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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Too many English ;-)

I do believe the government is allowing too many of you chaps to come and drive on our roads. Why just today I had two fellows go by on the wrong side. One of them just drove along for quite some distance at the same speed only on the other side of the center turn lane and it appeared to be only pure luck that he reached his destination before he reached oncoming traffic. The other one used the northbound far right merge lane meant for making a right hand turn to make his entry onto the street headed southbound, just about as far on the opposite side of the road as it would be possible to get, going by between my car and the shoulder. Really! Something should be done.

Jim Blackwood

Jim - I sympathize - as if you hadn't had enough trouble with the English in the war of Independence.

I met a car coming towards me on my side of a country lane last year. It was a B road and we hit. I asked the driver if he was crazy or drunk. He said 'Neither - I am Russian'.

It is difficult sometimes not to get wound up but I suggest you continue to show the kindness and understanding for which you are well known (outside New York) - the transgressors might come from any number of other Countries which drive on the left.

(Why do they come ? - you try living in socialist Britain)

Good wishes - and apologies in advance


Oh, in case it wasn't clear, the above is meant in jest. While in England on holiday a few years back I was also guilty of momentarily finding myself on the wrong side. ;-)

Jim Blackwood


I suggest that the two drivers you refer to are normally employed as either (1) taxi/minicab drivers - probably from London! or (2) "white van man" which is how we Brits refer to drivers of ANY Ford Transit size delivery van! Whichever category they come from their philosophy is that road sign/lane markings and the Highway Code is for everybody else! I know, I've done both jobs in my earlier years but have seen the error of my ways!

Laurie Webb

L Webb

We had a fatality here on the "Dragon" last year, when a car rounded a bend only to meet another car coming head-on in the wrong lane. The driver of the car on the wrong side was an English tourist.

Whether he was driving on the wrong side by mistake from force of habit, or whether he was just guilty of over-exuberance, as so many drivers on the "Dragon" are, and was merely "clipping the apex" was not determined.
Dan Masters

All of this uncertainty could be avoided if everyone drove on the same side.... the left of course!
Nick Bentley

Hi Jim and the gentlemen from across the sea. I must say thanks for the humorous uplift I recieved from reading the above threads. There is always something in these columns that will get get a rise from the readers. In this case I the humor abounding.

Many years ago I spent sometime in the Virgin Islands. The wife and I rented a small motorcycle for some serious island touring. I had a real time concintrating on driving on the left side of the road. I had no real incidences but there were a few hair raisers.
Dann Wade

Excuse my spelling!
Dann Wade

Every trip over the pond is an adventure. Not only do you have to learn to drive on the "wrong" side of the road, but you also have to learn to shift with the "wrong" hand, and remember that the gear closest to you and up is NOT first.

Thirty years ago, driving a hired car in Italy, I drove perfectly for days on the "right" side of the road in both senses of the word. Needing some fuel, I pulled into a filling station to fill up. Then drove off normally to immediately discover some dosey sod in a FIAT driving on "my" side of the road...... :-(

"Look at that Dozey Sod coming towards us on the wrong side of the road" I remarked to my wife!

I had hardly got the words out of my mouth when I realised my error with an instinctive movement of the steering wheel to restore a more secure passage on the "correct" side of "their" road...:-)

I had dropped my guard briefly after filling up with fuel. You only need a momentary lapse of concentration like that to place yourself and others into real danger!

Keep 'em peeled! Always!


You're so right! It's very easy to lose concentration overseas, especially in the type of circumstance you mention. I have made three long distance trips through Europe to Romania (1500 miles each way) in RHD vehicles, twice in Transit type vans and once in my own, new at the time, estate car. First two trips were in small convoys - 1992 none of the drivers got on the wrong side, 1993 we left a hospital after dropping off medical supplies and the leading van set off on the WRONG side, fortunately in a quiet street. I'm behind, on the correct side, flashing my headlights like mad to alert him and thankfully when we get to a "T" junction 100 metres or so up the road he realises his mistake! In 1994 in my own car, with my late wife and three Romanian friends on board, I pulled away from the roadside after stopping to view a hydro-electric dam and straight over to the LEFT side of the road approaching a bend! Fortunately for me 95% of the traffic in that area was horsedrawn so I quickly regained the correct side of the road after a gentle reminder from one of my terrified Romanian passengers! In 2001 a friend and I drove a hired Romanian Opel Corsa over 800 miles without once going on the wrong side - both of us, however, tried to change gear with the window winder at least twice each time we changed over drivers! IMHO it's easier to remember which side of the road you should be on if the steering wheel is on the correct side!

