Regular readers of Garage Hot Rods will probably remember Doug Griswold’s 1975 MG that was featured in GHR in August of last year.
The MG has been in Doug’s family since the day it came off the showroom floor. Doug’s sister Gail, and then Doug, drove the car daily through the 70s and into the 80s.
And then the MG sat in Doug’s garage. For 20 years. It needed some work.
Last year, Doug’s family and friends decided to do something about that. Gordon Green, his sons Sam and Kevin, Kevin’s friends Dave Horne, John Nelson, Rich Cohen, and Daniel ‘Trips” Dewar, and Doug’s son Michael, volunteered to completely rebuild the MG.
There were others who contributed as well. When a replacement driver’s side armrest could not be found, Gordon’s wife Barb used the vinyl Sam took off the old rear cabin panel to reupholster the armrest.
Gordon’s brother Russell was visiting over the Christmas holidays and helped out too. That’s him using a hair dryer to get the insulation to sit in every curve of the floor. “He was a little fanatical,” Gordon said. Russell played another pivotal role in the build during that Christmas, which we’ll get to in a minute.
And when I said this team agreed to completely rebuild the MG, I do mean… completely.
We’re talking engine, transmission, suspension, floor pans, body, paint, convertible top, interior, wheels… the entire car was disassembled, cleaned, rebuilt, restored, and/or replaced, and then put back together at Gordon’s backyard shop in central Georgia. The entire project was done over many weekends when the team would get together at Gordon’s.
Last month, the work was finished, and Gordon delivered the car to Doug’s Atlanta-area home.
Check out these before and after pictures:
Gordon reported that the MG was a pleasure to drive up I-75 to Doug’s. The only glitch he noticed was that the alternator light came on during the drive, but that was quickly resolved in Doug’s driveway by tightening the fan belt.
Nearly the entire build team was there, and I asked them what was the most difficult part of the build. Tracking down parts was mentioned. Trying to tune the very complicated, and yet, non-adjustable carburetor was mentioned. Body work was mentioned, specifically the amount of sanding required. “You just keep sanding,” Gordon said.
But when the front door vent windows were mentioned, there was resounding and unanimous agreement about that being the most difficult.
Specifically, it was the reinstallation of the vent windows that was so difficult. Even John agreed, even though, as everyone quickly pointed out, John helped remove the vent windows, but he was not there when they were put back in. This, apparently, was a smart move on John’s part.
Russell’s pivotal role came into play during the vent window installation. It turns out Russell has a good friend who had just retired from being a British car mechanic. Russell got his friend on the phone to help with the window installation. This is how Gordon described the instructions (which, by the way, were completely correct) Russell’s friend provided over the phone:
“Take this and turn that and then take this out – No! You can’t do that! – then take this all the way out and put it back in. Have someone hold that while someone else goes and gets this.”
Gordon pointed to a chrome piece edging the vent window and said, “In order to get this out, I had to turn like this,” at which point he contorted his body in a way a man his age probably shouldn’t.
But the instructions and the contortions worked. The vent window, trim, door window, and door panels are all correctly reassembled and working perfectly.
One other great anecdote from the rebuild was the circular “gasket” someone had fashioned for the MG’s carburetor from a Marlboro Lights cigarette pack. It wasn’t really helping the carb do its job, but you’ve got to give it credit for lasting almost 50 years.
As you might imagine, Doug was incredibly appreciative of the work the team did. Toasts were offered and thanks were given. As everyone was looking over the finished car, you heard people say things like “Great job!” and “Amazing!” over and over again. This plaque, mounted in the trunk, is a testament to the great work the team did in restoring the car.
And now the MG that’s been in Doug’s family since 1975 is back home. The space in the garage where it sat for 20 years is still there. But rest assured this MG’s not going to be sitting around much.
In fact, after getting a quick lesson on how to use the new satellite radio (and no doubt tuning it to the Classic Vinyl station), Doug and Gordon hopped in the B and headed out on the road, adding yet another memory to the MG’s list.
Photos courtesy of Gordon Green
Click here to see more photos of Doug’s MGB