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Body Upgrades

Losing the rubber bumpers

Although many of us like the rubber bumpers which can look goord on certain colours, these are heavy and therefore there can be a slight gain in removing the large mass at each end of the car.  However, there is also the desire to go to chrome bumpers to improve the looks.  Realistically the parts required and the work involved can range from £200 or more at a DIY level to as much as £1,500 for a professional job and this work is best done during a restoration rather than at a later date.

Rubber to Chrome or even part Sebring

One of the problems with converting to chrome is the fact that at the front and rear, there are differences in the wings.  At the front, the bumpers are mounted to plates on the ends of the chassis rails, and the wings have apertures to allow the corner stay bars to pass through from the inner arch to the bumper.  In the photograph below you can see the bumper plate, and the top of the half of the aperture (the valence as a similar sized aperture, too).

At the rear, to accommodate the upsweep of the bumper, the body work below the rear light units is flat.  

So any attempt at debumpering or swapping to chrome bumpers will result in gaps around the front indicator light units, and under the rear light units.

(Photos - Jim McGlynn)

Fortunately, there are a number of specialist that offer a chrome bumper conversion kit and this makes life a little easier, but it generally still requires painting and welding.  However, the bumpers are mounted to the existing rubber bumper mounts and at first glance, the finished product is quite convincing and it is quite difficult to spot the fact it is converted.  The kits generally run towards the £400 level though, as the three main items of expense are the grille and bumpers.  Unfortunately, the experience of many is that the re-production items do not last as long as the originals, and are also poorly shaped and finished with sharp edges and problems in getting the grille to sit square in the nose.

At the front, however, it is possible to get away without painting and welding as it is at the rear if you don't mind a slightly non-standard look, and the same comments apply to the Sebring valences.  Several of the kits available are comprehensive and even include the piece to fill in the front wing aperture.  The pieces to be fitted under the rear light units are also easily available as separate items to be welded on, or if you are replacing the rear wings (both lower half or full rear wing) then generally the outer half of the cone is already there, requiring only the inner half to be welded on.  In my case, as I was having both lower rear half wings done, I only needed one cone piece which I cut in half to fit thus saving me a few pounds!

Removing the bumpers

The front has, if original, four main studs with nuts located in the front bumper plates, plus stays that go to the ends of the bumpers from the inner wings.  In my case the stays were missing and I am not sure if this was a factory issue or they had just not been re-fitted at some stage.

The rear is a little harder as there are three mounting points with reinforced plate.  The outer two are easy enough to access with spanners but the middle one is a little more difficult as you need to get a spanner between the fuel tank and body work.  In addition at each end on the sides, there are captive plates that fit into the rubber and these will probably pull out of the rubber cover allowing easier access to remove the studs.

Modifying the bodywork

On my 1980 MGB GT I fitted a front chrome grille second hand, and used Mini indicator units instead of the standard MGB c/b units.  The apertures were filled with mesh to allow air to the brakes.  It would be possible to return to the rubber bumpers (if I still had them) in a short time, or even add chrome bumpers.

If, on the other hand, you plan to spend a little, you have several choices.  The first choice should be whether you weld in the apertures, or just buy new or 2nd hand front wings for a c/b car and have them sprayed.  Secondly, you then need to cut and weld the front chassis rails.  The cut should extend about 3" (75mm) back from the front edge.  This is important to get the grille sitting flush in the nose.  The chrome bumper conversion will only allow a chrome grille to be fitted, and not the recessed grilles unless you cut the chassis rails right back.  The photos (Jim McGlynn) show the two stages in cutting and shutting the chassis rails.

At the rear, this is more complex as to get the lines right, you need to weld and fill the cone pieces under the rear light units.  For a chrome bumper conversion this is going to be a little more costly.  On the other hand if you are doing a Sebring rear valence, there are a couple of tricks which I will come to shortly.  The photo below shows the rear piece now welded in under the rear light unit.  It will be necessary to refit the light units to ensure a good even fit.

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

At this stage you would then need to spray, and then either fit the rear chrome bumper to the rubber bumper mounts, or start fitting the rear Sebring valence.

Hopefully the car should be finished and look as desired.  

For more detailed information on the work involved, please see Peter Mileham's excellent book with detailed photographs and illustrations. To purchase the book, search on Ebay or contact Peter Mileham directly on:

peter@mileham.net

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Peter Mileham MGB

 

Chrome or Sebring

MGB GT

If you are planning either of these jobs, then Peter Mileham's excellent guide to the job is worth reading first.  To purchase the book, contact Peter Mileham on peter@mileham.net

Peter Mileham MGB