Project MGB: The Plan

Filed in MGB by on 01/17/2012 0 Comments

IMG_0072Between initial purchase problems caused by eBay Inc. (see 1963 MGB Roadster) and transportation difficulties that will be covered in a future post reviewing private transportation companies, everyone around here is knocking on wood and throwing salt over their shoulder in the hopes that all the troubles related to this project are over. Of course, that will not be the case and the salt is only going to cause more rust: purchasing a used car and transporting it across the country will most likely come with a certain level of complications. Once the car arrives, however, it will normally seem that all of those complications are over and everything will be great… until the new complications of the restoration and/or modification start to crop up. Anyone taking on this sort of project most be ready for that and should be able to find enjoyment in mitigating those challenges. If you’re not that type, an automotive endeavor may not be for you and it would probably be best to go to a classic car showroom and purchase a pre-built classic. There will still be complications, but you will hopefully have a warranty to protect you.

Now that the initial complications are (again, hopefully) in the past for us, we have been focusing our available time planning the build. This has involved poring over countless catalogues and websites trying to learn the car, its design, and its history.

For Project: MGB, our leadership has required a bit more detail in planning this build than most people will want. … especially since the car hasn’t even arrived yet. We have had to put together a spreadsheet, which isn’t too difficult. Of course, we’ve also had to make different worksheets for Acquisition Costs, Restoration Costs, Upgrade Costs, Other Costs (we hid a few MGB shirts and collectibles in that one), and Labor (sub-differentiated by the same categories). Let’s not forget the Summary sheet totaling everything up. After that, the accountants got involved and “helped” us out a bit more, further differentiating the Restoration and Upgrade Costs into the various automotive sub-systems: brakes, electrical, … you get the idea. Needless to say, we’re considering locking them in the paint room until their attitudes and definition of “help” change a bit.

One good thing has come out of our frustration with the accountants: we’ve defined the build. While our original thoughts had been focused on finding a small, lightweight car, gutting it, and dropping in a large V-8 engine, all those plans have changed. This project will be different than our standard power and speed builds – Project: MGB is all about relaxation. We’re going to bring the ol’ girl back and do a complete restoration on her. Of course, doing a full concours d’elegance would not be overly relaxing, either, so we cannot call this simply a restoration build; rather, this will be a partial “resto-mod”. Other than a few minor upgrades like slotted and drilled front disc brakes, this car will appear as fully original as possible. Chrome, wheels, paint, and even most engine and other components will be restored to factory (or better) condition. Where parts need to be replaced, the plan will be to come as close to original in appearance, form, and function, as possible. This will be vehicle that can safely be taken for a pleasure drive, though, so we will make some modifications internally.

Project: MGB currently houses its original 1963 wiring harness – nothing electrical on the car has been changed since the day the vehicle came out of the factory. After almost fifth years, it’s time for a change. The positive-ground, dual-battery system will be fully upgraded to modern, negative-ground, single-battery. Ignition, coils, and distributor will all be upgraded to improve reliability and performance. A completely modern sound system will be installed that is powerful enough to hear every beat clearly while driving along Pacific Coast Highway with the top down. As much as feasible, though, we will keep the original spirit of the car and make sure to minimize the visibility or visible impact of the mods. This car will look inside and out at like the day the original owner signed the paperwork and drove this $2,658 dream off the parking lot – maybe a little bit better with modern paints. It will drive, though, like a 21st century fox.


VVI Tip: Whether you’re doing a resto-mod yourself, taking the contractor approach as outlined by John Gunnel in his book Practical Auto & Truck Restoration, paying a company to do the work, or are an automotive company, you should always perform at least a high-level plan for your build before turning this first bolt. Without a road map or a compass, you might have a chance of still reaching your destination, but it’ll take a lot more time and gas money, and you probably won’t enjoy the ride.