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Buffing the Boot

By Kelvin Dodd

You may ask yourself, “Why bother with the boot, when the rest of my car has cosmetic and/or mechanical problems?”

The reason is simple: if you are going to drive the car, you have to have a safe place to put valuables and perhaps a briefcase or lunchbox, especially if you plan on leaving the car parked on the street. Providing a safe place to store road gear, tools, and even spare parts will enhance both your car’s value and its usability. A new carpet kit will also protect exposed wiring from being damaged by loose objects, which is a common problem.

Another quick upgrade that makes the car much more usable on a daily basis is to convert the primitive boot prop rod to modern gas strut support. As primitive as the original early strut is, it still beats the later locking design that tends to fold the boot lid if the unaware try to close it without releasing the catch. I was coaxed into upgrading my restowreck MGB by my wife, who didn’t appreciate having to set the groceries down to open the boot. Installation is very straightforward, as you can see in the following pictures. This kit (Moss 900-074) fits the 1962-71 MGB. There is a similar kit available (900-071) for later cars.

Part of an afternoon and a few errant hand tools later, and the trunk looked like it belonged in a brand-new car, and provided significantly improved functionality to, well, boot. You get the picture.

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1) This is the before shot of a typical MGB boot area. This one is worse than most, as some past owner got a bit carried away installing stereo speakers. During a full restoration, there would be some frisky sheaf metal work necessary to repair the of damage, but for now we’ll just cover them up.

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2) Out come the tools, spare tire, and miscellaneous bits, and we get to see a fairly good condition boot floor, but the spare tire support is in pretty bad shape. Plan on replacing the center of the floor when the time comes to do sheet metal repair.

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3) In goes the molded carpet main section.

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4) The hole for the spare tire clamp has been made and the carpet has the floor ribs molded into it. The fuel filler is reinstalled and the spare wheel is back in place. The rear panel carpet is simply pushed into position and is secure enough to stay without being glued.

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5) Covering up the ugly spare finishes the first project. The most important point is that since this is a molded carpet set, no glue was used, so it can be easily removed when the time comes to repaint the car.

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6) The original left-hand support strut is removed and a new mount is installed on the boot lip. A pivot ball is installed in the original upper mounting hole, and the new strut is popped into place.

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7) The new mounts are installed on the right-hand side after careful measurements are made with the help of a straight edge. The strut is installed and the job is done in about 15 minutes.

This is the first in a series of articles aimed at owners of, shall we say, less than pristine cars who are more focused on driving and enjoying their vehicles than making them show-winners. I coined the term restowreck for those of us who drive restoration projects in progress. The series will focus on weekend projects that make a big difference to the way the car looks and drives. The emphasis will be on bang for the buck, keeping the cars basically stock but with enough upgrades thrown in to make the driving experience more pleasurable. Our long-term goal is to keep the car on the road where it belongs, while stabilizing and repairing the cosmetics enough so you get admiring glances at stoplights and on the freeway. If the car has a few dings and a rip in the drivers seat, so what?

What is a restowreck? Well, its a car that some might call a beater, others may call it a daily driver. It’s a British car that may be more fun to drive than to look at. It’s the British car that you don’t mind driving to the grocery store and parking near the doors, rather than on the far side of the lot. It’s a car that has a story in every dent and upholstery tear. For those of us with an experienced eye, it’s a car with potential!

Why own a restowreck? For starters, you can drive it without worrying about how many hours it’s going to take to get the bugs off the grille, and a rock chip doesnt dictate a complete repaint. For many of us, a ground-up restoration may be in the budget, but we still get the fun of driving a sports car. Whether you find a restowreck in the local paper, swapmeet, bone yard, or even the back pages of this magazine, bear in mind that one person’s parts car very well could be another person’s treasure. Good luck, and look for more restowreck stories coming soon!

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