Procastination and Problem Solving? Simple. Get Anoter Car

I know what you are thinking. There I am with one restoration project and deeply involved too! So how does a £400 restoration project solve it? Simple. It becomes a parts car. Except it wasn’t to be!

The parts car in the form of the white MGB wasn’t too bad at all. Sure, it had primed sills, wings that looked like they were held together by rust and fibreglass, and minor spots of rust elsewhere! Add to that a rotten castle section it was not looking good for the ‘B! But what about the good stuff? Truthfully there was more than I bargained for, including:

-Stainless Steel bumpers
-Stainless Exhaust
-A genuine 53,000 miles with MOTs and receipts to warrant this; they went back to the 70s.
-Unwelded and sold floors
-18G head
-A complete car for the best part!

 

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Not a looker I admit! But it was all sound.

In some ways the shell was better than mine. Of course, this is what sealed my fate; this car would be made roadworthy again! With the Sebring off the road I began cracking on with the Chrome bumpered ‘B. The first place to start was the appalling starting; this would be a simple case of a good service, new points, and some fresh fuel. Now the engine purred and went as it should. Next was to sort out the poor steering. Despite having failed and then passed its previous MOT a year prior to me buying it on worn track rod ends it was surprising when I saw them again! The reason for this? They had not been changed when the MOT had previously been done! There was zero grease left in the track rod ends themselves with the boots having been long gone! While the tyres would have pleased the originality freaks I personally was not happy driving around on 18 year old Dunlop SP4s! So off they went and on came a set of refurbished Rostyles with fresh Nankangs on; I recycled these from my Sebring build; after all, I wouldn’t need them on the big arched Sebring anymore! Selling the Chrome bumpered car’s Chrome Rostyles would also help the kitty so that was a win as far as I was concerned!

 

Obviously it wouldn’t be an MGB without any welding required! I enlisted this to my local garage, where I provided them a Heritage castle section to put into place once the rotten one had been cut out. With that done, any signs of surface rust were dealt with underneath with the entire lot being stonechipped once the rust had gone!

What result did the MOT bring after all of this work? A fail! OK, it’ was just for the rear seat catch not being present! With this robbed from my Sebring, seeing as it wouldn’t have rear seats again, the Pass was given!

 

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It’s amazing what a clean can do to an engine bay!

 

With all of this work done it wasn’t a bad car to drive about, albeit an untidy car! With me selling my Peugeot 306 GTi-6 (that story as Ted Moseby said, can wait until later!), the MGB soon became a dependable daily driver! I even had it looking more reasonable with some careful use of Leyland White 13, and some G3 polishing compound! The has-not soon began to look like a could-be!

So, not only had I failed to not break a parts car, I also managed to rescue an MGB back to its former glory, I also tidied it a little, have a bit of fun with and have it be a daily driver before I sold it on! Why would I sell it on? Another car which had caught my eye came into the horizon! But that story can wait for another time quite some time on from now!

Of course I was still left with an MGB Sebring which had little progress made to it! With my procrastination session over with the Sebring as well as me suffering from the ‘grass is always greener’ syndrome. Would me working on the Chromie provide me with some much required mojo towards doing the Sebring? We shall see with the next instalment.

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Want to Put Double-DIN Headunits into a BMW E46 3-Series? Here is Your Guide!

While I was debating over changing the big end bearings in my E46 M3 I needed to improve the audio interface. I had been full circle here like a few people. My car like a few of my age came with a tape deck and a 6 CD Autochanger. Great if you listen to both mediums. If you are like me this can get rather clumsy and limit you, especially in the days of Spotify, and MP3s being around:

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Yup, I soon realised I needed a handsfree version of Bluetooth in my life. So this happened:

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So, the Alpine worked great with the steering controls and gave me great Sat Nav directions via the phone! But it wouldn’t fit right due to depth issues and it well, looked crap! It would take a year before I decided what to do!

