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MGB Part 2

Eye for Detail Published: 13th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MGB Part 2
MGB Part 2 The biggest expense was a new centre console and the bonnet edge trim
MGB Part 2 The biggest expense was a new centre console and the bonnet edge trim
MGB Part 2 chrome exhaust sleeve (top) is nice touch
MGB Part 2 broken door mirror cheaply fixed with glue
MGB Part 2 A Brillo pad works wonders
MGB Part 2 touching up tidying messy wiring
MGB Part 2
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Are small but annoying and overlooked faults putting people off buying your classic? Then attend to them now and put pounds on its value to increase desirability. Here’s what we found on our project MGB GT…

Have you ever tried to sell a prized classic and beenbemused why nobody is as enthusiastic about it as you? Naturally it has to be a car people actually want and at the right price but all things being equal, why aren’t buyers waiting to bite your hand off? It could well be that while your car is basically sound it’s the little details that are letting it down and putting off buyers. So fix them. We’re not talking bringing your car up to concours standards but simply paying some attentionto detail to give the right impression to eager buyers – just like car dealers do! It needn’t prove to be expensive either, only requiring a bit of time and elbow grease. Our project MG BGT was a typical case in point. As you may have read last month, we bought this respectable but MOT-less ’71 car for under £900 at a classic car show. It looked fairly good and had been washed and polished prior to sale – naturally – but the seller didn’t take time to prepare it right. Which is why we were able to buy it pretty cheaply… Just to prove a point, as soon as we bought the car we attended to all the little jobs that should have been done before sale just to see if a day’s hard work can earn you pounds. Here’s what we found and what we did!

Make it roadworthy

Unless it’s a restoration project, trying to sell a classic without a current MOT certificate is simply throwing good money away – unless, of course, you know that it won’t pass the test without a lot of work and expense anyway… People will always view an MOTless classic as a basket case and value it accordingly. Despite its numerous faults, our MG actually cost under £10 to earn a pass certificate – and the tester said it was in pretty sound nick, too!

Service with a smile

No matter how little you ask for the car, most buyers expect it to run fairly well and be “fit for the purpose”, as the 1984 Sale and Supply of Goods Act states. So make sure that the car runs as best as can to impress buyers with a small service and grease up. Most specialists, fast-fits and local garages will do this for around £75 (check your local newspaper for best deals). At the very least ensure that the engine is in good tune and running on fresh oil and a new filter (this always impresses people as it shows signs of previous maintenance). On our MG the oil pressure was initially only 40psi; the oil was that clapped out! With an engine flush, new filter and proper classic engine oil (we used one of Millers’ special brews – well worth the cost over a normal high street brand) an immediate increase of 15psi registered on the gauge plus start-up clatter was also pleasantly reduced. The engine ran fairly well when we bought it apart from pinking badly, An electronic tune up showed that the ignition timing was way too advanced, the SU carbs were totally out of balance (with one needle wrongly fitted into the bargain), the contact breaker points were pitted and No2 plug lead wasn’t making that good a good contact! A £35 tune up had it running like an MGB should. True, most DIY enthusiasts could have done the same job and so paid just for the parts alone but it’s also easy to waste money on replacing items that were perfectly serviceable (in our case the plugs and leads). So in effect you save very little.

Keeping up the standards It’s surprising how little things can subconsciously add up to a great deal. Our MGB GT looked quite
smart on the face of it and amazingly free from scratches, dents and rust bubbles. Ditto the interior, which was very good under all that grime and rubbish. But what really could have put a lot of people off were a good number of irritating faults that were simply and cheaply rectified. For example, when we bought it, the nearside door mirror resided in the glovebox all for the want of a screw, the driver’s one was very loose, the bonnet trim had an annoying ‘ding’ in it, the front number plate had seen better days and to cap it all, most of the brightwork and chrome looked pretty tired. Yet for just over £20 we had our car looking much more presentable by simply fitting a
replacement trim strip,a new number plate and loads of effort. A Brillo pad works wonders not only on pots and pans but also pitted chrome and brightwork, so long as a good coat of chrome polish is applied directly afterwards to put the shine back. At the stern end, although our car’s exhaust (stainless would you believe!) was in good nick, we treated the tarnished and scratched tail pipe to a cheap chrome sleeve. For £5 it made a world of diff e rence to the looks. Similarly, the MG’s Ro-Style wheels were also in fair order and still wore their centre caps (they often get lost) but two of them were missing their handsome MG motifs and this really grated. So we bought a pair of second-hand ones at an autojumble for just £4 and the end result is almost priceless in terms of wheel appeal! Even cheaper was sorting out the manky-looking wiper arms. Whether they were originally matt black or just sprayed over we’re not sure, but by using a combination of nail varnish remover, fine emery paper and chrome polish they came up new again. As replacement units cost the thick end of £20, it was half an hour well spent! We touched on replacing the shattered centre console in last month’s introduction of our car (back copies still available); for £20 it transformed the appearances.

Somewhat cheaper but just as effective was replacing the missing interior light cover above the rear hatch – just £2. Another two quid was spent on a tube of contact adhesive to stick down some peeling trim and a dash air vent that was lifting up. One MG specialist who viewed our banger B said it had one of the “best dashboards” he’d seen for a long time. But it was further improved easily enough care of a small pot of matt black paint to touch in the small areas where the car’s keys had rubbed away the finish. After a proprietary cleaner/dressing to blend it in the dash looks as good as new. What’s more the interior smells like it too after a thorough scrub that removed years of grime and odours. (You wouldn’t believe the junk unearthed in the nooks and cran - nies either – why do people let their cars go like this and how do you expect to impress buyers? -ed).

That little bit extra…

Not strictly necessary but we thought worthwhile all the same was a spot of titivation where appropriate. We started by shelling out a fat £10 for a nice chrome tax disc holder – you know, the one that sucks to the screen and looks much nicer than a bit of tape to hold the tax disc. Another tenner went on a modern chrome dome gear lever knob that doesn’t look out of place in a classic car. Indeed. with its MG badge, it complements the original spoke sports steering wheel quite nicely.

Was it all worth it?

Most definitely! For a little over £100 we’d turned a jaded, MOTless and unwanted classic into something that we’d be proud and happy to either own or sell on with a clear conscience. It looks and drives like a proper MGB and proof of the pudding is that we’ve already been off e r e d £1350 for the car simply because it looks more complete and cared for – and we haven’t even put it up for sale yet! Also there’s less scope for a buyer to pick faults in it and so knock you down in price… Because we’d just bought the car and were – let’s say – ‘emotionally unattached’ to it, finding all these annoying faults was easy enough. It’s much harder on a car that you’ve owned for years and grown to love! So if you think that your classic car is perfect in every way have a friend cast their critical eye over it – in a caring way you understand. It could make you a lot richer in the long run.

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