I had a friend at work that was looking for a MG Midget. He found one on Craig’s List that was located near where I lived. As he knew that I had some prior experience with MGs, he asked me if I would go with him to look at it and help appraise it. He was quite disappointed when we found that it was actually an MGB roadster, and immediately lost interest in it.
Any interest that I might have had was tempered by the thought that it looked pretty pitiful and although the body was fairly straight, it showed the tell-tail signs of a lot of neglect and abuse.
The interior had obviously been home to a family of mice. It appeared that someone had either started a repair and had removed several parts, or had begun parting it out. After a few days of thought, I somehow convinced myself and my reluctant wife that I needed it. I figured that the five good wire wheels could be sold for as much as I paid for the car. I had purchased cars before that I had made mechanical repairs to, knocked some dents out, painted them and enjoyed them, but I was not as well prepared as I thought for what turned out to be a serious four year restoration.
Inevitably though, as I began to work on the little car, the love affair began. It turned out that the original color had been the same as the 1969 MGC I owned when I met my wife 40 years ago. This has made it fun for us both to have returned this one to its original pale primrose.
I was reluctant at first to believe the 30,900 miles on the speedometer and the title, but after the engine reconstruction (which showed very little wear, almost no piston ring ridge, and no negligible wear to the transmission or rear end gears) I began to think the little car had just had a series of problems that left it dormant for most of it’s life. The totally trashed starter ring, fried generator, regulator, and many of the electrical parts, indicated the electrical had been hooked up backwards at one time, and a gouge in the transmission tunnel indicated that a previous drive shaft had come undone. Both front fenders were the sum of two fenders each, one split along the trim line and one split vertically. It turned out the only non-rusted structure between the front and back of the car was the tunnel, and the floor boards consisted of a pop riveted speed limit sign and some diamond deck. In the words of a friend of mine it was “a pound puppy,” a car that no one else would want. After untold hours in the bead blast cabinet, the component parts came slowly back to life, and as each one was painted, wrapped and stowed away in nearly every available space of the house, garage and attic, the excitement grew.
The feeling of getting the body shell back from the paint shop all shiny and new is almost indescribable. Reassembly began at a fever pitch, partly because of the excitement, and partly because we were to move in two months, and the thoughts of boxes of parts being lost or misplaced in the move was all too plausible. It made the move in one piece, however, and with only a few minor problems has performed flawlessly. I have already logged in about 200 miles of short trips. It is such a rush to drive. I had forgotten the feel and exhilaration that you get with these wonderful cars, and the melodious purr of the small bore long stroke engines. There are miles of winding two lane back roads that need to be explored here in Northeast Mississippi and we’re anxious to get to it. We just recently experienced the joy of being in the local Christmas Parade, the first winter parade I have ever experienced in warmth.
By Gerald Geil