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MG MGB GT V8 Factory Originals Technical - opinions of Danville VA area?

This is non V8 related but thought perhaps someone who might live near Danville could offer an opinion on the number and quality of automotive machine shops in the area.I am considering moving my shop there, specifically right at the V.I.R. facility.Several people have told me that there is a need for a shop like mine there but I'd like to get as much input as I can before I pull up roots.Other things like property prices,taxes,weather,bugs,snakes,availability of supermodels,emissions testing,registering a V8 B,just any general info would be appreciated. Dale

Dale,You won't like it there.It doesn't get -25F in the winter!Sounds like a good move to me.Are you ready for the V8 meet?Mike
Mike Moor

Hi Mike. Yes, Gil Price and I will be representing the NEast Ford contingent. And I think my car is ready, it's almost nice enough to take it out, winter hung on way too long this year. But it's not the -25 temps I'll miss, it's the -40 wind chill!

Dale --I hate to think youre going to abandon the NE!!Get your car out and rolling --Ive put about 1500 smile miles on mine this year. Rockburn Wednesday evenings are back on so if you can tear yourself away from your shop come on over
All the best --Gil
Gil Price


Just to get my perspective, get your Virginia map out. Locate Roanoke and follow SR 311 north and you'll see New Castle. I'm about 120 miles NW of Danville, and since we have family in Raleigh NC, I drive through there several times a year.

Although I've lived here for 27 years, I'm originally from Minnesota, so my weather perspective is much like yours. Ceretainly the weather here is milder, and Danville is noticeably milder than New Castle. But we still definitely have winters. There is some snow in winter - particularly in January, although we've had major blizzards as late as March 20th. There is still a period of about six weeks per year when I do not drive my MGs due to the presence of salt on the roads. One good rain storm and it's gone.

Regarding Danville, Martinsville, and "Southside" Virginia generally, one thing is for sure: if your business hires even just ONE local person, you will be welcomed with open arms. Danville was once a major textile capital, but most of the textile plants have either closed or moved to Asia. My guess is that, particularly in this depressed local economy, real estate would be pretty cheap. Generally, cost of living in rural Virginia is pretty low. Taxes are reasonable. Here in Craig County, the taxes on our house and 62 acres run about $1250 per year. I should not imply that you will find a similar situation in Danville. I used to live in Blacksburg where the taxes were definitely higher but still quite reasonable.

Bugs and snakes: there are bugs - mostly bees, flies, spiders, etc. My wife allows that there are mosquitos but they like her better than me. I probably could count the number of mosquito bites I've had in 27 years in Virginia on my fingers. There are black snakes (non-poisenous), rattle snakes, and copperheads. Living on our VERY rural farm, we have yet to see a copperhead or rattle snake. We used to see an occasional black snake (not bad as the black snakes are natural enemies of the poisenous varieties), but since a couple of cats acquired us, we haven't seen any snakes at all. Now, we have some wooded acreage that we generally avoid during the summer due to snake concerns, but in Minnesota I would have avoided the same kinds of areas due to mosquitos.

Emissions testing is pretty relaxed here in SW Virginia. Even in Roanoke, there isn't any. They do have it in the Norfolk area, as well as Northern VA around DC - perhaps Richmond too. The law does require that all the emissions equipment on post 1968 cars be still in place. But none of the shops know what should be in place on our MGs; the last time I ran into any question about this was in 1985. Of course, none of this applies if the car is registered as an antique anyway. My V8 fantasy still lies in pieces on my garage floor, but I have a friend in Radford who has built two V8s and he had no problem registering them.

On your map, look straight north of Danville and you'll see Bedford on US 221 between Roanoke and Lynchburg. About 20 miles east of Bedford is Goode Virginia, where Tim Handy operates his restoration shop - "MG Matters". Tim is also an avid MG vintage racer - having won the Collier Cup a few years ago - racing a Sebring MG replica (he owns an original one). I don't know who Tim uses for a machine shop at this time, but you might want to pursue that possibility. There are a couple of trusted machine shops in Roanoke, but if I knew of a 215 V8 specialist in Danville, I'd be tempted to make the trip. Just how many others there are like me in this area, I have no idea. I suspect you would be relying on building business contacts in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, and Raleigh-Durham in North Carolina, as well as Roanoke, Richmond, and Norfolk VA. There is a Jack Harper in Harrisonburg VA (on I-81 around exit 247) who also builds V8 cars. I don't know who does his machine work.

' Hope this is a bit helpful. If you have other questions you think I might be able to answer, feel free to contact me at my above e-mail address.


Allen Bachelder

Come on down to Danville. It is as Allen tells you. I live in Lynchburg, about 65 miles north of Danville. There are several good engine builders in Lynchburg but they all are busy to build engines for the big guys(Nascar and NHRA) so if we come with an engine they do not have time for us and we do not have the money to pay either for what their prices are. So a good engine shop is welcome in this area. I know Tim Handy very well and it is worth to contact him. I drive a 77 mgb V8 with now 50,000 miles on the engine. Runs great, lots of fun. I am playing with self build FI (Megasquirt)
Werner Van Clapdurp


If you are serious about moving to the Communist State of Virginia, you should take a few days to come down and investigate. Danville is sorta in the middle of nowhere. Winston-Salem and Greensboro, NC are not far. There is not a good way to get there from East TN. Which is why I haven't made it over to VIR, yet. Glad they brought it back to life, though. Could be a good opportunity for ya.

