Progress? What’s That? Oh, That. MGB Sebring Restoration Update

Sometimes you have to admire the method in one’s madness! That is to buy a non-roadworthy car, get it roadworthy, all while trying to deal with a restoration become more of a body conversion! But there was method to my madness for 2 key reasons. The first was I was now using the Chromie as temporary daily transport, after selling my then Peugeot 306 GTi-6 after deeming that too pricey to run; funny really! It also helped my motivation in tackling the massive project the Sebring had now become! Another reason? Thanks to seeing a complete car I now had a vague idea of where the fixings went, as opposed to being sent the ‘right’ screws, only to find out they were wrong, and seeing what the restorers had broken when I first got the car back; the bolts went back into boxes without any marking which really cut my work out!

 

The first thing to do with the Sebring was to refit the Britax sunroof. Because all of the screws were now just an assortment this made life tricky for reaffixing the canvas lid. I only had one screw left! After trying my local screws place they didn’t know either; the threads weren’t the best on this! Eventually, I got hold of a Britax roof specialist who saved me a lot of trouble by sending out the right nuts. Now I had a car that was closer to being watertight!

 

It was however never going to be watertight with the door I acquired years ago! Everyone said it was down to the wing fitment, despite the previous door fitting perfectly. In the end I would source another door as a result of much fettling with the poor door. With the original item bolted up and the reskinned item removed I now had a door that looked like it belonged to the Sebring! Except it was Pageant Blue!

 

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Iy may be the wrong colour but at least the fitment is much improved

 

I also took the opportunity to replace my shot bootlid for the much more solid item, and treated it to new seals all round. With the windscreen fitted in thanks to some parachute cord and helpful friends it was look great for the car! It was time to celebrate! This I did by buying a tired Moto-Lita steering wheel and polishing it until it looked sound once more. Fitted in the car it finally started to show more promise!

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This would admittedly slow a little when I checked the brake pipe to Spax damper conversion clearance on full lock. Finding the supplied Spax damper brake pipes in my assortment would soon cure this issue, where I also took the opportunity to change the rear flexible hose to a braided item, so as to compliment the front end.

But all good things would soon come to a stop. Over a year after I started working on the Sebring again the upper arm decided the remains of the bolt would become at one with the arm! This really was a pain! I resorted to heat, whacking it with hammers and punches to no avail. My sister remembers the hammering sounds! Eventually it would take a lot of heat and a puller to remove the remains of the bolt! Hallelujah! Finally the car was on all 4 weeks again!

 

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How the remains of one bolt would prove to be such a pain!

 

Another issue I had put off was the welding on the car. With my welding supplies from Halfords and an overly dark fixed darkness welding mask it didn’t start well at all! I could not get a consistent feed from the welder! Annoying! Thankfully, a retro rider by the name of Grunty would come down, condemn my welding equipment as rubbish, have me fix my old welding gear before he would begin! Suddenly the car became very solid!

Now I had other issues. The car wanted tuning up badly! The issue was the ignition advance was stuck at 10 degrees throughout the rev range! To add insult to injury it wasn’t moving freely in the engine either for adjustment or removal! With some brute force I soon had the dizzy removed. A short while later, and the car was running well once more. Or so I thought

It was then time to put the car through an MOT. Despite it randomly now puffing out blue smoke and not seeing an MOT for over 10 years how would it all go?

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The MG Sees the Road!

Well, this update has been a long time coming! But, like many a BL worker, I figured I’d have a few cups of tea, and then a few more beers before I came to writing the reply! So, what did happen with my MGB?

In the first MOT the car had seen for almost 10 years, it failed. This was hardly a surprise! The failures comprised of:

  1. Both brake hoses twisting into themselves during the MOT
  2. Wiper blades being worn
  3. Handbrake having no reverse travel
  4. Headlamp aim being off

Not a terrible list but it could have been better! The biggest worry of mine was the brake hoses! Little did I know, they would be a very easy fix!

One issue with a car being a slow burner over the years is the ability to lose parts along the way! This is what had happened to the brake, in addition to my inexperience. The brakes were missing P Clips which held the hoses to the crossmember. Some self-screwing nuts and P-Clips later, and the hoses were fine! To alleviate the twisting of the hoses, I ended up adjusting the hoses so they wouldn’t twist quite so badly. With this done, the car finally had a clean ticket for the first time in years!

 

OK, it was far from finished, but God, it was actually on the road!

Naturally, some things did jump out at me!

  1. The paint finish was not great and not enough was on to even wet-sand it (not that I knew what wet sanding was back then!)
  2. The interior still needed doorcards and seats inside, but truth be told, it wanted a door painting too!
  3. While the car drove nice, the rear was rock hard! Were the rumors about Spax dampers ruining the ride quality true?

The biggest issue with all of the above was the cash, especially the paintjob. Back then, a very good MGB was worth about £4000 on a good day, and Sebring conversions tended to fall into two very distinctive camps. Either cars with very appalling bodykits with wheels that didn’t suit the car at all, or super-pro cars which had £10,000s spent on them, not just thousands. Maybe just under £10,000 would have got what I wanted. But back then, £2.5k was far too much for me to commit to a paintjob on a rubber bumper ‘B! Madness or reality kicking in?

