I’ve downed my pixelator tools of late and have been doing a bit of design meddling of a different sort…
Having long been a bit of a petrolhead; encompassing all kinds of cars from all eras and countries, I’ve been getting my hands greasy with some serious design and build
There’s something about classic cars – perhaps its just the whole package; the smell, the looks, the character (not to mention the rattles, breakdowns and frustrating unreliability!) the experiences, the people you meet… it makes them unmistakably appealing in many ways. The time and costs of maintaining one are easily offset by these things in my opinion.
So, behold – my latest project! A 1977 MG Midget! I’ve owned this little car for quite a while, but due to the relentless travel and late-hours life style of an overworked doodler (cough cough), it has seen better days – until now that is. I’ve slowly been tinkering away through the cold evenings to the point where I have learnt enough to understand an engine and have finally gotten something that actually moves forwards and backwards! Quite an achievement I thought for a novice mechanic such as myself. In fact, OOP (that’s object orientated programming) things have had me stumped for far longer and proved to be far less fulfilling. In fact, cars and mechanics are really the same process of elimination to solve any problems. Luckily, these engines tend to be remarkably simple, and do not involve getting a laptop out at any point!
Whilst getting the engine and mechanics running has been a fun puzzle to solve, updating the aesthetics has been even more fun. I started by removing the rather large American spec rubber bumpers; I’ve never been overly fond of these and upon removing them to get at some rusty bits I found the original MG shape looked rather nice without them; close to the original 60s mg shapes (minus the square wheel arches which were added to strenghten the integrity of the body and I must say I rather prefer these to the round arches, but I digress – rubber bumpers; I’ve kept them off. Ebay has supplied me with a nice stainless steel grill to replace the old one and I’ve also replaced the 70s rostyles with some minilites which has improved the look somewhat and add to the weight reduction, which counts for a car which has a massive 70bhp!
Next I’ll be tackling the paintwork and then onto the engine bay, possibly pullnig the engine out entirely to get at the clutch / gearbox which is proving to be problematic! Its very tempting to go down the full modification route… I had a brief chat with folks at Frontline who specialise in updating these cars with some very serious kit, along with some exceptional classic builds of their own, though I think for now I’m going to squeeze as much from the car in its (semi) original state, with some subtle design tweaks. I must confess, the thought of a 1.8 litre VVC K Series engine under the bonnet does keep me up at night (sad – I know), but for now Its a case of keep it simple (and affordable!)
Overall the design (as with most classics) holds it own still; yes the mechanics are quite dated, but I have to say, driving it has really re-ignited my love affair with old cars and just the joy of driving them; you feel everything – the bumps in the road, the buffeting, the smells(!) and most of all you’re very aware of the speed you are travelling at, something today’s cars cocoon you away from. After many years commuting up and down motorways in modern cars you do become a bit immune to the whole driving experience, which is a real shame – as it should be something to enjoy.
It got me building a list of my personal favourite classic designs, so here goes, in no particular order:
1. Sunbean Tiger
2. Volvo p1800
3. Rover P5b
4. Sebring MGB GT
5. Triumph GT6
6. Volkswagen Kaarman Ghia
7. Riley MPH
8. Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe
9. Mercedes-Benz 300SL