“Ok, I’ll take it,” I said, forking over the $400. The owner, John, was a friend since we were kids; we lived a few houses from each other growing up in Marietta, Georgia. He bought the blaze red 1972 MGB with only a few miles on it after he was discharged from the Air Force in the ‘70s, the heyday of MGs.
John took the MGB apart at some point and just left the parts lying around his open carport. Rust and time took its toll. When John bought his first house with his wife, Janet, the MGB, still in boxes, went to the basement of the new house. It stayed there for 14 years until I liberated it.
When I bought the disassembled MGB from him, I didn’t even know how I would get it home. It was so frozen up that it refused to roll off John’s car trailer, and it took both of us to give it a big heave.
Mr. B, as I affectionately came to call it, showed the many years of neglect on every car part that was not metal. I went straight to work. I didn’t have to do much in the way of machine work on the engine, as John had done that before the car’s 14-year nap, but there was much to be done.
Throughout the build, John sometimes made the hour-long drive to my garage, which was converted into an auto mechanic shop. He commented on what a mess I was making of the project and my garage.
It took two years of work on the steering, brakes, suspension, and engine before I was ready to fire it up. It didn’t run too well at first, but I was able to get the B fine-tuned so it would crank each time and run pretty well. When I got stuck, I summoned Neil from Neil’s Restoration in Atlanta to pull me out of the hole I had dug for myself. I repainted the car bright Porsche Guards Red.
After almost four years, $25,000-plus in parts, and countless man-hours, the B was done. I drove over to John’s house. It was fun to take John for a drive in his old car; both of us admitted that the car was a pain to restore.
Now I take it to car shows here in Atlanta. I have never regretted the restoration project, although I’ll be lucky to ever get half of what I have in it out of it. It’s a hoot to hear everyone over 40 years of age stop me and say: “I used to have one of these. It was EXACTLY like this one.” Everyone wants to touch it and sit in it and reminisce.
John is especially jealous.
By Kelly Bell