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Steve
01-09-2002, 01:56 AM
When I brought my latest MGB home, I showed it off to an aquaintance, who pointed out a four-digit number inside the bonnet (okay, hood to you, but you know what I mean). As you stand looking at the car from the front, it is on the upper leading edge to the left of the catch.
The number was (is) written in yellow crayon of some kind, similar to lumber crayon, and I hadn't realised, until he pointed it out, that it represented the last four numbers of the VIN.
The explanation that he gave was that the bonnet was taken off the body on arrival at Abingdon and that the numbers were to ensure matching the bonnet with the correct car after installation of the engine and transmission. This would make sense, but I cannot find reference to this procedure in any of my books on MG, and no reference to the chalk marks in the Original MG book.
Has anyone else heard of or seen these markings? I was going to clean them off until he told me, and he says that I should leave them where they are. I don't think that this was done on the Midget. Was this done on any other cars that you know of?

Thanks

Steve

Kim de B
01-09-2002, 10:06 AM
Steve, I remember hearing about this SOMEPLACE . . . But cannot remember where. Probably was on a web site. I remember seeing a photo, too.

Sorry not to be more helpful, but I definitely remembering seeing it. (Might have been in the NAMGBR "Driver" mag?)

aerog
01-09-2002, 12:32 PM
I hadn't heard that, but it makes some sense as I understand that, at least for some time the body shells were not actually manufactured at Abingdon but were made in Swindon by Pressed Steel, then assembled and painted by Morris in Coventry before being shipped down to Abingdon for final assembly. From '71 they were made and assembled by Pressed Steel in Swindon and Cowley.

That doesn't answer any questions but I'd guess they would have to mark everything when it got disassembled for the various manufacturing facilities.

Morris Bodies Branch, Coventry - 1966
https://www.1903.dns2go.com/rem/mgbshell1.jpg
From the MGA/MGB/MGC collector's guide, 1977

Steve
01-10-2002, 05:40 PM
William, thank you for the information. I do not have that book, something that I shall have to correct! Actually, my car is a 23,000 mile "time warp", with original paint, etc so it is 99.9% certain to be from the factory. Wouldn't it have been cleaned off at the dealer during the PDI though? It seems to be something that they should have caught. Not that I am complaining, just a thought.

aerog
01-10-2002, 08:04 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by William:
What's more interesting about this is the fact that the number is still written inside the hood, which means that a previous owner restored the car and was careful enough to restore any factory markings (doubtful, but possible) or that the hood has never been repainted (more likely and desirable, if you ask me).
-William<hr></blockquote>

I guess one of the big things with the "real" restorers is to put everything back to build-sheet original... all the markings, labels, stickers, everything - even on the transmission, etc, are all 100% as it was when it was brought off the assembly line.

Pressed Steel didn't do any of the finish work on the bodies - the finish work was left to the Morris Bodies Branch facility in Coventry, until 1971 when the Coventry facility was shut down.

aerog
01-10-2002, 08:08 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Steve:
William, thank you for the information. I do not have that book, something that I shall have to correct! Actually, my car is a 23,000 mile "time warp", with original paint, etc so it is 99.9% certain to be from the factory. Wouldn't it have been cleaned off at the dealer during the PDI though? It seems to be something that they should have caught. Not that I am complaining, just a thought.<hr></blockquote>

I saw a late 70s, possibly '80 MGB, Green/tan (autumn leaf? whatever they called it that year) that was 100% original, including all the hoses, rubber, etc. The only thing the owner did was to add a wood-grain dash kit. It actually looked good, the wood grain kit, so I wouldn't complain except it wasn't the only un-original part. It absolutely needed a new top, otherwise it looked brand new. He had about 30,000 on it.

Also - there was a 100% original, black, 1980 MGB LE for sale in Pennsylvania last spring. The owner bought it and kept it nice.

Very nice...

... only 128 miles on it.

That can be good and bad of course, and not having seen it up close I can't say for sure, but it sure looked like they kept it in storage "the right way".

Steve
01-10-2002, 08:32 PM
The only problem with a car that has not been driven, is that they deteriorate. No matter how well the vehicle was stored, you can get the grease in the bearings drying out, any moisture in the air can cause problems, etc. Auto dealers call it "lot rot". Besides, even though they were called "Limited Edition", more that 6,600 of the MGB LE were produced, probably more than a 'B' in any other colour, so which were the truly "limited"?

By the way, in 1980, the trim was either 'beige' or black, autumn leaf was the darker, slightly more orange shade. I know that beige was specified for 1979 and 1980.

Steve

aerog
01-10-2002, 09:34 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by Steve:
The only problem with a car that has not been driven, is that they deteriorate. No matter how well the vehicle was stored, you can get the grease in the bearings drying out, any moisture in the air can cause problems, etc. Auto dealers call it "lot rot". Besides, even though they were called "Limited Edition", more that 6,600 of the MGB LE were produced, probably more than a 'B' in any other colour, so which were the truly "limited"?