The E46 HU choices have been discussed here many times over the years. Some things to me weren’t clear which I will discuss. I never realised that installing a Double DIN HU would require a chunk of fabrication, even with the shallow depth units.

We all know that conventional (read most) Double DIN headunits will not fit the car without compromising the heater function, specifically the foot and window demister function. Furthermore it will require a bit of cutting of the heater box. While you can buy kits to make the heater box functional again it does add cost on and further work to make it work. This of course leaves you with two choices:

The Choices:

1) Get one of the Chinese E46 Lookalike HUs. These seem to have a variable reputation with some being better than others like the Dynavin and the Eonon. These can work with Android phones however. Some people like the look, but a few also feel the quality of these is poor despite looking fine in the photos.

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2) Consider Alpine’s iLX-702E46. This does DAB, has built-in Sat-Nav and has Bluetooth & Apple CarPlay. However, it is rather expensive at £750. It is one of the few plug-and-play conversions out there. If you want a zero hassle conversion that does almost everything this possibly the headunit for you:

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3) Look at the Alpine iLX-700 and Parrot Asteroid Smart. Both have their pros and cons. The Alpine doesn’t have Bluetooth, and the Parrot is a little pricey in addition to some people not getting on with the interface; it seems fine from what I’ve seen. Both however will still require fabrication of the cage to actually mount them. Some people use the fascia which looks like it was never designed for that kind of job, others modify their single DIN/heater control unit cage to mount the lot while others will get a metal cage for around £60 to mount the HU on. If you pay someone to install it that cost naturally will increase significantly. There is also a Kenwood HU on the market which is also a shallow depth head unit.

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4) Get the Sony XAV-AX100. With the Enfig kit this is a plug-and-play affair, circumventing the need to construct cages etc. and the fascia kit for this HU from Enfig is of a very high quality. If BMW did a factory Double DIN Conversion like they did for the Single DINs it looks like it may have been this. Most people out there could install this.

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The Sony also comes with a couple of bonus features too. Firstly, you can buy a TomTom module from Sony to give you permanent Sat-Nav for £180 more, it has Bluetooth unlike the Alpine and it can also do Android Auto. If its CarPlay is as good as it has been so far I would expect similar results on Android Auto. This is great news for people with a robot phone.

Anyway, it’s time to bore you folks here with my experience. This can be done in the next instalment.

Have I gone Big Enough?

I left you folks at the edge of your seat wondering what was happening with my engine. The truth is I was anxious myself! I have worked on the car almost solely over the years, with it only seeing garages for an MOT, manufacturer recalls as well as Rear Axle Carrier Panel (RACP) reinforcement. ETA were considered for the big end bearings but getting to Brands Hatch on weekdays only can be a royal pain.

I’ll be honest, I wanted the phone to ring ASAP with good news after that!

So there I was, sat at work worrying about the engine. I was hoping that welding a bolt onto the bolt would free it. In short, it did! My relief, however, did not come until I came back home and I had a text stating the car was ready to be picked up! Without hesitating, I arranged some transport at short notice and got down to Autobahn. There Rob talked me through what he had done. Then he showed me partly what I wanted to know; the state of the bearings that came out. With 138k on the clock were they beyond gone? The answer?

One was(ish) on the limit with some copper showing but the rest were not too terrible. A few were scuffed as you can tell. But compared to others I have seen removed with less mileage mine were in a pretty decent state; many after even 70k generally have some copper showing on all of the shells! Some would argue I should have left them in! But at least I have the confidence to drive my M3 as intended :).

Maybe this maintenance has had the wrong effect on me. Only time will tell, however.

It’s Time to Go Big End on the M3

It’s fair to say the car hasn’t been the cheapest thing to run, where thoughts of selling up were dancing in the horizons of my mind. They often do when faced with expenditure. Why? I wished to change the big-end bearings.

