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MG MGA - University Motors to Close

I was saddened to see this announcement on the University Motors Website.

It is a sad commentary on the state of the economy and Michigan in particular. At least John Twist will still be there to help the MG community with his bench service and advise. His videos are a great resource and I hope they survive. His contributions to our hobby have been significant and I hope he is able to continue on whatever scale he can manage.

Jim Ferguson

As a Brit, I've never head of them, but having just gone onto their website, it's clear that you guys over the pond have had a great resource at your finger tips for many a year!

It would be a great shame to the whole MG community if this was totally lost. It's good to see that some kind of service will be continued.

just my two-penneth. (or should I say "2 cents"?)

G Hudson

Hi seems a shame that the various MG clubs over there can't get together to save the Co. and operate it as per the MG Owners club here, it's too valuable resource to lose.

g c pugh

I have been attending John's technical seminars for 16+ years. Some, like the carb rebuild, I attended several times. We have been to many summer parties, too. His daughter used to babysit our two girls so we could attend the banquets and enjoy the shows. John has always been available to answer questions and to calm me down in times of MG stress. I have had work done at University Motors on several of my MG's throughout the years and he has always taken care of the problems. My family has always considered the Twist's and the University Motors "family" a part of our extended MG family. My hope is that John and his family will still remain a presence in the MG community.


1952 TD
1958 MGA
1966 MGB
1969 MGC-GT
Tony Shoviak

I have known John Twist for almost 25 years. I've had the pleasure of attending several of his technical seminar weekends (the most recent last year on MGA engine rebuild),and have learned something from each one of them. I've been to many of the summer parties, and sent parts there for bench service work. John is a gentleman, he seems to remember the name of every person who walks into his shop. With Carl Heideman leaving the restoration business last fall, and now John Twist reducing University Motors services, its indeed a sad time for MG enthusiasts. Best of luck to you John, thanks for all the good times, and we'll still see you around I'm sure!
G Goeppner

This is very sad news. I was watching some of John's videos last night on youtube, one of which was a university motors birthday video. John said something about their next birthday, and now this.
I think he could do well going on a seminar tour of clubs around the country during the warm months and snowbird during the winter. Too much good info in this guy and it is easy to see he loves what he does.
Good luck and congrats John.
MLS Somers

I just bought a 1959 MGA 1500 and was comforted by the fact that I would have a mentor (John Twist) watching over me. How sad that University Motors will be another casualty in this economic downturn.
DS Savitzky

I had my 57 MGA Diana to John last summer and had hoped that it was the beginning of a long and positive relationship. I can't tell you how upset I was to read that University Motors is closing. To get my MG to Univ. Motors the towing bill was just under $1000 and when I received my car back I thought it was money well spent. Diana sounded and drove like she was new. There is no one remotely equal to John's talents or within 250 miles that can work on my car.

I have found a service man willing to work on my MG- only because it's an "A", he owned one way back when and has an affection for them. He works almost entirely on Volvos and Saabs. If his work is not up to snuff I have no idea where to go next.

I wonder if any of John's employees will consider continuing to work on MGs. He's putting all of his equipment and parts up for sale, so this would only add to the difficulty of someone taking over his business. I can understand how he might want his company name to end with his reputation as excellent as it is.

Heaven help me and Diana.
Jacqueline Peabody

John, you will be missed.

M Gannon

John Twist posted the following on the MG experience MGB forum:

"I do appreciate, truly, the outpouring of concern. Allow me to offer some of my standard lines and then give a slightly more detailed explanation. 1) We've been on life support for several years and it was time to pull the plug. 2) As a businessman, understand that I find myself on the right of the political spectrum. Two branches of the Federal government are firmly in the hands of the liberals, the national economy is in tough shape, the Michigan economy is in horrible condition, my business must close, and my wife has cancer -- other years have started on much better notes.

There are only several "large" MG shops left in this country. The others are located in major metropolitan centers; several in very warm states. As long as the economy was doing well, MG owners were willing and able to bring their cars to us -- in this remote, northern location -- for repair and/or restoration. I cannot begin to tell you how many of our customers are out of work or fearful of losing their jobs. For those who have already retired, they've seen their savings accounts lose half their value. These are very, very difficult times.

