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MGB 1800 - Vehicle in preparation

Origin: England 1979

(end of work expected between 3rd and 4th quarter 2023)


This is a 1979 MGB. It belongs to the last production run of the model. It’s a 2-seater roadster with a 1.8 L B Series engine from Austin Motor Company, rear-wheel drive, 4 gears with overdrive (which provides 6 transmission ratio possibilities). This unit is an English one and therefore, with the steering wheel on the right for left-side drive (although the headlight optics are already adapted for right-side drive).

We acquired this vehicle at the end of 2021 in the province of Castellón. This vehicle had been “rescued” a few years earlier, imported from England, largely restored and registered in Spain as historical car. We could buy the unit a quite good price, but with the knowing that there was a lot of work to be done on it and therefore many months to come before it would be brought up to our quality standards for classic cars.


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MGB : Interventions made on the vehicle (until start 2023):

Jobs completed in car's trim:

  • Reconstruction of several elements of the dashboard, lights, horn, board wiring. We also removed couple of electrical elements that did not belong to the vehicle.
  • We repaired the heating system: fan, flaps, air ducts.
  • The interior was completely reupholstered. This was the biggest part. The photos you can see on this page show the previous state Vs the current state. The entire interior was fully rebuilt:
    • Seats, door panels, carpet, rear panels, gearlever lining.
    • The steering wheel was reupholstered as well as its aluminum spokes stripped (they were originally painted black in quite bad condition) and polished.
    • The dashboard has walnut wood panels (some MGBs had this complement), but several of them (specifically those of the central console) were in very bad condition, therefore they were replaced.
    • The central console itself was also replaced by a brand new one.
  • We installed a new set of rubber sealing moldings on the windows. As we have mentioned several times in some articles on this WEB site, this is one of the elements hat become really degraded by the the passage of time, and in almost all cases, its replacement is a must.
  • Installation of stereo system respecting the aesthetic standards of the vehicle (installation similar to those of our BMW E21).

MGB : These are some images of the car prior to our intervention:

The images in the gallery above will give you an idea of the condition in which we acquired the vehicle. It is true that mechanically it was in acceptable condition: in fact, the day of its purchase, the car drove 300 Kms by its own and without raising any problem during the route, from the place where we bought it -province of Castellón- to our garage facilities (Maresme area, province of Barcelona). The bodywork/paintwork was almost perfect -this car was surely repainted-, so it seems that car’s previous owners took quite good care of it. However, there were some elements -as you can see in the detail of works done- for which the previous owners did not take any action -for whatever reason- so they were really needing repair and/or rebuilt.

Jobs completed at mechanical level:

  • Replacement/adapt of the engine mounts: the longitudinal engine showed a slight deviation to the left (as if it was a little bit “fallen” towards left side). The reason was that the engine mountings where silent blocks are allocated, appeared defective, they looked as if they had been handcrafted for some reason, but poorly adapted, showing the described defect in which fix we had to work.
  • Valve adjustment.
  • Replace air filters and perform a first adjustment of the mixture. The SU carburetors of the MG’sare directly adjustable with couple of screws for richness of the air-petrol mixture, not only for idle regime (as the Solex ones), but also at running speed.
  • Gasoline filter replacement.
  • Replacement of transmission/gearbox mounts/silentblocks.
  • Replace steering box dust cap and realign steering box.
  • Replacement of the cable from the gearbox to the speedometer.
  • Replacement of the cooling circuit piping (taking advantage of the opportunity to clean the inside of the cooling circuit).
  • We removed some auxiliary parts from the engine compartment to pickle/repaint them (radiator expansion bottle -this one is metallic-, metallic heating pipes, some covers of the brake servo compartment, the brake servo “bell” itself, etc.).
  • Replacement of the fairing under the radiator with a new one.
  • We replaced the complete exhaust line (with a stainless steel one).
  • Exhaust manifold replacement.
  • Replacement of coil, capacitor, points set with subsequent ignition recalibration/resetting.
  • Replace electric fan power supply (the wiring was -let’s say in nicest possible way -with quite big room for improvement).
  • Valve cover replacement: Although it has an aesthetic impact in the appearance of the engine, it also has in terms of noise: these MG-Austin engines have the possibility of installing a duraluminum valve cover whose walls are considerably thicker than those of the original sheet metal one. These duraluminum covers greatly attenuates valve noise (this engine is quite noisy from the valves, so this is an appreciated improvement).
  • Overdrive overhaul, reconnection and start-up: This was a peculiar (or even funny) situation: The seller told us (he was completely honest) from the very beginning that the Overdrive was not working. But the fact is that, once we reconnected it (all the wires were literally cut so we had to rebuld the wiring) the overdrive started up and is currently working normally. In the next few days I will post an entry on this point.

