Slow Car Fast
November 7, 2010 - The brakes proved problematic to bleed.
I think I have one bad flare which will have to be sorted out, and it took forever to get the rears working. But I got them to the point where they'd stop the car, so it was time.
I bolted on the wheels, checked tire pressures, attached the hood and dropped the car to the floor. It's always fun how much smaller they get when they're sitting on their feet. This car's been on jackstands in the garage for a long, long time. The springs are 8" 375 lb in the front and 10" 250 in the rear, mostly because that's what I have. I snugged the spring perches up to the springs at full droop and nailed the ride height almost perfectly.
After a lot of shuffling around and shoving of bits and pieces into handy corners, I was able to free the MG and point it towards freedom.
entry 428 - tags: first drive, brakes, suspension, springs
November 7, 2010 - The first drive!
You can watch it on YouTube.
Overall, the first drive was a big success. Nothing broke. Nothing (unexpected) leaked. The car worked as expected. Cue the big celebration!
The car does feel very, very powerful and very light. The Miatas with a similar engine feel a bit beefier, possibly due to much fatter tires. The brakes were definitely not up to snuff - you can see me check them as I leave the garage. They were good enough for this little tour though.
The suspension was not noticeable, which means it was working! Obviously, tougher tests will come. No noises, clunks or anything worrisome. The clutch worked well once we both got used to where it engaged - the bigger problem was the gas pedal which is currently sitting much too high. The sound is excellent. The transmission did try to pop out of reverse, which is a trick it had been doing in the Camaro. There, I thought it was a matter of shifter adjustment and I spent some time fine-tuning that. But I was wrong. I'll look into that.
It wasn't a long drive, just a proof of function. And it did just that!
entry 429 - tags: first drive, video
November 7, 2010 - Well, you have to don't you?
I gave the car a bit of throttle and both rear tires immediately lit on fire. They're not great tires - Azenis 215s from 2006 or so - but it was still pretty spectacular. I don't have the rear seat in the car or the panel that covers the old battery boxes, so the inside of the car immediately filled with blue smoke. Very entertaining.
We did not get this on video, unfortunately. And we'd attracted enough attention the first time! There will be opportunity enough in the future.
entry 430 - tags: burnout, first drive
November 7, 2010 - Finally, a chance to take a few steps back and see how the car looks.
Well, it'll look a lot better with the fender flares on it. Right now, it looks as if someone went after the fenders with a Sawzall. But the overall stance is good, the ride height is where I wanted it and the mufflers are nicely tucked into place. We'll call this a success.
I should note that it's been almost exactly two years since we bought the Camaro that provided the drivetrain, and the MG came apart two weeks after that. So this is the culmination of a long, long process. I suspect some people doubted it would ever more.
entry 431 - tags: first drive
November 7, 2010 - Without any grille on the front or any lower bodywork, you can really see how ridiculously oversize the radiator is!
It'll all be covered once the MG Special Tuning front air dam is installed, and the chrome on the bumper and grille will finish off the car well. I may fog the radiator with black paint to make it a bit more subtle.
It doesn't look much like an MG here, but it does still somehow manage to look British.
entry 432 - tags: first drive, radiator, body
November 8, 2010 - I posted about the first drive on a few forums, and the responses have been interesting.
A few people who didn't understand that it was a first drive of an unfinished car and who had comments on the cut fenders. Not everyone can look at a project in process and see the final result! A few votes for the factory Sebring fender flares, but they just don't suit the style of the body to my eyes. Maybe if I'd grown up watching MGs duke it out on the race circuit. I personally think the stock Pininfarina body is beautiful, and the Sebring flares just look like slapped-on blobs. It's going to be a challenge to fit the Rabbit flares gracefully (and symmetrically!) but their overall shape complements the car to me.
One of the most common comments was about how low the radiator sits. Granted, when the car is viewed from the front with no bodywork it's an imposing piece! But it's still 5" off the ground, which is about the same as the oil pan on a Miata. Also, as you can see in the picture, it's not unprotected. That bar underneath is 1"x2" with a fairly hefty wall thickness, supported by an extension of the frame rails. I could probably use it to jack up the car.
But it does have me thinking. Flyin' Miata recently came out with a much smaller radiator for the V8 Miatas. It's got all the correct fittings on it and there's even a high-quality shroud and fan kit available that I could just drop in. I'd have to buy new fans for this one anyhow. I might grab the dimensions and see what making the change would imply. I would like to have the option to run the stock nose instead of the Special Tuning airdam. Hmm.
entry 433 - tags: radiator, first drive, protection