Our shop looks like an automotive repair center -- we have hoists, we change exhausts and brakes, do tune-ups.... but we're REALLY in the entertainment business. No one needs an MG and MG owners do not need to have their MG repaired - they can wait until next year! We were after the same dollars that one would spend to go to a movie or dinner, spend landscaping one's lawn, or taking an excursion to Aruba. These are uncertain times, to say the least, and either the entertainment dollars are simply not there, or MG owners are holding back. There is business, certainly, but not enough to support the size plant we have.

Some have asked, "Why don't you work on modern cars to supplement your business?" Quite frankly, I don't like working on cars -- I do like working on MGs. Go figure. We have performed line service, bench service, and restoration. We have hosted the largest MG gatherings outside of England (save the all register events in 1996 (I was chairman of that one) 2001 and 2006) with 550 MGs on the field! We have held technical seminars for a quarter of a century with about 1500 "graduates." I host an hour long call-in technical hour every weekday. I answer (erratically and in batches) technical emails that are then printed in various publications. Sometimes I write stand alone technical articles. I have a technical book (temporarily out of print). I enjoy working with MGs and the MG community --anyone who has viewed the YouTube videos knows this.. This decision to close was not personal, it was business. If we were all twenty years younger; if the business climate in Michigan showed signs of recovery; if we were all in good health -- we would labor on. We did so in the past when times were tough. Times are much, much tougher now. There is simply not enough business to cover our expenses. Two years ago we about broke even; last year we lost money; this year portended to be catastrophic. We had no option.

Add into these difficulties that my wife, Caroline, my business partner of 32 years, has cancer. She had 2/3 of her right lung removed last July, has undergone whole brain radiation, and is on a second course of chemotherapy. She is 55; I am 60.

My intention, today, is to continue to provide bench service and technical information. I will be in Maine the 6/7 of June; Breckenridge at the NAMGBR event later in June; at Mad Dogs on July 12th at the Gilmore Museum near Kalamazoo; at the Central PA British Car event in Altoona the weekend after Labor Day. I'm not hanging my hat up yet!"
Jim Ferguson

I believe that I speak for all of us when I say that we are sorry for thinking only of us. We pray that your wife succeeds in her battle against Cancer.
We thank you also for all your tireless efforts to promote the MG experience, and do hope to see you in future events.
I agree with your political assessment and business assessment of Michigan. I do hope that you and all your staff can continue on in the present labor climate.
Mike Parker
Mike Parker

I find it very sad that some try to make political points out of such an event. I feel a lot of sympathy for John as his wife is seriously ill and his business is no longer profitable because of the lack of custom. He has a battle on his hands in 2 directions and I wish him all the best.

Many many MG based businesses have gone to the wall in the last few years as more and more owners pass away and more and more owners feel they need to do the work on their own cars themselves, ironically John has helped many to do this!

A few years ago even Moss who dominate the parts manufacture for our cars were even on the brink!

I am afraid it was inevitable that John's kind of business would eventually run out of customers regardless of any political event or economic downturn. He has obviously made an extremely brave and neccessary descision and I hope that he enjoys at least that weight lifted from his shoulders.

I would ask you all to not worry about who will repair your MG if you can not do it yourself but keep hope in your hearts that medical science has the ability to give John and his wife a few more years of love together.
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

John, we are all saddened at the news....but you have your priorities right....the health and care of your wife is why we carry on in life....I wish you all the best. Wyatt
Wyatt Wolcott

That is a great shame to hear about U Motors closing its doors. Without question, the MG community here in the States will be losing an immensely valuable member, however as pointed out here earlier, health and family must come first. Being that I travel to Detroit frequently on business, I can see what the economic devastation has done to the state and it's very sad indeed.

Meanwhile, literally JUST before I read this post, I was preparing for transportation to send my '56 MGA and my '67 B-GT to John for some fettling and once that was in order, I was going to call him Monday to see if I could get both of them in for work this week. The five-hour haul would be worth it.


Take care, John. We'll miss you!

Aaron Greenberg

This thread was discussed between 28/05/2009 and 31/05/2009

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