July 2015 – 1972 MGB GT
From a young age, looking at pictures of my father’s string of MGs when he was in his 20s, with a 1968 MGB followed by a 1970 MGBGT and finally a1969 MGC. I had it in my head that I would get one, one day. It wasn’t till I turned 30 that I realised my dream and purchased my 1972 MGBGT in need of some major work. This was a big undertaking and quite a risk as I planned to complete all of the work myself and had no prior knowledge of restoring cars!
When I purchased the car back in June 2011 it was just when all the publicity about Frontline Developments’ LE50 car was hitting the press. Reading the articles got me thinking. Seeing as I was doing my GT in the same year they would release the LE50 I selected several of the tasteful modifications they had made to the LE50 car to do to my own.
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The first modification I decided upon was to remove all of the weather strips at the top of the rear wings and on the front wings, seeing as they were all rusted through and I would be replacing the front wings and both rear 3/4 wings, this is where I would start. I made the short trip up to Frontline Developments and had a nice chat with the guys up there on how they seam welded all of the joints and then lead loaded them – they explained the need for the lead as it flexed unlike modern fillers which just crack. Whilst up there I also purchased one of their anti lift front spoilers as my original had rusted through.
On returning to my project I dusted off the grinder and set about grinding off all of the weather strips, ensuring that I’d not removed any metal from the wing itself. With the front wings, I fully bolted them in-place before seam welding each of the joints at the top of the wing. This was the easy part, completing the lead loading needed a lot of preparation. Firstly ensuring that the surface to be joined was clean and free from any dust before tinning the surface with flux and then carefully heating the surface up to just the right temperature to let the lead run in without heating it up too much and warping the metal. This took time but the end result was worth it and, with a little filing to remove the excess lead, left a perfect finish.
The next task of repeating the process to the rear 3/4 had to wait a while as I worked my way rearwards with the body work, seam welding the seam below the doors on the sills and removing and stripping the doors. The removal and refitment of the rear 3/4, as well as the wheel arches, had to be the hardest part of the restoration and, although I had sourced heritage panels, both were different and required modifications to get them to fit perfectly. At the same time as I removed the rear 3/4, I found the the rear lower spoiler had been replaced in the past and had been welded on wonky, this had to be removed and replaced as it could not be saved. With both rear 3/4s replaced and plug welded into place, I was then able to grind off the weather strips, weld them up and then lead load.
With all the panels replaced I removed the engine and gearbox and started the arduous process of nitromorcing all of the paint from the body and engine bay. However, trying to strip all the paint in the engine bay proved quite tricky and I ended up investing in a soda blaster and set about soda blasting the engine bay, which worked a treat. With all of the paint stripped I primed the car in an acid etch primer before sending it to be painted professionally. I had selected to paint the car in a non original colour, Aston Martin Sage Green, which I think really suits the car.
While the body was being painted I stripped down the engine. Although the car was running well before the restoration I wanted to rebuild the engine to ensure everything was done properly. It was a good job I did as the crank needed to be re-ground and balanced as well as needing a new CAM. With all this replaced and the valves ground and reseated, the engine was complete and was reunited with the gearbox, with the addition of a new clutch before being put back into the car 1/2 way through the paint job. I did this so there would be no chance of damaging the paint on the wings of the car.
With the car fully painted, engine back in and running, my focus now turned to the interior. Here I removed the dash and had this stripped and re-painted. I then re-trimmed all of the interior panels with new leather and had a trimmer re-trim the headlining black on the car and the Webasto sunroof. With this all complete the next treat was a set of new carpets throughout and a set of new updated leather seats. The final job was to get all the glass back in and then get all of the bright work back on which required the odd bit of modification to ensure the fit was perfect.
The final step was to take the car for its MOT, which it passed without any advisories, and is now ready to be enjoyed on many club rallies and events this spring and summer.
Owner: Tom Cheney
Make/model: MGB GT
Month/year of manufacture: 1972
Colour: Aston Martin Sage Green
Engine size/type: 1800cc
Top speed: Not known
Gearbox type: Manual
Date purchased: June 2010