By the way, in 1980, the trim was either 'beige' or black, autumn leaf was the darker, slightly more orange shade. I know that beige was specified for 1979 and 1980.

Steve<hr></blockquote>

yeah ok, couldn't remember what they called that beige color in '80.

My thoughts were the same about the LE. Value due to rarity doesn't impress me much in late-model cars like these, and your notes about lot rot are well taken. Bearings, as well as a lot of other mechanical items are relatively easy to replace and make new. The engine isn't. If you pickle the engine you can go quite a long way to keeping it good. After all the mechanical and engine issues you do always have the body rust and paint problems. Paint can go bad, and metal can rust, just by sitting in a barn. Interiors can rot, and so on.

Still, 128 miles - very intreging.

William
01-11-2002, 04:44 AM
The book "MGB" by David Knowles explains the whole thing in great detail. The short version is: bodies were made at Pressed Steel, including paint and trim I believe. Sent by truck to Abingdon, where they were stored in one of two towers which held something like twenty or thirty MGB shells each. This was so that if a certain color/trim combo was needed (say, New Racing Green with Autumn Leaf interior) one could be plucked from these towers and put on the assembly line for mechanical bits. The hood (bonnet) was removed almost immediately, and placed at the end of the assembly line, to protect it from damage during driveline installation (the hood needs to come off anyway). After all, it had already been painted! The number would also match a piece of paper taped to the windscreen, which had VIN and engine #s on it, as well as options, and I think even had places where info could be written in, in case any damage or defects needed to be fixed before shipping out. This was standard procedure for both roadsters, GT's, and Midgets (seen pics of hoodless Midgets). I'm pretty sure I have most of this right. Probably should've gone and looked it up first....
What's more interesting about this is the fact that the number is still written inside the hood, which means that a previous owner restored the car and was careful enough to restore any factory markings (doubtful, but possible) or that the hood has never been repainted (more likely and desirable, if you ask me).
-William

William
01-11-2002, 04:48 AM
Just remembered something funny-when MGB shells were built, they were primered in a big tank-shells ran along the assembly line, hung from hooks, and were dipped in the primer. Problem was, the tank was not big enough, so the top half of the car needed to be sprayed, then the "high tide" mark needed to be fixed. Big hassle, so the tank was made taller. They go to test it, and the MGB shell fills up with air, floats off the hook, and sinks to the bottom of the tank, bubbles floating back up. They eventually fixed that by drilling holes wherever big air pockets developed.
Wonder if they used that sunken shell, or threw it away?
-Wm.

mgbtf
01-12-2002, 11:32 AM
Steve,
When I purchased my 1980 MGB it only had a little over 1,200 miles on it and it also had the four digit "code" on the hood (near the latch). Unfortunately, I was new to MGs at the time and just cleaned off the numbers. I still own the car, it now has 13,000 miles on it and is far from original. But if I knew then, what I know now, I would have left the "code" on.
Dave

William
01-12-2002, 06:01 PM
aerog-I was quite sure I had some of the MGB body building procedures wrong. Went upstairs and looked it up, naturally after posting!
As for restoring factory markings, I've seldom heard of British car enthusiasts bothering with it. More like somtething Corvette guys go for-I've heard that they try to restore all grease pencil markings and stencils and overspray on restored Vette chassis, even though stuff like that is hidden from Bloomington judges. images/icons/shocked.gif
"Lot rot" is a new term to me, too. I've read about E-types that were rusting by the time they reached the States from England.
-William

aerog
01-12-2002, 06:19 PM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by William:
I've read about E-types that were rusting by the time they reached the States from England.
-William<hr></blockquote>

I've heard of similar things happening.

I wish I'd had that information on the building process last year; on my 1st UK trip last year I stopped by the MG Car Club HQ in Abingdon. Just kind of happened to be there really, nobody was there. After looking at aerial pictures of the factory it turns out the HQ is there just about where the factory was. It would have been interesting just to see where everything had been.

William
01-14-2002, 11:36 PM
I thought much of the old Abingdon factory had been torn down. The MG Owner's Club (I think) has its offices in the old administrative buildings, IIRC. The old offices of Kimber, Thornley, and probably Enever.
-Wm.

aerog
01-15-2002, 01:37 AM
<blockquote><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><hr>Originally posted by William:
I thought much of the old Abingdon factory had been torn down. The MG Owner's Club (I think) has its offices in the old administrative buildings, IIRC. The old offices of Kimber, Thornley, and probably Enever.
-Wm.<hr></blockquote>

It was - turned into some kind of industrial park complex I believe. We actually did some shopping around the corner there at a home centre (I think), but, again, not knowing the area until after the fact I'm not entirely sure.

I have an aerial picture of the factory, I'll scan it and point out where the HQ is.