American MGB Association

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this is an excerpt from the articles appearing in the Octagon

AMGBA Club Blog

'63 B Race Car of Jim Ninetto

An American MGB Association Queen B is the '63 B race car of Jim Ninetto from Mohnton, Pennsylvania.  Here is his story:

What if MG built a Speedster? My B’s evolution from shabby to Speedster

I have owned this MGB since 1992 and have restored it twice. Below is the story of my car’s evolution from shabby to Speedster along with a few photos.

Back in 1992, I got the urge for another sports car. I had an MG TD when I was a kid and loved it. So, MG was at the top of my list. I wanted a car that I could restore. I have always been mechanically inclined, so how hard could it be? (famous last words). Over the next few months, I looked at more than a dozen MGA’s and MGB’s. Most were more than I wanted to spend, some were already restored. I finally found a B for a few hundred dollars. It ran and it stopped. How bad could it be? It looked rather shabby, especially with the cat footprints on the bonnet and boot. But it met my criteria, cheap and needy. So I towed it home. When my wife saw it she either cried or laughed, I’m not sure. My neighbors were equally unimpressed or maybe just annoyed when I drove it around the neighborhood. No mufflers! I told my wife I needed her garage for just a few months (more famous last words). She was not happy about that. But a few gift cards to her favorite clothing store and she gave in. So in the garage, it went. Up onto jack stands. I could tell this B wanted to be new again. I stripped out what the seller called the interior along with numerous dead bugs, dead animals, and some unmentionables. Now the trash man was annoyed. I then started to strip the paint with a chemical paint stripper. It took 27 cans of stripper. How could I know there were 5 coats of paint on it? White, Dark Blue, Light Blue, Yellow, and finally the original Tartan Red. Anyway, I got it down to bare metal and body filler. Lots of body filler and lots of rust. Just about every metal part from the side moldings on down was rusted. There was sheet metal pop-riveted onto body panels to cover the rusted areas. The floor pans were just sheet metal pop-riveted in place! By now, my enthusiasm was dropping to the garage floor. So much for my bargain.

Well, there was no going back now. So, off to the hardware store for some new tools and a welder. I proceeded to cut out all the rust along with the body filler and weld in new sheet metal, including new proper floor pans and rocker panels. I finally primed and painted the car Tartan Red and my wife’s garage a lovely shade of pink (overspray). I think she may have actually liked the new color. I then replaced the interior, tires, brakes, bumpers, tuned the engine, installed mufflers, lights, a steering wheel, and a bunch of other stuff. Two years in the works, I finally started the car and I got to yell "It’s Alive!!". That day I drove it around the neighborhood again and, yes, my wife was now impressed and smiling and my neighbors cheered. Shortly after completing the car, I built a workshop with a garage for my newly restored B. My wife got her garage back. '

I drove the car on sunny days for a few years. Sadly though, after taking a job out of state and only home on weekends, the B sat in its garage for about 10 or so years. After reaching semi-retirement, I decided to get it on the road again. There was this annoying scratch on the bonnet, so I thought I would just sand and repaint the bonnet. It was also time to rebuild the engine and the gearbox. I started to sand the bonnet, but then I got to thinking: What if MG made a Speedster? What would it look like? Soon I had my vision of an MGB Speedster and I knew that I wanted to build it.

So, I decided to strip the paint from the car once again. I sanded and sanded for days. Finally, the red was gone. I took the body apart again. Installed the Sebring valances. The rear valance was blended in with fiberglass. I primed the car and then applied the British Racing Green. On the first try, it looked like a John Deere tractor. Fortunately, I stopped after painting one wing. Easy enough to sand off and reprime. Got more paint, still not what I wanted. Added some black and Voilą!, British Racing Green, or at least my version of it. Six coats later, it was time to sand again. Paint on the silver stripes, and, while MG did not clear coat their cars in 1963, I applied 6 coats of clear, then it's time to sand again and polish, polish, polish and polish some more. Next came the engine work: new rings on HC pistons, rod and main bearings, lifters, pushrods, etc. Then the head: installed larger stainless steel valves, hardened valve seats, new valve springs and guides, and ported and polished the intake and exhaust ports. Not radical. Lowered the suspension, added a larger anti-roll bar, installed cross-drilled and slotted front discs, a 13-inch leather-wrapped steering wheel, and finally, the gearbox was rebuilt and the flywheel lightened. Weight reduction included deleting the windscreen, bumpers, heater, side windows, wipers, top, and spare tire for a total of over 200 pounds. Engine modifications and the weight reduction improved the B’s power to weight ratio by 17%. Added fresh air ducts for the cabin and carbs, and larger 15" Minilite wheels and wider tires.

So here is my version of what an MGB Speedster might look like if MG made one. British Racing Green, Silver Rally Stripes, 15’ Minilite Wheels, Sebring Valances front and rear, lowered suspension, cut-down windscreen, tow rings, more power, and lighter weight.

It’s fun to drive and gets a lot of second looks!

3 B race car of Jim Ninetto from Mohnton, Pennsylvania. 3 B race car of Jim Ninetto from Mohnton, Pennsylvania.

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