Club Project Car
It was with a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction that I put the club project car into reverse, backed it out of Barney’s driveway, and headed down the block for this car’s first (reportedly) time down the road in almost 20 years.
That day’s activities had included installation of seats and top, and some minor mechanical corrections. A work crew of about 10 had come to help, similar to the groups over the last few weeks. Ironically, perhaps a few too many hands for the tasks at hand but not too many to share the fun and enjoyment of the workday.
Reflecting back, I noted that it has been some 16 months since the club embarked upon this commitment. Over that period, there have been some questions from the membership: “What is the Project Car?” , “Why are we doing this?”, and “What will we do with the finished car?”. And some naysayers, too: “It will never work”, and “No one wants to do this!”.
This car, a 1977 MGB roadster, came to club as a donation. It reportedly had been stored in a garage for about 18 years, had suffered some abuse from an amateur restoration effort, and had outlasted it’s welcome in the previous owner’s garage. Although cosmetically rough, the car was clearly a quite solid example with only about 53,000 miles on the odometer and no sign of any serious rust or body damage.
And so it was presented to the Board of Directors that refurbishing this car represented a worthy activity on our part: after all, we have been telling the Secretary of State and the people of Illinois for years that our justification for being a non-profit corporation lies in “promoting the preservation and enjoyment of MG automobiles”. What better way to make good on that claim that to rescue a car from the crusher and put it back on the road? And what better way to make good on that same claim to our membership than to supply a real-life work-in-progress that allowed and encouraged their unrestrained participation?
During the period that this car was refurbished, participating club members had the opportunity to learn:
How to disassemble an MGB for refurbishing/restoration
How to remove and replace damaged sheet metal, to include common rust areas
How to prepare a car for painting, to include sanding and body filler
How to “color sand” and buff a freshly painted car
How to refurbish underhood and trim items so they look like new
How to reassemble an MGB, to include installing interior, carpeting, and top
And of course, a million other tricks from experienced owners about painting parts, fixing broken parts, dealing with rusted parts, substituting parts, etc, etc, etc. Participation varied, depending upon the tasks at hand and the work location. Generally, it can be said that most of the participants were newer club members who were quite pleased with the opportunity to learn things that older club members presumably learned years ago.
And what is the future of the club Project Car now? Well, there are still a few items needing attention and no doubt a few problems will surface during testing. But the car now is ready to be passed on to a new owner. The club Board of Directors has decided that this car will be offered for sale to club members before any other sales activity. Therefore, from the period starting January 1 to February 28, club members will have the opportunity to bid on this car via a “silent auction” procedure, subject to a minimum bid and secret “reserve” price. The minimum bid and reserve price will be set by the Board of Directors based on their best guess of accurate market conditions. During this period, the car will be available for inspection/test drive at Jim Evans’ home (call 630-858-8192 to arrange appointment). Please contact Jim Evans for bidding information. If no club member buys the car under this program, it will be offered for sale to the general public subsequent to March 1, 2008.
In regard to the club’s investment in this car, we have kept very careful records and cost figures are available to any member by calling the club treasurer. Although this project was not conceived as a “money maker” we have been careful stewards of the club’s funds and anticipate no problem in recovering all club monies invested in this car.
This car should be described as being “refurbished’ and not as being “restored”; the difference being that a “restored” car is in showroom new condition in all regards: new chrome, trim, rubber, glass, fasteners, lines, wires, etc., while a “refurbished” car still has many original parts which have been cleaned, painted, rebuilt, etc. to retain complete functionality.
Finally, club members owe a special “Thanks” to a few individuals whose contribution has been exceptional in this effort: Wade Keene for doing the sheet metal work, Barney Gaylord for hosting the car during reassembly, and Don Walega who has attended almost every work session since the project started. Our thanks to all of you, and also to the many others who came when they could and contributed both parts and labor to the effort.
for photos and description of the project.
- Jim Evans