But why? That is pretty simple really. The way I see it, two things can finish off an M3, well, make keeping the car unviable:

1) A boot floor cracked badly enough to warrant a new Rear Axle Carrier Panel (RACP); About £5k no matter where you go
2) The Rod Bearings; If these go and the crank is marked/scored there is a question mark over whether the crankshaft can be saved; They are tuftrided from the factory and it is said generally reground cranks aren’t as strong as original items. A shame as a new crank is over £2k from BMW, and even the S54 engines are £3k secondhand! That is before fitting!

Yes, head gaskets, VANOS & SMG pumps can go, but generally, the expense is much smaller and easier to spot without generally writing the car off. In those cases, cheaper and potentially longer lasting solutions have been found too in the case of the VANOS & SMG gubbins.

With that in mind I dropped the car off to Autobahn in Halesowen.

Given that Rob was known to colleagues of mine in addition to him racing E46 M3s I figured the car would be in safe hands.

All was going well! I dropped the car off on a Saturday, and then went to the Restoration show at the NEC. That was until Tuesday. I had a phonecall to say that one of my rod bearing bolts was being stubborn.

It was fair to say that I was slightly anxious at this point! But how would it all go? Would this really be a big stalling point?

It’s VANOS Time; And Yes, You can Do this on an M3!

It’s funny really.  Sometimes you see a minor problem and hope that it goes away.  On a few occasions however it will linger like a bad smell. This was certainly the case for my VANOS!  It started during autumn during an oil change. Not a kiss as Hot Chocolate put it.  There I was checking away the car’s diagnostic system using the much-fabled INPA system. All was well until I checked the engine’s codes.  Two codes came back.

P0012 (BMW 72, 0x48): Vanos intake timing over retarded
Pxxxx (BMW 184, 0xB8): Vanos intake position control

Crumbs, crap! This is not a set of codes that I wanted.  After doing some research it did seem that something as simple as an iffy connection to the VANOS solenoid pack could do this!  With that in mind, I cleaned out the connection, refitted it, cleared and codes and waited to see what would happen.  To my relief, the codes did not come back after running the car. Not then anyway.

However, come a week before I put the car away again for the winter period I was greeted with a very flat feeling engine!  Sure, it was not dead slow but it was felt very flat for an M3!  On top of that I also had an EML light make an appearance!  Once again, I got my diagnostic kit out, INPA for those wondering.  If you have a BMW this software is well worth the purchase price!

Like before, the codes came back.  Also like before, I tried to clear the codes!  This time however, code 182 refused to go.  Great!

After doing some research it became apparent that these codes are common codes to get on an E46 M3, even from many years ago!  It pointed to my VANOS seals and my solenoid pack going.  With that in mind I ordered a set of Beisan Systems Viton VANOS solenoid seals in addition to their refurbished solenoid pack, all of it coming from Hack Engineering.  With those things ordered it was time to crack on with the job with the help of a trusty teaboy.  OK, I lied, I meant a friend.

How easy is it to change these seals?  Very!  With the Beisan Systems guide, this job is a doddle.  The instructions for changing the components can be found here.  But I’ll take you through it, just in case you are having your doubts,

Once I took off the all too familiar engine dressing parts with nothing more than a screwdriver and a pair of pliers.  With that done I took the opportunity to loosen the VANOS pressure regulator. I then carefully removed the solenoid connection and undid the VANOS solenoid bolts.  With rags underneath the solenoid to catch any lost oil, I put the valve block and solenoid assembly onto the bench.

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This is where the real work began!  I started by separating the solenoid pack from the valve body.  One thing the Beisan guide omits is that these solenoid bolts can get rusty; I’d purchase a set of these from BMW at the same time as getting the revised valve body bolts.  It will simply make life easier.

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While my friend cleaned out the valve block as best as he could with a can of highly pressurised carb clean in addition to a magnet (allowing the valves to open for further cleaning), I cracked on and removed the seals from the sealing plate.

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It was fair to say that my seals were shot!  You can buy a complete sealing plate from BMW for around £30. However, considering that the Beisan seals are cheaper and made of more heat resistant Viton I went ahead and installed the Viton items into place:

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With the valve body clean I attached the refurbished solenoid pack onto the now cleaned valve body.

