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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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.