Rediscovering a car after 13 years hidden in a garden shed can be a mixed blessing. Depending on how well it’s been stored it will either be a basket case or a fairly expensive restoration.
Thankfully, despite the odds, this pretty Royal Blue MGB convertible was remarkably solid after its extended hibernation. When the owner called us to quote on returning it to the road our first step was to inspect it and assess whether it would be economically viable. Although it was covered in a thick layer of dust and grime, the body and underside were remarkably solid; storing the car in a drafty barn without a car cover was the best thing for it since it avoided damp and condensation and micro blistering of the paintwork.
The owner had had the car since the early 1990s when it was his daily driver. It was restored in the late 1990s and used as his wedding car. Once children and life inevitably intervened the car was garaged from 2003 and left unused.
With the job judged realistic our next step was to recover the car back to our workshop for a thorough inspection on a ramp. This is where our logistics resources and experience counted.
The car, as the photos show, was 100m up a gravel driveway, inaccessible to a truck, and then 50m across a lawn, gravelled area and behind a wood store. Using brute force plus jacks, we managed to move the car carefully across these obstacles despite one of the rear wheels initially locked on. With the wheels then freed it could be rolled down to the truck and loaded.
One of the advantages of having trucks and drivers is that we have the facilities to uplift cars like this. We provide this service free of charge where we end up taking on a project, potentially saving the customer a lot of hassle and cost. In the case of this MGB, most recovery companies would have refused the work because of its complexity.
Once back at the unit we put the car on the ramp and assess the work required. We split the project into three steps, an approach designed to give the owner visibility of the costs and progress required to return it to the road.
The MGB cleaned up very well, showing very good paint with only very minor deterioration not requiring immediate attention. The interior, floors, sills and body panels were all good.
Here’s how we approached this unusual project.
Step 1: essential repairs to prepare the car for MOT
As the car was solid, apart from a very small area of welding, the essential repairs were largely limited to the fairly obvious and inevitable, considering its long storage. These included new brake discs and pads, brake cylinders, a service and new battery.
Step 2: safety and recommended repairs to ensure the car is reliable
Any lengthy period off-road inevitably causes ancillaries to deteriorate. We recommended replacing the water pump, alternator, slave and master brake cylinders, distributor and fuel pump. With these repairs the car could then be confidently put through a MOT.
Step 3: MOT and rectification of fail items
If Steps 1 and 2 are completed correctly then the car should stand a good chance of passing its MOT. Any fail items will be relatively minor. This approach means that we are able to quote an accurate price to the customer and avoid surprises.
We completed steps 1 to 3 to an agreed budget. Our approach meant that the owner wasn’t met with any nasty surprises and got a useable, safe and reliable car back in a reasonable space of time without spending a fortune. The car has proven to be reliable and has subsequently been back to us for servicing and maintenance work.
To find out more about what we do visit www.fixclassiccars.co.uk or call 01527 893733