 

With the Solenoid,Valve block and Sealing plate assembly all done it was time to put it back into place!  Not only did it brighten up the engine bay a little it also would end up cleaning the codes for good!  For £170 all in including the revised bolts from BMW it was a good result all in!  I didn’t change my VANOS filter as I previously did that almost a year ago.  I did however change the pressure regulator seals to the Viton items; the inner seal was already going square surprisingly!

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The CTEK was put onto the car since the poor car had been off the road for a month with all of the salt about on the roads!

Another job I got around to sorting was the appalling handbrake!  With the entire assembly stripped down I went ahead and cleaned everything!  Armed with some Ceramic grease I carefully applied it, reassembled the brakes and all was well again!

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I know what it sounds like! The car has broken again! I did however do some fun stuff!  But that can wait until the next installment.

At Times like These: Travelling Yorkshire in an M3

 

Sometimes, just sometimes, you hope that a problem will go away. This was certainly the case after a routine diagnostic scan during Autumn! Thankfully, I cleared the codes and they didn’t come back when I checked a week later.

It is just as well as I decided to go on yet another little road trip! This time, somewhere a little closer to home. That is the much coveted Buttertubs Pass in the Yorkshire Dales, sitting between Hawes and Thwaite. It is also a road revered by Jeremy Clarkson, which may be why some of you have heard of it. For many years I had been meaning to try this road, right from the moment I read about it and then saw it on the big screen! If my balls were bigger over a decade ago I would have taken a previous car that I enjoyed & owned. The cult classic, the one and only Peugeot 306 GTi-6:

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What do you do with a great car?  Sell it?  That was the story with my 306 GTi-6!

So I had a great car back in 2008. What stopped me from progressing beyond the drawing board? Fear. In that case, it was the fear that the car would have a lift-off oversteer moment and send me down the valley to my untimely death! The cost and being in the midst of a recession probably didn’t help either!  In hindsight, it was a silly reason, but probably wise, given my lack of talent and then a little lack of restraint at times! But anyway, let’s go back to 2017!

After doing the necessary things like booking a hotel and coming up with a plan of what to do, I finally made my voyage up to the Yorkshire Dales. Before I even hit the Buttertub’s pass the scenery was quite stunning along with the roads! As was the drop in temperature from 7 degrees Celsius to a chilling -1!  Yes, the elevation was quite high as I got there!  The roads, and view, however, were more than worth it!

 

 

Like many I planned the route thoroughly, looking at Google Maps previously to see where the Buttertub’s Pass started from Hawes.  It was wonderful driving through the idyllic towns!  However, as always, I almost missed the turning for the very spot I wanted!  Climbing that elevation however soon had me on the road that I wanted.  What did I make of the road though?

Honestly? It’s a great road but maybe not for an M3 in the depths of winter with its tight twists and turns. The scenery is beyond stunning; you forget about the beauty present within the UK when you reside in the Midlands, and boy is there plenty to admire! It is fascinating driving down a very thin road but with nothing except a hosepipe to save you from slipping and falling down a 200-foot drop into a valley!  It is terrifying yet somehow exhilarating!  Do I get why the Buttertubs is revered by a few people?  Absolutely! Once I got there it wasn’t a case of ‘why did I do it’, it was more one of ‘why did I leave it this long?’. I am very glad that I took the 150-mile trip up North to give the famous pass in the Dales a drive and in a spectacular car to boot!

But as always, the Buttertubs was only part of my journey there.  Not far from the Buttertubs is an old relic, a treasure showing what man and achieve and how magnificent it can be.  It is also a stark reminder of what cost it comes at.  In this case, it wasn’t just a monetary cost, but also a human death toll.  I am talking about none other but the Ribblehead Viaduct in Ingleton.

