MG TD Midget – Part 2

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The Gallery is at the bottom.

How to get started.

Dear travel seeker, design engineer, adventurer and poetry slammer AND classic car lover – Hi EVERYONE,

In my MG post part 1, I introduced to you my latest work project, the restoration of a MG TD – Midget from 1952. Here is the link to my previous post where I introduce the car, the project and my target to you.

Today, I want to share with you some tips and ideas on how to start such a project.

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The beauty.

If you want to restore your own vehicle or start a similar project, you might want to consider getting in contact with certain experts. Having a good expert on your hand, especially with parts like the engine, carburettor, distributor and so on, is crucial for you to do a good job, to learn the most and deliver a fully functional and long-lasting result. Having had to do with classic cars since my teenage years, I am lucky enough to be able to already know the right experts for these parts. If you did not have the opportunity yet, don’t be shy! Find an address and tell them about your project and your idea, usually everyone will be helpful – at the end of the day, these people are as passionate about cars as you!

In this article, I will try to answer the following questions, questions which might come up while considering a project like this:

  1. Why would you want to restore a classic vehicle?
  2. How to find the right car, marque and model.
  3. How to set a budget.
  4. How to set up a good work space.
  5. Which parts will likely require help from experts.
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I found my perfect vehicle to restore.
  1. Why would you want to restore a classic vehicle?

A classic car, what is that even? Most certainly not an old, non-functional, vehicle no one wants and you just own as you cannot afford a new, modern and functional vehicle. A classic car per definition is any car older than 30 years. If your car is over 25 years than it will be considered a “young timer” and anything below 25 years, will “just” be an “old” car. Therefore, your first requirement is, that is if you want to restore a CLASSIC CAR, that the vehicle you choose is ideally older than 30 years. Classic cars are considered collecting “material” for people who want to make investments in other than art, real-estate or anything else. This leads to the possibility of an increase in value the older they get. Obviously, that doesn’t apply to any and every vehicle. The general condition of the car (mechanical, electrical and statically), the model and marque, the history (maybe even racing history), the success of that vehicle and popularity back in time as well as today, the originality and authenticity of the vehicle and the parts (matching numbers on engine, body etc.) play a big role in the value of a car.

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A lot of work required, but I enjoy it.
  1. How to find the right car, marque and model.

Finding the right marque is most often not decided strategically but rather emotionally, same would essentially apply to the model. The success of a vehicle is crucial to its design and general appearance. Surely the way it is handled and factors like engine power, capacity etc. will play a role as well, but the majority of people would preferably buy a vehicle which suits their aesthetic requirements than a vehicle they consider “ugly”. The same applies to a car marque, if we generally approve and are emotionally drawn to many of their models, we will consider this marque as a preference to others.

Having this in mind, we should define what our goal of this project is:

  • Is it to make money, use the vehicle as an investment and essentially gain more out of it?
  • Or is it simply to fulfil ones dream and pure passion?

If you are following the first path, then there might be more research required. I am saying this, as you will need to find the best marque and model, ideally you would like to find a very stable marque. What I mean by that? Well, obviously is the car market itself not to be consider as very stable, many highs and lows define this niche.  However, there are brands which have established themselves very strong and are routed deeply, that their models are generally very stable and rise in value. Good examples are Mercedes and BMW, this doesn’t necessarily have something to do with their origin, rather their development. Although BMW went through a rather difficult time in the past, both are marques which have developed a few of the most popular and expensive (classic) cars in the world (e.g. BMW 328 and 507, Mercedes 300 SL and 540 K). Furthermore, it is important to get a feeling for which models and marques are commonly considered as collecting material BEFORE the rest of the market does, as this is the way to get the most out of such a project. For that I suggest getting involved in every car talk possible, understand the opinions and positions of other enthusiasts, read as many articles and magazines on classic cars and generally just stay open minded towards this subject.

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My British vehicle – MG TD from 1952.

However, if you are the passionate one, who wants to get the most fun out of the project and add to ones learning curve, then there will be a little less planning, prior to the start, required. You should choose a marque and model you are personally attached to, where your emotions are drawn to. Try at the same time to consider the value and raise in value, but don’t choose the marque and model purely after these criteria. Especially considering the length of the project, you might want to choose a vehicle which will keep you motivated – the result will surely be much better than when you consider the restoration as work, in a negative sense.

Obviously, the most both “categories” will be combined, the better. You will most certainly deliver a much better project, if you are doing it for yourself, for fun and to take the most out of it as possible. At the same time, it is surely nice to earn some money on such a complex project.  I generally share the opinion, that there is not that much you could do “wrong” by restoring your own classic vehicle, if you choose it wisely enough it surely will raise in value it just depends on the time frame you are willing to wait.

  1. How to set a budget.

Defining a budget can be a challenge, especially when you don’t have a lot of saving. Being a student, working only part-time and therefore not having a steady income, also creates a challenge. Nevertheless, defining the budget prior to the start is crucial for a success of this project.

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Which parts need to be replaced, which can be restored?

In order define a realistic budget, you need to spend some time with the vehicle. If you know someone with experience, or who knows the model very well, try to take them aside for this complex inspection. Look especially for leaks (gearbox, engine etc.), corrosion, major damage on aggregates and functionality of the electricity. You should start your first lists, one of the things which need to be tackled and one for spare parts you could already order.

At this point I should mention, that it is a rather risky project, if you need to stick to your budget 100% and are depending on the result and selling the car once it is finished. Some cars require longer waiting until they catch up on their value and defining a budget 100% correct prior to the start of the project, is surely close to impossible. There will always be hidden problems, once you start taking the vehicle apart.

  1. How to set up a good work space.

You need a space to be able to set up your workspace. Ideally big enough, that not only the vehicle fits in, rather that you have enough space around you to store and work on different parts.

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I keep working on improving my garage.

Do you already have a garage, then make sure that you set it up with all the necessary tools? In the following I will name a few rather essential gadgets and tools you might require:

  • Tool box (if your vehicle is British or American, you might need to get a set of “English” tools (in German “Zollwerkzeug”).
  • Engine lift/crane
  • Vehicle lifting platform
  • Zangen (pipe tongs, , Rohrzange, Pitsch zange)
  • Lamps / Torches in different sizes
  • Gloves
  • Liquids such as Bremsenreiniger, WD40, Kaltreiniger
  • Paper roll and devices to clean your hands
  • A camera in order to document the whole process
  • Boxes, zip bags and other storage devices à try to name everything and put belonging things together, as you will need to put the vehicle back together – try to help yourself!
  • Handbook and repairing book of the model
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Engine lift is the key to removing the engine.

        5. Which parts will likely require help from experts.

Prior to starting the project, or at least at the early beginning, you might find yourself being overwhelmed with certain parts and their work required. Try to find experts on these parts and get in contact with them, involve them as early as possible and explain your project. This will also help you defining your budget and time plan, as each of them might require different time or need to fit in to their time frame.

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Process photos.

Do you feel prepared? Go and search for your perfect restoration vehicle.

Next time I will give you an update on how far I got so far, how I try to organise myself and this project and a general summary on this project.

Enjoy the read and stay tuned for part 3 (coming soon), 

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