Upgrades4MGs

Get more from your B...

Interior Upgrades

Improvements for a later MGB

Improving the plastic...

For the purists wanting to stick with a largely original interior, then one of the first tricks to improve the interior is to lightly respray the plastic console, steering cowl and dash fascia cowl with a satin black paint.  This is difficult to show in photographs on the web, but, I think the satin finish gives the plastic a better quality look than the original shinier finish.  I stumbled on this one evening when I had the steering cowl off to sort out a problem with my headlamp flasher.  I washed the cowl with a scrubbing brush and soapy water, but the years of ingrained dirt (and if I am honest, some primer over-spray dust from the restoration of the body work) made it look somewhat shabby.  I tested the black satin spray on the inside of the cowl to check for any reaction and as this seemed ok, so I went ahead and did the whole cowl.  The trick is to lightly coat the plastic giving a brief blow over each time, leaving it to dry properly before passing over again.  Only a few light coats are necessary to get the right finish, but it certainly seems to look classier than the shiny plastic.  This is something I have noted with modern cars - the quality feel seems higher with cars that have a matt finish plastic than those with a shiny finish.

Those dials...

With the switch to smaller dials (80mm) for the tacho/speedo and the separate temp and oil pressure gauges, the Smiths Instruments got a dull finish bezel with a black finish.  To give a more retro look without changing to an earlier dashboard altogether, I purchased chrome bezels from Stafford Vehicle Components (see Links page).  These are not particularly cheap, and no doubt the money could have been better spent elsewhere, but like many owners in the early stages I was magpie-like in my desire to, in the modern vernacular, "bling" the car rather than worry about important jobs like an impending clutch change that turned into a full restoration! I suppose that one could get the chrome bezels by buying cheap, non-functioning instruments second hand on Ebay.

It took me an evening to remove each of the instruments and remove the old bezels, and then to refit the new ones.  As some of the bezels were tight I found it easy enough to gently prise the lock tabs out to remove them, and then I had a chance to clean the glass, too.  Space is at a premium behind the dash, but having already had the speedo out twice to sort out a non-functioning trip meter, I was a bit of an expert at the "Lotus" position required for for lying on one's back with one's head in the foot-well!  I also fitted new bulbs while I had the chance, and to be honest having done a number of trips in the dark since, the later instruments are a vast improvement over the earlier cars for illumination, although still not fantastic by today's standards.

I have not as yet figured out how to remove the bezels on the heater control dials in the centre console.  Another option I have read is to polish the original bezel to get a plain finish without the matt black paint.  The original bezels are not chrome, though so the finish would be more of an alloy look, but for the anti-chromies, this might be a look worth pursuing.

One final change was buying two green, a red and a blue warning light as per the originals but again with a chrome bezel.  My only problem with these has been the blue for the main beam, it is not dark enough so it does glare rather brightly when on in the dark.  In the photo above the left-hand indicator light is the original without the chrome finish.

Another addition I made at a later stage was to use a 2" hole cutter at each end of the dash to add small tweeters for the radio.  I got a bit carried away and cut holes for two more gauges, namely; a voltmeter and a vacuum gauge.  I used some plastic tubing cut at an agle to seat the seat gauges in the dash so that they faced towards me.  In the photo below, you can see them on the left.  I also removed the air vents and used an older style blanking plate.  The vacuum gauge needed an inline fuel filter on the pipe work to dampen the fluctuations I experienced initially.

More Chrome and Alloy...

Like I said, the magpie tendencies of some owners...  The interior is a dark place and the black does not age well, so a visit to MGOC's online shop secured the replacement chrome ashtray, gear lever gaiter surround, carpet strips for the sills, and new sill covers.  One note of caution with the sill covers, if the door has any sag, it won't be long before these are nicely scratched!

Strangely, few, if any, MG specialist/dealers offer an alloy handbrake grip.  I bought mine from a Mini specialist for £10, and it is straight fit to the hand-brake.  The only downside is it is a little chunky and big hands may find it awkward to use when grabbing quickly at the hand-brake.

Another of my Mini bargains was the full set of drilled door furniture.  These sets can be got from around £30 and include the door pull, the window winder, and, for the Mini, of course, the door opening lever.  The last time a door opening lever was used on the B was in the late 60s before the safety driven changed to a recessed door latch which somehow never made it to the Mini.  

The door pull and window winder are a straight replacement on the B's door, but if you still have the original seats with the recliner lever on the side, then the drilled door opening lever can be used to replace the seat recliner as it the same square shaft fit.  The new ones will fit easily, and may need a little persuasion to fit the square shaft, but they will go on, and won't damage the shaft, allowing the original levers to be refitted anytime.  This cheaper kit is possibly a bit too shiny for some tastes, but the drilled fixtures are available from a range of suppliers in a more subtle alloy finish but are very much more expensive.  One mod I have made to the window winders is the fitting of a small MG logo sticker on the rotating knob.  Not really necessary, I admit!

The racing pedals...

One feature the later rubber bumper Bs are blessed with is a nicely spaced pedal box. So I am told by an owner of a 1972 GT who is seriously considering changing his to a later type!  I bought a cheap set of alloy pedals from a local motor factors for about £10 (Type R Racing or some such horny sounding name!) and fitted these.

It could be argued that the throttle has a nice smooth finish to allow it to slide under your foot easily, but the pedal is a bit small and makes "heel and toeing" possible only for Big Foot.  I haven't really found that the throttle is difficult to use any more so than when it was a smooth finish.  Also, the pedal grip does not foul on the sill as it would on an earlier pedal set.  However, the grip on the pedal on the clutch and brake is improved over the original rubber boots, in my opinion.   

The Mountney wheel...

One of the first purchases for the car (before I even collected it) was the 14" Mountney wheel.  Removal of the original was significantly aided by the wisdom of a friend in applying WD40 to the steering nut, which is an awkward size socket!  NOTE - as the rubber bumper B has a collapsible steering column, care must be taken in removal to avoid damaging the pin that allows the column to collapse.

The centre boss has been improved by the fitment of a small, metal black/silver MG badge as opposed to the original plastic M that Mountney supply.  I must admit that this is a decent enough wheel for the money, but apart from the fact that it does tend to obscure the view of the oil pressure gauge a little, so I have a smaller rim - 13", (another cheap Ebay purchase) to try out.

Recently I have seen several cars fitted with Mota-lita wheels.  I had always assumed that the Moto-lita vs Mountey argument was pure snobbery, but having seen and held a Moto-lita I must admit it would be my preference but it is not cheap!

And finally...

I could not stand the original embossed vinyl door trims that graced the doors when I bought the car, and as the hardboard was rotten, these got binned very rapidly.  A new set of vinyl door trims were obtained for a very reasonable £65.  

I first coated the exposed hardboard with a 50/50 water/PVA glue mix to seal them against damp, and then used the plastic packaging they came in to cut new gaskets for the door frames.  The packaging was a nice, thick plastic ideal for this purpose.  To fit with my planned theme, I chose black with a red vinyl piping.  I also purchased the centre console top to match the trim.

 

Improvements

Interior improvements

The aim of this page is to show some of the possibilities to give the more classic retro or racier look to what is otherwise a typical 70s "plasticky" interior in vogue at the time.