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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - If I were to do it again...
|I was talking with my friend, Larry, the other day about his V8 roadster. He has a beautiful car that he built 9 years ago, with a coil over rear suspension and panhard rod of his own design. As I was sliding around under the car asking questions and admiring the setup, he was telling me how he would have done it differently, citing the cost, time and bang for the buck factors of his rear suspension. He's running 14 inch LE wheels but would prefer to run 15's for the ability to change to larger brakes in the future if he chose. His car is powered by a 3.5 Rover that has been professionaly built. Our discussions and his recommendations caused me to look for and find a 3.9 to achieve the same or better power for less money in my car. As we continued to walk around the car and discuss the ways to approach my conversion, he often said, "If I were to do it again, I'd...." This got me thinking about what those of you who have completed your cars might change, "If you did it again." To those of you who have completed your conversions what might you do differently if you were to build your cars again. On the other side of the coin, you might share what you did with your conversion that was brilliant and has been a great benefit to your enjoyment of the car. I searched the archives for a thread like this but did not find one. I think it would make for an interesting and lively exchange of information and ideas. I'm looking forward to your responses. Thanks|
|V8 conversion brake upgrade-use Volvo hubs, wheels,rear axle. late model ABS front caliper.Rear axle fits tight without narrowing pay attention to back space. Use volvo master cylinder,this has all been done without precision machining. Ihave done this conversion on 75 midget 3.8 liter V6.|
|Dan, I have completed the cycle. What I have learn is to plan everything ahead of time including the funds to do it with. Know what you want and the purpose of the project, eg; Use daily, show car, race car etc. And a plan with realistic dead lines, dicipline, do it for yourself not others, and most important, confidence that you can do it.|
Good question Dan.
|In the middle of my project. What I would not do is use Baker Machine in Seattle for any engine work. There was an article in an old Hot Rod magazine citing the experience of Phil Baker in building the B-O-P 215/Rover 3.5. However, Phil's son Ray has taken over the business and he is a NIGHTMARE to work with. I FINALLY have all my engine parts back and a running engine and I would not use this man again. Just a word from a person who has been there.|
|it seems that mark is sounding like dd on the rest of the story hpoe he under stands that he may have been part of the problem,|
Huh? I didn't really understand your comment. However, the only thing I am guilty of is trusting another to do what they say they will do and when they say it will be done. I received this built engine back (except the oil pan, which took an additional 6 weeks and required several blatant lies on the builder's part) without so much as a parts list or even a receipt. Upon starting the engine it was discovered that the #8 cylinder would not hold pressure due to fouled threads in the plug hole. The plug torqued down nicely, but would not hold pressure. Surely an experienced builder should have noticed this. Upon informing the builder of the problem, I was asked to ship the head back for repair. Fat chance, remember the oil pan. I removed the head and had it repaired locally. One small problem, no parts list means I have no knowledge of which gaskets were used. Two and a half weeks and four telephone calls later, I had gaskets. The upside is that lessons such as this are usually long lasting and therefore very valuable. Mark
|I'm about 3/4 done with my complete ground-up restoration of my factory GT V-8, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! And "If I were to do it again", I would think twice about an agreement I made with my body and paint contractor. (and don't worry, Dan - this is not going to be a vilification or diatribe toward an individual, this is a general observation that can apply in many areas).|
When I started the restoration, I knew that the car needed extensive bodywork and cosmetic attention. One of the previous owners had attempted to disguise the extensive rust with many pounds of bondo and a non-standard paint job. The car looked good from 10 feet away, but was a structural nightmare. I could envision a huge bodywork and paint bill, since I did not have the expertise to do such extensive work.
A friend and fellow local MG Club member who was also an accomplished body man approached me with a suggestion. He offered to barter his labor charges for the job in exchange for a nice daily driver MGA 1600 MkII roadster I had at the time. I was going to sell the MGA anyway, so it sounded like a good deal. His is a well respected restoration shop, specializing in vintage American and British cars and hot rod custom work, not your average slap-it-together insurance shop.
In retrospect, the deal turned out well, but it was not without its frustrations. On the plus side, the bodywork and paint turned out to "cost" more than my MGA would have brought on the open market, so the economic benefit was on my side. I tactfully pointed this out to my bodyman partway through the job, but he had no problems with the original deal and didn't want any more compensation. The difficulty was that he was essentially "paid" for the job in advance with the acquisition of the MGA, and my job was always at the bottom of the stack, behind revenue-generating work. What was originally expected to take six months stretched out to 18 months (for the bare bodyshell), and the final parts (bonnet and front wings) will be completed within another two months, more than two years after the start of the job.
