MGB GT with Unique History Restored

MGB GT with Unique History Restored

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NBTBRV8

Original Poster:

2,047 posts

175 months

Sunday 8th November 2020
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This restoration has been 25 years in the making which finished this week and is a long a unique story. My father has been working on and restoring MGs his whole life, in 1981 he went to the UK and bought a 1974 MGB GT V8. Upon driving it around over there for a few weeks before shipping it back here, he was pulled over by a Policeman named Peter. Peter quizzed him over an anomaly of the registration plate that showed very specific knowledge of the MG. During the course of the conversation it came to light that Peter was a MGB GT V8 enthusiast who was one of the early pioneers of the V8 register and went on to become well renowned in the circles.

Peter invited my father that night to come around to his place to show him his B GT V8 and struck up a friendship. He went on to say before you leave the UK, you need to come and meet my friend Bill who has a MGB GT and he worked at the Abingdon factory where the cars were built. My father in the following days went with Peter to meet Bill and Bill showed him his car, a 1978 MGB GT in Russet Brown with the famous orange “deckchair” seats and some other “interesting” features.

It turned out that Bill worked in the maintenance section of the factory and bought the car off another employee when it was about 12 months old who worked in the radiator section (more on this later). As Bill worked in the maintenance section, he was allowed free reign of the factory and could go to all the departments, whereas if you worked in a particular section then you were limited as to where you could go for security and safety reasons.

Bill went on to describe the car’s history. He said that as he went around the factory he got to meet and know many of the employees and struck up a friendship with the guys in the Development section. Bill drove his car to work on a daily basis and the Development department guys started to use Bill’s car as a bit of a mule for future features. The car was fitted with MGB Limited Edition wheels as part of the wheel scoping exercise before they were given the green light to be fitted to the last of the MGs in 1979/80 before the factory closed. The car was also fitted with gold MGB stripes down the side which were also used for the Limited Edition cars before it went in to production, the same with the steering wheel. One feature that stood out on the car was the front spoiler. For the Limited Edition cars the Development team were working on coming up with a spoiler and they asked Bill to bring his car in to try it on and use it in day to day life to see how well it held up. The design department came up with this spoiler and the development team built it up out of fibreglass and fitted it to Bill’s car and he went on to use it for a period of time. During the testing it came to light that the spoiler started to crack due to the car being nosed up to parking bollards so the Development team asked Bill to bring the car back and they removed it and decided to scrap it. Bill asked if they were going to throw it out if he could have it, to which they said yes go and get it out of the skip bin. So Bill took the spoiler, repaired it and put it back on the car.

There were some other features on the car which “shouldn’t” have been there such as a 1 litre plastic washer bottle instead of the usual bladder bag, this bottle was installed for the USA cars, not the home UK market cars and was fitted for testing purposes. The head rests had been trimmed in the orange seat material where as they were normally black vinyl and this came about as Bill’s son worked in the trimming department at the factory, the car was also fitted with a “Plant” plaque and MG Works Owners Club badge for which the latter was given to employees who bought a car direct from the factory and are ultra rare today.

My father was taken by the look and story of the car, thanked Bill for showing him the car and left. Fast forward to 1985 and Peter the Policeman to whom he still kept in regular contact with, called him to say that he was selling his B GT V8 and that Bill was also looking to sell his car. My father struck a deal with both of them and imported the cars in to Tasmania in 1986 where I have the vaguest of memories of the big day as a 9 year old when they arrived at home.

The brown B GT sat at home unused and my father decided to register it for two years in 1993 where it got the very rare outing and I remember driving it to school in my last week of grade 12 in 1995. The car was pulled off the road in 1996 and pulled apart and the body work was fully stripped and repaired for the inevitable bits of rust that UK cars endure, but the car was in excellent condition. During the strip down we found that the car has been painted not just the once, but twice and this got us questioning as Bill had said that the car was original, never smashed or repainted. Upon checking this out with Bill (10 years after we bought it) we found that Bill had, as I stated earlier, bought it off a fellow employee. It seemed that employees of the factory who were buying cars under the employee purchase scheme horse traded allocations and they also used to make sure that “their” cars got special treatment when they were built. Bill said that when an employee was given an allocation they knew which car and when it was going to be built, the procedure at the time was during the painting process if a car got three imperfections in the paint, it was removed from the standard production line and pushed down the rectification line where it was painted for a second time, so the employees use to give the painters a back-hander and got them to put three imperfections in the paint so the car got another coat of paint in order to help protect it against the UK weather. That happened to this car.

After the body work was done in 1996 it sat in the garage awaiting its turn for a full rebuild and its turn came in 2018 where we decided to try and get it done for the 2020 National MG Meeting at Easter time. My father and I worked on it most weekends for the last two years or so but unfortunately Covid hit and the Easter event was cancelled, so we set our sights on the Tasmanian state MG concours in November. This last week we finished the car and presented it at the event and were proud to receive first place in its class, but really chuffed for it to be awarded the Shannons Insurance general public’s people’s choice award.

The car was subjected to a complete bare shell strip down, painted underneath and on top, many new and no longer available parts were fitted to it from my father’s spares collection from a lifetime of dealing with MGs, plus we went to absolute great lengths to get the originality 100% spot on, right down to the correct unique screws in feature places and original 1978 tyres as it left the factory. The level of detail can only be appreciated by those that know, but regardless it was great to see so many people both with and without MG experience acknowledge the work that has gone into the car.

We decided to try and track down the original owner but all we had was a (unusual) name. So we looked in the phone book found the name and took the punt and called it. It turns out that we got in touch with the original owner’s grandson who said he is getting on in years now but remembers the car and we have been exchanging correspondence and a few other bits of history came to light.

The car has a unique place in MG history and it is great to see it back on the road after all these years as it has life long memories for both me and my father. It will now go in to a Carcoon and rarely brought out whilst we start on the next project, the second last MGA Twin Cam officially imported in to Australia in 1958.















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Edited by NBTBRV8 on Monday 9th November 10:06

stockpie

104 posts

105 months

Wednesday 11th November 2020
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Great story and pictures, always wondered what a Gt 'Le' style MGB would look like in roadster colours and the lightish brown near enough in yr photos to the gold of those 1980 cars that also of course had black front spoiler, side stripes and Stag wheels.

Flying Phil

1,293 posts

112 months

Saturday 21st November 2020
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Stunning work and story!