An M.G. Locost Build

December 19, 2011

We have a donor! Well, we don't actually have a donor, but we bought one! Well, we haven't actually bought it yet, but we put a down payment on it! It's a '72, supposedly in running condition but no battery so we couldn't verify. It looks to be in great shape, all dry underneath which is really good for an M.G., minimal rust on the key components, and everything's there. Except for the battery. It's red, not my favorite color, but that hardly matters except maybe in some weird existential sense.

A soon-to-be-Locost MGB

The car has a clear title, and according to the owner (and the speedo, but, you know) only 22K original miles. We found that very hard to believe since it appeared the engine had been out of the car at one point, one of the air filter housings having been smashed and the valve cover painted a non-factory purple. But there was clean oil in the crankcase and also in the carburetor dashpots, so it was easy to believe the car is a runner, especially as the price was only $1000, a price that makes it easy to believe almost anything the owner tells you.

In addition to this great deal, the tires are brand new, and not brand new like having full treads, but brand new like still having paper stickers on them. Although the car has been sitting awhile, so maybe adding "brand" to "new" isn't appropriate in this case. We'll have to see if we can decipher the date of manufacture on the tire sidewalls.

Actual car, Not a scale model
Actual size

As we were inspecting the car, we got this odd feeling that the MGB was smaller than we remembered. Maybe it's all our years with Miatas, but the car seemed scaled down, only about 90% of actual size. We've seen plenty of pictures of MGB components lately, but it's hard to get a sense of scale from photos. It's funny, because we had that same sense when the radiator we bought a few months ago arrived. Fact is, the MGB is a really small car. And as far as we're concerned that's great, because the Locost is a really small car too.

The main obstacle to taking possession of the new donor is transportation. The car is located in Grapes of Wrath country, down in the Salinas Valley. We wanted to take it home immediately, but driving it wasn't an option and we were well outside our triple-A 100 mile towing range. So we gave the man $500 to hold the car, with the idea that we'd be back to collect it when we could round up a truck and trailer. Hopefully within the next couple of weeks.

Getting a donor has completely tweaked our Microsoft Project schedule. I'm not sure why, but we completely (and conveniently) left out the actual dismantling process from the plan. I think maybe we subconsciously padded each of the tasks that require a donor component, as if we'd just wander over and pluck each item out of the M.G. as it was needed. That might work if we were doing this in a barn, but building a Locost in half of a two-car garage is all about making efficient use of space. So we're adding another month to the schedule for disassembly of the donor and subsequent removal of the bare chassis, prior to welding the frame, which moves the completion date out to April, 2014, which is still cool.

Far from these added hours being any sort of discouragement, having a donor marks a real turning point for the project. We've gone from having a set of frame tubes and a few odd mechanical bits to having just about everything we need to finish the build. The only other big-ticket item left is shocks. So we're stoked. We're so stoked in fact, that we're raising the odds of completing this project to 50/50. Okay, maybe not that high.


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