The Story of an MGB Rebuild


A New Body

Where to get the body from? I'm in the MGOC and it seemed that their prices were pretty good. I ordered the new body in July 2003 and was told that the bodies were on order - I could expect mine in 6 weeks. I had a chat to my local car body repairer, he suggested painting the bottom and inside of the car with topcoat and only putting a primer on the rest as a first stage. The final coat would be applied only once I'd completed most of the build. I would inevitably collect some scratches during the build (and I did!) and this seemed like a good idea. In September, I got the news from the MGOC that the body was ready - the problem was that my car body repairer had just lost his painter and that he now had a problem. So had I! So I agreed with the MGOC that they would prepare and paint the car - only I had to go into another 6 week waiting list. The MGOC said that they would sort out some of the problems with the Heritage shell, for example the lack of room round the front shock absorbers and the fit of the front grille.

I would definitely recommend the partial paint job approach, if you can. The MGOC paint job was OK but not top notch. My local repair specialist subsequently pointed out a few areas where a little more work would have made all the difference.

I ordered the front and rear suspensions in advance. The front suspension was the MGOC coil over shock absorber unit with modified cross member (H003). The rear suspension was parabolic springs (PSK02) with Koni shock absorbers. The installation instructions for the Koni shock absorbers are dire and it's quite difficult to work out which way up the shock absorber bracket should be fitted. The front suspension was ready as a complete unit for assembling. The rear axle was subjected to my standard treatment or such parts. Back to bare metal with a rotary wire brush, 2 coats of Hammerite No 1 primer and 2 coats of black Smoothrite. I've found that Hammerite doesn't last very long if you don't use the primer - despite what it says on the can.

I spent the rest of the autumn on my database program and the wiring diagrams. I also tried to build up a stock of spares by buying an 'allowance' after I had been paid. This was useful later on as I was rarely waiting for parts.

The body finally arrived on 17 December 2003 in a special trailer. A temporary front axle was fitted by MGOC to the car so that it could moved. The body was sitting on the battery boxes so expect some paint damage here. The MGOC trailer set up is pretty good. There was a small amount of damage where the boot sits on the rear valance - not enough packing here.

Lift the back end of the car with a few willing "volunteers" and up into the garage. You can see the refurbished back axle on the right. This really was a milestone and marked the low point in the morale curve. From here, things can only get better!

So this was it's home for the next few months. Front of chassis rails on axle stands and rear spring hangers on ramps with bits of wood providing some protection. Note the obligatory concours broomstick doing its usual function. If it looks cold in the picture that's because it was very cold! I was keen to do something positive on the first evening to mark the transition to a more positive phase of the project so I fitted the cross member. It wasn't particularly easy to get the crossmember into place single handed but the job was done. Plenty of copper slip grease on the crossmember bolts.

This is what the front suspension looked like after it was fitted. All the nuts and bolts are loose at this stage - except for the crossmember bolts. Only tighten these bolts with the car fully assembled and the car on its wheels. I think the new crossmember is much neater than the original. The vertical links are exchange replacements - I went for the ones with the needle roller bearing.

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