I did spend a couple of hours admiring the structure it has to be said.  Soon however, it was getting dark and so I went to my humble abode in York to stay and get some much-needed rest  With the car put into Auto, and me making light work of the traffic I arrived in York being tired but relaxed; I guess I did travel half of the country, leaving from Warwickshire! But hang on a second, I hear you ask, York is miles away from the Dales!  You’d be quite right there!

The truth is I had a few things to see in Yorkshire, with it being a 3 hour trip up to the Dales from my place! One such thing I had put off for a long time also was the Yorkshire Railway Museum; Yes I do have a thing for Yorkshire it has to be said! Upon entering the train haven I was enjoying it but thinking it was a little small with a few trains up right at the entrance. Little did I know, this place would be the equivalent of a train collector’s tardis!

There were not just a few trains dotted around the place, but something of a secretive lair about the Railway Station!  As you in the main entrance hall with the always surprisingly massive trains you cannot help but just stand there in awe! Every walk through a doorway proved to be an expansive trip into yet another hidden part of the museum, including stumbling into a Coronation themed railway station! It is fair to say that I loved my trip to the Railway Museum; this is a destination I can recommend going to, especially considering that it is free! With York left to explore it really is somewhere you truly can make a great weekend of!  Did I drive away a pleased man?  Absolutely, especially considering that the main focus of my trip was the Buttertubs Pass, which mothballed into much more!

And what about the M3?  Like the trip to Spain, the old girl really proved itself in being competent, yet being a fun & comfortable accomplice for my trip up North! The trip proved something however.  As a great bloke I know once said, it’s not a case “If only you were closer”, it’s more a case of “If only I was there!”.  Here is to taking a more proactive approach to exploring more places, be it a trip to the North or outside of the country with whatever cars I have!

With Christmas done, how would the New Year treat me?  That can wait until the next update.

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Stagnation ; It ain’t Pretty!

Sophocles once said, “there is nothing more demoralising than money”.  He was almost right.  It was the lack of it!  This was certainly the case with the MGB!  It was 2006 and I had received the unfortunate news that my painter had died.  This was unfortunate for many people and it affected me personally as well as his friends and family!  Why does it seem to be the good guys that are taken?

This left me with a bit of a predicament regarding the car.  I had a car that was almost finished on the bodywork but still requiring alot of legwork to finish!  I mean, how bad could it be?

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The truth was quite bad!  One painter with a very variable reputation offered to take the car on, but they wanted £1000.  For my dad and I it was about our limit to commit to!  We then had recommended faces come over.  That was a predictable outcome; they all took one look at it and replied “it will cost you £2,000 and whatever else we find along the way”; they wanted an open chequebook for the car!  For both me and my dad this fee seemed extortionate!  There was no way that we could commit to that!

To put it bluntly, we had a car that seemed like a lepar to most painters and with the costs to match something perceived as untouchable!  With this in mind the car went under a tarpaulin for probably the best part of 6 months and the project stagnated completely.

 

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The thing under the Blue Tarp?  That’s the MG!  The Ka was one reason for the slowdown, but that can wait for another time, as Ted Mosby said

Of course, with something seeming as doomed for eternity procrastination kicks in, and boy did it kick it hard with the MG?  This is a theme that has run in many a retro owner’s blood, with me being no exception!

 

What did I do in that time?  Quite alot, just not anything really related to the MG.  OK, not directly?  Part of it involved me going to Spain with a few mates in a £260 Volvo, messing around on the said Volvo, and tinkering with my then new daily of a Focus 1.6, in particular its audio system!

 

If you need to console yourself with a procrastinator I am all ears!  Don’t, however, expect any productivity to come at the end of it!  It’s all good and well procrastinating with a black cloud over your project like a rash!  Of course, the uninitiated people of restoring would often laugh and joke about the lack of progress my car was making.  Were they helping me however?  Most didn’t, probably because deep down they knew I faced a big task.  That was to either give a half decent bodyshop an open chequebook to completing the Sebring conversion or for me to get off the sofa and actually crack on with the task.  Time would tell however.

