The MGB V8 entered in the national MGB show in July. Behind are other V8 MGs.
More than 250 MGs were on hand for the show.
Three of the winners including a second place trophy for Stephanie's MG (far left) which was the only non-MG powered model among all entries.
The old top mechanism was re-installed after a thorough cleaning. It was a mess having spent a dozen years behind a storage shed. Hat tip to the British, though. Once cleaned and oiled, it worked like a charm.
First step was to remove the header and cover it in the headlining material. Initially all of this was daunting and causing many sleepless nights (having never installed a top before, especially one that cost more than a thousand bucks). The material is called mohair and looks like the tops one finds on Mercedes and other high-end convertibles. Note that it has only one rear window rather than the typical MG three windows.
Once the headliner material was attached to the header, the header was re-attached to the frame and the headliner (typically found in German convertibles) was clipped and "turkey tied" to the frame bows. It is then glued to the header rail on the outside between the rail and the new convertible top.
After stretching the material as tight as possible, the top was raised about six inches and the material was pulled another inch tighter and glued and clipped, then allowed to dry overnight. While it would make the initial closing of the top harder it would insure a taught look.
You can see the finished "hood" at the top of this page. This is not a job one should take on lightly, though. The top maker in England provides the worst installation instructions and the best top for MGs and other sportscars. It required looking at four different sources -- three on line and the third in an MG restoration book ($27) to get a feeling for just how to install the top.
Taking care of the little things like installing the burled walnut door caps, trimming the door seals and installing the chrome trim retainers as well as the early MGB-style door pulls. The last had to be fitted in a way that attached through the door panel and into the metal behind that panel with bolts and nuts. Necessary because of the stress on the handle closing the door. (We made that mistake with previous door pulls.) Ignore the lawnmower in the background please.
With the leather seats installed, the interior begins looking finished even though there is much yet to do.
Door caps -- burled walnut -- have yet to be installed because some of the old hardware proved to be too rough to reuse. The "hot rod" heater can be seen under the passenger side of the dashboard. Headrests are still on backorder so small pieces of red vinyl have been slipped into the headrest holes for the time being.
The stereo system was installed on the first "long" drive in the MG (about 75 miles round trip). The wiring harness installed by Bruce's Street Rods had each wire labeled including the speaker wires which were routed to the rear compartment before the carpets were installed. You can see a portion of the speaker boxes in the right lower corner of the photo above. The boxes will also be covered in red vinyl that matches the seats. Each JL speaker is 6x9 inches. The Alpine stereo head includes built-in XM radio so no additional components are needed.
Total installation time -- excluding pauses to show off the V8 installation to other customers and curious passersby -- was barely an hour thanks to the pre-wiring.
The shorty console was made from inch-thick mahogany with the tray routered out and covered in the same red vinyl as the lower seats and panels. The console also had to be routered to fit around the Lokar shifter. The black vinyl boot was attached to the console with a chrome trim ring.
The seat bottoms have to be detached and stretched after warm weather and some test drives. Doors were also adjusted by Bruces after interior trim and weather-stripping was installed.
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The red interior pieces came from England including well-padded wool carpeting and all trim panels. First to be installed was a layer of sound deadening and heat-suppressing padding. All told, it took a quart of contact cement to keep it all stuck. Also note the padded dash top, also recently designed and installed to mate to the mahogany dash panel.
Still to do: Door tops and pulls; console; stereo system; seat installation; miscellaneous modesty pieces to cover a few gaps between the dash and sheet metal.
The new mohair top will be the next big project.
The muscle-flexing 'gator is about the color of the MG X Power racing team, which, of course, is in a bit of flux since the collapse of Rover-MG.
Starting with 1-inch-plus thick mahogany, the dashboard is sketched onto the planks which have been planed and joined.
The dash was first cut and measured on cardboard, the pattern transferred to particle board. Once the particle board was fitted and the overall design was set, the board became a pattern for the first of two pine mock ups. The first attempt had the four gauges stacked two on two in the center of the dash. Unfortunately, a body support member was in the way so the gauge holes had to be spread four-across.
The second pine mock up became the pattern for the mahogany version which was cut to look more like the TD dash with touches of American Hot Rod including an oval panel housing lights, fan, heater and ignition switch.
Once fitted to the MG, a black-vinyl dash pad above the mahogany will be installed. Gauges were slipped into the appropriate holes but not locked in just yet. That will happen once the dash pad in completed.
The rectangular hole below the machine-turned panel is for the stereo receiver which includes XM radio.