21 gun salute

Fun is in the Details

By Tony Tiffin

September 1972. I was in a small North Georgia MG dealership. Standing on the tiny showroom floor were two brand new MGB-GTs: One a mallard green sweetie with autumn leaf interior, rostyles and rubber mats. The sticker read $3,600 drive-out! But right next to it was a wire-wheeled English red heartbreaker. It was the British invasion all over again, with factory air conditioning, overdrive, an AM/FM stereo, and those gorgeous wire wheels. $4,600 was the sticker price. How could I have known, driving my new green BGT home, that this sports car would take me 16 years and 360,000 miles down life’s road?

Some years pass and I decide to rebuild the car and make it new for my 50th birthday. Cue the famous title music and Rod Serling’s voice, “That’s the signpost up ahead—your next stop, the Twilight Zone!” I saw on the side of a dirt road a rust-orange, all original 1971 MGB-GT with a faded “for sale” sign taped to the bullet-riddled windshield.

It had red Georgia mud up to its wheel arches and a real live fur interior. This car was headed for the crusher, and I tell myself to keep driving past. I have a nice MGB-GT and it’s ready to be rebuilt. I’m the original owner and that’s sentimental enough for me. But as the signpost predicted, a wrecker appeared in my rear view mirror, loaded with the orange carcass of a sports car following me home.

stripped shell

In the last 15 years, I’ve had a fair share of bad days. An easy reality escape is thinking about an MG rebuild. I tell myself that I need to slow down and relax in a project where I can bring back a piece of my past. Friends and neighbors were appalled at the sight of my project. There goes the neighborhood! But they didn’t know what I knew—Moss Motors’ toll-free number! When we dropped the car in my driveway it was clear that if I have to pay the price, I want it all brand new when finished. For over thirty years Moss has helped me with British car parts but not whole cars! Two years later we did it and I now have that brand new 1971 BGT. My friends are in awe and the neighbors bring their friends over to see the car.

Those who helped: Will the machinist; Kevin, paint and body; Tommy, drive train; and Bud the interior genius.

They all still have a strong passion for the MG and it was fun to meet and work with them all. In the last 35 years parts have been much better made with up rating available for most. And then there’s Moss Motors. From the first call explaining my goal, Moss was with me every step of the way. They put me in their “rebuilder” program, gave me nice price discounts and free shipping, and assigned me with an in-house technical advisor. The project was easy enough. Moss sent me the parts, I turned the wrenches and Blaine Graham schooled me on the finer points of restoration. Blaine didn’t just tell me how to do it but taught me the reasons why. I would have never dreamed how much fun this project was and every moment was a joy. I did not limit myself to a time frame and there was much fun to be found in the details.

prepped floorpan

Surprises? There were many, mostly pleasurable. Back in the 1960s and ‘70s people loved the MG. My favorite surprise was the least expected—It’s when a total stranger, grinning ear-to-ear, compliments my MG. Many people still have this love affair and I take great pride in owning this car. I will always keep the car. I love to drive and experience the fun the MG gives you on the road. As far as my original 1972 BGT, we’ll make it new and soon. I learned a great deal from the rebuild and found that small projects can in themselves make a big difference in the MG. What I learned the most is that the real fun is in the doing! Have some fun and do that restoration!

MG-Engine

A big tip: I used my digital camera and took pictures of everything from every angle. Sometimes, even the worst picture has the information you seek. You cannot take too many pictures before the work begins! You will be very surprised how often you refer to them during the rebuild, or project of any size. These pictures can be enlarged, and especially when it comes to wiring they will be a lifesaver. It seems that every MGB has its unique “something” and pictures will be more handy than any manual when it comes to your specific car. It is also a blast to see the before and after because you can see your work and feel proud. Pictures are worth gold when it comes to rebuilding your car.

MG-Side

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