A PAIN IN THE NEC

Our MG pro­motes Bri­tain’s clas­sic clubs at the coun­try’s big­gest resto show

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

THE STORY SO FAR Miles driven 143 To­tal mileage 78,948 What’s gone wrong The par­cel shelf’s still bro­ken

Driv­ing in­side the NEC is the weird­est thing. Af­ter don­ning hi-vis jack­ets and sign­ing what feels like a mil­lion health and safety dis­claimers, you creep through the halls at a snail’s pace, ne­go­ti­at­ing your way through mil­lions of pounds’ worth of clas­sics. The en­tire As­ton-Martin Own­ers’ Club stand could be wiped out with one wrong move – es­pe­cially un­set­tling when you’re in con­trol of a three-door hatch­back snapped up for £450 the pre­vi­ous sum­mer. Our ZR ini­tially felt like a bit of an im­poster when it rolled past the half-drawn shut­ters guard­ing the Prac­ti­cal

Clas­sics Clas­sic Car and Restora­tion Show, but it had an im­por­tant mis­sion ahead of it.

Wait­ing in Hall 11 was a per­fectly sized space on the MG Car Club Zed Reg­is­ter’s stand, and DA03 WCL’s job was to draw as many cu­ri­ous show­go­ers over to it as pos­si­ble. Hap­pily our MG had a trick up its sleeve – a Rover 25 front bumper, fit­ted a few weeks ear­lier. In an odd sort of way our hastily at­tached in­cor­rect snout was per­fect for draw­ing peo­ple over.

And the ques­tions started rolling in as soon as the NEC’s doors opened the fol­low­ing morn­ing. The num­ber of slightly baf­fled show­go­ers try­ing to work out why we’d brought a Rover along by mis­take had soon hit dou­ble fig­ures, but once on the stand they started ask­ing about the Zed Reg­is­ter’s next get-to­gether at the Kent and East Sus­sex Rail­way. See? We’re do­ing valu­able work fly­ing the flag for Bri­tain’s clas­sic clubs. Hon­est!

To help us in our quest, Zed Reg­is­ter mem­ber Louise Allen un­leashed her car clean­ing wis­dom on our car, and qui­etly broke out the Au­to­glym on the open­ing morn­ing; the sight of our car be­ing im­proved through­out the show drew even more peo­ple onto the stand.

Ev­ery time I wan­dered back through Hall 11, I be­gan to won­der whether the Reg­is­ter’s mem­bers had some­how se­creted our car out and swapped it for an­other one (dodgy bumper in­cluded). Don’t get me wrong, the MG is nor­mally one of our clean­est cars – but there was a shim­mer to the paint­work and a glow from the al­loy wheels. That can’t be our car, surely?

It was – and it was pulling in the num­bers. By the time the Prac­ti­cal

Clas­sics boys were fir­ing up their Jensen In­ter­cep­tor out­side Hall 9 for the show’s fi­nale, the num­ber of cu­ri­ous on­look­ers be­ing drawn on to our stand by some spu­ri­ous Rover trim had soared past 60, and a cou­ple had signed up to the MG Car Club’s mod­ern clas­sic-friendly off­shoot in the process. Mis­sion ac­com­plished.

The ZR didn’t just leave the NEC cleaner – one of the Zed Reg­is­ter’s mem­bers took pity on our bro­ken par­cel shelf and chipped in with a sec­ond­hand re­place­ment.

We’re also all the wiser re­gard­ing our front bumper hunt. Louise in­forms us that, while our old ZR’s bumper was a one-piece unit, the de­tach­able grille from the later MkI mod­els is di­rectly in­ter­change­able with our car’s Rover one, as is the body-coloured trim next to the front in­di­ca­tors. The search con­tin­ues, but now it’s a slightly eas­ier one.

Louise Allen puts the fin­ish­ing touches to her mag­nif­i­cent work in keep­ing DA03 WCL look­ing its best on the ZR/ ZS/ZT Reg­is­ter stand, where our £450 clas­sic drew lots of at­ten­tion. Look­ing on are Ge­off Hirst, John Thomp­son, Adam Slo­man and Paul Money.

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