Run by James Page
Owned since June 2014
Total mileage 95,320
Miles since June
Latest costs £133
A FRESH LEASE OF LIFE – AT LAST
In June, I took the MG up to Phil and Oli Cottrell at Classic Jaguar Replicas. Phil has years of experience with the A-series engine, so he was confident that he could sort out the ongoing rough running. While the car was there, Oli was going to fit the rear seatbelts that I’ve had for almost as long as I’ve owned it.
I put some into my Morris 1800, but all the relevant mounting points were there so it was a doddle. With the MG, they weren’t, and if my kids were going to be transported around in it, I wanted the belts to be installed by somebody who knew what they were doing. So, one morning I drove it up the M4 from Thornbury to Bucklebury. Phil reckoned he’d have it sorted in no time, and so it proved.
It turned out that the distributor wasn’t properly seated against the block because of a random O-ring underneath it. He also went through the points, timing and carburettors to make sure it was all correctly set – I’d fiddled with so many things that all of them were likely to be ‘out’ to some degree, and therefore not helping matters.
In the meantime, Oli did a neat job with the rear belts, drilling mounting points in each wheelarch and even climbing into the back seat to test them out. At well over six feet tall, he was happy that, if they fitted around him, they’d fit around two small children.
With the Cottrells decamping to the Le Mans Classic and various work commitments, it was towards the end of July that I was able to pick it up. It now runs much better, showing none of the part-throttle hesitation that it used to. Phil even pointed out that the doorhandles are on upside-down – the nearside one has apparently been fitted to the offside and vice versa.
I celebrated by taking the car up to the Silverstone Classic, which involved a superb run on one of my favourite routes across the Cotswolds – up to Cirencester, then Bibury, Burford and Chipping Norton, before cutting across to Deddington, Aynho and picking up the A43 for the final few miles.
The MG charged there and back, but the following morning I feared that it had immediately blotted its copybook again. With the belts in place, I thought it was the ideal opportunity to put Thomas and Jessica in the back for a summer-holiday trip to the cinema. When I turned the key, however, there was nothing.
With two expectant children standing in the doorway, I didn’t have time for any diagnosis. All I could do was to push the MG down the driveway so that I could retrieve my Citroën Xantia from behind it. Once we got back from seeing Finding Dory, I checked the starter motor, reasoning that the battery was relatively new and recently charged (assuming that all was well with the charging system…) thanks to its Silverstone run. The wiring to the starter was fine, but the whole backplate was slightly loose. I nipped that up, gave the unit itself a couple of taps – more in hope than expectation – and turned the key.
It fired instantly, which at least meant that I could keep its appointment with the MoT tester a few days later. Elberton Garage is just down the road and everyone there is a classic-car enthusiast.
Once we’d talked ADO16s for a bit and looked over the elderly Ford fire tender that was next in line after me, the MG emerged with a fresh ticket. The only advisory was a slight handbrake imbalance, which means that the offside-rear drum will shortly be coming off again so that I can sort it out.
THANKS TO Classic Jaguar Replicas: 0118 971 2091 / Securon: 01454 414670; www.securon.co.uk
‘I thought it was the ideal opportunity to take the kids out in it, but when I turned the key there was nothing’
The 1300 is now freshly MoT’d, running well and set up to ferry around the entire Page family.
The rear seatbelts have finally been fitted.
‘A rose between two thorns’, as Phil generously put it: the MG at Classic Jaguar Replicas.
The doorhandles should point out, not up. Nervous times: arriving for its MoT test.