About My Car
Please put your feet up and indulge me whilst I tell you the story of how I came to own my car and some of the adventures we've had together since.
I bought my MGB GT in 1995 after seeing it advertised in my local newspaper classifieds. At the time the advert seemed too good to be true and it was not until later, after I had bought the car, that I discovered that indeed it was.
I had wanted a GT for some time but had always found them too expensive for my modest budget and so this one, with clean interior, stainless steel exhaust and full length sunroof, appeared to be every inch the bargain it was described as. I made an appointment to view the car the same day and left a deposit immediately!
It was advertised as being a 1974 model but was in fact first registered in January 1975, making it one of the first rubber-bumper GTs. Apart from that the details in the advert had been pretty accurate, with the exception of the timeless phrase "bodywork needs some attention", which was perhaps one of the biggest understatements ever.
Now being something of a newcomer to the classic car game, and the fact that it was dark when I viewed the car, I was prepared to accept that yes, the bodywork did need some attention, but it was not a major problem and I would still be able to use the car while it was being fixed up. I was somehow blind to the gaping rust holes in both wings, the huge bulges in the entire surface of the paintwork, the torn and tattered sunroof flapping in the breeze, and failed to detect the unmistakable smell of petrol in the air. This was a classic British sports car, I told myself, and it was cheap...
Driving the car back home was a particularly exciting - but surprisingly uneventful - experience, and I began to look forward to years of trouble free motoring in my trusty 'B. That notion was swiftly put on hold when it became apparent the journey home had ruptured the last couple of lumps of rust holding the contents of the fuel tank in and I found myself parked in a pool of petrol. At around the same time - perhaps in solidarity with the fuel tank - the braking system also began to leak badly, leading to a near miss with my front gate!
It was at this point that I started to wonder whether this particular MGB GT was quite the bargain it was made out to be and I began a more thorough assessment of its condition. Through prodding at various suspect looking areas with a screwdriver I quickly dislodged numerous chunks of rust, filler, mud and even cardboard. By the time I had finished and found myself with more debris left than car I had decided that this was going to be expensive.
Unfortunately I had spent all of my money on buying the car and had none left to spend on a costly rebuild. Starting university that year meant that I no longer had the time or money to even think about doing the work myself and so the car just sat in the driveway slowly reverting back to its component atoms for almost a year...
The Rebuild Begins
The following summer I decided that I could no longer bear the sight of the MG standing forlornly on the drive and started to do something about it. It occurred to me that although I had no experience of car restoration, it would be very difficult to make the car any worse than it already was and so I set myself the task of putting it back on the road single-handedly. Armed with a Haynes manual, a cheap MIG welder and blind determination, I ventured into the unfamiliar territories of car restoration land.
The bodywork section of the scrapbook contains all the details of how I got on.
The first part of rebuild was finished in early 1998 and the car was entered for its first MOT test in three years that February. It failed on a couple of minor points but they were easily corrected and the car was finally back on the road. After three long years of despair and frustration at such slow progress it was now hard to believe that I could actually drive the car once again without the worry of something falling off or of putting my foot through the floor. I drove around smiling for the first couple of weeks but then the years of inactivity began to take their toll on components that now found themselves in almost constant use.
First the fuel tank sender unit gave up and I came close to running out of petrol on a number of occasions, until I finally got round to the tricky job of replacing it. Then the rear axle and overdrive gaskets split at about the same time and had to be replaced. Messy.
After a few weeks of glitches I was finally able to enjoy the experience of driving my MG. Having done most of the work myself and because of the initial problems it took some time before I was really confident enough to drive the car fast or for long distances, but it proved itself up to the challenge.
My MG saw me through my final year of university in style and became my daily driver when I started gainful employment. However, the miles were starting to take their toll on the increasingly tired mechanicals and things were about to come to a head.
End of part one
When you find yourself putting approximately a litre of oil into an engine every week and the increasingly dense black smoke from the exhaust begins to upset pedestrians, it's probably time to start thinking about a spot of engine maintenance.
In the course of my first project I was concerned only with restoring the appearance and structural integrity of the car, mechanical repairs had amounted to little more than changing the oil and some new spark plugs. It was clear now that I was going to require some costly mechanical repairs, and possibly a new engine.
Unfortunately, at this point I was still broke, so I did the only thing I could do - parked the car back in my parent's garage and started getting the bus to work! There it was to remain for a couple of years until mid-2001 when in a flurry of activity I successfully extracted the engine and gearbox with the intention of replacing them.
Back to life
It turned out of course that the engine work would continue to wait a bit longer, 3 years in fact. In early 2004 I finally got the funds and enthusiasm together to start the mammoth task of mechanically restoring the car - and this time I wasn't doing anything by halves
As well as replacing the engine with a professionally rebuilt example, I took the chance to replace all suspension and braking components to make the car as good underneath as it is on the outside (much better, in fact). The scrapbook has the full story.
The car was ready for its next MOT in August 2004 and has been a joy to drive ever since. It has been laid up during the inclement winter but I'm now preparing to put it back on the road to soak up some of this glorious sunshine...