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Part Fifteen

 

 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.

Part Fourteen

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.

Part Thirteen

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.

 

 Part Twelve

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.

For previous reports, continue below or click here

Part Eleven

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.

Part Ten

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.

_____________________________________________

Part Nine

Bruce's Street Rods finished painting the MG silver with black stripes and installing the 5L Ford V8. Lots of details to go, but we're now a couple of months away from completion.

 Hot Rod headlights have flat glass and tri-point trim with a blue dot center. At this point, about two weeks remaining for all but the interior. Buffing, pin striping and other details need to be completed.

Side pipes (3-inch tubing) provide a mellow, throating sound. Very un-MG like.

 A tale: In 1970, a press car -- DeTomaso-built Ford Pantera -- came Art's way. During his road testing, an engine plate dislodged. The Ford PR people weren't interested in its return so Art kept it as a paper weight. The cast aluminum plate made it through many moves, sat on many desks and finally found its way to the firewall of the MG.

 

Part Eight

The engine is fitted and fired up to make sure everything works as planned. An electric fan with an override switch on the dashboard (for parades and slow going) helps keep the 5L V8 cool in the tight engine compartment.

 

Part Seven

Deciding on a hood scoop proved to be more difficult than one would imagine. Various versions were considered including rear facing versions and simple "bubbles. The final selection was a relatively modest Cobra-style but with plans to mold it into the hood with some interesting "snout" details. 

Part Six

The MG rear end was scrapped and replaced with a Ford eight-bolt differential with a 3.00 ratio. Considering the 5L is pumping out about 320 hp, the ratio was considered plenty low.

 

Part Five

It's one thing to install an American V8 in a light (under 2000 pounds) British sportscar, but there are some serious issues, like getting the power the ground. While we'll look at the entire drive train in subsequent reports, we know this much: The transmission is an automatic with overdrive. Why an automatic? We'll discuss later in this series.

Bruce's Street Rod's owner -- Bruce -- has a great eye for details. You'd recognize this by looking at the rods the Bandon-based shop has built. This is the shifter he thought best suited the eventual "feel" and look of the MG.

 

Part Four

The "rubber bumper" look (right photo) had to go. The goal is to replace the NHTSA-demanded 5 mph bumper with something more reminscent of a true MG. That is, a chrome bumper and a real grille. While we're still not sure about the use of road lamps (as seen in the stock photo at left, not our MG), the overall lean and clean appearance is the target.

It's a lot easier said than done.

Aside from removing the old front and rear rubber bumpers, Bruce's Street Rods  (www.Brucesstreetrods.com) ordered up a kit that included sundry brackets and stuff including a new valance (below) which needed to be fitted, pounded and pushed into the proper shape to match the fenders.  

The former grille actually looked like the grate off the top of a burn barrel (for those of you who are still allowed to burn stuff on your property). The turn signals are going to be moved into the fender rather than in the bumper so that, too, required some additional sawing and pounding, torching and welding. (Note the difference in the top photos of rubber vs chrome bumpers.)

At the rear, a body extension and bracket piece were welded to the fender so the taillights would have something on which to perch, so to speak.

 

Part Three

With all of the "stuff" removed and the engine test fit completed, Bruce's Street Rods (www.Brucesstreetrods.com) needed to find the appropriate location points for steering and pedals.

The adjustable steering column is from General Motors. The old MG seat is positioned to find the right distance to the pedals after the footwell was narrowed slightly because of the revamped engine compartment.

(The seats will be going in for reupholstering later in the process.)

As can be seen, the dashboard has been entirely removed. It will be replaced with a solid wood dash panel with aftermarket gauges. More on that later.

And here is the wheel itself.

It's a LeCarra Mark III Classic which is hand-crafted of Marine Mahogany laminated nine-layers to the inch on a one-piece billet aluminum frame.

Part Two 

After pulling the four cylinder MG engine, Bruce's Street Rods  (www.Brucesstreetrods.com) test fit the Ford 302 V8 into the engine bay measuring and marking areas that needed to be redesigned and modified.

Bruce's revamped the engine-mount locations and devised the route that the steering linkage would have to take.

In the photos below, on the top is the engine compartment prior to the revisions and below that photo is the compartment after the mods. Note the frame rails have been narrowed and boxed to retain strength; the fire wall has been changed to allow the V8 to be moved as far rearward as possible while still leaving room to change the back spark plugs.

The bottom photo also shows the new steering linkage route compared to the old direct linkage.

At this point, Bruce's has also stripped the paint.

 

 Part One

Will a V8 fit in a 1976 MG? CNW needed a new vehicle for corporate displays and promotion. We already had a mechanically sound rubber-bumpered MGB repainted a Chevrolet Corvette silver blue a few years ago.

The starting point, a 1976 MGB

CNW's CEO decided that would make a fine and dandy platform for a company "icon" representing CNW's different approach to research.

We turned to Bruce's Street Rods (www.BrucesStreetRods.com) in Bandon, Oregon (about a mile from Bandon Dunes Golf Course and CNW's corporate offices). The idea: strip the MG down to its barest bones, install a 5 Liter Ford V8 and reconstruct the British sportscar as a true hot rod that would be reliable enough to drive cross country to the 2005 Woodward Dream Cruise in suburban Detroit.

We will begin this tale at a time near the beginning of the process and show photos of the MG as it progresses. 

Let's start about a week after the MG first went to Bruces. The drive train was removed. The Lucas (Prince of Darkness) electrical system was ditched (thank God!). Everything chrome, rubber, glass or vinyl and not part of the MG shell was stripped from the B.

And here we have the pitiful result. You can see the original color on the firewall and the silver-blue repaint.



 

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