Here it is – in all its glory, having just been loaded onto the trailer in rainy Leicestershire
This trailer is tall, but only cost a bottle of wine to borrow. It was horribly snakey, however, but when another midget was trailered on it, the removal of the tyre in front of the car stopped the snaking. Since this I’ve bought a proper car trailer, much better.
This was to be its home for the restoration. It came with a set of KN Minator (minilite replica) alloy wheels, K&N filters and an LCB manifold – all things which would have been bought for it anyway. And the obligatory MG bootrack.
Let the dismantling begin!
First thing was to take the interior out – welding and cloth mix a bit too well for my liking.
Once the carpets and the seats were out it became apparent that there was not a lot holding them in:
The rust was mainly along the outer edges of the floorpan (easy to weld) and in the bottom of the footwell (hard to weld). The rest of the floorpan was OK bar a bit of surface rust.
The footwells had rusted in specific areas, which were patched
The driver’s side merited a “newBay” (second hand, from eBay) door, and fitting the winder mechanism, window and window seals inside the door is possibly the worst job on the whole car, unless you have about 25 multi jointed steel ended grippy fingers.
The sills at this point were good enough to leave alone, so were tidied up and painted with green Peugeot Conifer paint; that being the best match I could find for its current colour of “slightly faded racing green”
Wheel refurbishment was also a home brew affair – clean them up, then a couple of coats of primer, silver paint and lacquer got them looking a lot better.
All the initial restoration took around 2 to 3 months. All it cost was the price of the welding rods and the paint.
The finished article!
Obviously it isn’t going to win any concours prizes, but it worked.
It stayed like this until November 2008, when it was decided to have a look at the crinkly passenger wing.
On taking it off, however, it turned out that the chassis rails were bent a bit, in front of the wishbones though so not affecting geometry, and the front of the sill was made of nothing. It is worth noting that the castor angle is set on these cars by an upwards bend in the front chassis rails that the lower wishbone attaches to. Under no circumstances should this be straightened or the suspension geometry will go out of the window. Mine was kinked in front of the wishbone though: the right hand side is about half an inch higher and to the left than the left hand side.
This had resulted in the valance and passenger side wing being mildly bent: this is part of the reason why there’s no front bumper, because it looks really twisted.
Wings and valance were obtained from eBay (again!) and another rebuild began. Once the front wings were removed it became apparent that the sills were absent at the front ends where the water can’t get out of the bottom of the wings: new sills time.
It was discovered that some previous person had just put oversills and a considerable thickness of filler on it to make it look right, the previous picture shows the oversill off and the original 1972 sill rotting away behind it, still the original harvest gold with black sills on it!
Action removal shot! Notice the big chunk of wood with jack in the door gap: these cars are incredibly susceptible to “saggage” when the sills are cut off: this brace stops the door gap closing up. It could also be adjusted with the jack: not a particularly good sign while the old sill was still on! Careful attention has been paid to applying toilet roll to the extremely painful head destroying door hinges, however, on hindsight; something over the windscreen would have been a good idea as it now has lots of little black dots in it…
The inner sills were solid with a few small holes and some surface rust. They were patched and painted:
This also gave a chance to get at the back of the previous patches, and strengthen them up a bit. The depth of the filler used was amazing, as the previous “oversiller” has simply filled the rear wings out to match the sills.
The new sill in place, the story was pretty much the same on the other side. The Heritage sills came from Sports Car Supplies in Swalwell, Newcastle, and were a perfect fit.
The wings and valance were next: a wing repair panel for the drivers side and a whole newBay wing on the passenger side. The twisty rails were ignored, incase fixing them upset the suspension, and basically the valance and wings were jiggled a bit to make them fit: they all went on OK and the rails are only noticably different when lying on your face in front of the car.
The red newBay wing had an extremely rusty bottom part (below the indicator hole) so a piece was cut off a yellow wing that came with the car to attach to it. The yellow wing was in poor but not rusty condition, full of nicks and dings, so the decision to go for the red one was taken. However, it turned out that the red wing was from a 1500 midget converted to be a 1275 wing. This meant that the curve that occurs under the indicator hole was different between the yellow and red wings, so it wouldn’t fit.
So the cut off non rusty part of the yellow wing had to be welded back on: how annoying.
Given enough sanding and finishing, though, the two wings looked like this:
These have been sprayed with a proper compressor this time, not a Halfords rattle can. It is very much better, even thought the paint is over 20 years old.
This was sprayed in February – who says it needs to be warm to spray? Though it was nice and sunny, in fact, sunny enough to re-solder the horn connections using the sun and a magnifying glass thoughtfully provided in the soldering kit. It worked surprisingly well.
The colour of it here is Brooklands green, as that was the colour of the 20 year old paint left over from a previous project. To make it match and look slightly patchy, it was oversprayed with a can of conifer again.
And that is it, as far as basic restoration goes: that is as far as it is at the moment. While the restoration was going and in the 3 years it was on the road, various modifications were made; details are in the modification sections.
The restoration carried out above last about 10 years before needing re-doing. It’s not needed re-welding yet!