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MG Magnette V8

Getting near to a major milestone now - through some of the red tape to get the car on the road.  Although it isn't finished in terms of final paintwork, all the interior trim etc., the massive hurdle of the legality of the modification for road use ended up being a bit more long winded than anticipated, but had to be done.  The car could have been a track car ages ago, but as the intention has always been for an interesting road car with ability to tow the Marcos on its trailer and maybe also do a bit of low key competition work, road legality was essential.

MAY 2013

Meanwhile, with a dodgy hand that may take two years to get back to normal, one or two bits and pieces were able to be completed or in a couple of cases - redone!  One task that needed doing was replacing the rear wheels and tyres as the ones on the car were only old test tyres only - and two different sizes...

At this point, I realised that although I had two sets of Performance Wheels (read back for the reasons for that...), direct from the supplier, it appears that the centre holes are of a different size and the supplied centre caps therefore don't fit the smaller holes...  As Performance Wheel in NZ is no more, there was not much I could do and I did want centre caps.  Purely by chance, I found that the tops of an aerosol paint can were just the right size, hence the rear wheels with a red centre and the fronts with a chromed cap.


Although the dash had taken many hours, it was an area of the car that created many more challenges that pushed my thinking as issues continued to arise, particularly in terms of access and serviceability.  When removing this right hand dash segment, I came across a minor issue that wasted half an afternoon - just trying to remove it.  I am a huge fan of the threaded "Rivnuts" meaning that access is not required to the rear of a panel - provided they are fitted correctly.  When it came to the dash top, I had used the Rivnuts and a countersunk Allen keyed bolt to secure it.  The reason for using the Allen key was that I was well aware that messing about before the screen was fitted, it was all too easy to fit an item through the screen aperture, that just wouldn't be possible with the glass fitted so an Allen bolt was deemed easier. It wasn't... Firstly, the head was far too small and Murphy's law kicked in. The one Rivnut that was virtually inaccessible, was the one that wasn't really tight enough, so the Rivnut was turning so the Allen bolt couldn't be removed.

With the panel removed, I tidied up the wiring a bit more, specifically a decent earth lead that was then to be bolted to the roll cage, forming a really good earth.  I noticed at this juncture that some of the veneer had bubbled and another piece had cracked.  A job for later.  The photograph doesn't really show it from this lighting perspective. I glued and screwed on a small extension panel that houses the choke cable and also the trafficator switch.

Having managed that and the glue well set, attention turned to fitting the choke cable and cutting it to length.  Paul had modified the carburettor linkage so it was a fairly straightforward task to fit the cable - or would have been if I'd had two good hands...  It just took a bit longer but at least the choke worked perfectly and the K & N air filters that came with the engine could be refitted.  Having then refitted that section of the dash, the electrical gremlins started...  First of all, the trafficators no longer worked; the left rear hazard flasher and left dash warning light didn't work and more to the point, there was no power to the starter solenoid... 

One job that did need doing from a legality perspective was getting the ex MGB speedometer checked and recalibrated to suit the 15" wheels.  However, of immediate concern was that the inner cable from the gearbox didn't appear to be turning...

After a bit of wire jiggling and maybe fuse and connector block jiggling (another legacy of the dodgy hand, connecting wires and terminal blocks was far from easy - especially when located behind the dash the hazard flasher worked OK and the starter solenoid also had power.


Although not much had been done on the boot lid, other than attaching it to Paul's hinges, you may remember that the aperture was cut for the number plate, which will sit behind an acrylic panel.   Rather than have exterior number plate lamps, (modern aftermarket ones are extremely poor quality and the condition of the original was very poor - and heavy), I thought about this for a while and started on an LED strip attached to the boot lid, lighting up the plate from underneath.  Running a cable to light it was a minor hiccup, as I should really have spliced the wire into the multi-core (trailer) cable that runs from the dashboard area back to the boot - but I hadn't...  That meant taking a feed back from a junction for the trailer socket.  

The cable now emerges at the right hand hinge and with my usual policy, of being able to remove items, I fitted a simple two terminal plug/socket, then ran the cable through some lightweight flexible split cable conduit  to emerge a the edge of the number plate area.  

A chance call in to a small (Chinese) lighting import company had me walking out with a 3m roll of LED white lights for about $50NZD.  This strip can be cut to length if you are careful, but soldering on the cable at each join isn't exactly easy, but covered with some heat shrink tubing, it seems OK. The picture shows the original cable as supplied but the strip is marked with cutting points and you have to scrape back the insulation to expose the wires for soldering and soldering as taught by my father was always "try and use a mechanical joint then solder", but in this instance, it just has to be a flat, laid on join - but on a sample length made up for a friends small camper trailer, it seems OK and the heat shrink (wonderful stuff!) not only protects and insulates it, but also keeps it in place. 