MGB - Current vehicle status

All these interventions were carried out throughout 2022: some of them are very time-consuming: for example, the manual and artisanal nature of the reupholstery work means that when they are carried out, it takes two months to complete. And above all, starting from some “unofficial” rule which says that for a professional upholsterer, quality and rush are in inverse proportion, which translated to common life means “let him work without rushing him if you want a good result” :-).

These kind of mechanical interventions start from some premises to be taken into account: for example, in the case of MG cars, almost all spare parts have to be purchased outside Spain (two weeks delivery time). Some parts may need (actually the DID need) readjustment after purchased: for example, we had to lower the exhaust manifold iron surface in order to adapt it to the cylinder head version that comes with this engine -there are several versions ad ours was not 100% maching (bad luck! :-))- : between one and two weeks extra wait time due to the time spendby the machine shop to grind the part). In short, these are jobs that, besides the technical hours invested, require extra management time, imponderable situations that force temporary stoppages, the purchase of auxiliary material and, in summary, the management of unforeseen events that occur when a 50-year-old vehicle is reconditioned.

During 2023, the MBG jobs was set on standby for a few months (in order to prioritize the start-up of our other vehicles such as the Renault 4CV). The final phase of the MGB work will be undertaken during the third quarter of 2023, with the expectation of having the vehicle available for rental by the end of 2023.

MGB : Planned work to completely finish the car:

  • Replacing the timing chain, tensioner and front flywheel: This car has timing system by chain, and currently engine makes a noise which invites to think that either it is already “stretched” due to use, or the tensioner is no longer doing its job (or both). We will also take the opportunity to change the timing sprockets and the front flywheel. It is an intervention that will bring the engine back to perfect conditions.
  • Replacement of the washers inside the differential: This is a common problem in MGBs: There are brass washers that adjust the differential pinions, so that they do not have axial play. The passage of time causes these washers to wear out or even disappear, leaving considerable play in the differential sprockets and generating a clearance in the driveshaft as seen in the video below, which manifests itself in the form of a “knocking” noise at low speeds, which, although not dangerous, is somewhat unpleasant. These washers are very inexpensive to purchase but take some time to replace. I leave you three videos: the first one is the play observed between the driveshaft and the diferential (in our own MGB). The second and third videos show the repair procedure (part I and part II).
  • We will repaint the underbody of the car. Its previous owner applied a layer of corrosion protection, popularly known as “anti-gravel paint”, very effective in terms of protection, but the final finish is clearly possible to improve (in fact in the first video of the three you see above, you can see it). Following our work philosophy, the fact that it is a non-visible part of the car does not mean that it does not deserve a careful job and finishing.
  • And finally we are working to install the chrome bumper/grille in the classic MGB style. Of the two possible options, this unit has the “rubber” bumper, which aesthetically is not the most beautiful of the range: as we always say, it is true that the aesthetic issue is very personal, but in MGBs, 99% of users/owners consider the chrome bumper option much nicer.

We will be regullarly updating this page in the coming weeks to show the progress of the jobs. We will expand the photo gallery, I will explain you about the Overdrive, and tell you the history of the model, in the same way as you can see in our other vehicles.

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