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||6 mei 1971
"........................ I HAD A DREAM........................"
The Virus…… A friend of mine had had a Morris Minor and a Triumph Spitfire for years, bought in England . Very cheap on road-tax and little insurance costs, and what's more beautiful than cruising hatch-down on a day off? “Born To Be Wild”, nostalgia all around, and without a helmet and with the Misses in the passenger seat…Might be something for you as well???? So that we can make nice tours together in our roadsters, and perhaps take a trip down to England …Cozy shortcuts, down nostalgic little roads, at ease down the English Southshore, with an additional visit to family in Eastbourne . My cousin arranged the buy of the Morris and the Triumph, he might know of something of your liking as well…
The virus did its destructive job…................... For sale:
MGB roadster 1971, Red, chrome bumpers, overdrive, leather seats, alarm and immobilizer, regularly serviced, Baby forces reluctant sale, East Sussex .
The purchase: In July 1996 we were in England ( Eastbourne ), when I read the add above in the MG's Owners Mag. I phoned the telephone number which had been added and in my best English I requested more info.The seller lived in Hastings, a village on the South shore, and I decided to pay him a visit…Excited like a little boy who went on his first school trip, I took the trip from Eastbourne to Hastings…Gee, Hastings is located by the shoreline, that doesn't predict much good news with all the salt water…First impression, followed by a global inspection, not bad at all, the motor sounded good, nice interior, and it's even got an overdrive, and what's that? Wow, break servo, but a shame about that modern radio…Again a closer look at the car itself…not too bad! Even that about the baby seemed very true, a little feller, a few months old, is apparently not very happy with the sale on hand, witnessing the sound he produced! Test-drive, negotiations, agreement reached and…workshop manual, bills, MOT, spare bumper, exhaust parts included. Took care of the necessary arrangements in Holland , and in 14 days I was going to be able to pick it up…
Me, Mr Roadway, Anneke and Jackie (Hastings)
The transport: insurance and other formalities were taken care of, and on the fourth of August 1996 I was on my way to Hastings . As I arrived, I was delighted to discover that ‘gentlemen's agreements' still do exist, as the car was there ready and waiting for me…Closed the deal and was on my way, good thing the weather was beautiful, so I could first experience ‘topless' driving! Mrs. Roadway (the sellers wife) burst into tears as I drove away, after all it was her car. She hadn't been able to gather the courage to tell her brother and father about the sale, as they had been responsible for years of restoration on the car…
I had had some experience with driving on the left side of the road, but did have to get used to the steering wheel located on the right hand side! Too bad Folkestone is quickly reached, I was just starting to get into this! The MGB runs perfectly, and I am very keyed up…Arriving at the Shuttle, customs appear very willingly and after 35 minutes I arrive in Calais . Taking the highway nice and easy to Eindhoven …Damn, it's siring to rain, so the hood is put back on…Waterproof? Not quite, but Jackie assured me this is a totally normal thing for old English roadsters, and after all he's had enough experience with them, right?
The Dutch license-plate: Too bad about the plastic race-spoiler and the pulling hook. Took out the radio, the antenna, and the alarm (the wires were literally knotted!). I prefer spook wheels and that steer on the right is damn unhandy whilst maneuvering past another vehicle…First thing to do is pay the government of the Dutch Vehicle Registration a visit for an import check in order to receive Dutch plates.
It seems the Vehicle Identification Number was partially ripped and according to the the chief inspector a marked digit doesn't match with the English plate. He reads it as an ‘8', while the papers state a ‘G'. With the use of the service manual I try to convince him about it not being an ‘8' but the letter ‘G', as mentioned in the manual. He nevertheless persists on the ‘8'. An investigation is needed, conducted by the British RDW, he announces. The earlier requested and acquired British Motor Industry Certificate (refer to MGB Registers and the Links Page for more info), with all correct specifications, is proudly shown, but couldn't convince him either…stubbornness at it's best! He also declares that a brake fluid level indicator is missing, but I no longer feel like discussing it with this fellow…So I have to return once the details are fixed and hopefully in the meantime the British RDW investigation is finished…The details were fixed and in September 1996 I went back to the RDW. The investigation was finished indeed and it indeed appeared the symbol was a ‘G'….and furthermore everything seemed to be in order. The license plate was set at DM-53-95.