The LVVTA committee meets just once a month - the first Tuesday of the month - so at the May 2013 meeting, the modifications, or more specifically, the drawings, were finally approved.  A huge sigh of relief.  The certifier then had a Design Approval number with which to finalise his paperwork and inspection. There was a need for a retest on the bump-steer, so as the car had to go back up to Paul Madeley to have the seat belt mountings for lap and diagonal belts welded in, it seemed a sensible time to get the bump steer test done there too - so much easier with a hoist.

Also added to Paul's job list were the addition of Dzus fasteners to the bonnet as I knew he had them in stock.  The seat belt shoulder mountings were spuds welded into the roll over bar but the placement of these had to conform to the HCM (Hobby Car Manual) rather than what suited me as the driver.  One of those things I couldn't really understand.  They had to be no lower than 100mm from the underside of the top bar.  I would have preferred them to have been at 125mm or 130mm, but we had to conform to the rules.

The certifier arrived and with the shock absorbers removed, he carried out the bump steer test by attaching straight edges to the front wheels and with the car on the hoist at full droop, took measurements x number of centimetres from the front of the tyre and again, adjacent to the tyre.  These were written down and the car dropped in stages, with measurements taken at each stage to show the change in toe in.

All seemed OK and as it was getting on time wise, the car was left with Paul to refit the shocks and springs and also do a small modification to my trailer.

An important day as it was exactly 9 years to the day that I purchased the car and Don Bell transported it to our home. Nine years in numerology terms is I believe a full cycle, so as the car was probably assembled in May 1956 before transportation out to NZ, the car is already well into its 7th life cycle anyway and I was just 10 years old when it was built.

Before the certifier could complete his paperwork, I needed a VIN number as the car didn't have one.  The Marcos doesn't have one and hasn't needed one either - all to do with the date it was first registered. As the registration on the Magnette had lapsed as it was last on the road in 1985, in some respects it has to be treated as a 'new' car, whilst in other ways, the original age is still recognised as it has been on the NZ roads before.

So the following day, armed with a pile of paperwork from days prior to my ownership, including a pre computer registration document and the original number plates, I went down to see Wayne who cheerfully had to try three times before the computer accepted the car and that then spat out the all important 17 digit Vin number.  Woohoo!  More progress.  Wayne informed me that they could do the all important physical compliance check and also issue a Warrant of Fitness  (UK - MoT), even though the certifier's plate for the modifications may take a few days to come through.

When that stage is done and the plate attached to the car, it can be registered for road use. 

To revisit the previous sequence list:

Print out the LVVTA paperwork (this can be done before you even begin) A big mistake that I wasn't aware of, nor were the various workshops used.
Consult the "Hobby Car Manual" as this is their "bible". Ditto
Discuss the proposals with a certifier, but make sure the above are referenced Although this project was discussed, it was so long ago that the rules had changed since.
Lodge the LVVTA paperwork and await the response to your design plans As above
Modify your designs/drawings as requested and then proceed As above
Resubmit until such times as you get approval (and consult with the certifier) As above  

Apply for a Motorsport NZ logbook

This is only relevant on several counts - a cage is fitted and/or the car is to be used for competition.
Get the cage homologated by MSNZ Again, the cage must be built to current regulations.  The rules changed on this car between construction and seeking final approval. x
Apply for an Authority Card (from MSNZ) - that allows the use of full harness seat belts on the road Again,. only relevant if an approved cage has been fitted and full harness belts are to be used on the road. x
If required, get a Vin Number If the car is currently on the local system, this is not required

Get the car certified

In this instance, it caused the certifier problems as the sequence above wasn't followed!
Take the car for compliancing    
Get a Warrant of Fitness (MoT in the UK)    
Pay for the road registration    

If you have followed this saga through previous instalments, you'll know that mistakes were made through a combination of the time it took to get to this stage, a lack of knowledge of the systems for modified cars and a tardiness in lodging paperwork and rule changes... 

Obviously, this sequence is only relevant in New Zealand as it is a non-car producing country (other than a few low volume specialist cars), but it does have a very strong car culture which sadly, has resulted in some every poor vehicle modifications by the "Boy Racer" fraternity, such as cutting or even removing springs to lower the car, not to mention late night hooning causing a nuisance, so laws had to be drafted -  but they encompassed the serious enthusiast too.

Quite why full harness belts are banned other than under certain conditions and with restrictions, is another oddball NZ law.