Get set for 4 seasons with a milder winter. Humid summers, mosquitos, a few snakes (big guy like you not afraid of snakes, are ya?). Much longer driving season!

I really hope it works out for ya, Dale. I hope you can swing it, but there is one minor thing... seeing how you are a yankee wanting to become a damn yankee you must first make application to these two organizations:

:) :) :)


Today was the final nail in the coffin on whether or not to move out of New England....spent the day at New Hampshire Speedway watching vintage car/bike races in the rain and 49 degree temps.With the wind it felt like low 40's.Hot and humid sounds good to me right now!I'll definitely be making a trip to check out the potential business climate.A little concerned about the damn Yankee thing.Jesum Crowbar,it's hard to hide a VT accent.Carl,I sent applications to those two organizations,used you as a reference,that ok? Dale


The single greatest advantage to moving to Virginia from Vermont is that everyone will assume your "I love VT" bumpersticker refers to "Virginia Tech". ;-)

I have only been around Danville on a few occaisions for trout fishing (excellent, by the way). I expect to get to VIR sometime this year for the first time. My experience in Danville proper is very limited, but I went to school for a year in Ferrum just to the north. I generally have found the region to be geographically beautiful, with an intriguing blend of a conservative base along with a slightly radical population of eccentrics. You will encounter everything from the Christian Right to experimental communes. Sounds a little like Vermont, no? The summers are hot, but generally with a cooling mountain breeze. The winters, like Allen points out, are occaisionally brutal - but never for more than a couple weeks at a time. You are smart to consider the area, and even smarter to visit first.

Dean Lake

Dean,very insightful about the political mix.Hopefully those eccentics drive old Jags,MG's,TR's,Bentleys etc. These are what keep the work interesting,a pleasant change from the Audis,Volvos,BMW's and Saabs that seem to dominate this area.Somehow I doubt that the same vehicle population applies to rural VA.About that "I Love VT" bumper sticker....those are for transplants. The natives display "Welcome to go home". Carl,funny you mention communist VA when it happens that VT has the only communist(I mean socialist) in Congress. Yes if you ever see the vote totals while watching C-span,they have a special column just for commu..I mean independents...our own Bernie Sanders. Not sure from what small farming community in VT he is from but they sure have thick NY accents there!I appreciate all the imput on this off-topic,it's a big change for me and I want to gather as much info as I can before I commit. I will not be moving alone,a friend of mine is the catalyst behind this.He is a British tin knocker/fabricator by trade,apprenticed at Rolls, worked for Alan Mann Racing,Broadspeed,built the cars in Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang(not that he likes to be reminded of that!),built rally cars,Formula 5000's, been to every race track in Europe,now his focus is primarily maintaining/rebuilding vintage racers.He runs a 140 Jag and is the chief scrutineer for the VSCCA.He wants to share a shop so that we would have the mutual benefit of each being a draw for the other.Plus being located at VIR would certainly have it's own benefits I would think.Guess there's only one way to find out.Well I think I will venture outside to see if today is MG worthy,the temps have soared into the mid 50's! And to steal a line from my favorite movie,"it could be worse,it could be raining".....wait,is that a cloud on the horizon?


I take it this person is the friend that has the garage full of British vintage race cars (I thoroughly enjoy the tour of his garage/muesum). Sounds like it could be a great combination for y'all. I will definitely make the treck to VIR to visit. Heck, y'all should host a British V8 Convention. Perfect! ;)

I wouldn't worry about the yankee stuff. Most people welcome genuinely nice people wherever they are from. Seems half of Michigan has moved here.

For those that aren't familiar with the phrase:

A Yankee is someone from the North who comes to visit the South. A damn Yankee is a Northerner who decides to stay."

Come on down, Dale!


My brother worked on Brit cars and a few exotics in the Blacksburg area for fifteen years. The shop was renowned for its ability to continue service on many of the cars that saw their dealership networks disappear in the 70's and 80's. He was the machinist and eventually the lead mechanic. His employer, "The Sports Car Clinic" would get Jags, MG's, Triumphs, Austins, Ferraris and the like from the academic crowd and enthusiasts in Blacksburg and from as far away as Atlanta. (He speaks fondly of a Ferris Bueler moment once when delivering a Ferrari up I-81 to the track at Watkins Glen for a well-to-do owner-driver.) One of his co-workers even went on to be a mechanic here in Northern Virginia at the Ferrari dealership. The Sports Car Clinic still has a successful operation in Roanoke, I believe. My brother has moved on to be a master mechanic for the silly-large Ford dealership in Christiansburg (Shelor's Motor Mile). While it was a very rewarding career move, he doesn't get to do much for the vintage race crowd anymore (aside from my autocrosser, anyway). Still, he might have a pretty good handle on some of the market and professional issues that would be of interest to you.

If you'd like, email me directly and I'll put you in touch with him. You'll also get to hear what a kid who once had a New Hampshire accent sounds like after twenty years in SW Virginia. Man, it's wicked scary - I warned you! Another caveat: He used to go to Vermont every year to hunt around Williamstown (Barre area). If you are a hunter and actually want to talk car business - DO NOT BRING UP HUNTING!


Dean (who sounds like a Yankee to Southerners, and like a Southerner to Yankees)
Dean Lake

This thread was discussed between 12/05/2004 and 23/05/2004

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