Members cars

On this page, some members describe their cars

Starting with some sobering facts about classic car ownership. We are grateful to Jean Wray for providing the following (from bitter experience?!).

After this, please read on to see that classic car ownership can be a great success as illustrated by Paul Johnson’s MGC and James Beeton’s marvellous Moke.

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Paul Johnson’s beautiful MGC at the 2019 Barnet Classic Car Show (which had to retreat to the basement of The Spires NCP car park due to poor weather). John Wynn’s MGB is shown on the left.

After reading about Paul’s MGC, please read on to see James Beeton’s marvellous Moke.

Having retired in June 1996, I decided that it was time to start looking for a classic car. My first car in 1973, was a Austin Healey frogeye Sprite which I totally restored. I have always wanted to own an E Type Jaguar  but sadly couldn’t afford one. I therefore decided to buy a MGC which is quite a rare car nowadays. It took me nearly 12 months to find what I was looking for and in June 2018 found the car being sold by Beech Hill garage Reading on behalf of an aged customer. The car had had a full bare body rebuild and respray  in 1989 by MG Workshop of Sheffield. Since that date the car has only done 8706 miles which equates to only 280 miles per annum! Since I have owned the car, I have done approximately 1500 miles. I have a full box of documents including numerous paid invoices, original MGC handbook, tax discs going back to 2011, MOTs from 1978 to date. Also a BL Heritage certificate dated 23/2/1983 confirming built 11/7/1969, dispatched to University Motors on 13/11/1969 and date of Registration 18/6/1970.

The car has been fully serviced and new rear shock absorbers fitted, new fuel lines, new Servo, electronic ignition and converted to 12V battery. The car now drives well and is very torquey. The photos below show the car pre rebuild in 1969 and a latest photo.

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James Beeton recounts how his Mini Moke rose from a less than pristine state to its current excellent condition. The picture shows his Moke at the 2018 Barnet Classic Car Show with some large distant relatives just behind.

The previous owner of my car, who I had known for ages asked me one day if I could help him move his Mini Moke from a lockup garage that he had just sold and that was collapsing around the car!!  I got a friend to help and we went down one evening and pulled the car out onto the trailer. As soon as I saw it I knew I just had to own the car.! By the time we got back it was too dark to really view so I arranged to go back next morning. A deal was struck and woohoo I owned the car!!

The car was then trailered back down to my house, and with the help of a few locals from the pub we pushed it up the steep ramp into my garage, the brakes were seized on the rear so this was no mean task….

Initially I had hoped to just try to recommission the car and get it running as it looked not too bad , however this was wishful thinking, when I  started to remove bits it was obvious that a total strip down would be necessary. There was some serious rust worm and bad repairs in critical areas and the engine was seized solid.  So I just bit the bullet and started on the journey you all know too well!!…

I stripped everything off the car back to a bare shell, removed the engine and box, the plugs were removed and diesel poured in and left for a week, this freed the engine and it turned easily!  to be stripped down later on and rebuilt…

I built a strong frame of 2×4 scrap timber donated free by our local wood yard and sat this on skates, so I could move the car around easily, then we lifted the shell onto this for works to start.

The first task was horrible, the whole of the shell had been liberally coated inside and out with a thick layer of underseal and I decided as it was so thick that it needed to come off before media blasting (to avoid overheating and warping panels.) This took weeks to do with a homemade scraper sharp enough to cut through the gunge… Eventually it was ready to go for blasting and off it all went, shell, panels, sub-frames the lot!.  The sub-frames were original and in generally excellent condition so only needed one small inset patch welding on, they were blasted and then powder coated with all the various suspension bits.  The tub was red oxide prime coated before return to my garage.

A colleague in the MCR had a local welder (Dave the Welder!!) who was totally top class, so he came around and we marked up the shell for panels to keep/repair and those to replace. The good thing about Dave was he always tried to save original as opposed to just taking the easy route and replace everything, he was a genius with metal work and his welding was impeccable.

So we started, with myself cutting out the bad, then Dave would come along and work for a few hours to suit his other commitments, until eventually we had repaired the shell to a solid state suitable to rebuild. This task took a few months of part time work but the end result was excellent as considerable care had been taken to re-alight the panels exactly- when the sub frames were later offered up they fitted perfectly into place!

During this whole process I had a regular team from our local  Pub who would, for the bribe of  a beer, tramp up the road turn the car shell  over as and when required – about 8 rotations during the course of the rebuild! 

As this was going on I also stripped the engine down to check it over, and all was good inside, the crank and shells were near perfect and the cylinders fine. The gearbox needed some work as there was some wear, so this was done, new oils seals etc fitted where needed, and a new clutch plate for good measure. The head was cleaned and the valves cleaned /reseated. The engine was reassembled and painted, with all ancillaries refitted and timing set up statically ready for the great fire up moment! 

The shell was eventually carted off down the road – (same pub team and bribes applicable) to a local garage /spray shop with an allegedly fine reputation. I had decided to get the car painted in deep bronze green as opposed to the original rubbish BMC green colour. The paint was a coach enamel (first big mistake!) and came from a specialist paint supplier for Landrovers.  The spray shop convinced me they had years of experience back in the day with this type of paint so I was happy enough. Unfortunately the chap who did the spraying did not! and the first attempt was pretty poor. “No probs” the owner said , we will spray over again. This they did and it looked a lot better, but still not as perfect as I had hoped.  In the end I agreed that I would just take the car back, build it up and they would then mop it and sort out any discrepancies.

I was so disappointed with the outcome of this major milestone that I lost interest for a few months, until I decided -what the hell just get on with it and rebuild get it on the road.  This I did. First though I hand painted all the underside again and resprayed the worst areas myself. They looked a lot better for that!

Because there is very little of the car and all the bolt on parts were ready prepared this took a remarkably short time and before I knew it the car was standing on its own wheels , engine in and ready to rewire. I had kept the original loom and this was basically sound so I just recovered where necessary with heat shrink, soldered on new bullet connectors where required and refitted the whole thing.

 A battery was fitted and then the great moment – turn the ignition switch, and smell for burning !! No pyrotechnic probs but no starter or turnoverL or fuel pump working. A quick examination and all was revealed, the earth points had too thick a layer of paint under them! These were scraped away and bingo ignition on, pump and engine turn over!! 4 or 5 turns and the engine fired up and within minutes was running perfectly…

The car was mot,d the  following week on the Saturday  morning – straight grade A,s!! and just in time for Enfield Pageant on the Sunday, where …on the way back being a mini and so as not to disappoint it broke down, but we got home and fixed.!

Since then I have done London to Brighton Mini run twice and numerous other shows , with the car more  reliable than any old  mini I have owned ( a few!)

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