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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - Is the center console ever truely finished?

I'm into the wiring again, and as usual the center console had to come out. Man what a rat's nest of spaghetti. So it got me thinking. You know, that's one part of the car that never seems to be finished. Every time I think I've got it, there's something else that needs done. So I'm just curious about the experiences of others on the list.

Jim Blackwood

Yeah , there is always something not quite right about it.
I get the impression theat the MG people decided to put a centre consol in at the last minute, faked something up out of ply wood and took a mold off it.
Doesn't look too bad now.
I quite like that MG badge that goes on the radio hole cover. An chrome MG with three lines through it. Very art decco. I put that over the cigaret lighter and it just covers the two unused switch holes either side.
Now I've got a whole "black and chrome" theme going with the black consol/dash , evrything else chrome.

Perhaps you should just leave it out... like this:

Four dzus clips and one quick electrical connection. Very little dead weight. No spaghetti. Speedo is at far left, so my wife can't see it from her seat.

Actualy, my arm rest/tranny tunnel/centre consol is starting to develope a few cracks here and there. They are murderously expensive to replace. I think I would do better to 'fake something up out of ply' for myself and glue some vinyl over it. All one piece. Even take it to a dashboard recover place. It would certainly look better than the orrigional hard plastic thing, and I would get rid of that 'not quite right' join infront of the gear lever. I could also extend the sides of the centre consol back and cover that gap behind it. substitute some propper directional air vents. Even work the heating into it, because at the moment the blast of 'V8 powered' hot air comming out of the heating vent burns my foot

have c/d player & fag lighter & clock in mine some times when i'm getting friskey on a glorified cowpath everything down ther quits working??? i grab a bundle of that spegitti[sorry cant spell][dosent mean i'm stupid DAMIT!!!]above my left knee,,[you know,, below the choke knob,,yes i still have a working manual choke,,]ANYWAY I wiggle that around and the prince of darkness smiles on me once more,,,,its that simple,,, curse Mr. Joseph no more ,,,[wait a minute,,, WHAT THE HELL,,,warm beer??? where's my dialecte paste,,wire crimper,,WHAT wire nut WHERE did that come from???,,GOD--- PRINCE OFMY --- SON OF A -------,,WHERES THAT FIRE EXTINGUISER,,GOD---- PIECE OF TIAWAN--sse DAMN JUNK,,, OK!!OK!! IT,,, THE FIRE PUTTER OUTTER THING FROM TIAWAN worked WOW!!!! GLAD Mr.Lucas didnt make it!!!!!ok OK OK its my fault [should have fixed that long ago!!..!!]just as soon as i get a roll back to get me home I'LL do that,,,wait a minute the ignition still works ,, YEA,,,here we go,,HOLD ON!!!of that other problem??? THE BRIT'S DONT DO NOODLES,,,, [or do they????]

I'll have some of whatever you're having.................
Joe L.

the guy said it was from Maui,,& somethin,,about WOWIE!!!personally I [thought]too many seeds,,, but what I know????[personally I think it was the 2 stroke LAGER,,,from the oldest brewery in U.S.A...]YES i live in P.A.whatever,,, wires kinda stickey?? melted?? & GOO,,,,ie???DONT REALLY CARE!!!! key still works,,,HOW BOUT"" the accelerator,,??& the clutch,,??[OH YEAH,,,[CHIRP,CHIRP],,HERE WE G---O,,,[chirp,,chirp]HOLD ON,,,TOLD YA Ta HOLD ON,,,[what smoke??? under the dash???] TOLD YA TA WATCH THAT ROLL BAR,,[SO YOU'LL HAVE A KNOT ON BACK YOUR HEAD,,][CHIRP,,CHIRP][what I care???] oh yeah,, smoke,under dash,,[thats NOT good...]SPEGITTI????[NOT GONNA TELL YOU AGAIN THIS CAR WASENT MADE IN ITIALY!!!!]....& I dont care if your name is JOE LUCAS!!!!!

Curtis, really digging your dash setup. I am putting my 73 BGT into a "streetable" track car and am looking to do a dash/interior setup like what you have. Did you use a metal blank to cover the old gauge openings etc in the dash and just cut out your center "box" area for the removable gauge panel? Did you scoop up a good quick electrical connect from a local store or was it a special order deal? And it looks to me like you have a cage in your car...did you do that yourself or have it done? Either way, what size/spec tubing did you use and does it meet SCCA/NASA or any other organization standards? Thanks.
D. T. Barnes

D.T., thanks for the compliments. You're very kind.