The most frustrating thing about a restoration is not being in control of all the aspects of the job. There were times when I wondered if the bodyshell would ever get completed! A rare situation is someone who can do it all without any subcontractor work, but most of us have to farm out tasks to the experts. The bodywork is flawless, and worth waiting for, but if I were to do it over again I would pay for the job in the usual way.
|Good question Dan. I don't know that a project like this is ever "done". For me, I was (am) building a toy, which constantly calls to me from the garage to add something else, adjust this, whatever. My 78 B looks, runs and for all practical purposes is completed. However, I think about a rear end, maybe some rear disk brakes, maybe some stiffer springs. The whole idea I tried to follow was that I was going to have fun. I tried to keep the car drivable for periods of time between phases of the restore. This just made me more anxious to do more to it! Bill Guzman had the best advice here when he said "do it for yourself". Amen! Have fun, take your time (don't procrastinate though), and watch that budget! This little project can eat your lunch if you're not paying attention. |
Also, read, read, read. I looked everywhere, talked to everyone I could find, and checked multiple sources for parts. Many parts are interchangable between the different Rover/Buick/Olds versions and the cost differentials are staggering. Research your suppliers, machine shop, body shop etc.., BEFORE you give them your business. I didn't have any problems with anyone. (okay, I did have one supplier who couldn't find the time to send the parts I purchased in a timely manner, but in the scope of things, big deal).
The whole thing can be fun from the get go if you let it be, and the questions of "If I were to do it again"? You can always go back and add, change or upgrade later. Just enjoy it as you go.
|The forward planning is all important. Firstly marry a woman who doesn't mind you spending all of your waking hours in the garage and enjoys making coffee through the night and has a passion for cleaning burnt underseal off of the carpets. Reassure her by saying that it keeps you faithful as you don't have the time or the money to chat up attractive women. Plan a career where you get paid a huge amount of disposable income and can work from home and therefore get stuck straight into the work on the car when 5 pm (or 4 pm or 11 am or whenever you suddenly work out the answer to that niggly problem)roles around. Give the kids photos of you at birthdays and christmas so they know who you are. Make sure you have private medical insurance for when the arthritus brought on from grovelling around on the concrete floor at midnight sets in. Buy some friends that don't mind you talking about gear ratios and negative camber (more disposable income required).|
Make sure you never finish the car (sure drive it but always have something else that requires work this weekend or you will have to fit that new kitchen). Test drive it in someone elses neighbourhood.
Seriously tho, Don't under estimate the amount of work that is involved, the mistake that I made was I was given a non-runnning basket case '72 and went into restoration mode. Halfway through decided that if I was doing all of this work might as well go V8 and started to modify. refitted bits and threw out new 1800 bits etc. There were rusty panels everywhere and mixtures of V8 and 1800 parts across the floor of the single garage. 2 years later realised I had never driven an MG and wondered if I would like it. I would also buy a bigger house as when you have filled the garden shed and loft you are in trouble.
assume that if you will do all/most of the work yourself you will spend as much on tools as on car parts, compressor, engine crane, mig welder etc. (if you dont own already). Sorry about the novel now that I have that off of my chest I will phone up rent-a-friend and go out for a drink and talk about deck-chair pattern seats.
|I fully agree with Frank. I took rather a long preperation time. I started sourcing parts and looking for a car while i was still working on my previous project (a motorbike). This allows you to choose the right car for the project and buy a V8 and gearbox at a decent price. I bought a roadster in a decent state. Everything was there, it had an MOT but was not looking so nice. The paint was not shiny, the interior rather worn but at a low price. Then i decided to run the car in the summer and work on the V8 engine and gearbox. In the winter i layed the car up and started the modifications. The first winter i overhauled and lowered the front and rear suspension, fitted Koni's and the V8 brake system. The next summer i drove the car again.|
The second winter i did the body modifications like the transmission tunnel and fitted the V8. A nice summer came with enjoying the V8 power. The winter afterwards, i modified the car from rubber to chrome bumper. And the last winter, i started with the interior. I made a fully burr walnut dashboard and center console and fitted new cushion and leather covers to the seats.
All in all like Frank already mentioned, restoring a car is a time consuming thing if you have work and a family and if you go the route i did, you can enjoy the car from time to time. This keeps you motifated
The next winter i will dismand the car totally and get the bodywork done.
I would advise everybody to fit the V8 and drive the car prior to do the bodywork and paint because there will always be things which need adjustment and grinding or welding on a nice painted body is not ideal
|Peter van de Velde|
This thread was discussed between 30/10/2000 and 02/11/2000
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