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Extract from November/December's NAMGBR publication - The Driver

The 100,00 Mile Club Plus Ultra

Don Bishop

My 1972 MGB GT in Teal Blue qualifies twice over for membership in the 100,000 Mile Register. When I brought the car in April 1974, as the third owner, the recorded mileage was 6877. The 'B appeared to have been standing for some time all the heads of the trim screws were slightly rusted for instance, and the seats didn't have that 'nearly new' look which I should have thought less than 7000 miles would show. Also something horrid appeared to have happenend to the roof which had been poorly repainted. I didn't think it had been rolled, but maybe a straw bale or something had dropped on it at some time or another. Otherwise the car was straight enough and I parted with 1125 for it, having seen it advertised in Motor Sport.

I found after a short time that the offside brake caliper had a sticking piston which only became really obvious when an enforced sharp brake application nearly had me and my passenger in a ditch on our way to a conference in Norwich! So, a new pair of calipers went on to be followed shortly by a decent set of tires. Michelin ZX's to replace the original Dunlop cross-piles which were really horrible. After a couple of years of being fed-up with the look of the roof I decided to hide it all under a Weathershields sun-roof and some black vinyl. I still reckon that's the best 100 I've ever spent on a car at any one time!

I joined the MG Car Club in 1976, also the MG Owners' Club and about this time the tailgate of the GT rusted out along the bottom seam and I brought a 1974 'gate from a fellow club member, which accounts for the car having the wrong badging it wears to this day! A Dixon-Bate towbar was fitted to allow us to tow the odd "Sailfish" sailing cruiser on delivery from Southampton to Harwich or Ipswich, a journey of some 200 miles. Eighteen feet six inches of boat on its own trailer, some 4000 pounds all-up and the tow behind the MGB was rock steady at 70mph in overdrive top! Not much wrong with the car mechanically, then, at 40-odd thousand miles. After that came a weekend trailer for the 'B to lug along and this was a different kettle of fish altogether and soon the rear springs became 'S'-shaped. Still the trailer gave us several years of Lake District holidays, for all that.

Although I haven't been organized enough to keep successive MOT certificates (* see below-Ed.), there didn't seem any point to it then, it was in October 1976 that I started keeping my own service record in the back of my workshop manual, with the recorded mileage standing at 42,000. I've kept it up ever since and it makes for interesting reading in retrospect.

When I first had the car, I thought I'd better have it serviced by a specialist garage, and this I did for a few months until I realized that the 'B went better before the service than after! Once I'd restored it to my own degree of tune-y'know, a little richer here, a little more advance there I went back to doing the work myself as I always had done with years of experience on Beetles, Morris', and Hornet Specials. Apart from major rebuilds I've done so ever since. While I'm at it I'll mention that I've always changed engine oil and filter at 3,000 miles, half the recommended interval. I've always been somewhat skeptical about the true ability of multi-grade oils to stay "in grade" for as long as 6,000 miles and I believe changing it every 3K has paid off in terms of enhanced engine life, of which more anon.

I look at my service record and wonder what it was that made me undertake a decoke at 46,100 miles in January 1977. Must have seemed like a good idea at the time-probably couldn't keep my fingers off the car any longer!

New exhaust system at 48,000, new shocks at 48,500, new fuel pump at 49,000. I was always doing something every couple of weeks or so-whether it needed it or not! I see that I had the head planed at 76,370 in September 1976 (70K in five and a half years)-I recall that I did have a water seepage problem between number 2 and 3 pots-situation normal!

In July 1980 I fitted a pair of exchange swivels at 83,500, then two days later a new complete exhaust system obtained from the MGOC. At 92,900 miles in March 1981 it needed a new rear box. A pair of XZX tires on the front at 93.5K-rears still good after 51K miles. Another new exhaust at 102,700 in February 1982 after a nineteen thousand mile life. Enough said! A month later I fitted V8 Special Tuning bushes in the front lower arms.

A pair of new SU carbs went on in April '82 at 104,450 miles also a Mobelec Magnum electronic ignition unit. I seem to recall that the carbs were on "offer" from a very reputable carburetor house. A new overdrive unit at 109,950 in September '82 came after replacing the first of three (no-make it four!) oil coolers in quick succession! This problem was almost certainly caused (once I'd fathomed it out) by the stiffer suspension bushes causing some slight wracking to the front apron where the cooler is mounted and was cured by putting rubber washers under the oil cooler mounting bolts. Touch wood-it hasn't happened since!

On to bigger things. A fully reconditioned engine at 124,121 in November '83. The another one at 149,796 (Oct. '85) consequent upon two further failures of No. 3 piston rings due, according to the reconditioners, "petrol wash"? Strange.... because the plugs were the right colour and fuel consumption in the good range between 29 and 38 mpg depending upon use. However, the common factor to all three failures were those new carburetors! So I rebuilt my old carb bodies with the new carb bits and pieces and to date have had no further similar problems. (That's asking for trouble-saying that!)

Going back a bit to June '86, I had new front fenders, door skins, lower rear wings and sills repaired at the same time adding on aluminum bonnet and undergoing a complete respray. Then in April '90 at 186K miles all the work which probably should have been done first time round! New complete sills, floors, inner sills and spring hangers and another respray. I re-trimmed most of the interior when I got the 'B back and the sunroof got a new lining.

Now, what do I need to get it ready for its next outing? Check the oil level (to date with this engine, none used between changes) check the tire pressures, check the water, fill up with 4 star. This MGB is still a joy to drive and a new pair of carb jets has restored both the performance and economy bestowed by a rather special Aldon distributor fitted at 167,500. Oh-and that 3/4" front anti-roll bar fitted in 1987 makes the car corner almost flat. That, and the V8 bushings are the only suspension mods I've ever made. Never found the need for anything more.

Looking at it, it seems as though I must have spent a fair proportion of my life under, on and in the MGB- and that's not counting the time spent driving it! However, as I tell my good lady wife- it keeps me off of the streets; and if I'd had to pay someone else to do it all, we and the 'BGT would have parted company years ago. Whatever, it's all on record since 1976, so many LAL 493K (MGB Register #60) join your 100K Register please?

(Don is the Registrar for the MGB Register of the MG Car Club)

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