The Story of an MGB Rebuild

 

Background

I've always enjoyed pulling things to bits and as I've got older, I find I'm getting better at putting them together again. Previously, I've rebuilt a Triumph Spitfire, a Triumph motorcycle and a Series III Land Rover. This project started in early 1994 when I bought a 1970 MGB Roadster. I didn't have a lot of cash but I knew that Heritage bodyshells were available. When I first saw the MGB that I was going to purchase, it had stainless steel oversills. These can hide a lot of rot but it was obvious that the sills had been replaced and looked in good condition. My view was that I didn't need to do anything urgently but the option for a rebuild was there if I needed to later.

Well, for the next 9 years, the MGB performed reasonably reliably. I sorted out some of the dog's dinner as I quickly learned that the car was a mixture of a c. 1966 car and a 1970 shell. The Mk1 engine had been shoe horned into the body and there was a nice hole cut into the gearbox tunnel to allow various components to fit. I had a major expenditure in 1997 when I replaced the Mk1 engine, gearbox and overdrive with the correct Mk 2 components in one sitting. The gearbox made a lot of noise and gear selection was a bit entertaining. The situation was forced on me when I noticed a drop in oil pressure when setting off one day. Membership of the MG Owners Club has been a vital asset but occasionally they have been less than forthcoming with the truth! I was a bit surprised to hear a fast whizzing noise when I attempted to start the car for the first time - I then found out that a Mk1 flywheel is a smaller diameter than a Mk2. The starter motor was having difficulty engaging.

Throughout this phase of its life, I had starting problem. One winter, I had had my land Rover stolen so I was forced to use the MG for a while. On a morning I had trouble starting and had removed the battery cover behind the seats. As I was late for work, I'd thrown the cover into the passenger footwell and hadn't refitted it. Coming out from work it was dark and it wouldn't start. As I tried to crank the engine, I was aware of a red glow behind me. Basically the battery to body lead was secured on the body by a bolt that had steadily broken up the surrounding metal. The bolt was hanging on by a sliver of metal which was high resistance and glowed when I tried to start. Once a new hole was drilled and the bolt repositioned, all starting problems vanished (apart from corroded battery terminals - a long term problem)

In early 2003, I noticed that one of the stainless steel oversills had departed company with the car. A few days later, I had a proper look at the car and was bemused to find a significant hole in the front section of the rear wing that forms the rear part of the sill. The main sill was in good condition but the remaining part wasn't. A trip to my local body repair shop wasn't too encouraging with lots of tutting and shaking of head. It was agreed to do enough of a repair to get through the MOT and give me one more summer of driving.

So the weekend after I got the car back, it was a nice weekend and time for an outing. I reversed out of the garage, stopped and shut the garage door. I then got back in the car and reversed down the hill.

bang

I forgot that I'd parked the Land Rover in a different place than normal. The left hand door mirror is always next to useless and especially in this case. Damage? - tiny scratch on Land Rover's bumper but the rear wing light cluster stoved in on MG. So was it worth repairing?

Probably not.

1. The previous repair had revealed a lot of potential problems

2. The inner rear wings had been repaired badly in the past

3. The boot floor was starting to come away from the inner wings

4. A crack was working its way downwards from the petrol tank filler

5. The front suspension spring pans were badly corroded. On one of the pans, the circular dish was corroded for more than 50% of its circumference!

So with a deep breath, I contacted the MG Owners Club in July and ordered a new shell.

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