743 BDV ‘Maggie’ in 1974 shortly after I purchased her, already 15 years old and with around 80,000 miles on the clock.
Maggie was one of only 5,869 UK market right hand drive cars produced, of the 101,081 total production. She was of original specification when I bought her, other than the body colour and a replacement BMC ‘Gold Seal’ reconditioned engine.
The engine fitted when I purchased the car was a genuine BMC ‘Gold Seal’ reconditioned MGA 1500 unit. It had only covered around 40,000 miles, when I changed it for a Riley 1.5 unit prepared to half race standard. The ‘Gold Seal’ unit was ‘lost’ in a move, which I later regretted.
It was right hand drive, in Ash Green with black trim and a blue hood (roof).
Factory fitted optional equipment were Deluxe side screens with sliding windows, windscreen washers, blue tonneau cover, luggage rack, wing mirrors and a fog lamp.
I first saw Maggie in 1973 when it regularly came to the Ford dealership that I worked at. The car was sprayed underneath on the lubrication bay with oil (a thing of the past). I fell in love with the car and left a message for the owner asking if it was for sale. The answer was yes, for £250.00.
This was a lot for a junior technician and meant selling my VW Beetle 1200 to raise the cash. By the time I did so, the price had gone up to £275.00 and it was advertised in an early edition of Classic Car magazine, advertised as ‘an investment car’. Fortunately, the deal was done and she was mine, thus starting a 40 year love affair! Like all relationships though, it had its highs and lows.
Some years later, I discovered from a previous owner that the car had been semi submerged in sea water, when the owner had parked it at a local beauty spot, Bosham Quay where the roadway floods at high tide. The water came up to the axles, but did not affect the engine or interior. This explained the regular oil spraying, which in hindsight, probably saved the chassis.
In 1977, I was fortunate to be given a company car and at that point Maggie was taken off the road with every intention of eventually carrying out a full restoration.
Maggie was badly stored in a series of locations, first a disused charcoal storage shed in a sawmill, then for many years a small lock-up garage a short walk from the English Channel with it’s salt laden damp air (see photos below) which was the worst period.
During this time, when the vehicle licensing authorities were computerising their records, the original registration number was deemed to be lost. Much work followed to prove my ownership, including photographing my son Joe holding proof of date. Joe is now 30!
Finally, the original number was reinstated, fortunately failing to be sold by the DVLA.
After a number of years in a farmers stone barn, keeping a Frog-eye Sprite and a Dellow company, she was finally moved to our current house into a pair of 1920’s built garages. it was to be a further 14 years before emerging from piles of junk and for the restoration to begin.
First task was to rebuild the garages and create a proper workshop in one half. This was a luxury and made the restoration more pleasurable. I have enormous admiration for the many restorations that have been carried out in tiny single lock-ups, with no proper power or light.