Seeing as I was still in my first year of University and hardly rolling in cash I decided to embark upon embracing all aspects of the car!  For a first time restorer you really do pick things up thick and fast!  I did however have help!  Come Spring 2007 and progress was being made with the bodywork, much to the dismay of my neighbours!  The weekends were progressing nicely however:

It’s funny really!  Sometimes to make progress you do have to do it yourself!

By the time the summer of 2007 had arrived it was looking a more complete, albeit very brown!  It wasn the finish or brown that I envisaged either!  But when you are working to an impossible budget, compromises have to be made!

In this case, it was sticking to the car’s Russet Brown!  I originally planning to go with more of a modern chocolate brown as used on the R56 Minis.  However, yes, that little matter call a budget would me I’d stick to the brown!  Over the course of the summer of 2007 my painter friend and I kept on chipping over the available weekends it seemed we were doing alot but acheiving very little!  He was paid of course for a bit of the work he did!

 

In this time the engine still hadn’t been fired up since 2002, the battery was truly dead by now, where even Unipart’s lifetime warranty couldn’t save it; some of you will remember the Samson batteries warranty out there!  I also cut my teeth into the welding aspect of this car!  And sure enough with the crappy MIG gas canisters from Halfords, it wasn’t pretty! Ah. the joys of fixing a car on a shoestring!  Somehow, my perseverance did eventually pay off!

I finally had something that began to look like a car at least!  Being in a cash strapped situation after graduating from university in 2008 and looking around for jobs during a recession I had a bit of a brainwave!  Get a donor car!  That way, that will have all of the parts that I need to complete things!

And this would be it!

Yup, I got my hands on a very sorry looking, but complete MOT failure of a 1973 MGB GT during Christmas 2008!  Surely with all of its spare parts it would provide all of the pieces of the puzzle!  After all, it was £400 for an automotive wreck!  Well, yes it would, but simply not in a manner that anyone expected.

The Sebring Conversion Begins!

For the first time ever with the MGB project it looked like I was finally making progress!  I finally had a plan, a tangible one at that, my painter was keen and being local to him, communication could be kept much better between the pair of us!  He had been given £400s worth of Smith & Deakin’s finest panels.  But as you know from the previous post that was not the case!

 

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This really was the best place for the wings.  In the bin!

 

Since we’d be salvaging the original wings as a base for the arches to be grafted on my painter and I agreed on that!  However, he’d need some wheels quickly so as to know how to mount the arches but also deal with the inner items!

With that in mind, I tried searching and search for a cheap set of 8J wide wheels in around 14 or 15″ diameter.  Given that the MGB has a PCD of 4 x 114.3mm such wheels are not common now even with banding taking off!  You can imagine what my situation was like in 2005!  It was poor!  I really did not want to spend a fortune on wheels.  But sometimes you have to swallow your pride and just go with it!

As a result I ended up buying a set of genuine 8J x 15″ Minilites with steel inserts and the magical ET0 offset (i.e no offset for the dish) for the sum of £540!  Wow, that did hurt at the time!  Or so I thought it did!  But then I needed some tyres.  Again, I’d search, search and search even more to find fruitless results secondhand due to me wanting an uncommon size.  It was either going to be 215/60R15, 225/50R15 or 225/55R15s!  In the end I went for the 225/55 in Kumho Ecsta 711 flavour ; This added on another £240 onto the bill which to be fair was quite reasonable!

With that done there was nothing left for me to do except pop into the painter’s a few times and see how things were going!  Now that I had the parts these bits progressed very well suddenly!

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Firstly, the wings were offered up.  Next, the car was cut up for it to accept the wings.  Would this please most MGB owners?  Somehow I doubt it.  But when the result was looking to be finally taking shape I could not really care what they thought!  Finally this car looked like it may one day see the road again!

What he had done was fillet out the inner wheel arches towards the wings and then have that as a strengthener.  However, having a fibreglass to metal join is never an easy task to undertake: just ask any Ford Racing Puma owner about that!  That is why the car had a bit of filler on it so as to disguise the join!

