Dis­as­ter strikes for our bar­gain MG – but we reckon there’s a clever so­lu­tion when it comes to fix­ing it

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - Living With Classics -

JAMES SADLIER I know what you’re think­ing. How did the teacher’s pet of our £500 trio – the al­most bor­ingly re­li­able ZR – sud­denly end up need­ing a rather hefty-look­ing spot of re­pairs?

It’s very much a case of be­ing care­ful what you wish for. Our bar­gain MG has won vir­tu­ally all of the team over with its crisp han­dling, en­er­getic K-se­ries en­gine and unim­peach­able re­li­a­bil­ity.

Just about the only things we’ve had to deal with are dicky cen­tral lock­ing, a bro­ken LCD clock dis­play and head­lights that some­times take a while to work – but then an­other driver’s mo­ment of stu­pid­ity changed all that. On a dual car­riage­way not far from

CCW’s of­fices, a BMW cut in from the over­tak­ing lane – with­out in­di­cat­ing, nat­u­rally – and then slammed on its brakes. Luck­ily DA03 WCL man­aged to miss the mo­tor­ing mis­cre­ant, but the split-sec­ond avoid­ance ma­noeu­vre sent the car onto a grass verge be­fore it spun a full 360 de­grees. Worst of all, it scraped a safety bar­rier be­fore com­ing to a stand­still. Luck­ily no­body was hurt, but both my con­fi­dence and our poor ZR ended up bruised by the al­ter­ca­tion. The BMW driver? He re­sponded by putting his foot down.

Af­ter mak­ing it back to the of­fice, it be­came ap­par­ent that the dam­age could’ve been a lot worse. The MG still drives as Long­bridge in­tended and its front lights still work, but it’s go­ing to need an­other front bumper be­fore it’s as­signed any more ad­ven­tures.

And you’d be amazed by how tricky sourc­ing a suit­able re­place­ment has turned out to be.

We wanted one in the car’s cor­rect Bri­tish Rac­ing Green hue – colour code HFF, for all you MG Rover fetishists out there – be­cause the time and cost of re­spray­ing a dif­fer­ent shade would have dou­bled or even tripled the cost of re­pair­ing what’s sup­posed to be a cham­pion of au­to­mo­tive fru­gal­ity. There were plenty of re­place­ments in the slightly lighter Le Mans Green, but no mat­ter how many web­sites, car break­ers and MG spe­cial­ists we looked at, none had the req­ui­site bumper in the cor­rect shade. Paul Money from the Zed Reg­is­ter did a su­perb job ask­ing around fel­low own­ers for us, but even then ask­ing for one in Bri­tish Rac­ing Green was turn­ing out to be a sur­pris­ingly tall or­der.

Ev­ery day we’d re­peat the process of scour­ing the clas­si­fieds for the right part – and still noth­ing. We even dis­patched David Simis­ter to the MG and Tri­umph Spares Day (see p23 for our show re­port) to try to lo­cate a part, but even an in­ter­na­tional gath­er­ing de­voted to octagon-badged bits came to nowt.

Just as we were about to throw in the towel and cough up for hav­ing a dif­fer­ently-coloured bumper re­sprayed, I heard the dis­tinct ping of a car­toon-es­que light­bulb over my head flick­er­ing into life. We’d spent days search­ing for ZR items – but what if we ex­tended the search to its first cousin, the Rover 25? Sure enough, there were even more bumpers once we’d fac­tored the MG’s more sen­si­ble su­per­mini sib­ling into the search – and it turns out that plenty were bought in Bri­tish Rac­ing Green when they were new. A cou­ple of calls to fel­low ZR devo­tees later and a con­sen­sus emerged that the two parts are in­ter­change­able, so we’ve or­dered in a re­place­ment from a car breaker in Gateshead.

The good news is that the MG’s mesh grille, badge and body-coloured bits of trim all sur­vived their brush with the safety bar­rier in­tact, so we’re look­ing for­ward to see­ing them marry up to the new part. Fin­gers crossed, we’ll have our ZR back on the road soon – we’ve all been miss­ing it.

Our MG looks rather worse for wear af­ter its en­counter with a safety bar­rier, but we’re de­ter­mined to have it back on the road soon. Even the ZR’s num­ber­plate sur­vived its al­ter­ca­tion with an er­rant BMW, much to James’ re­lief. The re­place­ment part is from a Rover rather than an MG, but the trim is be­ing swapped.

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