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Body Upgrades

Creating the front Sebring look

Many buyers of the r/b cars will have differing opinions on whether they like the look, but, if like me, you bought a r/b GT because it is the lowest in pecking order (read cheapskate!), then you may want to consider losing the rubber bumpers.  The mass of the bumpers is fairly significant, as much as 40kg (88lbs) and so improvements in not just acceleration, but also handling are effected, since weight is lost from each end of the car.

Many will choose to go to the c/b conversion kit, which is not only more costly in parts but also more involved in terms of the effort to get the right finish.  More over, unless the registration is changed to an earlier plate, and the interior is replaced, it is still not a c/b car, and is perhaps only worth more to someone wanting a c/b car but unable to afford a genuine c/b car.  Perhaps the last comment applies more to Roadsters than GTs since a good c/b GT is not much more than a similar condition r/b GT, especially the post 1977 GT in the right colour.  So if you are after the Sebring look as in the the two GTs in the photo bar above, read on...

Beware the Insurance man.

Before losing bumpers, one issue to consider is the use of the vehicle, and the insurance implications.  It will be more susceptible to bumps, and so insurance premiums will go up, and the rear r/b is a superb coffee mug resting place (or beer can resting place if you prefer), so think carefully as to whether you want to do this.  As mine is not an everyday car, and used mostly for non-mundane purposes, I decided to chance my luck on this point although a shunt at the rear would be a little messy, but remember that with the modifications I have done the bumper plates and chassis rails are still in position so there will still be some limited protection, though not as good as having the bumpers themselves.

Ride height needs attention! 

I don’t believe that the car will rise at all without the bumpers, after all it is only 20kgs or so at each end, but it is the effect of the Sebring look that is important, and a r/b ride height will look plain daft on what is a visually impressive 60’s race car look!  So it will be necessary to consider lowering the car.

Front of MGB GT r/b modifications:

The valence I used is a c/b one, but one could use a r/b valence, except that there will be bigger apertures visible where the bumper stay arms (fitted to 75-77 cars) fitted through the body to the inner arch – these I have used for the brake ducting.

The position of the indicator lights is at the legal minimum height, and slightly inboard to get the right look.

You will need to rout out a hole for these light units, which I bought from Midland Wheels Supplies in their Mini lighting section and were the cheapest I had seen them at around £10 for a pair.  I ordered the clear units and had to buy some orange bulbs to fit.  The hole is not very big and the unit has three self-taping screws and you can see in the photo how the units protrude, but it was easy enough to wire into the existing indicator wires.

The above photos show the light position and the view from the wheel arch.

Fitting the grille required the standard three top brackets obtainable from any reputable MG Supplier, but first the grille needed modifying.  I drilled out the rivets holding the inner piece (in my case the aluminium slats, but the same applies to the black plastic honeycomb) and then mounted in a piece of Halford’s mesh, which is both screwed and riveted to the frame.  A new badge sorted the die-cast upright piece, although I was in two minds whether to fit this or not.  I used silicon sealant to glue the badge in.

It is necessary, in my opinion, to fit this mesh, as it does two things.  It slims down the thickness of the grille to allow a closer mounting (see below) but it also, in the case of the mesh I used, hides all the chassis rails and wiring etc to give a clean look. 

However, as I have not removed the chassis rails and bumper mount plates the grille sits forward (see Photo), and not flush with the surrounding metalwork as on a standard car. However, it is not too bad since the grille is not so thick with the modified piece of mesh replacing the thicker slats.

View of the grille sitting proud at the base, but covering the bumper plates.

You can see how much the grille protrudes in the photo above, and also, just visible, is the original bumper mounting plate which has a handy hole for a set of spot lamps that I may get round to fitting, or for a badge bar, perhaps?  I may even contemplate a larger nudge bar with spotlights mounted to this rather than directly on the bumper mount plate.

As far as mounting the grille, this was fairly straight forward, and I used the existing holes in the top plate to fit the grille.  It took a bit of lining up, but nothing too serious.  It would probably have been fine like this, but I wanted to make the lower part more secure so I made up some brackets.  I had some strips of metal which I could cut and screw to the lower [part of the grille frame, and then drilled and used self-tappers on the panel as shown in the photo.

The photo above shows the top o/s and middle brackets as supplied and fitted to the grille.


Photos of the lower custom brackets and standard top brackets.  

The grille fitting kit comprises of the top brackets and the various nuts and bolts necessary to fit.  However, you will need to fabricate your own lower brackets.

The number plate was easy enough to mount, I just made another two brackets, which fitted to existing holes in the front, and then bolted the plate to these.  The photos below show the o/s and n/s respectively.

Lastly, I used two pieces of mesh in the two front slots of the valence to complete the effect, and just glued these in using a sealant from B&Q that is meant for non-porous surfaces.  I also fitted a duct to replace the old cardboard unit, and this is designed to channel air towards the oil cooler and lower part of the radiator.  The ducting is made from galvanised steel, and is shown in the drawing below.  The photo below shows the finished mesh in the valence and with a formed duct from galvanised sheet around the oil cooler.

At the rear I blended the valence in with filler after getting the inserts welded onto the rear wings. 

This is a rough sketch of what needs doing to fit prior to filling.

Of course, the valence can be glued and the join left visible and if you have a chrome bumper car you won't need the infill pieces under the lights so it it would be quite cheap to achieve the look after spraying the valence.


Debumpering the MGB

Sebring MGB GT