The restoration: After a thorough and decisive chat with some oldtimer friends, it was decided to totally restaurate end restore the vehicle. They offer to lend me a hand in the process and along with the help of the necessary manuals it should be manageable…A former restoration, done in England, wasn't exactly thorough and had been more cosmetic…That isn't quite according to my principle: if you're going to do it, do it properly, otherwise don't do it…This sure goes for parts that deal with safety, like brakes, steering installation, front suspension etc.. The MGB was totally dismantled and it's funny, the things you encounter whilst doing that. Might as well take off the cylinder head, have it made unleaded, new front wings, new floorboards (drilled out the welding points), new doors and panels (of course all original Rover, as it fits perfectly). The brakes were renewed, and silicon brake fluid was used. Thanks to a wrennchingbuddie of mine I was able to borrow a side bar, which brought me lots of comfort and joy. In May 1998 the MGB was blasted, along with the ridges of the trunk lid and the hood…Then everything was zinc plated and epoxy sprayed , obviously after the necessary bodywork and CO2 welding...The “tightness” of the bodywork was take care of by a professional, and after that the motor compartment, the trunk, door frames, wing frames and so forth, were sprayed in uniform color. The motor was built in again, and so were the front- and rear assembly. The doors, trunk lid en hood were hung, and the wings were mantled…
The assembly: In June 1998 the MGB had been totally sprayed en reconstructing could commence. After all the most beautiful part of the restoration and the “finishing touch” to all the work, and without having to dirty your hands! A very exciting moment…turning the key in the ignition, and see, it does work, and pretty neat as well! Did have to do some tuning here and there, look, that's better already…Took the first test-drive en the MGB runs smoothly, steers well and the brakes fulfill their part perfectly, far out!!! I know it's not the wisest thing to do, but can't help driving it for about 50 km., resulting in a warm, perfectly satisfied feeling as I reach home!!!
The start…..On the 30 th of August 1998 the first long test-drive. Through Belgium and Luxembourg to Saarbrucken in Germany . The ‘B' runs like a little sun, no problems whatsoever. After spending the night with friends in Germany , we head back home to Eindhoven . Right after Diekirch (G) the ‘B' suddenly stops and shuts down, totally out of voltage…The battery appears to be in order and loaded, and after some handy work with the wiring loom, the voltage is back again, but only for a short while. There you are, in the middle of the road, in the middle of nowhere, with no house or anything nearby. It later appeared that there actually was an MG man nearby, in a village called Hosingen, but at that I time I wasn't aware of that. So there I was, with a perfectly restaurated MGB, which totally went ‘dead' on me, with no sign of life whatsoever. After a lot of cursing and shouting, again I did some work on the wiring loom, and after a while I succeed in getting the voltage back on…Got in quickly, started the car and drove off as quickly as possible…Thought it would be wise to get some cheap gas just before crossing the border, but after filling her up, the car wouldn't start once more…Luckily we were standing dry, sheltered by the the Gas station. As I thought I now knew the cause of the problems, I again made work of the wiring loom. I got the power on gain and headed off quickly as it was already getting dark…We decided to take an off-highway route, not wanting it to fall dead on the highway, with all risks included…On the way home the situation repeated itself several times, and without power there's no headlights either, so I had to use caution with that…It later appeared that the absence of power had been devastating for the diode bridge of the dynamo, which had broken down because of that…The day after I immediately went looking for the cause of all problems, and finally I discovered it. On the starting-engine there's a thick brown cable with a huge cable eye. This eye had apparently been molded to the cable in England , which resulted in a non-solid connection…As en effect of all shaking and movement during driving, this connection had come loose, but inside the isolation, right next to the cable eye. As it was disconnected inside, it couldn't be seen with a bare eye from the outside…I used a professional wrench to construct a new one and the problem was fixed. Except for the dynamo diode-bridge, which was totally broken down due having power the one moment and the sudden absence of it the other. To totally renew it is pretty hard so I replaced it with a revised one…
coffeebreak near Coo (Belgium).
