The Spider and the ‘B’ – A Project Update

A couple of years ago I came across a part completed 1968 MGB roadster which was for sale. It had a new Heritage shell and, before losing interest, the owner had made a half-hearted attempt at assembly using some original and some new parts.

I purchased the car for three main reasons – a. the price, b. the top-quality professional paint job and c. I needed a retirement project.

When I got the car home, I quickly realised that it needed to be stripped back to the bare painted shell and started again – so that is what I did. The previous owner had accumulated many additional used parts in order, I assume, to make good parts. So, for example, there were four heaters, three speedometers, two pedal boxes, two dashboards, three sets of carburettors etc. Many of these items were in bad condition but at least it gave me a chance of making some good restored parts.

To date the car has been fitted with many brand-new parts but again, and as I have heard many times from others, the quality of some of these parts can be very poor. Therefore, where possible I have used restored parts.

I was at a local collector’s house and was admiring the bumpers on his Aston Martin DB5. I wanted to know where he got them re-chromed. He took great delight in informing me that they were, in fact, stainless steel and were purchased from Vietnam. I got the details from him and bought a set. Complete with overriders, they are now fitted to the car and, as can be seen, they look great – and of course they won’t rust.

Some of the items were unique finds on eBay. I bought a brand new (new old stock) complete back axle including brakes and splined hubs.  It arrived in a large crate (pictured) which caused a little curiosity as it sat in the driveway.

Later I managed to get a new (new old stock again) front crossmember from a guy in Arizona. As I removed the packaging and peered inside the crossmember I noticed some familiar shapes.

They were those of spider egg sacs (fluffy little balls of silk) accompanied by the remnants of a web containing the tangled remains of a funny looking spider – now deceased.  Concerned that the eggs might still hatch, the whole lot was quickly cleaned out and disinfected.

 The gearbox, overdrive, windscreen frame and dashboard have all been restored by the best professional people I could find in the UK.

Next on the list is the engine. I happen to have five engines none of which, unfortunately, is the original. I plan to use an 18GG which I have dismantled and found to be standard. This is the closest I can get to the original 18GD engine and I plan to completely remanufacture it too as good as original.

It has turned into a bit of an obsession I know but not only does it give me focus in these difficult times but it also fulfils a desire to build my own MGB on a new shell.

I work at my own pace and now estimate that final completion is probably another year away, so roll on 2022.

Mike Dowey