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MG Magnette V8

Needless to say, things didn't really go to plan, yet again.  Targets seemed to come and go and as for the budget, let us just say I could have purchased a couple of Jaguar E Type runners instead of throwing the money at the MG!


We returned from overseas, knowing that once again, there was work to be done to get the all important LVVTA approval, plus the small matter of an oil leak to deal with.  I wasn't sure whether that would be a major or a minor and didn't even lift the bonnet to take a look, fearing the worst of course.

I collected the car from its winter hideaway and trailered it straight up to Paul's workshop, hopefully for the last time.  (I think that may have been said before.)

The official stuff that needed addressing were first of all the demand for an even lower bump steer reading, (Paul) the replacement of the rear door window material (me), the fitting of seat belts using bolts not the eye-bolts (me) plus the covering or locking of the brake bias lever (Paul).

I also added to Paul's list, fabricating the front bonnet supports and attaching Dzus fasteners - though in hindsight, that may have been earlier and just before we went away!

BUMP STEER - again

Before Paul attempted to have another go at the bump steer
, he took it for a full wheel alignment.  Like the certifier, he felt that it drove well and that bump steer wasn't an issue, but the requirements were that it had to be improved.

So Paul spent yet more time modifying the front suspension again, with shims, to achieve the required figures. The fact that a brand new Holden would probably fail is deemed irrelevant, the official line being that this was a purpose built suspension and therefore bump steer should be negligible.

Initially, we had used the original MG pick up points and Mal replaced the original bent steel A arms with tubes and rose joints, with the stronger hubs.  Paul had of course fabricated the bolt on steering arms.  Anyway, he managed to get it down to an acceptable level but when the finally cost summary is examined, I think that the overall cost of the front suspension, building it, modifying it, then trying to get it to work and to an acceptable level, would prove to have been the single biggest waste of money on the whole project. Not to mention the aggravation of course.

But, it had to be done.



This had Paul baffled for quite a considerable time but the eventual discovery would probably not have been a problem for anyone used to the venerable Rover/MGB V8 unit. Apparently, there is a small breather at the rear of the Vee of the block, that needed either capping or venting.  Driving the car slowly up and down the street was no problem, but as I found out when the certifier did the first test drive and revved the car harder than it had been before, albeit for a relatively short run, the breather spat out oil.   When Paul eventually identified the source of the oil, he attached a breather tube and plumbed it into the rocker breather to the catch tank.

Hopefully, that job has fixed the problem.



When building a car like this, the braking performance is pretty much an unknown quantity, so logic dictated that with a latent potential for general road use, towing, touring, sprints, races, maybe even long distance Targa road rallies, the 66 litre fuel tank could affect the braking depending, on how the car was loaded, so fitting a brake bias adjustment lever into the brake line was logical.  Setting it alongside the driver's seat was also logical but we were ignorant of the rules, once again, and the lever had to be locked into place or covered.

Paul fabricated this most impressive aluminium box that may be replaced in the longer term by a simple locking device that can be removed for competition use.



These little fasteners have been around for many many years so I asked Paul to fabricate supports for the front end close to the wings and the centre attachment would be in the plate I'd fabricated as a radiator grille upper support which also carried the bonnet centre section. 

He did the work back in June and as always, did a great job with these and they work well.  However, with the bonnet well strapped down, I wasn't very happy with the overall fit and shape either at the front or the rear, so there was a long period of 'cutting and shutting' trying to get a better fit - and that was only for the first side!

The yellow paint I had used earlier was a can of golden yellow epoxy spray, but I couldn't find a new can and I don't really like the lemon yellow of the new paint.  Maybe I'd have to get get some two pot paint mixed up?

The fibreglass radiator grille side panel I wasn't too happy with either, so I modified that yet again, but sanding the complex curves was very slow work.  You can't really use a power sander, so all this was by hand and my shoulders tired easily, a legacy of a ligament problem from 2011.  (Ageing can be very cruel.)

Not for the first time, did I think that maybe I'd bitten off more than I could safely chew and no doubt, had I recruited true professionals, the job would have been better and faster - but at a cost.  This work would roll over into the new year as injuries and temporary disabilities tended to restrict the amount of physical work possible, but I was also conscious of the negativity often levelled at cheque-book projects. I really wanted to do as much as I possibly could for myself.