My car is a '71, so it had the ugly no-glovebox dash, and it was badly split open too... so I just took it out and threw it away. Below the dash, MGB had a 1/2" box tube from one side to other, so I used that for locating a home-made aluminum dash. (The rivets are hidden. The aluminum is folded toward the engine, and the pop-rivets are into the bottom surface of the tube.) I bought an early MGB pad to cover and trim-out the top edge... it bolted right on.

My steering column is home-made too... that's a longer story, but in summary one thing I wanted to do was move the whole driver position rearward.

Back in the day, I was working for Volvo (designing electrical systems for their big trucks) so I used the same electrical parts they used... mostly Packard/Delphi stuff. You should be able to get similar parts here: The only original MG electrical parts on my car are the taillights, the fuel tank sender, the wiper motor, and the brake light switch. 100% new wiring!

I made and installed the mounts for the cage... but I didn't have a tube bender so I had that fitted by a guy named Roy Anderson who builds mostly circle-track cars in Winchester VA. (I don't know if he still does... but as of the mid-90's his phone number was 703-877-1568. I bet the Virginia area codes have changed, no?)

The cage is close to SCCA specs... except it has a couple bars where SCCA doesn't (or at least didn't) require them (one side-to-side across the bottom of the dash and also one crossing behind the seats), and the bars that cross the door-openings are lower than they'd normally permit. The tubing is 1 3/4" seamless (drawn over mandrel aka "DOM") so as I recall it's significantly better tubing than SCCA requires. There are also extra tabs to tie it to the body (e.g. at the top of the a-pillars, at the bottom of the rear quarter-windows, etc.)

Thats money!! I am looking at pulling most all of my wiring, the doof before me made a rats nest out of an already shaky wiring job. So as I get ready to pull my engine (rebuild the stock engine) and stick in a V8 (can never have too many working engines) I will just redo all of the wiring, but I wanted to make it as simple as possible. Was going to go for the 'Le Mans racer' feel with the roll cage (for a little extra rearward weight to balance the 302 out) and a minimalist dash with necessary gauges and toggles etc.

And as much as I love the original dash (for all the purists I absolutely love the stock MGB and BGT) this car was already semi-butchered (its a 73 shell with a 71 engine/tranny). Thanks again for the information.
D. T. Barnes

"So as I get ready to pull my engine (rebuild the stock engine)"


Just shove it under the workbench & forget about it. Think long & hard about what you are going to do with it. Unless you have another project that really needs the 1800 B engine spend the money on your conversion. It's not even the numbers matching original anyway. Besides, I don't know of ANYONE, V8 or V6 conversion, that ever wanted to put the stock engine back in! ;)
Carl Floyd

Carl - I was talking with a buddy of mine that wants to get his hands dirty with this one (he is working on finding a decent [read cheap] 240Z to put a bowtie 350 in) and we came to the conclusion that we are going to dump the old powerplants/drivetrain from both of our projects. I might try to sell it or part it out, any opinions on whether its even worth the effort?

Anyone, any opinions?
D. T. Barnes

Quote: "for all the purists I absolutely love the stock MGB and BGT..."

Hey - I do too! I used to have a really sweet never-wrecked '64 roadster, and I'd have never dreamed of making a hot-rod out of that car. (I kept it absolutely stock!)

My '71 GT spent six years in a farm field before I bought it for one dollar. (The previous owner had been offered much more by less sentimental people who wanted to use it as a parts car.) I thought, as long as I'm improving the engine, why not improve other stuff? For example, those dreadful MG side marker and front turn signal lights! They weren't very bright. They weren't lightweight or aerodynamic. They were horribly corroded because they were made out of sleezy materials, plus the lenses always leaked. They'd have cost a fortune to replace with NOS parts... So I went to the junkyard and picked out some streamlined modern lights. You've got to believe Abingdon would've used better lights if they'd been available!

Your cage will add some weight, but probably less than you'd expect. Its more important contribution, if done well, is a tremendous increase in chassis rigidity. IMHO, the increase in torsional rigidity is hugely important because it means you can finally really tune roll stiffness. You'll also notice that the car feels much more "direct" and responsive in steering. Believe it or not, that was a bigger issue to me than crashworthiness.