One day it really did look like it was a car again!  It was great news for me, the painter, and all involved!  The car was now only weeks away from seeing paint thankfully!

The panel gaps were spot on, any visual sign that the wings and arches were two different materials looked like they would be gone once the car to paint and all was looking superb.  However, it was not to be.

I remember being at university at the time when I got a phonecall from the painter’s solicitors.  The news was something I never thought I would expect, and something I really didn’t take in for some time!  After all, the painter soon became a friend of mine and was a great pillar of the community, to both the Sikhs in Leamington Spa as well as many of the VW folk!  I say was as he had passed away!  It has been said that 2 pack paint doesn’t do painters any good and this was a stark reminder that the paint fumes were not a force to reckoned with!  Unlike radiation it may have had a smell and taste.  The fumes however were invisible and deadly even with precautions taken!

Why stop the project again?  But also, why take one of the good guys away in his 50s?  That’s no way for such a bloke like him to go!  With that in mind I got the car out of the shop ASAP for his family’s sake and yet again I had the car back on the driveway, but not as expected.  I almost lost the vision for the car again, but worse still I had lost a friend!  Just what would be the thing to do now?  Would the project stall again or would it be kickstarted once more?

A Change of Direction with the ‘B

Tests.  They can get you stressed, anxious and even at times depressed.  Looking back, it seemed like my MGB was just one massive test.  After all it began looking like a simple project but after one setback or another beyond my control it seemed like it was a project that was deemed to fail going by my tribulations from the previous MGB blogs.  This however looked set to change once I dropped the car off to the bodyshop of my first choice from all those years ago.  Since then I had used him for a few cars for minor panelwork and strangely I even bought a 1970 VW Beetle off him which gave its own challenges.  The “grass is always greener” strategy also entered my mind with me buying a horrorshow of an MG Midget with its share of problems.  But I had to do something with the wreck of my MGB, and so I got in touch with Sagoo, the first painter I asked to work on the ‘B.  It was fair to say that he was a known entity ; if there was a chance of getting the car done this was it!.

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A familiar face to a few Leamington Spa people here ; Sagoo and his apprentice.  

The brief like all things started off simple.  Restore it back to original.  After all, we had a tailgate, a set of rear quarters, a pair of wings and valances to boot.  However, with having a blank canvas and seeing magazines written by people who modify cars would soon change this.  From tinkering with cars to mildly pepping them up I was about to throw myself into the deep end, more than I would realise.

This would start from me picking up a copy of the RPM magazine, which has now morphed into Practical Performance Car Magazine (PPC).

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I shall look into whether I can get my hands on a copy of it but in short, the magazine outlined how you could build an MGB Sebring V8 for £4,000!  OK, £4,000 bought you a few nice cars back in 2004 but all of the same,  an American derived V8 in a quintessentially British everyman car.  Throw some big wings into the mix and some fat wheels and all should be well!  Sounds easy eh?  In short, it wasn’t.  What I didn’t prepare myself for was the frankly shocking fitment of the wings from Smith & Deakin ; I wondered if Stevie Wonder had created the moulds for the wings!  They were miles and miles off from fitting right.  I struggled to put them on myself and Sagoo the painter dug his heels in here when it became apparent at just how much work faced us.  Of course, I felt he was sandbagging a little.

Remember that internet forums were only just beginning to kick off at this stage and information only came from car clubs and even then only those who tried to fit the parts on. I was very much on my own as was strangely my painter.

What we decided to do was go along to the MG Car Club show at Silverstone to see other MGs.  In short, we noticed that any MGB with fibreglass wings had compromises made in terms of how it fitted the car.  Some cars had the wings catching the doors so as to fit, others were just as shoddy as ours, while others were pin straight.

