A labour of love

New beginnings

I bought my MGB GT in 1995 and have been restoring, and occasionally driving, it off and on ever since. In 1998 I began chronicling the work I have carried out on it on this website, but I haven’t really posted any updates since 2006 when I last carried out a major mechanical restoration. The final version of that original site is archived for historical interest, so take a look at that for the story so far.

As we head into 2020, my MG has been off the road for about 6 years. I stopped driving it initially due to some intermittent electrical issues which made it unreliable, but a couple of house moves, and general life factors got in the way of addressing it, so the car has sat neglected in a succession of lock-ups and garages for most of that time.

A bit of sunshine makes it look slightly better than it is

I now find myself the owner of a good-sized detached garage, with a great working space for a bit of restoration work, so the time has come to start sorting the car out again. JBY 850N (hereon referred to as JBY) hits 45 years old this spring, so I’m setting myself a hopefully very attainable challenge of getting it back into tip-top condition and back on the road well before it hits 50!

What needs doing?

I restored most of JBY’s bodywork (including replacing the sills, floorpans, lower rear wings, re-skinned doors etc.) way back when I first bought it, and then resprayed it myself in cellulose in my parent’s garage (you can read all about this in the original website if you so wish). Frankly however, as a poor student with zero experience of car restoration, and without the limitless source of advice that the web now provides, I didn’t really do a very good job.

The panel gaps were awful, the doors were warped, the paint was thin and orange peel-y and prone to flaking off, and I had simply cut too many corners to get it done on a shoestring budget as quickly as possible. The shell was solid enough, it has just never looked good up close, and several rattle-can paint touch-ups over the years have left it wearing a multitude of different shades of red.

When I did a complete mechanical overhaul a few years after the initial restoration (rebuilding brakes and suspension, replacement engine, refurbished engine bay), I had a bit more money and time to throw at it, so the job was a lot more thorough. I now had a pretty underside and engine bay, but the main bodywork still completely let it down.

So here’s my initial plan of attack:

  • Bodywork – I’ve been casually collecting body panels for the last couple of years in preparation for this, so I currently have a pair of Heritage full rear wings, doors, nearside front wing, and bonnet all ready to fit. I expect to also need to replace the outer sills on both sides to correct the panel alignment problems, and possibly any number of internal panels towards the rear where I know there is some corrosion.
  • Respray – Once the bodywork is straight I fully intend to pay a professional to paint JBY for me this time. I definitely do not have the facilities, time or skill to achieve the kind of finish I would like – lesson learned. When I bought the car it was painted a non-original shade of red, and I chose to paint it a slightly different non-original shade of red, still need to think about what I want to do this time.
  • Interior – JBY still has the original carpets and upholstery, and they are mostly way beyond redemption. Time for a new set.

And so it begins, wish me luck…

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