This past week, we’ve been very busy with the MGA. This is easily the biggest project we’ve taken on yet! So far, things are going quite smoothly. With the body and chassis separated, we have devised a system for getting this thing done in a timely fashion. So I’m taking on the body and Jesse is going to handle the suspension and brake work that still needs to be done. We’ve both been busy with our respective tasks, but sadly for Jesse, his jobs involve waiting for a few new parts to arrive. My job on the other hand only requires some sand paper, a body hammer, dollies, and a little body filler. I’ve already gotten a fair amount of the work done, so it’s time for a quick update!
Most of my work is sanding, but let’s face it, that isn’t particularly interesting to do or read about. So we will just skip over that, although this fender does look pretty good (don’t you think?). What is interesting is watching damaged body panels come back to life! One of the few panels that hasn’t already been worked over by the previous owner’s body shop is the front valance.
This fairly simple piece of metal would be costly to replace – almost $500. We talked about going with a cheaper fiberglass Sebring style valance, but before spending any money I wanted to try my hand at straightening out the original first. Clearly it has seen better days.
So I grabbed my body hammer and set of dollies. Before doing any hammering though, I sat down on the floor with this poor old valance and I studied it (I also knocked off a decent amount of dirt and rust). Doing body work on my Fiat, I learned from experience how important it is to understand the dent your fixing. If you just start hammering away, you might end up creating creases or worse you can end up distorting the overall shape of the panel. Using my dollies for reference, I studied the curves and contours of the undamaged areas to get an idea of how it should be shaped. Once I knew the panel well, where the impact took place and the depth of the dents, I got started with the job of pounding this panel back into shape.
Getting it back to it’s correct curve took about an hour or so. With each drop of the hammer, I would check the shape of the panel from several angles to make sure I was headed in the right direction. Little by little, this panel returned to it’s correct shape! As I was shaping the main dent, I noticed a couple dents on the left side that was messing with the curve, so I pounded them out. I also went ahead and flattened out the bumper mount holes.
I still have some small adjustments to do and it will need a little glazing putty to cover the hammer marks I couldn’t get out, but overall it looks great. Once I get the rest of the paint stripped off, it should be about ready for primer and shiny new paint!
Sure my time cost us a little money, but far less than a replacement, even a fiberglass one would have cost more! And to be honest, it was kind of fun, well at least compared to sanding. As you might have noticed in our photos, we have an extra valance, so I might see about fixing that one up too. Doesn’t it look great bolted back onto the body where it belongs? Be sure to keep an eye out for more updates, specifically an update about setting the doors on an MGA Coupe!