The Story of an MGB Rebuild


Design Factors

If you've got this far, then you'll have guessed that I wasn't going to rebuild a car exactly like the one that came off the Abingdon production line in 1970. So what design factors influenced the rebuild?

  1. The first issue was that it seemed pointless to try to produce an exact replica when the shell seems to be an amalgamation of parts. The shell wasn't exactly the same as my old one. The main differences seemed to be in the region of the heater outlets. The shell has 2 outlet holes for the facia punkah louvres. Also the 2 footwell air outlets are for the fixed outlets whereas the old shell had the opening door types.

  2. The next issue was those lever arm shock absorbers. They had to go! My 1964 Triumph motorcycle has telescopic shock absorbers so the new MGB had to have them to.

  3. From this followed the idea to sort out the front suspension. I always felt that, compared to a Triumph Spitfire/Herald front suspension, the MGB is pretty awful. OK, I'll accept that the lower trunnion assembly on a Spitfire/Herald with its twee thin metal covers is pretty dire but that's the sort of thing British Leyland excelled at. The MG has something similar and tehy rot in exactly the same way. I'd seen a coil over suspension unit offered by Moss in one of their showrooms but it's a little too much heavy industrial quality. I then saw the offering from the MG Owners Club (H003) which looked a much tidier unit. I have to admit that this decision caused me a lot of soul searching. However, most of the existing front suspension parts were pretty rotten, especially the spring pans.

  4. If the front was having new shock absorbers, then the rear had to have them. One of the biggest single improvements for the Land Rover was changing from leaf springs to coil springs. Tight cornering in a Series III was always a series of thumps and lurches as the rust between the springs slowly gives way. The parabolic spring set from the MG Owners club (PSK02) seemed to offer a much better system in conjunction with a set of Koni dampers.

  5. While waiting for the body on a holiday in France, I saw a crashed Renault in a garage. I was intrigued to see that the wiring was routed in a convoluted plastic tubing that looked really neat. I had heavily modified the old wiring loom on the old car and was considering some major changes in the new shell. Also, I'm a strong believer in an ammeter, a voltmeter and the modern principles of fusing. On the old Joe Lucas fuse box you'll notice that one fuse supports 4 separate feeds. Why not have one fuse for each feed? So, I decided to design and build a custom wiring loom. Vehicle Wiring Products had a convoluted tubing system and that was going to be part of the design.

  6. When I rebuilt my motorbike, I used stainless steel fasteners. 9 years after I finished it, the fasteners look like new. In contrast, within 6 months of buying a new Land Rover, a lot of the fasteners were rusting. So stainless looks smart, stays smart and you can always undo it (OK providing you use copper grease!). At this point, I would like to get in a plug for Roy Summers at Aidpac Stainless who provided virtually all the fasteners. I have to add a word of warning - don't use stainless for heavily stressed components like the suspension. Use the correct MG parts here and accept that they will rust.

  7. New seats would be required because the frames of the old ones were broken. My car had seats from a early MGB (62-68). I liked them but I felt that headrests are a bit of a necessity these days. To my mind, the average car driver has no idea of the environment outside of their car as they are protected by air conditioning, sound systems, power steering, power braking, etc. So the chances of them going into the back of you are worrying. Headrests and more comfortable seats seemed to be a requirement.

  8. The engine would stay to the original spec. I'm not safe in a fast car ( I used to fly jets!) so I need something that goes steadily not spectacularly.

  9. I tried not to set a goal for completion, especially at the beginning. I have to travel a lot for work so I didn't want to overdo it. However, I did try to do something every night I was home, no matter how small it was.

  10. I felt that power steering and power brakes were over the top and drifting away from the key enjoyment factors of the MG. In the early running in days with very heavy steering, I'm pondering that decision!

  11. I decided to build my own database to monitor progress. It was modelled on the Moss MGB parts catalogue which is easier to understand than the British Leyland parts catalogue. Every part on every relevant page is logged in the database. It records the status of each part, the price paid and any notes. As build has progressed so I've updated the status. Its been a good way of working out what needs doing and what parts to buy. For the technical, its written in Delphi with data stored in a MIMER(http:\\ database.

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