My 1964 MGB has finally arrived and I've spent the past few days examining the car in every detail to determine what she's going to need to get her ready for the road this summer.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that so much of her was in original and still very good condition...
Original leather seats, no rips, though the stitching is starting to let go in some areas. I plan to carefully remove the covers and repair/reinforce them from the back with extra material to strengthen them and extend their life - and of course add lots of leather conditioner to keep it soft.
The original rubber floor mats (which are totally unavailable) are still all there and intact, a good cleaning will take care of these..
The original carpet is all there and in great shape except for a worn spot on the tunnel from peoples elbows resting.. This original style of unbacked loop carpet that was molded to heavy jute is also unavailable - I'm going to make it last as long as I can until I can find a suitable replacement that I will make and mold myself as original.
The vinyl interior panels are in exceptional condition, except for the inner hardboards have warped badly inside. I plan to carefully remove the original covers and re-trim them to new flat panels that I will make using the originals as patterns. One thing I've noticed that many early B owners get wrong is that the colour of all the interior trim screws & washers were black - not chrome.
The original tonneau cover in it's original stowage bag, the boot cover in it's bag, and of course the 2 piece tonneau bar in it's original bag - all well preserved and in good working order. Also in great condition; the original jack, knock-off hammer and it's original jute bag. All these lovely extras stow in the boot:
The boot is in great shape, no rust issues, just in need of a good cleaning and some paint touch ups. The original black body sealer in the corners will need to be scraped out and new sealer applied. In the end, I may end up giving the boot a re-spray after doing my own initial prep work. Someone has added a switch operated reverse light above the left rear bumper - you can see the added wires for it in the boot. I will be removing this non original accessory in the end.
This is the only real horror story I've found with the car - the rear lower dog legs at the corners of the rear wheel arches have rusted through at the bottoms. I've already purchased new repair sections for these spots that can easily be cut and welded in place to repair these areas. Other than these 2 spots, the rest of the underside and body is in beautiful shape. Someone has sprayed the underside, including the inner wheel arches with thin black undercoating. I plan to get under there and scrape and sand it all smooth, add a good rust proofing and then paint it Old English White again as original.
The front and rear suspension are in fairly good working order. The brakes have been recently done, including new flex lines. The steering is tight, there's no play in the king pins. It's had a new sway bar installed with all new rubbers/bushings. The emergency brake does need some tightening though, and I'm also going to replace the front lower A-arm rubber bushings because they look worn.
As for the heart of the B, she starts right up, and purrs like a kitten. Holds good oil pressure too. There are as many rare and unavailable early details to remark on in the engine bay as there are unfortunate scars and additions..
The original - and unavailable, spark plug wires and caps are still in use and working fine, as is the original coil bracket and the oil cooler hose brackets that are so often removed never to be seen again - these are all unavailable details that are rarely still seen these days.
Unfortunately though, some one has replaced the original starter motor with a new modern looking one that has it's own integral solenoid attached. The old original separate starter solenoid is still in place on the side wall, but the original cloth wiring harness has been badly hacked open in these areas to re-route the wires to the new starter setup. This will take some careful re-working to set back to original spec.
I plan to carefully clean and refurbish each component in the engine bay to original spec over time. Including cleaning and repainting the engine itself.
Here's the other side of the engine bay. The carbs are in good working order, new air filters inside the casings, and she runs with good idle speed too.
She's had a new thermostat, rad hoses & clamps installed, I've ordered some of the original wire hose clamps to replace the ones on there now.
The brake master cylinder has been replaced with a later style one, again I've already found a correct early style one that I will rebuild and install at a later date.
For the most part everything needed is just cosmetic, so I'm quite happy with what I have to work with.
The gearbox may need a replacement lay-gear, though I need an expert opinion on this first. Being an early 3 synchro box with 4 speeds - it has a very noticeable winding noise in 1st gear that quiets down immediately when I shift into any of the higher gears. Is all that noise normal for a non synchro gear?? or is this evidence of a worn lay-gear?
Another neat original detail in the engine bay was this early (and currently unavailable) style of windscreen washer fluid bottle. This older style of Tudor logo was completely changed in 1965, the older logo was never seen again or made available. As you can see mine was badly faded and the bottle was covered in rust stains.
I carefully cleaned and polished the bottle clean again and matched the Tudor blue paint and touched in the faded areas of the logo by hand.
Next I will refurbish the bottle mounting bracket and plate in black as original - the more common later styles had a Tudor blue frame.
All in all, I'm very happy and excited to dig in to this project, I'm calling it a "Sympathetic Restoration" because I don't want to replace or over restore any parts of her that don't need it. All too often the replacement components are inaccurate or don't fit right in one way or another and that would take away from its originality.
Unfortunately she will need some paint work to recover the under areas that need attention, but a fresh new coat of her original Old English White will be good piece of mind for driving in the sometimes wet conditions out here on Vancouver island.
Ciao for now
Classic auto enthusiast, upholsterer, coach trimmer, and fine scale modeler.