Wednesday, 11 June 2014

My MGB: to restore or not to restore?

YOU’D think with all the hours of online research, pub-based debating and burying my head in obscure books that I’ve got a dissertation to hand in. 

Yet in some ways, the question I’ve got to answer at some point this summer is actually even more challenging. What ought I to do with a tatty old classic car which I’ve developed an unfortunate attachment to? 

It’s a question that’s been vexing me ever since my four-wheeled companion emerged from the MOT station back in March. Regular readers might remember my classic car, an MGB GT which arrived at the Simister household four years ago on the back of a trailer after spending at least a decade hidden away on a farm in the Lake District. Since then, it’s been on all sorts of adventures, plodding to car shows across the North West, parading past Blenheim Palace on a classic car rally and – on a day I’d actually rather forget – being thrashed to within an inch of its life around a track by race ace Barrie ‘Whizzo’ Williams. 

It’s also – considering I bought it for just £200 – had quite a lot of love, time and money lavished upon it over the past few years. Yet as I discovered during its last trip to the MOT station back in March, it still isn’t enough. 

In short, I’m looking down the barrel of an MGB restoration that’ll almost certainly cost more than the finished product’s worth. 

While the bits that make the old girl go, stop and steer have long since been sorted out, leaving me with a car that at least drives in the wonderfully analogue, old-school way an MG should, the repair bill for sorting out the rot that’s slowly eating away at its wings, sills and valances looks set to run into the thousands. 

So the million dollar question – well, the six-to-eight grand question to be truthful – is whether I should.
I’ve met chaps at shows who’ve happily spent the price of a brand new Fiesta on transforming their tatty old classics into gleaming show winners, used them sparingly for a few years, and then sold them on for half their outgoings. Despite my best Man Maths (if you’ve ever tried to justify buying or restoring an old piece of automotive tat despite the complaints of a cynical wife or girlfriend, you’ll know what I mean) I’m not sure if I can bring myself to do the same. 

Put simply – would you throw thousands of pounds at a tatty old car or spend the same amount on a tidy Triumph Spitfire, a cheap TVR or a gleaming Peugeot 205 GTI? Answers on a postcard to the usual  address.

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