THE STORY SO FAR Miles driven 31 Total mileage 78,053 What’s gone wrong Is the bonnet shutline as it should be?
DAVID SIMISTER ‘Erm, we’re ringing about that MG bumper you ordered.’
It was the phone call I’d hoped I would never have to take. On the other end of the line was Peterborough-based classic specialist Karl Ellingworth – the man to whom we normally turn when one of our rustier classics needs rescuing in one shape or form – with an update on our search for a new ZR bumper. And the news wasn’t good.
While we could at least breathe a sigh of relief that our MG’s brush with a roadside safety barrier had resulted in just a few cosmetic bruises rather than anything more serious affecting the radiator or other gubbins behind the front bumper, our search for some new trim hadn’t been quite as successful as we’d hoped.
We spent weeks trawling the classifieds and ringing endless specialists in the hunt for a replacement bumper in the correct shade of British Racing Green ( CCW, 1 March), but short of getting one in the wrong colour and going to all the trouble and expense of having it resprayed, the nationwide search had come up with precisely nothing.
So we hit upon the genius plan of buying a Rover 25 bumper in the correct hue and swapping all the sporty garnishings over. Hopefully, nobody but the most eagle-eyed MG-Rover cognoscenti would ever be able to spot the difference.
But obviously (unless CCW has been relaunched in audiobook form only – perhaps read by Nick Larkin) you can see that it hasn’t entirely gone to plan.
The problem was that while the donor Rover’s radiator grille is removable, the ZR’s is effectively a one-piece unit that’s integrated into the bumper. It seems bizarre that two variations of the same car made in the same factory within six months of each other would have totally different designs of radiator grille, but there you go.
Which is why CCW contributor Richard Gunn and I ended up at the menders the following morning, looking at two seemingly identical yet inexorably different bumpers, scratching our heads.
In the end we decided that having DA03 WCL back on the road with a new face was preferable to it being out of action for the long haul and looking sorry for itself. So on went the 25’s chrome-fronted snout, and we haven’t looked back since.
Apart from a bonnet shutline that doesn’t seem quite as tight as before, we’re surprised at how neat the Rover’s shiny grille looks on our MG. It’s also good to be back behind the wheel again. It feels peppy and energetic – none the worse for its close encounter. It also buys us a little more time to find that elusive MG bumper – if you’ve got one in HFF British Racing Green, do get in touch.
But the real reason we’re so glad to see it back in action is because, just before all the bumper jiggery-pokery, we booked the MG in for an adventure on the continent – and it’s back on the road just in the nick of time. We just hope the customs officers don’t confiscate its passport on account of it no longer wearing the face with which it was born!
Even so, it’s running smoothly, so fingers crossed that our trip across the Channel is smoother than its disastrous encounter a stone’s throw from our offices. Keep an eye out for next week’s issue to find out how our plucky MG gets on.
’We didn’t want our poor ZR to stay out of action, looking sorry for itself’