Sun | Mar 18, 2018

Rich rewards from long MGB project

Published:Saturday | March 5, 2016 | 11:04 PM

WHEN BRITAIN was a production powerhouse for motor vehicles. Jamaica, once a British colony, was filled with its brands. One of the most desired of the British vehicles was the MGB convertible, a gentleman’s sports car built by British Leyland.

It exudes the fun and excitement which befit one MGB owner, 76-year-old Anthony Lopez, a retiree with an indelible sense of humour.

As Automotives entered Lopez’s premises his eyes glowed with child-like enthusiasm, he gave a firm hand shake then asked “where do you want me to put the car?” I glanced at his well-manicured lawn and said “do you mind parking there? It’s a nice spot for some photos.”

The car sparkled as the rays of the mid-day sun reflected off its rich red body. As if he had heard my thoughts Lopez interjected “the car had to be sprayed two times. The process was very long and gruesome.

At one point someone had it in his garage for five years.” Lopez has a long history with the brand. “The first car I bought was a MGB Midget, the smaller version to this one. It was very easy to drive and I had it in rallies and races at the airport,” he reminisced. After selling the Midget years passed before Lopez got an opportunity to own another MGB.

“In 1993 a friend called me and said ‘Tony, I have a car that you’ll like, a MGB’. Once I saw the car and realised it was in driving condition I bought it,” Lopez said. Unfortunately, vintage sports cars usually have a lot of wear and tear and it was no different, as Lopez quickly found out.

“While driving on Molynes Road the second gear was jumping out. Once you start having problems like that it just makes sense to fix the entire car. So I stripped the car, took out the engine and got all the needed parts from England,” he said.

Lopez emphasised how arduous the process was, the restoration taking 15 years. “A guy had the engine for about four or five years doing nothing with it. I had to pressure him to fix it. Then I took it to another friend’s garage for two years and still couldn’t get anything done.

Eventually I brought it home and decided to assemble many of the parts myself, like the bumper and headlights,” revealed Lopez. The car is about 90 per cent completed, with Lopez planning some minor fixing.

“I want to get the seats properly screwed down and do over the floor, but as it goes for vintage cars this is it for me unless I win the lottery,” said a smiling Lopez. Anthony Lopez’s 1970 MGB has a 1800cc engine, twin carburettors and a four-speed manual gear box Want to see more of this car?

You can check the video online at our website or our JamaicaGleaner page on Youtube