Laurie Webb
L Webb

Laurie - it does indeed help to have the wheel on the left side when driving in Europe. I used to take a LHD MGA across on the ferry from Denmark to Sweden in the good old days - the ferry operators knew the danger and started one off on the Correct (right) side of the road on the return journey in Elsinore. Without an initial pointer there would have been a stream of havoc all the way to Copenhagen. Now when overseas, I leave a reminder near the wheel.

It's surprising the US followed Europe - in times past men on horseback there continued to offer their right hand to others they met on the road. Indeed even Napoleon might have used the left if the English had not done so first !

Jim - there's not much life that's too serious -


It is indeed hard to keep in the right (left) side in GB!
On the Motoring 100 celebration on Silverstone, the morning after some heavy "celebrating", I left the parkinglot in a Mini and drove on the wrong (right) side, straight into the path of a gigantic Blower Bentley!!! My equally shaken co-driver also screamed! I can tell you that that towering radiator looks very impressive from a Mini perspective.....

The policeman that was directing the oldtimer-traffic was shaking his head when he stopped us, but was very kind; I'll never forget his "thought you where at 'ome, eh?"
Willem van der Veer

I knew this one would be good for a few chuckles. You know, the amazing thing is just how easy it is to not look in the correct direction first (and last) when pulling out. And that one can get you killed right quick. Even knowing which side of the road to be on and planning properly to get there, an otherwise insignificant hump in the road can completely wreak havoc with one's plans if your usual sequence of looking is not reversed as well.

Jim Blackwood

RMW - I presume you refer to the period when Denmark drove on the right and Sweden drove on the left (I've got that the right way round, haven't I?). Must have been very confusing for Danes and Swedes making the crossing and I bet a few Swedish drivers ended up on the wrong side when the big changeover came!

Jim - I look both ways about THREE times anyway, especially if visibility is obscured by parked vehicles. I even check the "wrong" way when turning into a one way street just in case some idiot is driving the wrong way!

Safety Fast (and First!)
Laurie Webb
L Webb

In 1986 I was sent to Melbourne Australia (Down Under) to do some work for a company I was working for. Once I arrived there I found that not only would I have to drive on the left side of the road but I'd also have to get used to a RHD steering arrangement.

Well I felt I could deal with one or the other without serious consequences but not both. I immediately went to a local motorcycle shop and proceeded to talk the owner into renting me a motorcycle for my stay at a very reasonable price. I own both right foot and left foot shifting/braking motorcycles and feel comfortable on either so this was a viable alternative for me. The only problem I had was at the traffic circles (roundabouts) they took a little getting used to.

I must admit though that I should have rented the RHD automobile as I've yet to drive one and the opportunity may never come up again.
Michael S. Domanowski

To all you incorrect people who habitually drive on the right side of the road, it's just as hard for us left-hand gear changers to drive over your side of the water as it is for you coming over here. I was in Vancouver a couple of years ago and launched out into the traffic in a LH drive Range Rover. Boy, was I intimidated. Apart from the size of the huge vehicle, I kept looking to the left for the interior mirror - couldn't stop myself from doing that. And it was so hard to judge how close I was on the right side. I was glad that big brute had an auto transmission - something I didn't have to think about.

Mike H
Mike Howlett

Michael S. in New York - if you ever get to the UK you can drive my factory V8 and we can visit the site of the Abingdon MG works which is about 10 miles from my home!
And to follow, lunch and a glass of Old Speckled Hen in the "Boundary House" pub which was once Cecil Kimber's Abingdon home.

Laurie Webb
L Webb

During my recent trip to the south and west of England we drove a Corsa about 400 miles around all sorts trafficways. I would say it has to be much harder for Americans to adapt to the British way than vice versa. The roads are just to NARROW and allow parking in traffic lanes in many samll towns. And the whole roundabout thing is rather difficult to master(there seems to be no standard layout)and conjoined double and triple roundabouts, forget about it!. The friends we stayed with in Horsham have driven here in Texas seem to concur. Rentals here are nearly all with auto transmissions and the roads are WIDE, WIDE and WIDER.
Chris J.

