I had originally intended on keeping a separate blog or web-site to log my progress on this project, but have decided to just expand this blog, rather than manage yet another site.
In late October 2008 my dad informed me that he would be giving me, my brothers and my sister a little of his share of his inheritance. My dad, his brothers and sisters had split some inheritance that Granny had left after she had passed. She passed away earlier in 2008 after suffering for several years from Cancer. True to her nature and not wanting people to fuss, she had kept her suffering a secret almost to the end, just getting on with life and only telling the family when she started to get too ill.
Though it was not a lot of money I did not want to waste it on bills or similar… So I decided it was about time to renew an old hobby, classic cars… and possibly introduce my kids to some dirt and oil.
For many years now my main hobby has been has been my job and vice versa (software development and computer programming)… hobby since 1990 job since 1997, with any spare time between the two being taken up by the kids, parenthood and the occasional computer game or xbox distraction.
In order to keep the old brain fresh for coding I figure it is time to get my fingernails dirty again.
Prior to spending most of my time in front of a computer screen I used to spend a reasonable amount under a bonnet or re-wiring my old bangers. Admittedly most of the time it was out of necessity, rather than desire… spending most of my money on books, computer hardware, OU courses and the kids meant that all of my earlier cars were bangers run on a shoe string. Saying that there was always a lot of satisfaction in doing the repairs and maintenance myself or with the help of my dad…
First car I bought was a 1973 Opel Ascona, purchased for the pricey sum of £200, this was before owning a classic became more fashionable and the prices went up quite a bit.
Though it required a fair upkeep during it’s life, it went on for a surprising number of years passing between myself and my father a couple of times… There was then the 1988 Ford Sierra Estate, actually this is the car I learned to drive in before getting the Opel when I passed my test, I swapped the Opel with my Dad for this and took on the repayments for a while. Then there was a 1973 Volkswagen Beetle (that needed completely rewired, having melted all the wiring and somehow just got a MOT… always checked the electrics on a car I bought after this one and never trusted a MOT), then a Fiat 126 (my dad bought this but I used it for a while) and a 1982 Ford Capri.
I then moved onto more modern cars working my way through a Rover Mini Metro, a Ford Focus, a Citroen Picasso, a Volvo 940 Turbo, a Ford Mondeo and currently a Chrysler Voyager.
And that’s just the cars I have been through (my dad’s list is much longer and more impressive, including a bubble car, Ford Cortina, various customs, a Ford Anglia and many more).
So… I had a few pennies from my Granny and decided to get an old classic in need of some repairs as a way to entertain myself on weekends in my garage. I had always wanted to repair and restore an old classic rather than just keep it running out of necessity.
Having researched various types of classic cars I decided that I would go for an MGB GT. There was several reasons for this…
Firstly I had always wanted one when I was younger but they had always been out-with my budget and once I could have afforded one, well one word… "kids", so not really practical. Though the money I was getting would not normally be enough for a MGB GT; with the economic climate looking bleaker and bleaker it seemed it would be a buyers market for second-hand cars, bringing prices much closer to my budget.
Other factors came into play as well, such as the great availability of reasonably priced replacement parts for the MGB GT, through the various owners clubs… it was after all one of the most popular British small sports cars built. There is also an abundance of books and other materials on them.
Having settled on the idea and to my surprise getting instant approval from my wife, I set about trying to find one. It soon became obvious that the best place to get a good deal would be on eBay, buying a car through eBay is something I never thought I would do, but prices elsewhere still seemed high.
I was ideally looking for something 1972 or earlier (something that would be road tax exempt here in the UK, so I don’t have to worry about the yearly cost as much). It had to be something needing some work, but was currently running and have a MOT so that I could get it home.
Having browsed and monitored auctions for several weeks, it was looking like I would only be able to get something post 1973 for the money I had available. So I bid on a couple of cars from 1973. Though I was the highest bidder on both they never reached their reserve and the sellers were expecting more than double what the auctions reached and more than I was willing to pay.
I was in no rush and wasn’t about to be convinced to part with more money than I had budgeted.
I continued monitoring and caught sight of a red 1972 MGB GT, with no reserve that was in need of some restoration and maintenance… over the course of the week I emailed the seller numerous detailed questions, he was extremely helpful answering all my questions and sending me additional photos of various problem areas that would need repaired.
I made arrangements with the owner to pick it up from Heathrow airport and booked my flights down for the following weekend. Flying down on the first flight on 29th Nov, I spent the day (coldest of the year, in car with no working heater) driving back up.
The car did have a slight misfire on the journey back, but I just kept the revs low and took my time and it got me back home with only a few minor hiccups.