The MGA With An Attitude

I put this page up front because I have personal experience with this part. When I started the first restoration of my car in the late 70's there were far fewer suppliers of replacement parts for MGA, much less choice of alternatives, and no internet to ease the process of research. In those days I was extremely happy to discover the existence of Moss Motors, and subsequently did nearly the whole restoration using parts from that source. Most of the mechanical parts were good to keep the car in running condition. Some of the body parts were better than others (not to mention the obvious corollary). Many parts were just not available new at the at time, but Moss Motors has always had the largest inventory of parts available for the complete restoration.

At the time the rocker panels turned out to be a bit of a sticky wicket. I was still generally inexperienced and somewhat gullible perhaps in thinking that replacement parts should actually fit and work. I drilled out spot welds to remove rusty rocker panels, tossed the junk parts in the trash, and ordered new panels from the catalog, all easy as could be. I did a little patching on the inner body sills, not too far gone when the car was only 20 years old. Then I installed the new rocker panels, feeling quite good about how well things were going. Unfortunately I had not kept the original parts for comparison, so I did not immediately notice one significant discrepancy.

It turned out that the top outside shoulder of the new rocker panels was about 3/8-inch too high. My first clue was when the dogleg on the rear fender could not fit around the back end of the new rocker panel. Considering my limited skill level at the time, I concluded it was easier to modify the simple dogleg to fit rather than attempting to correct the form of the more complex rocker panel. The next issue was attempting to adjust the door. At maximum height it would touch the front body cowling, and it would still sit on the rocker panel unless the bottom edge of the door was pushed slightly outward. I did get it assembled, but the results were "less than desirable" to put it mildly. For many years it was plagued with a chipped paint, hard to slam to make it latch, and door latches that would pop open with bumps in the road. After putting up with it for more than 20 years I finally had the opportunity to rebuild the body sills again and vowed to set it right this time. Until I may hear otherwise, I think Moss Motors may still be supplying the same rocker panels that do not work well.

With the internet tools now in hand I was able to ask a lot of questions in the public domain and get some advice from others with more experience with these parts. I finally bought rocker panels from Sports and Classics that ultimately fit much better. Since I posted that information on my web site those parts are often being advertised as "the best available", although I never actually said that. However I personally had not found any better, so it may or may not be true. The point is, it pays to ask around these days in light of improved communications. With some diligence and a bit of luck we can sometimes figure out which parts may be better and avoid some common pitfalls.

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