Project MGB GT – The Beginning

For a long time I’ve wanted a project vehicle. I have contemplated buying an slightly worse for wear Supra or BMW 8 Series and even thought about building a Cobra from scratch (one of the great shapes of all time after all). When I really thought about all of it though, it wasn’t necessarily the end result or a particular car I was looking for. I just wanted to exercise my passion for building something and making my own mark.

Finding a project

1973 MGB GT Chrome bumper

Not road worthy

So I did what any self respecting project hunter may well of done, and ebayed cars £1000 or below and a theme started to emerge. There seemed to be a lot of MGBs. Many of them looking like a right bag of rats. A little research later and the general consensus if that an MGB is a great first classic / project car to get your teeth into due to it’s simplicity and popularity.

I went on a little trip south down to Northampton to see a red MGB that had some rust issues, but a lot of repair panels and had been dry stored for 25 years. I didn’t like that one (too much rust!) but in the same garage was what used to be a purple MGB GT. The paint was not in good shape compared to the red one, but the car itself felt a lot more solid. All the common areas that could be accessed seemed solid like the sills, floors and boot. All possible issues on MGBs – the dry storage must of helped! The next weekend I was back down with the trailer (after 25 years running was not a good idea) to haul her back north after exchanged £750 English pounds. A lot of parts came with like trim and so on the only major missing point is the driver’s door.

First steps

As a man of only beginner knowledge of mechanics, I thought that even though I have different plans engine wise (see later) I would try and get her started through a few simple steps like changing oil, plugs, hand cranking and so on. One oil filter replaced and oil drained later and I tried to hand crank the engine. Nothing. Not a single bit of movement.

Valve issue

Gap is a touch wide

So I thought I would take a peak under the rocker cover. Off it came and there was a valve stuck down and a lever arm seesawing like a wrong ‘un. A bit of penetration fluid later and a short wait and a strong tap with a rubber hammer saw the valve come back up to normal position. In the mean time, I stripped out a load of interior (including the passenger seat) and hoovered the inside too (there was a fair amount of mice droppings).

Alas, the engine still won’t crank. So instead of wasting time on it when the plans are different, I’ll be disconnecting it and the gearbox and hauling it’s ass out next.

So what are the plans?

Recently I’ve been doing quite a bit of research as I believe any good project requires only two thinking to succeed  – great planning and consistent action. So here’s a list in no particular order about my thoughts so far. Less of a plan, more of a brain dump to make into a plan:

  • A good (probably Rover?) V8 engine, preferrably carb feed for that older feel
  • Want a great manual gearbox (my old S2000 was beautiful)
  • Sebring arches (although not sure on rears) and maybe some spats to fill out rear
  • Retrimmed / sumptious interior (thick carpet, lather, nice dials etc)
  • Possibly side exit exhausts or at least dual rear pipes
  • A decent set of in car entertainment (speakers, head unit etc)
  • A decent set of wheels. Fan of the wire wheels or more probably Superlites.
  • Bigger tyres than standard due to V8 and needing a bit more grip
  • Unsure what do with Chrome bumpers – really like the cleanliness of the Sebring look

All comments, thoughts and advice on the above really welcome.

About Rob

I'm an average petrolhead - I love cars and get as much driving experiences as I can out in the world from test drives to track days.