MG Logo MONZA Ltd MG Logo

PO BOX 34-469



MG Magnette V8 - "MON ZA8"

2008 - Will it be completed this year???? (No!)

The new year started off slowly (its holiday time in NZ...), my MGB GT needed a bit of work, including using the 15" Magnette wheels and tyres as I wasn't too happy with the tyres fitted. Once again, I was dealing with various bits and pieces and the usual two steps forward, one back.  It seemed that whatever I started on, I came to a full stop fairly quickly and had to spend a lot of time searching for supplies.

I had expected to pay a lot of money for reasonable tyres, but managed to get a set of Dunlop Direzzas at what I considered a good price. Trying them on the MGB first seemed sensible, and first impressions were favourable, though an 1800cc MGB is a slightly less powerful proposition than this car!  (Hopefully...)    I wasn't too happy about the wheel balance and took the wheels back for a rebalance.  It still wasn't brilliant.  A day or two after a session at Pukekohe Raceway, I noticed that the imbalance was getting worse, and when I hopped out to investigate, found that the wheel-nuts in one wheel were loose...  What I had overlooked was that one of the wheels hade been supplied without the steel inserts, and I accidentally had one of the new tyres fitted to it.  Whoops.  Picture shows the position of the wheel studs with and without inserts.  I'm surprised the tyre fitter didn't notice....

Alan had completed the radiator build just before Christmas and I had done the basics of the support panel and worked out the oil cooler location and the location of the oil pipes.  That meant a hole on the panel to feed one hose through but no big deal. Radiator or water pipes proved more difficult.  Several visits to a factors to try different hoses eventually came up with what I wanted but finding some 40mm outside diameter pipe proved more difficult.  I eventually managed to get about 800mm of stainless pipe from the company who manufactured the fuel tank, and managed to sort out the hoses by cutting a couple of hoses up and joining them to the tube.  A downside is the number of hose clips required but the upside is that removal of the radiator is not compromised and the polished stainless matches the engine bay in a way that those horrible hose ends used on braided hoses could never do.  (Why are they always red or blue?  What is so wrong with the natural finish?)   In the upper picture, the red tape is my aide memoire to make sure I that I realise that the job is unfinished... hence, the pictures are before the clips were added but do show very well the installation of the electric fan, which I think looks very neat.  The bottom pipe may well be attached to the fan casing for a better location and to speed radiator removal/fitting.

Back then to things electrical, particularly the ignition system, which meant the distributor and electronic ignition.  As the Pertronix kit was for a Range Rover, I approached the ever helpful Morris Turner at Stag 4X4 who specialises in Range Rovers.  (He races a highly modified Triumph TR7 V8.)   He managed to unearth a Rangie base plate, so I headed for home.  Mal Clark tested the vacuum advance mechanism and I eventually fitted up the distributor.  The kit should have supplied cable ties - but they were missing....   picture shows the plate and Pertronix unit positioned, but before cleaning and fixing.  Its a bit of a pain that we pay a couple of hundred dollars for such a tiny piece of electronics, when a 14" colour TV costs about the same...   Mal also advised replacing the crimped on terminals to the coil wires, with soldered ones and therefore the next stage was to find a location for the coil.  In the picture (left), the red and black wires go straight to the coil - and that is it.  Simplicity itself.

As the Magnette has easily unbolted wings/fenders, with inner support panels, at this point I started to decide what to bolt to those inners.  Access to the engine is excellent once those inners are removed, so the easier it is to remove those panels, the better.  Locating the coil, horn compressor etc and sundry other bits and pieces away from those panels made sense, but was it practical? Using open clips rather than closed clips for the wiring was an option too, so that the loom can be left in place whilst the inner wings are removed.

Where possible, the UK BS (Lucas) wiring colours were used, but as this depended very much on what second-hand wire I had in my bin, obviously it wasn't always possible, especially as there are so many different colours required. Buying several metres of locally available wiring in several plain colours from an electrical  wholesaler rather than small expensive rolls from an accessory shop was the option I chose.

Incidentally, I approached an Automotive electrical wholesaler, and they refused to even consider allowing me to set up a trade account, as I wasn't an automotive electrician!!!  (My stepson is...)  That was a first.  Having more than one Limited Company, setting up Trade accounts with every other supplier has never been a problem.  The general electrical wholesaler has always offered me a trade discount, as even though I am not a registered electrician, I did wire up a complete, new house for my step-daughter, just leaving the fuse board and final connections to a registered electrician, but purchased all the supplies from them.  

These lengths of plain coloured wire obviously didn't have a tracer colour, so I had to use small lengths of heat shrink to add a tracer colour.  Unfortunately, heat shrink is only available in a small range of colours.  No orange, purple, pink or brown, so tracer colours are limited to red, yellow, blue, green, black and white.  Not a major problem in the overall scheme of things.

What I did get was a green/yellow wire, normally used as a ground/earth wire and so I opted to use this colour along with the heat shrink for tracers, as the wires normally used for the green accessory feeds.  


A little bit of work was also done on front fibreglass panels to try and establish a decent fit and this entailed fitting the radiator grille surround, and gentle fettling of the various panels and thinking hard about the method of bonnet attachment. The idea of some form of central hinge was a good one, but really meant complex hinges, as a piano hinge a la Morgan couldn't work, due to the curvature. Or, bonnet pins...  Did I really want to have to lay the panels down somewhere just to check the fluids, and risk someone standing on them or getting them blown away?  No... 

I was almost on the verge of giving up and reverting to a one piece bonnet top with either a front or rear hinge, when I worked out a solution. 

I tried many different hinge options but the bonnet angles and curvature had me stumped. Using a straight edge, I worked out that the front of the bonnet was approximately 45mm lower than the rear edge, so the hinges needed to allow for it.  I thought I had cracked it and made up a dummy double/reversed  hinge and tried it on a flat piece of board.  Big mistake. The theory was fine.  When it was transferred to the curved bonnet, the curve of the bonnet still interfered with the opening! I then opted to use a similar hinge  arrangement on both ends of the bonnet, so the bonnet now lifts, before hinging backwards, but the positioning is different.  Hopefully, the photographs will explain clearly.  I cut down two domestic hinges and bolted, them together and once I was satisfied it worked, Mig welded them together.  To ensure easy replacement in the event of failure, I decided that I would have to have a visible fixing rather than bonding the hinges into the bonnet.  

It looks interesting but I have reservations about the durability of these Chinese manufactured domestic hinges... I may need them powder coating at the very least, as most Japanese and Chinese chrome plating is still not as good as the 1950's British stuff!  I'm also not too sure how strong they are so some form of bonnet pins may be required to hold the bonnet down.

What the amateur (people like me!) often tend to overlook is the massive air pressure forces not only on the outside of a car, but on under bonnet airflow, so I was conscious that the bonnet needed a solid fixing and also some consideration to under bonnet airflow, otherwise the bonnet could be blown from the inside. (Maybe leather straps are still an option I should seriously consider...)

The bonnet tops still have to incorporate either louvres or vents or scoops, to allow some excess hot air to escape when stationary, and they may also need to include some form of duct to push cold air to the carburettor intakes when on the move.  Whatever the decisions, I just seemed to be forever creating extra work for myself...