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This was one kit suggested for my car instead of the Sebring kit. Out of the Max Power days its appear is a little lost

Why were some pin straight?  The others had grafted the arches on from the Sebring wing kits onto an existing wing.  This of course presented me with the first of many hurdles with the Sebring conversion.  I had to source a set of Chrome bumper wings.  Truthfully, the secondhand rubber bumper wings had been questionably repaired and were not really suitable.  When new wings were £225 each new this was a hard pill to swallow; suddently the £4,000 budget was looking threatened of snowballing up!  But like all events you make some great friends.  Somehow, I got a set of wings and an Ivor Searle 1500 engine for my MG Midget for £100!  Yes, that figure is correct!  Sometimes, going to shows can really open up an avenue of people more than you realise and it’s one reason why we should all support the right events.

With that said there was only one thing left to do ; let my painter get on with it and put my feet up.  But as we all know, it’s never that simple.

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The first sign of hope in this situation.

All Good Things…

You know how the tale goes.  You find the right person, they come recommended,  and so you send it to them.  Within a few months your car comes back.  In some ways I wish I could tell you that!  But we are all too wise to know that dealing with classic cars is like being in a fairy tale world.

I left the last blog on this car with me handing over the keys to a bloke in Coventry in 2002.  Over the months my dad kept calling up the bloke .  He would often say “yeah, the second coat of primer is on”.  To cut a long story short this saga lasted a few years!  Why?  There were many things going on away from the car.  In that time businesses were sold, people lost jobs, other classic cars were bought and sold, people got jobs again, other people went to university, we somehow got a sheddy MkII Astra as a courtesy car to drive around in while the MG was being repaired; yes really!   Yes, it was a little convoluted at times.

 

The MGB GT being at the bodyshop for all that time sat like a beacon of hope even though we hadn’t seen the car for two years!  In 2004 my nagging with my father had come to an end.  He decided to call the garage who were the custodians of the MGB.  We were simply told “Come on down to us”.  It sounded ominous to say the least.  After all, it’s not like I had been ridiculed for this car not being roadworthy and taking seemingly an eternity to fix.

When we went to the garage the owner appeared to have disappeared, with only the foreman left to run the place!  I saw no MGB there either!  And so off we went on a convoy to see the MGB.  I was looking forward to seeing the car semi-complete.  What I would see however would shock me to the core.

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Err, yeah, the coats of primer are on fella.  Yeah, it looks it.

The car was not at all how I pictured it.  Previously solid areas of the car that I knew were solid had been subject to a trigger happy shotblaster. Worse still it had patches in places that would really throw a spanner in the works.  Inside patch welding on a floorpan anyone?  Another patch slapped onto rust on a window aperture?  The car looked like an abandoned shell without any running gear.  Everything of the car was all in boxes.  Not in any real order but it was just there.  Would I even have all of the fixings there?  I guess at least the good running gear was present right?

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Yes, it was not in a good state of repair

This unfortunately left us with a problem.  Here we had an MGB that we had sunk roughly £2,000 into ; bear in mind a good rubber bumper MGB was around £3,000 back then.  It looked like all we were left with was a running and rolling MGB shell ready for the scrap heap.  What looked like an ideal father and son project was now looking like its future was bleak.

At that moment in time we didn’t know what to do.  It couldn’t be driven in that state and it was clearly going to take alot to get it right again.  It’s amazing how £600 cars start out isn’t it?  Scrapping the entire car was something I suggested.  My dad vehemently went against that idea; I was 18 at the time.  I don’t think he truly estimated the scale of the work ahead of us.  Maybe it would have been the wise idea ultimately despite the pain.  But that is not the point of such projects.

We had some quality time in and on the car.  And we hate to lose.  It would also be a shame to have a project dissappear purely due to one person.  Did I mention that I really hate losing?

Is there a moral to this story?  Yes.  Always check up on the progress on the car in the flesh.  Yes the guy may appear trustworthy, and he may be saying all of the right things.  But people lie, pinch things from cars and generally don’t care about you.  I hope that no one else has the above happen to them.

With weeks to go for the car to be dropped off to us its fate would be decided.