. You don't have to be a car show regular to enjoy yourself at this event. June also starts our run of summer picnic meetings, held at members' homes, as well as driving events. For the last couple of years, most of the picnic meetings have moved to weekend dates to make it easier for more members to attend.

July: We usually have a caravan or fun rally to some interesting or scenic spot for a picnic or meal, in order to enjoy a great day of driving, food, and fun. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre area show hosted by the British Car Club of Northeast Pennsylvania is always a fun club trip.

August: The "Das Awkscht Fescht" in Macungie is always a big weekend for car lovers, and many club members also attend the Lancaster County MG Club's fun "A Taste of Britain" show in Rothsville, a no-vote event which includes a live polo match.

September: The club takes part in the Fly-In/Drive-In at Braden Airpark north of Easton. This event is hosted by the local experimental aircraft club, who welcomes our club to show up, stake out a tent and display our cars. The Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival in upstate New York is a great weekend trip for British car lovers, as is the annual big "British Invasion" in Stowe, Vt. A little closer to home, "MGs on the Rocks" is a great show just over the state line in Maryland and is popular with members. A really nice informal show called the Autumn Leaf Festival is hosted by our sister club, the British Car Club of the Lehigh Valley, in conjunction with an old-fashioned family fair at the Moravian Academy in Bethlehem. This show is either at the end of September or early October.

October: The big show this month is "MGs at the Village," at Peddler's Village in Lahaska, Pa., hosted by the Philadelphia MG Club. The club resumes regular indoor meetings in October, unless we can squeeze in one more picnic meeting in the fall!

November: Many of us have our cars stowed away for the winter, and we meet to elect officers, talk over the year gone by and start planning for the year ahead!

December: We have a holiday gathering at K&T Vintage Sports Cars in Allentown, putting formal club "business" aside for a chance to enjoy the season in the fellowship of the club.

Here's what else you need to know

The four club officers, president, vice president, secretary and treasurer, are elected every November, and serve one-year terms.  There also are five appointed positions, all of whom serve at the pleasure of the president:
  • The show chairman has the important job of supervising and organizing the annual car show, with the help of members who volunteer to work on the show committee.
  • The newsletter editor puts together the monthy club publication, with photos and stories contributed by the members, and publishes a calendar of regional events of interest.
  • The technical adviser is the "go-to" guy for club members looking for advice or resources about their car.
  • The librarian maintains a library of resource materials (books, videotapes, DVDs) you can borrow to help you with your restoration project. 
  • The regalia chairman stocks the club's T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, decals and other regalia, which are available for members to purchase, and are also sold at the Hellertown  show.
Keystone Region MG Club, Inc., is an affiliated chapter of both the North American MGA Register and the North American MGB Register, through which we are entitled to a $2 million insurance policy for all club events, including shows, picnics, caravans and club meetings.  This is an outstanding benefit, and club members are encouraged to join one of the national organizations to help maintain our affiliations.

That's the "nuts and bolts" of what the Keystone Region MG Club is all about.  I hope you'll join us soon at a club meeting or event. If you have an interesting story to tell about your car, its maintenance or adventures you've had, other members would love to hear about  it, so send your story and photos in to the "MG Gazette."

Kim de Bourbon
Club Secretary | Webmaster