From Exhausted to Excellent

It may have been love-at-first-sight for me, but few people would have called Carlene "beautiful" when I first got her. She was a sports car on her last few laps. Her Damask Red paint was faded and oxidized, her interior can only be described as "trashed," and the soft top was ragged. The floorboards were so rusted that they were barely there, and the exhaust system was full of holes in all the wrong places -- it's a good thing she's a convertible, because otherwise any passengers would have gotten carbon monoxide poisoning. She was running, however, and her body was straight. I knew that some hard work could make her gorgeous again.

RJ & I did some of the work at home, but quickly realized that we needed a larger garage and specialized tools. In February 2002, Carlene took up residence at Bill LaBarge's Bug Clinic in Bryan, Texas. Because Bill is a friend, we were able to go into the shop and do some of the work ourselves. Fourteen months later, she emerged as a different car -- the MGB of my dreams. So much work was put into her that it's easier to list what we didn't do -- and the only thing we didn't do was extensive work on her engine, because it had been completely rebuilt just 2,000 miles ago.

Some of the work we did included:

  • installed a new stainless steel exhaust system
  • replaced the floor pans
  • gutted the interior and installed a completely new one (carpet, dash, insulation, leather seats, switches)
  • installed a premium sound system (which required cutting holes in the back deck for the new rear speakers)
  • ran all new electrical wiring and installed a new fuse box
  • painted her Tahiti Blue
  • replaced all the decals
  • replaced every piece of rubber on her
  • installed a new Weber carburetor
  • and many other repairs.

    It seemed like the work was endless, but now she's gorgeous and an absolute joy to drive. There's nothing better than a beautiful day in Colorado, with a sunny blue sky over the mountains and a beautiful blue MG on the road.

    Now that she's beautiful, I enjoy driving her, and sometimes take her to shows just so we can show her off and see some other MGs. Thanks to Bill & Cecilia LaBarge, and Lois, at The Bug Clinic, for all their hard work on Carlene.

    The following photos are from December 2002, when the end of Carlene's restoration was in sight and she started coming back together.

  • RJ & Nik removed the steering wheel
    RJ & I removed the steering wheel in preparation for working on the dash and interior

    Bare interior,with new floor pans

    RJ (carefully) drilled holes for the door speaker wires
    Lois installed new headlight pieces
    I ran all new wiring throughout the car
    New dash -- it's pretty!
    All new wiring harness behind the dash
    The stainless steel exhaust that started this whole restoration
    After the paint job, new chrome strips were put on(right rear panel)
    Bill cut holes in the rear deck
    The new 6x9 speakers fit in these holes -- the new sound system will be wonderful!
    Bill installed new floor pans -- no more Flintstone car syndrome!
    RJ put the front bumper back on, after doing a beautiful patch & paint job on it
    Mom came to visit, and we put her to work cutting the carpet insulation
    She's starting to come together!

    RJ & Nik Rapelje

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