Leons V8 MGB

Just drive it.

About 1989 my wife Barbara and I finished rebuilding a TR7, sold it and were looking for a new sports car. We bought the TR7 with a blown head gasket. I had the head checked and shaved, put the engine back together, fixing a bunch of little things along the way. Then Barbara completely stripped the car down to the metal and we had it painted. Drove it for about 2 months and decided there were too many things we did not like about the car and sold it.

While looking through our local Swap Sheet I saw an ad for a 1975 MGB Project car – Basket case, for $3200.00. It sounded interesting so I called and went over to take a look. The guy, Mike F., said he didn’t have ‘all the car’ there. I since have learned the iimportance of the statement – ‘all the car’ and the true meaning of ‘Basket’ case. Mike didn’t state the condition of the car just right.  It wasn’t quite a basket case like he said – some of it was in boxes, and crates, and loose, and the parts were spread over at least 4 different locations, and in 2 counties. The ONLY things on the body of the car were the 4 door hinges, EVERYTHING else was dismantled. (I’ll have to ask him why he left the hinges on.) But – one very important piece – Mike knew where everything was and it was organized very well. When we were looking for a part, I knew it was there somewhere, he hadn’t lost a thing, we just had to figure out where he put it.

Mike had purchased the car in 1980 and last had the car on the road somewhere in the early 80’s. He told me he started to do some engine work, saw some articles by Phil Baker and I believe he saw Glenn Towery with a V8 MGB and decided to do the V8 conversion. He started collecting the information.

Mike completely dismantled the car, and more importantly, did extensive research on the project (remember it’s early-mid 80’s and there is no internet, no e-mail, so it was far more labor intensive than it would be today), and he did  an excellent job, he collected about 4 inches of documentation, in addition to all the right sources and most of the parts. One of the things Mike did that played a big part in getting this car going again was to keep very good records on were, when, how and the costs of the what he put into the car – at the time I purchased it, had $8500 invested, including $3000 for the base car. By the time I purchased the project, Mike was up to child #3 (I think he was single when he started the project), and found himself in a postition may of us have been – time and money had gotten a little scarce. He decided to sell it rather than have it rust away.

It hit me a bit nostalgic, when I was about his age I had a Sunbeam Alpine that I loved. Took it pretty much all apart, painted it myself and learned a lot about old English Lucas electrical parts (like replace it with something else). Once I had that and learned more about the Sunbeam line, I realize what I really wanted was a Sunbeam Tiger. The one with the Ford V8 in it. The Alpine was great until I had 2 children to put in it. It didn’t take long for it to get real, real small. It had to go. I traded it for a Ford Econoline.

Actually wasn’t a bad deal. I put over 100K on the van, I played in rock bands and it was loaded up with a Hammond B3, a Leslie, the PA System, the Guitar amps and more, by the time I traded it for 4 kitchen chairs both rear springs had many cracks in them, but not the main spring, so it kinda still stayed on the axle. The person I traded the van to kept it for over a year and put at least one trip to Florida on it. So, it really wasn’t a bad deal for either of us.


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