I forgot to mention in my earlier post that I also added a horizontal bar between the two rear-most roll-cage mounting pads (on top of the wheel arches). My shoulder-harnesses mount to that bar. You don't want your shoulder harnesses to mount too low.

Curtis - I do love the car stock as it is, but with it not being numbers matching anyways...I'll hunt for a better car to bring to stock setup. Anyways...Thanks for the info on the harness bar placement, EXACTLY what I was thinking of doing. Basically a little extra weight PLUS stiffeneing the chassis has always been the goal from the inception of my roll cage design.

Here is a question for your though...I am debating between welding the frame into the car or making it a several piece affair so I can bolt it in and out (so I can modify it and make changes without having to cut it out, or remove it comepletely if it is more hassle than what its worth, especially if I end up not tracking it). Would have to check rules on bolt in cages with the different associations though. Which way did you decide to go?
D. T. Barnes

My cage is welded-in. Perhaps a bolt-in cage might be alright for a roadster, but to make the cage removeable from a GT would require a bunch of bolted joints.

Some of the places you'll want to mount to are pretty thin, so you'll need backing plates to spread the loads either way. In my judgement, a welded-in cage makes it a little easier to get high-integrity mounts. Also, I wanted to tie my cage to body reinforcements at extra points where feasible. (Example: at the top of a-pillars and b-pillars.)

I had to cut-out and replace one diagonal... to be able to get the driver's seat far enough back. (I've got the driver position way back!)

Most likely, you'll want to weld a few extra tabs here and there. For example, your rear-view mirror mount will probably move onto the cage.

Makes sense. I figured you can buy bolts strong enough to meet most regulations, but in order to provide the most rigid frame, welding to the chassis (with backing plates) is the best method, now that I took some time to poke around my car. I think the major components of the cage will be welded to the car, and then I will make some parts bolt-in removable. I saw something of this sort done on a Z car if I remember right, and it worked out well. It had removable door braces (so when he streeted the car he could pull them off to make it easier to get in and out, and a couple of cross bars and stuff in the back that he could remove to carry stuff in the hatchback. I think that might be what I will do, now I just need to find a good way to cope piping (did you use ChromeMolly or steel or aluminum?) so it gets good flush mounting. Depending on wall thickness I think a Dremel or something like that should work...
D. T. Barnes

Have a good look at "Metal Fabricator's Handbook" by Ron Fournier. It's got a big chapter on this subject, with lots of photos and with good advice specifically for unibody cars (like MGB, that don't have a frame).

The right material to use is definitely seamless mild steel. Chrome-moly could be acceptable, but it's very expensive, it's harder to work with, and you can't really get the strength advantage without being able to heat treat the finished assembly. Aluminumn would be impossible to weld to the steel body of the car... and it's a pain to weld, period. To have equivalent structural properties to steel, you'd have to increase wall thickness so much that you'd give up much of the weight advantage of aluminum. Your steel tubing will be at least .090" thick. Your mounting plates will probably be the same thickness or a little thicker.

An accurate coping ("fish mouthing") job is important so joints are strong. No matter how many tubes are coming into an intersection, you should try to get them arranged so all their centerlines intersect at one point. The welds need to be mostly loaded in shear - not tension. Since the tube will be fairly thick, a Dremel isn't practical. A big die grinder will help a lot. (If you don't have access to a compressor, the Craftsman electric die grinder works surprisingly well.) A side-grinder is very useful for getting close to shape quickly. Some people use special tube notchers, or hole-saws mounted into jigs. Don't even think about filing or grinding on welds to pretty them up.

In an MGB, most of the surfaces you'll be mounting too aren't all that big or stiff. You'll want to make your mounting plates fold or curve, so you can have more weld area and so you have welds in both tension and shear (regardless of how the joint might be loaded.)

Curtis - Right on. I had to shake some of the dust off of the brain and remember how we went through and worked the race car I built in college. We used ChromeMolly there but we were working with the college's money not mine. As for coping and wall thickness, thanks for the info. I have a nice angle grinder right now, and a handful of air tools, honestly don't even remember which ones I've bought and haven't bought (been a while since I busted out those tools). I'll take a look through and if nothing good comes up, it might be time to take a trip to Sears...oh darn. Thanks for the info, and I will take a look to find that book around here.
D. T. Barnes

This thread was discussed between 07/11/2005 and 02/12/2005

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