Remeber this people..... if it was not for the English, all you Americans would be reading a corvette bulletin board now. But then again, I would be writing this on the 4 cylinder mg board if it wasn't for the Yanks!
Thanks for the V8!
Nick Bentley

Actually I really liked the roundabouts after I figured I could just stay in the middle if I missed my exit and go around again. But I did notice one or two drivers and a motorcyclist who seemed bent on destruction going through those things. And I found out why the car I rented had fold in outside mirrors! Had a great time though, driving on all sorts of roads that were different. Narrow hedged in lanes and dirt roads, streets right up against the buildings, and of course the main highways where apparently full throttle is the order of the day. Even managed an offroad trip that was quite enjoyable if somewhat tame by appalachian or rocky mountain standards. BTW, they have those roundabouts in Pennsylvania too, they just go the opposite direction.

And I also always look several times in both directions, but generally look first and last at the traffic most likely to do me harm. If I'm turning right over here that means looking left and traffic from the right is a rather minor consideration as long as they behave. But if you're crossing to the other side to turn right you'd darn well better pay attention to it and if there's a hump make sure nobody is behind it or they'll be right in your lap. Just the opposite of what happens to you blokes when you come over here.

All in all it was a great experience and I certainly was pleased with myself for taking the initiative to rent a car and then get out and explore. Too bad the logistics of the trip didn't let me get to Abbingdon, but we made like regular tourists, got to London for a day, and saw a bit of the country south of there. Rode the busses, train, subway and had a ride with a London cabbie, and even found the local MG dealer and got to wander around drooling at the cars we don't see over here. In short, a very fine trip. Even found a bridge troll, and have the photo to prove it!

Jim Blackwood

Loving driving and being retired I often find myself in a country where they drive on the right rather than the left; particularly as I have owned a share in a house in France for 15 years, and visit my brother in Georgia USA (there is another one) at least twice a year.

In the last ten years I have driven about 20k miles in Europe (mostly rallying) in either my MGA or my B GT V8, plus another 20k in Range Rovers or Discoveries.

In the same timescale I have driven about 8k miles in the States mostly in performance cars such as Astons, Ferraris & large Mercedes - my brother is a car dealer.

I have no difficulty driving either a RHD or LHD drive car on either side of the road. However I must say that I find driving in Europe, mostly France, Spain & Italy much more enjoyable, and easier than driving in the States.
Nigel J S Steward

We've got so many lousy drivers in this country anyway we don't need to import any !!

Cheers , Pete.
Peter Thomas

Considering that the French drive on the right, the English on the left, is there a checkpoint or is it a challenge for chaps crossing the channel in the chunnel to avoid churning their chassis's into chop suey by choosing not to change lanes? Ciao

Having made many trips to Ireland and England over the past 25 years I now find driving over there a fairly easy adjustment. Remembering to look in the correct direction for oncoming traffic is the first thing to remember and turning into the correct lane when making a right turn is the other. The thing I still can't master is that reflex action when meeting another car head on in a narrow lane. First instinct is to pull to the right for us Yanks, not a good idea on the other side of the pond.
Bill Young


When you take a car through the Chunnel you have to drive onto a shuttle train for the trip. So there is no need to change lane part way across.

David Witham

Laurie Webb thanks for the invitation. I'll extend you the same courtesy if you are ever in NY. However, You will have to be satisfied with Pizza and beer (although we can probable make it a black and tan) and a side trip to the old USA East Coast BSA headquarters in Nutley NJ.
Michael S. Domanowski

Well.....when not sure of where you are, just drive in the midle.

I drove a Suburu twin turbo once, the shift pattern was opposite, meaning that third gear was first gear and so on. It took me a couple of laps to get it right. Left foot clutch left hand shift, not normal.

I will be in England in 05 for the Goddwood celebration, I hope to rent a B for the stay and see the country roads and sites.
Bill Guzman

This thread was discussed between 02/02/2005 and 07/02/2005

MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical index

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