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Tales of the Mongrel

"Mongrel Gets a New Coat"
by Ralph Arata

I have had several MGBs since my first at the ripe old age of 16 but the Mongrel has been with me since 1978. . . quite a long time. I bought it in DC for $350 because although its bodywork was rust free it had a wrecked engine. I started with junk parts and then, little by little, upgraded the car over the years. The last 5 have been the best for the car with a rebuilt engine, braking system, suspension and interior. However, as all these improvements were taking place, old man rust was beginning to show up. . . More and more! I discussed it many times with Susan (my wife) over the last several years but the car was either my primary transportation (so no time to lay it up for awhile) or that other "Great Satan" (the lack of money) would rear it ugly head to stop all of those "best laid plans".

Well, this year a couple things happened. First of all for I no longer work for Amoco (where I started from college) but for Chevron (as you know the oil business isn't quite as secure as it once was)! I also have a second "normal" car so the MG sits. The time was right and so over the Thanksgiving holidays I ordered body parts and got my torch and a wrench and went to work.

First came all the chrome ­ OFF that is! Man, I never used so much liquid wrench in my life (remember that the last time I did body work Sonny & Cher had the #1 TV show)! No real surprises except it looks like the car will have to be completely re-wired. . . corrosion had set in there to. Then came the interior. I knew it wouldn't be pretty but I did not expect a total Fred Flintstone mobile! Well, back on the phone to order a full-length floor panel. All told, inner and outer rockers on both sides, inner sill on the driver side, floorboard on the driver's and all the quarter panels (front & rear). Mongrel is sitting with my local body man (I can take stuff apart but I will leave the spot welding and paint to the experts.

Next decision was whether to paint just those parts of the car being replaced or the whole car. . . well, for the cost I decided to do the whole damn thing at once. As for color, even with the money I'm putting into it (so far its to be about $2700) to change the color from that crummy orange to black or British Racing Green the EXTRA bucks arenšt there. . . so orange it will remain. I figure I'll have the Mongrel back sometime after Christmas. It should look pretty good when its done. Having had this car for 20 years this will be this first time all the major work will be done. As I type this sentence I realized this might be the longest continuous restoration project going? Geezzzzz, I hope I don't turn into some kind of nut-case over scratches and stuff like that. . . after all, MGs are meant to be driven.

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