If my workmanship standards had been as good as my design expectations, no doubt the project would have looked even better.



Although the car was by now, technically, a two seater (cage) the acrylic/carbonate material I had used for the windows that are now non opening anyway, was deemed unacceptable as the material (Palsun) didn't appear on the list of approved materials.

The requirements was for Lexan10 or similar with an approved abrasion resistance.  This cost me an additional $342 (£170).

Fitting was fairly straight forward though the material was a bit thicker than what I had in before and thicker than the original glass so it was just as well they didn't have to slide.

It was these extra costs that kept pushing the budget well out of the window and got to the stage more than once where I seriously questioned the viability of the whole project, yet I knew instinctively from day one, that the overall concept was right. Well past the point of no return and the budget already blown by 400%, it had to be completed otherwise it was 10 years of time and trouble wasted, other than it kept me off the streets.

I could of course have built it as a track car, in which case, much of the red tape would be irrelevant and the car would have been completed 5 years earlier!


As most will know, seat belts in road cars were fifteen years down the track when the first ZA Magnettes were on the drawing boards, so seat belts and more to the point, seat belt mounts weren't a consideration.

The planned full harness belts had to be shelved due to the issues with the roll cage so I refitted lap and diagonal inertia reel belts, but used eye bolts, so that harnesses could be clipped on at the track.

Unfortunately, this method of fixing wasn't acceptable, so I had to replace the eye bolts with normal seat belt bolts.  No big deal.

Then I had a notification that "as the car was modified, I had to fit 'web grabber' belts".  This set me back another $450.

The certifier duly came along (yet again) to verify the work had been done.

The Lexan sticker (see pic - it is the black stripe) wasn't deemed sufficient proof so I had to supply a copy of the invoice.

Then the seat belt mountings were rejected, just a week or so before everyone broke up for Christmas, which in NZ, is the major summer holiday, with most places shutting down for three to four weeks...


Once again, the projected target dates had fallen by the wayside with extensive delays on dealing with the legal issues trying to get the car approved.

Bearing in mind that since July 2012, 100% of the focus was on getting the car approved.  There was effectively a major battle with our motorsport governing body not approving the roll cage, constructed in 2006 and having been given permission by them to go ahead and paint, but they changed the rules.  We hadn't submitted the official paperwork in time so I became a victim of a changed rule and an authority that wouldn't budge.  The requirement of needing a 44mm main hoop rather than the existing 38mm hoop, could so easily have been accepted without detriment to anyone, in what is effectively a road car.  They chose to be pedantic, even though any failure of any cage (which is an optional item anyway) only affects the driver. 

Their insistence that what was effectively then a 'free form cage' had to reach a test standard, way, way in excess of the what the approved cage with a 44mm tube would fail, is a flawed logic.  

The simple fact is that most NZ competition cars have a 38mm main hoop and they have not had to strip them out and rebuild the cage, so what could have been an easy tick turned into a major war - with long term implications as to my health.

Reading the rules and consulting with race scrutineers, the general consensus was that if the front part of the cage was hidden (ie within the headlining) it technically didn't impinge into the front passenger compartment.  So early January, I spent hours perched rather awkwardly across the FIA race seats, constructing and attaching a rigid roof lining.  Whilst doing this, it damaged my back to the tune of a shifted vertebrae that not only trapped a nerve, but effectively killed it, resulting ultimately in the loss of the left hand, whereby it will no longer fully open and there was no strength in the fingers to grip, just the thumb.

The certifier had to refer this to the LVVTA as he knew there was a cage!

Fortunately, the LVVTA made a decision at the 11th hour, just before I attacked the cage with an angle grinder and a severely bad demeanour, that the cage could and should stay, but because I was tall, that the headlining would have to be removed... (There was in fact plenty of head room as my height is in the legs.) At least with the cage staying in, common sense from LVVTA prevailed and for that I'll probably always be grateful.

At the year's end, we were fairly sure that the seat belt mounts would indeed be the last LVVTA hurdle.

Would 2014 actually see the car finally on the road?