All in all a good test-drive nonetheless and so the MGB was ready for the real job….holidays in Britain !
The English trips: In September 1998 we drove down the English South-shores for two weeks. We held our camp at a beautiful camping in Pagham (in the vicinity of Chichester ). From there we made lovely trips through (among others) the New Forrest (went to Beaulieu as well of course), and to the isle of Wright (a trip with the ferry isn't cheap, but very worthwhile!). Drove for miles and miles, without any problems whatsoever, the MGB ran fantastically! Absolutely lovely! The experience of cruising (top-down) over there is barely indescribable…you can see, smell and even hear thing much better and you can nearly feel the MG perfectly feeling at home driving those little beautiful roads…It steers, through the curvy, hellish paths sometimes surrounded by hawthorn and hagues, perfectly, steady as a rock and without any pain. All nice remarks and compliments of passers-by and people we encounter along our trips, makes me feel ten feet tall…what an immensely beautiful country it is, this England….
In July/August 2000 we headed back to the MG's home ground, this time we visited the truly astonishingly marvelous Wales . An acquaintance of ours had arranged for a trailer for us to reside in temporarily, in Llangorse, an idyllically little place next to a great lake, in the middle of the Breacon Beacons (a mountain pass). In the past we had driven past the English South shore more often, nearly up to Lands End (the most Western point of England). Man, there are so many beautiful things to see along that shore, one of them being the “Filching Manor” museum (near East Dean). This museum is owned by Paul Foulkes Halbard, Campbell 's son in law (Blue Bird Speed Records). It's a shame this remarkable man has passed away in 2004...
Furthermore we again payed a visit to the New Forrest, where we went to a parts fare. We of course hung around there for far too long, but it was worth it. Went on through the Dartmoor Forrest, Torbay with its warm wave stream and beautiful cottages at the seaside. This time we do manage to reach Lizard Point ( England 's most Southern landmark) and Lands End ( England 's most Western landmark). Who wouldn't fancy that, just bringing a tent along with the MG and start driving! We aren't bound to any scheduling, it doesn't matter when we reach Wales , time's of relative importance here. Eventually it took us five days to reach Wales via the South shore, but have discovered lots of beautiful spots which we definitely are going to come back to again in the future…Taking the Severn Bridge we reached Wales and we spent another two splendid weeks there. Drove a lot, lots of hiking and climbing (to the top of the Penn-Y-Ran, the highest peak of the Brecon Beacons). After enjoying a well ran trip back (quickly using the highways) via Dover , Oostende (B) to Eindhoven again. We had driven a total of 3500 km., of which only 200 km. with a closed top, and that was in Belgium , on the way over and the way back home. Just to make it clear: without any problems whatsoever…They're just fine, reliable roadsters those MGB's….
Llangorse in the Brecon Beacons (Wales)
What remains are some fine hours of video-footage of the trip, and I could sure advise you on some beautiful routes down the South shore and Wales ….
The sale…: That which I never had held possible, did happen after all….the MGB was sold. I had set my mind on another challenge, a Triumph Tr4, and I needed the money for that…That's when I decided to sell the MGB…With the help of Upper Classics it wasn't hard to find me a buyer and at the start of 2002 the deal was done. I did have more trouble explaining it to my wife, so all in all it took a few weeks of non-verbal pastime together, hahaha…This Tr4 challenge can also be viewed here on my site, but I can already tell you this hasn't been a success…Looking back I can admit I regret selling the MGB, and even felt some form of ‘betrayal' towards the B, which had served us so well on numerous trips, which of course can't be taken from us, but the hurt's there nevertheless…I still am in possession of 3 videotapes containing a total of 9 hours of restoration and trips with the MGB. Bas, I still have some copies of those tapes for you here and hopefully you will enjoy the B as much as we have…And might you ever have doubts on the purchase, let me know…but I presume it will bring a lot of joy as well, otherwise I would have heard it by now I guess….