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