Staff Profile

Photo of Michael TookeMichael Tooke

Michael Tooke

NAMGAR Editor, MGA! Magazine

Hello there, I’m Michael Tooke. In 2011 I took on the job as Editor of MGA! magazine. Evidently it didn’t matter to the NAMGAR Board that I’d never edited a magazine or owned an MGA. They must have really been in a bind, but it appears to have turned out okay for all parties concerned. Here’s my story.

I was born in the Philadelphia (PA) area and knew at about age ten that I wanted to be a car designer. A dozen years later I had a degree in industrial design from Syracuse University and a job offer from Ford. However, I decided Detroit wasn’t the place for me, turned my back on my dream career and settled in Connecticut working for a consulting firm designing IBM office equipment.

In 1966 I bought an MGB-GT, my first new car and first automotive love affair. I joined the Southern New England Chapter of the MG Car Club and had fun with the “B” at club rallies and events. In 1968 I added a ten-year-old Bugeye Sprite to the stable with visions of amateur racing. When I grasped the cost of this venture, I sold the Sprite only to realize how much I enjoyed it. So I bought another one which allowed the MG to become a fair weather ride.

In 1969, seeking new adventure, I moved to California, driving the “B” across the country and marrying my wife Pam along the way. We settled in Newport Beach where I worked for a fellow named Tom Kellogg doing boat and RV design. Among other things, Tom was an ex-Studebaker Avanti designer under Raymond Lowey. Life was good, living at the beach in California. Unfortunately, try as she might my new bride couldn’t master the MG’s transmission. Being young and in love, I sold my prized MG replacing it with a far inferior vehicle with an automatic transmission.

Within two years, suffering from the lingering effects of MG fever, I brought home a 1947 Stage III MGTC that had been raced by a doctor from Huntington Beach in the 1950’s. I think I paid $600 for it and it ran! It looked halfway decent too and was an absolute blast to drive. I had started to restore it when I was struck by involuntary employment failure. In a panic I sold the TC, something I came to regret.

Before long I had a new job and another MG. This time it was a “previously owned” 1967 MGB roadster, Old English White with a red interior, and overdrive! The top went down in April and didn’t go back up until November. By 1990 it was the fourth car in the family fleet and beginning to show its age, so I somewhat regretfully sold it to another MG enthusiast, telling myself that it was going to someone who would appreciate it.

By this time I had my own consulting business doing product, graphic, and display design for Southern California technology based clients. The demands of a busy life didn’t allow for MG ownership. Besides, the 1976 Volvo 242 that I bought for my teenage son absorbed all available resources and took up the last parking spot in the driveway.

I retired in 2001 and moved to New York City, where my wife had been offered a high dollar job, to lead a life of adventure in the Big Apple. While living in New York we bought a project house (similar to a project car, but bigger and intentionally stationary) in the Northwest corner of Connecticut. The project house became a comfortable home and now both retired, we discovered how much there was to do when you didn’t have a “real” job.

I have always enjoyed graphic design and continued to do freelance work after retiring. When Melissa Hay, daughter of an old friend from college called, I found the Editor’s job intriguing, kind of like a moth drawn to a flame. It didn’t take much arm twisting; I created a sample issue of MGA!, which the Board approved,

So here I am. I still don’t own an MGA, but I’ve come to appreciate them for the amazing (and sensuous) vehicles that they are, plus the magazine seems to be a hit with NAMGAR members. Before I signed on, I was told this was a three year commitment. Since then, I’ve been told it’s a life-long obligation. Fortunately, I enjoy the job and have met many delightful people with fascinating stories along the way. That’s what really makes the magazine the success that it is. I just arrange the players on the stage, so to speak.

There have been a couple of other changes in the past few years. My wife and I have returned to our home in California, but before we left Connecticut I acquired a very, nice, driver quality MG-TC, so that earlier regret is now history. This never would have happened if I hadn’t gotten involved with NAMGAR, so I guess it’s just destiny. Let’s see where it takes us next.