What I did do, however, was source some lovely Corbeau bucket seats. At £150 for the pair secondhand they were cheap, and yes I still winced at that price, even back in 2011! As for the springs, well, I went all out, as the ass-up-in-the-air look just was not cutting it!

As a result, a further £200 went towards MG Motorsport, who sold me some SuperFlex bushes for the leaf springs, and a set of decambered springs. Yet again, people warned me about how the car would be ruined! They probably had a point there, as I almost broke my hand as I undid the leaf spring with the axle stand under the axle and not the chassis; I just didn’t trust the chassis! Stupid in hindsight I know! But we all have to learn the hard way! How I didn’t break my hand to this day is unknown!

But back to the car. How would it drive and behind on 8J x 15″ wheels on sorted, or dangerous suspension, depending on who you talk to?

The truth? I would be in for quite a surprise the next time I drove the car out.

 

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It’s hard to see but note the purple SuperFlex bushes. Believe it or not, the dampers hadn’t even done 500 miles with the powdercoating flaking off.

 

 

The Final Curtain : MGB Sebring is No More

So, where was I last time? Ah yes! Speaking about the MGB and the chassis changes I had done. What did these changes entail? Well, the chassis setup was as follows:

-2″ 550lb lowering springs up front, with 2″ decambered leaf springs on the rear
-OEM V8 lower arm bushes up front, with Poly bushes on the upper arms. Rear was all SuperFlex Bushes
-Spax telescopic damper conversion all-round
-8Jx15″ Minilite wheels shod with Kumho 711 tyres in 225/50R15

Some would argue that such a setup would be dreadful. With mid-range tyres, big wheels, and Poly bushes, albeit good quality items, I was made to think that I wasted my cash.

How wrong I was! It drove lovely! The SuperFlex bushes worked wonders on the rear! From a solid rear-end, the back of the car was suddenly pliant, comfortable,yet very well controlled. It was a revelation! Nowhere near as bad as the scare stories made out! It was absolutely brilliant!

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It was finally spot on! The interior was near enough new, the drivetrain was very good, and I had the suspension dialled in to make it drive better than when the ‘B left the factory! It should have been peachy, right?

Well, no, was the answer. It seems crazy to think I put alot of work in and I’d be happy with the result. But I was also aware there was alot of work still left to do! What was left I hear you ask? Quite alot was the answer! The problem with striving for perfection is that the cars soon become a never-ending story. A project that is never finished. As someone who used their cars alot and was then still fairly new to the restoration game, that took me some getting used to. What exactly was outstanding?

  • Seat subframes ; I may have got the seats cheap, but the subframes would soon tot up the cost
  • Engine Transplant: I really really wanted to do a Rover V8 swap into this. I researched it enough to know what I was letting myself in for. But honestly, the days of cheap Rover V8s were ebbing away, and with that, so did my idea of one. Yes, I could K-Series it or Supercharge the factory boat anchor, but all of them entailed costs
  • The paintjob. I know, I heard all of you saying that was obvious. The truth was that I had quotes for over £2,000 to get it painted and then, I had no facilities in which to paint the car with, and considering I sunk a load of cash into it, I could not bring myself to put that much more into getting the car looking spotless from a paint perspective.

So with that, the sales pitches came out. Even from people who did Sebring conversions, I had laughable offers. I’m talking £1.4k for the car. That’s when I had it up for £2.5k. Yes, that’s all an MGB was worth back in 2011. Those who drove it loved it, and tried to haggle me very hard for a deal. One guy saw the car 3 or 4 times, but he could not drum up the cash. While I out of desperation mentioned things like the car having road tax in the sale, as cars did back in 2010, he retorted back with obtaining a tax-exempt V5. He even said there was another car just like mine for less cash ; there wasn’t. It was a waste of my time, and a waste of his time. I soon was getting ready to accept that I might just have to keep it.

So what would happen? Would I keep it? I almost did, until a restorer came to look at the car. After a drive aroung the block and a good going over, he decided to offer me £2250 for the car. A fair price I felt. He couldn’t quite understand why I was getting rid, thinking that paintjob being done would result in a higher asking price. But I didn’t really care. He offered me what I wanted, and after a tickle with the welder to get it another MOT, off I drove the car for him down to Gloucester.

 

 

 

Yes, my welding could have been tidier, but at least it was solid and welded the correct way.

And with that, I mark the end of my time with the ‘B! I sold it back in 2011, after owning it for almost a decade! At the same time, a Triumph Stag would come up for sale. Yes, I thought a £2,000 Stag would be an easy project. But would it be?

While I was pondering over the Stag, this is what became of the ‘B’d Sebring.

 

It’s funny, for years, I didn’t miss this car. In recent times however, I have come to regret not pursuing this car. Will I ever learn my lesson? We shall see.